Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sub-State Preview: Free State at SM West

Lee Spight. Elaine Ferguson.
Free State (10-1) at SM West (10-1)
Where: SM South District Stadium
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Broadcast: KC Metro Sports
Computer Spread: Free State +1.5
Last Meeting: Free State won 28-14 in week two.

Free State Run Game vs. SM West Run Defense

In their last meeting Free State was able to produce 240 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries.  SM West's run defense has been stout in the latter portion of the season, with their three leading tacklers, Max Bullard, Marquan Osbey and Rashaun Owens making life miserable for opponent's run games. But Free State's running game has also steadily improved behind the efforts of TJ Cobbs and Joe Dineen.  With those two running the ball so much more effectively, quarterback Kyle McFarland hasn't had to rely on his running abilities as much which has kept him healthy. 
Edge: Push

Free State Pass Game vs. SM West Pass Defense 

I'm going to give the edge to Free State in this category.  SM West's secondary played excellent last week, with safety Kez Demby claiming two of the team's three defensive interceptions against passing savant Brad Strauss.  That being said, it was the Vikings' secondary that really performed poorly in the last meeting with Free State, allowing 161 passing yards and several completions of more than 40 yards through the air.  The Vikings' pash rush, led by Lee Spight, must also play better this time around.  If they don't step it up McFarland and his top receivers--Tye Hughes, Chris Heller, Blake Winslow and Khadre Lane--will be punching their tickets to the state title game, no questions asked. 
Edge: Free State

SM West Run Game vs. Free State Run Defense

As I've already mentioned, SM West running back Brett Sterbach (who rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown against Free State in the first meeting) needs 138 rushing yards to become the first non-Olathe North running back in Sunflower League history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season.  Think about that.  Names like Barnett, Bell, Gore (X3), Hunter, Jones, Torain and Willingham were never able to topple the 2,000-yard mark.  That alone seems like motivation for SM West's offense to be a little nastier and Sterbach to run a little more ruthlessly--if the magnitude of the game wasn't enough already!  Free State's defensive line is excellent though, led by Cody Stanclift and Fred Wyatt, and it certainly won't be an easy task.  The linebacking core is also dominant, led by Corban SchmidtKeith Loneker and Stan Skwarlo.  It's going to be a gut check for both teams when the Vikings decide to run the football.  The wildcard? Andre Maloney and that Wilcdat formation.  The Firebirds know it's coming, the only questions is: can they stop it?
Edge: SM West

Demarko Bobo. LJWorld.
SM West Pass Game vs. Free State Pass Defense

The Free State secondary, led by bookend corners McFarland and Demarko Bobo, and hard-hitting safety Dineen, is freakishly athletic.  Those three have been the league's best secondary all season and they tormented SM West's quarterbacks in week one, intercepting three passes.  For the year those three have combined for 11 interceptions.  I don't think SM West is going to plan on testing that secondary too much.  A play action pass or deep fade route here or there might be called, but overall I think Free State's secondary has proven itself to be too good to really test this late in the year.  Simply put, there's no point in SM West attacking the league's top secondary when the Vikings don't rely on the passing game to begin with.
Edge: Free State

Special Teams

Joey Reed is going to have to punt better than he did last week, but SM West's kicker/punter has been the class of the league this year in the special teams category.  Free State's kicker, Antonio Schoenich, has been around for three years and has the experience to make a big field goal if he's called on to do so.  Free State's top return man, Tye Hughes, crushed SM West in week two taking a punt back for a touchdown as time expired in the second half and he's a dangerous threat to score anytime he's on the field.  SM West's primary returner is Andre Maloney, a player whose confidence is at an all-time high after last week.
Edge: SM West

Coaching Experience

This will be the third Sub-State appearance for both head coaches.  Free State's Bob Lisher led his program to the game previously in 2006 and 2008, beating Blue Valley in 2008.  SM West head coach Tim Callaghan's teams made the game in 2004 and 2006, beating Free State in the 2006.  Is there a magic to winning in Sub-State?  There's an argument for it.  Former Olathe South head coach Mark Littrell made the game three times in his tenure (1999, 2004 and '07), winning all three times.  However, he was never able to use the momentum to claim a state title.  Olathe East head coach Jeff Meyers has made the game four times (2002, '05, '10, '11) but only seen his team win it once, in 2005.  Olathe North's Gene Wier suffered a beatdown at the hands of Lawrence in the 1995 Sub-State game, but went on to win in all six (1996, '97, '98, 2000, '01, '02) of the Sub-State games his teams appeared in over the next seven years.  All six of those Sub-State victories translated into 6A state titles for Wier and Co.
Edge: Push


Really said...

FS punter has 24 punts 12 inside the 20 one TB. Only five had attemped returns with 35 total yards in return and a 34 plus yard ave. yes three punts under 20yds. But 8 over 40. Longest 48.
Hit or miss? He has been out since district championship for rest of season.

Eli Underwood said...

I hadn't heard if he was playing or not. In that case I'll remove him from the write-up. I was alluding to that fact that he ranked 8th in the SL in punt average and hasn't done anything since district play.

TheImpaler said...

The Imp's week 12 pick: last week 2-0 Season 50-16

I will say the Reed has not been punting or kicking off as well the last few weeks as he did earlier in the year. I still think he's first team all conference but it would be nice to get back to getting a little more distance on the kicks. Other than that I think we've said all there is to say on this one. Let's play football! I'm going with the Firebirds as my pick in a defensive slug fest. LFS 21 SMW 20

Oh, and Hutch over Derby 35-31.

jocosnob said...

I think this game comes down to ball control on offense and which team is able to limit the other team's rushing attack.

I've got SMW advancing behind a very good tackling defense and an offensive line that allows Sterbach and Maloney to consistently be athletic at the 2nd level of defense.

Wii Not Fit said...

Defense will be the deciding factor tomorrow night, and Free State has the best defense in the state. Sterbach and Maloney will most likely have some success running the football, but I would put money on the fact that SMW throws the ball less that 10 times all game. Olathe East tried to do it last week, and proved you just can't score enough points if you don't have a passing game to balance a good rushing attack. Free State's balance offensively will put up enough points, and I do think the defense will be able to hold Sterbach/Maloney enough to pull out the W. FS 31 SMW 24

TheImpaler said...

Eli, who will be the home team at State this year? I assume it alternates. I only ask because it is a real disadvantage to SMW to be the home team in a day game with those all black uniforms. I've always thought we should pony up the bucks for some yellow jerseys to were at home day games. Not something that comes up very often but I remember that Saturday noon game we played against LFS when it was 80F and we had band members passing out before pregame in their uniforms then the team had to go out in all black and play.

Free State Fan said...

That FS run D is suffocating. SMW will have to use the wildcat because I don't see them trying to win with a passing attack. That will reduce Sterbach's touches and Sterbach in week 2 is really the only back to do anything against the FS first string this year. In the last seven weeks, FS has absolutely shut down all rushing attacks - granted, OE was able to have a few big plays. Randall (LV), Triplett (ON), Straus (LAW)... those are big names in this league that found no running room. I believe FS will surprise and frustrate SMW into several 3rd and long situations and force them to try to pass - which plays to the FS strength. Edge: Free State, not SMW in my book.

Govannon Grey said...

South wore Black in last year's state game, and it does alternate, so I assume West will be the home team this year.

Govannon Grey said... in The West side of the state, not SM West....

Govannon Grey said...

Oh Free State Fan, in your loss, (I was there) I seem to remember Russell White having success against your first string defense. In fact that was the main reason you guys lost that game.

Anonymous said...

To Govannon Grey: Yeah all three of the starting lineman had injured knees and ankles from the high low blocks SMW had done the game before.

Eli Underwood said...

The "high-low" blocks you're referencing are commonly referred to as cut blocks or in more esoteric circles, red blocks. It's been a staple of SM West's blocking schemes since Callaghan arrived in the mid-2000s, and it was the primary blocking technique on Olathe North's dynasty.

Now, obviously a defender can't be engaged up high and also cut blocked--that would be deemed a chop block and I believe that results in a 15-yard penalty. But as far as the cut blocking (direct hits at the sides of the legs to bring the defender immediately to the ground) that's completely legal. It's the same thing all of SM West's other opponents had to face this year.

Besides, Free State has one of the best defensive fronts in the league with Stanclift, Wyatt and Buller. I don't think it's anything new to them.

theRev_Carnahan said...

Should be a set of great games tonight.

Out West, Hutch/Derby rematch, Hutch playing at home wins first game coming from behind twice scoring with just over a minute to go to claim a 31-28 victory. Derby was dominant early this year while Hutch was dominant late. Originally I liked Derby in this game playing at home but their play as of late has not been at the high level it was early in the season and Hutch is 6-1 in rematch games since 2004 (start of their state run). Derby is a pass first team and should score points but I look for Hutch to wear them down with their ground and pound triple option attack that produced nearly 400 yards in the first game.

Hutch 35 Derby 21

On the home front we are looking at Shawnee Mission West playing host to Lawrence Free State. Another rematch of an earlier game in the season. Week 2 seems like so long ago but know that SMW knows their only loss comes at the hands of Free State. Free State also knows they are playing the Outright Sunflower League Champs (suddenly that OS loss looks like one of the biggest upsets of the year) and something that must be a little hard to stomach knowing they have the same record and that they beat SMW head to head. This seems to be a true grudge match. Both teams want to run first and the most physical of the two will win tonight. I see a game much like the first except a little closer.

Free State 21 SMW 17

On a side note Kyle McFarland has had a great season. Joe Dineen (a junior) has pushed Kyle for his job since the end of last season. What could have been a source of controversy has turned into a great situation for FS. Kyle as a QB has taken a back seat to Strauss (LAW), Jordan Darling (SME) and Holdyn Halperin (ONW) and Frank Seurer (OS) most of this season but has quietly put together a great season and now is leading his team to a potential trip to the State Finals. Great job Kyle and good luck tonight.

SMS watcher said...

Interesting article on cut blocks published on ESPN yesterday.

SMS watcher said...

Looks like a great night in November for football. Go Vikings!

Free State Fan said...

Great find SMS Watcher. C&P from the article: "It's the cheapest, most cowardly play in the game," says Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, the NFL's career sacks leader. "It's a guy saying, I can't play up to your standard, so I'm gonna go directly at your knees and try to injure you." You can bet the house that FS learned from week 2. Keep 'em safe and call the chop blocks religiously. That is the only way to deal with these gray area blocks. My friend GG, I gotta agree with 985-0289640528345-0289-..., FS was a very wounded bunch that week, no excuses, a loss is a loss, but I'd love to have seen FS play them again.

BTW - ALL 11 FS starting defenders were named all league on either 1st team, 2nd or HM. Congrats to a great year of being the best D. Do it again tonight! Go 'Birds!

SMS watcher said...

FSF, it not just offensive players that do it. Ocassionally, smaller defensive player will go into the blockers knees to stack them up. Michael Vick got called for it on an interception (hence a defender) a couple of weeks ago when he dove low into the blocker in front of the DB who intercepted the ball in an attempt to knock down the blocker and trip up the DB (He knocked down the blocker but the DB still had the pick 6). Penalty enforced on kick off.

SMS watcher said...

FSF. Free State has cut Chambers more than once on the opening drive. Big guys are frequently cut. Cuts should be made illegal, but, they'll be used until then.

SMS watcher said...

Free State also caught for a chop on Chambers. It happens.

SMS watcher said...

Now west gets called for a chop. Actually, I didn't see anyone contacting the FSF player up top so not sure on the quick tv replay. It happens

SMS watcher said...

Too many SMW juniors playing big tonight. They're going be tough for next year, too.

TheImpaler said...

They've got to be #1 in the state preseason next year watcher, they've got so many guys back, Verdini, Maloney, Chambers, Spight, several aothers. Vikes are the real deal. Sterbinator didn't even have than many yards tonight...birds try to pack 8 in the box and AJ picked them apart.

anb9924 said...

Random thoughts and observations from last nights game...
1. The West kicker has got a STRONG leg.
2. Was the Free State QB injured at all? He didn't look right.
3. Was any other important Free Starter injured? They didn't look right.
4. After the first offensive series for each team, I was expecting a nip and tuck, down to the wire affair. Obviously that did not happen.
5. If Free State was healthy, was anyone from West injured the first time they played? West's defense was WAY more effective last night.
6. The West student section chants are hilarious. Although the "Winning team losing team" one at the end was cruel.
7. #76 for West is enormous, what D-1 programs are looking at him?
8. #29 for West in my eyes is also a D-1 caliber player.
9. Lastly, if West does win state, I believe they would be the first Shawnee Mission School to win it, since the mid 80's.

Eli Underwood said...

To points 7, 8 and 9:

7. Austin Chambers (6-5, 295) has an offer to KU and will likely see his offer list grow when he sends out his junior film this offseason.

8. Maloney is a talented kid. I don't want to label him D1 YET (because we've seen so many skill-position guys who looked like D1 locks--Andre Jones, Anthony Parks, Elliot Faerber,etc.--not actually make it to that level) but he's been one of the league's most exciting players and he's only a junior.

9. The last SMSD school to win a state title in football was SM West in 1985.

TheImpaler said...

I think both teams were reasonably healthy for this point in the season. Free State's regular punter was out and that obviously hurt them. West is missing perhaps their best safety in Robert Rice who broke his leg.

Free State Fan said...

I can honestly say that I only know of one FS player that was not 100%, Riley Buller (LG and NG). There may have been others, but I doubt it. Injuries or lack thereof had no impact on the game.

FS will be dominant next year as well. It is very possible they could start all 11 positions on O and D with seniors. They are that deep and talented at the junior level this year. I would be very surprised if there is not a rematch of this game next year. Clearly, they both have the most potential and impact players returning.

Free State Fan said...

I can honestly say that I only know of one FS player that was not 100%, Riley Buller (LG and NG). There may have been others, but I doubt it. Injuries or lack thereof had no impact on the game.

FS will be dominant next year as well. It is very possible they could start all 11 positions on O and D with seniors. They are that deep and talented at the junior level this year. I would be very surprised if there is not a rematch of this game next year. Clearly, they both have the most potential and impact players returning.

UnknownViking said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
UnknownViking said...

{UNKNOWN VIKING}SMW HUTCH rematch for the state tittle, praying the Vikes come out on top this time.. 06-07 yr should of been are yr too win it all no question!