|Venus Triplett (right). KC Star.|
Olathe Northwest (2-4) at Olathe North (1-5) at ODAC
This game will be a dogfight, I guarantee it. Put it this way--the loser is basically eliminated from playoff contention. Sure they could turn around and beat the other two teams in the district, Gardner-Edgerton and Olathe South, in consecutive weeks, but I just don't see that happening with the inconsistency these clubs have shown this year. So given the importance of this game, it is in many ways the most intense, do-or-die matchup of week seven. Players to watch out for include Olathe Northwest's Holdyn Halperin, who ranks second in the league with 1,301 passing yards. He's going to test what's been a pretty poor Olathe North secondary all night. And this could also be the game where Venus Triplett finally shows us his true abilities, seeing as how poor Olathe Northwest's defense has played all season. Expect a great showing on Friday night at ODAC.
Leavenworth (3-3) at Lawrence (5-1) at Lawrence High Stadium
These teams are on opposite ends of the momentum spectrum. Lawrence has won five straight games and has pretty much looked unstoppable on offense in that time span. Leavenworth has lost two games after starting 3-1, and they've played like one of the most sporadic teams in the league. But they key to the game really goes back to the first point--LHS' offense, and what, if anything, Leavenworth can do to slow it down. During their win streak, LHS has averaged 395 yards of total offense and 36.4 points per game, while having outscored opponents 72-21 in the first quarter of games. If Brad Strauss and LHS get out to a hot start it could be game over for the Pioneers.
Wyandotte (5-1) at Lawrence Free State (5-1) at Free State Athletic Stadium
This isn't your usual team from the 'Dotte. In fact, Wyandotte has actually put together a pretty solid season so far and has one player that may be more athletic that any Free State has faced. That player is Dimonic McKinzy, Wyandotte's dual-threat quarterback. Before the season McKinzy had claimed offers from Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska--whether those offers are still on the table in uncertain, but McKinzy has played excellent for the Bulldogs this year. Free State will still be a heavy favorite to win, but they can't afford a letdown. The Firebirds need to continue to hone their offensive attack in preparation for their week nine tilt with Lawrence and likely playoff games thereafter.
Blue Valley North (1-5) at Olathe East (2-4) at CBAC
Nine years ago these head coaches squared off in a matchup billed as the regular season game of the year in the Sunflower League. Blue Valley North head coach John McCall was the head coach of Olathe North at the time, while Olathe East's Jeff Meyers was in his 13th season as head coach of the Hawks. The game turned out to be anticlimactic--Olathe North dominated and won 26-0--but it's interesting to reflect on what has happened since that game up until now. McCall left Olathe North after the '04 season to join Gene Wier's staff in Texas, but came back to coach at Blue Valley North in 2011. Meyers has led Olathe East to many successful seasons in the meantime, but his current team, at 2-4, is on the verge of breaking the Hawks string of 12 consecutive years with a winning record.
Olathe South (4-2) at Gardner-Edgerton (3-3) at Gardner Edgerton High School
Before the season began, Gardner-Edgerton's junior running back Traevohn Wrench--who holds offers to Iowa, Kansas, K-State, Missouri and Nebraska--was being mentioned as a potential 3,000-yard back, given the fact that he totaled over 2,400 yards rushing as a sophomore. But things haven't gone so smoothly. His Trailblazers sit at .500, and Wrench is yet to crack the 1,000-yard mark (he has 960 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the year). That being said, he will likely be the best--and easily the fastest--running back that Olathe South will have faced to date. Why the defending 6A state champs have had such a tumultuous travel schedule remains a mystery, but they've really got to focus their attention to detail in this game. A win would allow them to take a collective breath before the playoffs begin. A loss and they will find themselves in the same point-scrambling scenario they had last year when they were trying to make the playoffs with an incremental defeat Olathe East.
SM East (5-1) at SM Northwest (1-5) at SM North District Stadium
Live Broadcast: SM East Harbinger
This should be the standard "get-back-on-track" game for SM East, who suffered their first loss of the season last Friday at Free State. The Lancers have the horses to control this game in its entirety and it's important that they do. With a massive rivalry game with SM West approaching next week, SM East needs to regain some of the confidence they lost against Free State. Jordan Darling needs to start completing more of his passes and Connor Rellihan needs to get more touches to make a bigger impact. I'm not counting out SM Northwest either--the blueprint for beating SM East was laid out in most precise detail last week. But executing that blueprint is easier said that done.
SM North (0-6) at SM West (5-1) at SM South District Stadium
This is a potential trap game for SM West. In past seasons the Vikings has fallen victim to district upsets that have nearly derailed a solid season of work before the playoffs. SM West cannot afford to come out with a nonchalant attitude in this game against the winless Indians, or SM North may sneak away with their first victory of the season. Assuming SM West plays to their abilities, it will be interesting to see how many (or few) carries running back Brett Sterbach receives. The big game looms next week with SM East and with Sterbach being really the Vikings only running back you wonder if conservation efforts will take place to limit his carries.
SM South (3-3) at Blue Valley Northwest (3-3) at BVDAC
I hope (and kind of assume) the Raiders' players know how big of an impact this game has for their program this season, and going forward. With a win SM South will be very close to sealing a playoff berth, and more importantly close to winning five games. The last time SM South won five games was in 2000. Heck, the last time they won four games was in 2004. Blue Valley Northwest is a very challenging opponent though, and SM South is going to have to play probably their best game of the season to come away with a win. If SM South loses, it forces a situation where they must win their last two games (against Blue Valley North and Olathe East) to make the playoffs. And I can assure they don't want to be battling it out with Olathe East in week nine for the final playoff spot.