|SM East's twin linebackers, Sam and David Stewart,
celebrated after the Lancers's 3-0 victory over Olathe
South on Thursday night. Photo courtesy Jake
Crandall, SME Harbinger.
It remains to be seen how the rest of this season plays out, but the Lancers' shutout of Olathe South on Thursday was the hallmark win the program was looking for. It should provide a huge momentum boost as SM East attempts to go undefeated through the regular season to claim the top playoff seed in 6A East.
The Pioneers have played the easiest schedule in the league so far. But you know what? They've also won won three of four against relatively evenly matched teams. They've played to their potential, for the most part, and that's something we can't say for many of the other league teams.
In the preseason we said the Vikings needed to go 2-2 in their first four games to really have a successful regular season. Well, they did better than that, going 3-1 and they've looked pretty solid in the process.
The Falcons couldn't have asked for a better performance from their defense, as they only gave up three points to one of the league's best offenses. What hurt them was their unfamiliarity with their passing game, the product of having only thrown 11 passes in the previous three games.
The Hawks are in unprecedented waters at 1-3, and save a huge letdown, SM East is looking like a heavy favorite to hand Olathe East their fourth loss of the season this Friday. Olathe East has only lost more than three games once in the past nine seasons.
The Ravens just haven't been able to develop anything on the defensive side of the football. It was their achilles heel last year, and it looks like it's their major problem again this year at 0-4.
Week Four Players of the Week
Gabe Guild, SM South: Guild notched his second 300-yard rushing game of his career on Friday night, totaling exactly 300 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries. He also had a catch for 21 yards. Anytime you beak the 300-yard barrier you're going to find a spot on the Players of the Week list.
Jason Randall, Leavenworth: After a quiet couple of weeks Randall burst into the limelight again, rushing for 242 yards and two touchdowns in helping his team take a late victory against Olathe Northwest. It's the second time he's rushed for over 200 yards in a single game this season.
Remington Whitley, Olathe South: While his team didn't come out on top, Whitley, the defending Defensive Player of the Year in the Sunflower League, combined for 20 tackles (solo and assisted) Thursday against SM East. The stats weren't hyperbole either, as his efforts on the inside shut down SM East's running lanes for most of the night.
Week Five Power Rankings
1. SM East (4-0): I believe this is the first time a Shawnee Mission school has ever graced the top spot in the Power Rankings. The Lancers have earned it; their real challenge now is playing at an elite level week after week and not having any letdowns. It's not easy having the target on your back.
2. Olathe South (3-1): I would argue that Olathe South's one loss in 2011 to Blue Valley Northwest actually helped the team in their effort to win the state title. We may be looking back on their week four loss to SM East with similar sentiment later this year.
3. Lawrence Free State (3-1): Free State needs to shore up their defense if they want to do anything in the playoffs this year. They'll still win a ton of games simply because they have more talent, but they won't do anything in the playoffs if they can't slow teams down.
4. SM West (3-1): SM West has the run game figured out like they always do. If quarterback AJ Verdini can come up with solid performances the way he did on Friday (8-16, 106 yards and 2 TDs) the Vikings should finish the regular season with no less than seven wins.
5. Lawrence (3-1): Lawrence is quietly picking up steam. The Chesty Lions will host an angry Olathe South team this Friday, but I think they'll be able to score more than three points against the Falcons. The real question is what they do on defense to slow Olathe South.
6. SM South (3-1): The Raiders are going to ride running back Gabe Guild as far as he will take them. They face a tough test this Friday when they take on SM West, a program who their own offensive and defensive principles are based off of.
7. Olathe East (1-3): I'm not sure if the Hawks don't have the receivers or what this year, but they seem intent on running the football 90% of the time, whether or not they're successful with it. So far they haven't faired well with the approach and they're a hop, a skip and a jump away from being 1-4.
8. Leavenworth (3-1): The Pioneers have taken full advantage of playing the easiest schedule of any team in the league. They face an 0-4 Olathe North team this Friday, before their hellacious stretch of SM West, Free State and Lawrence begins.
9. SM Northwest (1-3): SM Northwest has been close in their last two games, but that doesn't earn you anything in the Sunflower League. The Cougs have a good shot at grabbing their second victory when they host winless Olathe Northwest this Friday.
10. Olathe North (0-4): I don't blame Gene Wier for getting a personal foul penalty late in the Eagle's loss to Free State--how often do you lose a down because of an officiating/chain gang mistake? Olathe North showed heart in the loss and I'm sure they'll grab a win here soon.
11. Olathe Northwest (0-4): Essentially playing four straight home games to start the season and the Ravens came away with zero wins? No soup for you.
12. SM North (0-4): The good news is that the Indians have games against Olathe Northwest and SM Northwest, two teams with a combined record of 1-7, remaining. The bad news is they still have to play Free State, SM West and SM East, who are a combined 10-2.
Social Media Standings
1. Olathe South Falcons
The Olathe South student section had a brilliant twist on their approach to dressing up for the SM East game on Thursday. Prairie Village, the suburb SM East is located in, has recently placed a regulation into act that requires permits for "special events" lasting longer than five days, which may snuff out Mike Babick's famed PV Christmas display. To poke fun at this the Falcon student body dressed in Christmas themed attire for the game. While their team lost, their fans didn't lose any spots in the Social Media Standings (they put up 159 Retweets on the Game of the Week Poll on Twitter, which was also very impressive).
2. SM East Lancers
The Lancers were highly active on Twitter this past week (putting up an impressive 109 Favorites on the Game of the Week Poll this week on Twitter), much of it having to do with their 3-0 win over Olathe South. Big wins tend to do that. We'll see if they can keep up the activity levels as the season continues.
3. SM West Vikings
I have a request for @vakejance and @kbooger for this Thursday night game against SM South. I want to see the famed "Parting of the Red Sea" move performed. Film it, get it on YouTube, and I'll share it with all of the Sunflower League Football Blog's viewers next week. If it's not possible this week, it'd be great to see it by the end of the season.
Others: @nwatkins2, @Csestrich21, @jstarrr15, @theRev_Carnahan, @jimthejam, @kuhoops83