Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sunflower League Week Three Game Previews

Alec Dean and SM East will put their 2-0 record
on the line against their former head coach.
Photo by Marisa Walton, SME Harbinger.
Game of the Week
Olathe Northwest (1-1) at SM East (2-0) at SM North District Stadium

This is the game of the week for one reason: Chip Sherman. To give a brief synopsis (for those of you who missed it), Sherman took over as SM East's head coach in 2009 and quickly took the program to new heights, including a league title in 2010 that was the program's first since 1966.

This past offseason, shortly after Olathe Northwest's former head coach Todd Dain announced he was resigning as head coach to enter the high school administration tract, Sherman accepted the head job with Olathe Northwest.

After two weeks Sherman's Ravens look decent, but still rough around the edges. SM East on the other hand has played about as well as any team in the league under the tutelage of new head coach Dustin Delaney. Emotion stemming from this will probably be much higher on the Lancer side, but it will be fun to see how it all plays out.

Olathe North (1-1) at SM North (0-2) at SM North District Stadium (Thursday Game)

Olathe North lost a close game last week, and I can guarantee you they've had a tough week of practice leading up to this Thursday contest with SM North. Meanwhile the Indians are a team with literally zero outside expectations who have an excellent opportunity to develop and fly under-the-radar in Don Simmons' inaugural season with the club. This game projects as a blowout in Olathe North's favor, but you can never rule out a team on the other sideline with a veteran head coach and nothing to lose like SM North.

Lawrence (0-2) at SM West (2-0) at SM South District Stadium (Thursday Game)

This sets up as the quintessential "trap game" for SM West. Look at the facts: the Vikings are 2-0, they'll be playing the biggest game of the regular season next Friday, and they're facing a team in Lawrence who sits at 0-2 and has looked lifeless in the second halves of their two games. And it's a Thursday game to boot. The Vikings will be favored on paper but Lawrence is as hungry for a win as any team in the league. The Chesty Lions haven't played well, but they have a solid core battle-tested players who could come up big in any game.

Olathe East (1-1) at Lawrence Free State (2-0) at Free State Athletic Stadium

The Hawks and Firebirds have had some epic games in the past decade, and we're hoping this game will live up to the hype as well. Who can forget when these two matched up last November in a heated Sectional game? Olathe East's Al Smith was rebuked by the Free State faithful for what they deemed an intentional helmet-to-helmet hit on Tye Hughes.  Meanwhile, the Olathe East folks were upset about a loose ball that was ruled a fumble and returned for a touchdown by Free State's Blake Winslow (a play which probably shouldn't have been ruled a fumble upon further review). There's only been four weeks of games since then, but they're back at it again in week three. Don't expect anything less than a dandy -- if history is any indication.

SM Northwest (0-2) at SM South (1-1) at SM South District Stadium

Can we just set the over/under at 7 on this game? SM Northwest shut out Free State in the first half of Friday's game, and only allowed seven points during regulation in week two against Olathe Northwest. SM South only allowed 10 points to SM West in week one, and held Olathe North to seven last Friday. But here's the kicker -- the two teams have combined to score just 30 points in four games, and only 23 of those came in regulation. Provided nobody breaks things open early, I'm expecting a defensive brawl in this game. First team to 10 wins.

Olathe South (1-1) at Leavenworth (1-1) at Pioneer Stadium

This matchup is like a less dramatic version of the SM East vs. Olathe Northwest game. Leavenworth's new head coach, Mark Littrell, spent 10 years as Olathe South's head coach from 1998 to 2007. Following the 2007 season he left Olathe South to join Gene Wier's staff in Texas, and he stayed in the Lone Star State until this past spring when he took the open Leavenworth job. I say less dramatic because, to put it mildly, the last time Littrell was head coach at Olathe South the Falcon's current seniors were in 6th grade -- so it's been awhile. As far as the actual game is concerned we should learn quite a bit about both these teams. Their two combined wins have come against teams with combined records of 0-4. Their two combined losses have come against teams with combined records of 4-0. That's layman's terms for we haven't really figured out either of these teams just yet.


SMS watcher said...

SMS needs the Line to play with the same passion on Offense as on Defense and start putting up some points. Also, kickoff and punt coverage needs to improve. Finally, I'd like to see SMS get the plays in a bit quicker.

I'm sure SMNW looks at this as a game they can win given close games the last 2 years with SMS and Gabe Guild not being here to run for 300+ yards this year. I hope the Raiders practiced hard and aren't looking ahead of this game. I'm hoping for a 21-7 SMS win.

Free State Fan said...

FS is due to hit their stride for four quarters. Please, for the love of Pete, get the ball in Lane's hands for once. Reverse, bubble, Wildcat, anything... And for the love of Pete's brother, throw the ball to Bickling a few times. Neither of these guys have broken the stat sheet the first two games and are all-conference caliber players. Predicting a close, but solid win for FS. Go 'Birds!

MahValley said...

FSF, at least your play makers are seeing the field. I know of a couple of jr's on a bottom feeder that have played no to very little varsity that have been on several DII and a couple DIa programs radar.

Free State Fan said...

MV - I wish them well. It is hard to "get noticed" in this league with so many schools with so much talent. If I were a college recruiter, it'd be nice knowing I wouldn't have to travel much to find recruits. Good luck to everyone this week. Stay injury free and represent your schools well. Go 'Birds!

Northwest Fan said...

Considering that Gabe Guild is no longer at South I think SMNW gets their first win here. NW would actually be doing decent in the league this year at possibly even 2-0 if they had any type of offensive production to back up their rigid defense. Horner is a great athlete, however the quarterback position is not really for him. The Cougars don't really have much choice though. 10-3 SMNW

MahValley said...

NF, hate to tell you this but there are other choices at qb for the cougars unfortunately they are not playing qb. As far as the current qb goes he does have athletic ability but his best position(s) may be kr/pr.

Northwest Fan said...

MahValley- There is not other options that are an upgrade. Droulliard will have the reigns his senior year, but he is not ready for it this year. Horner came out for a few plays against ONW and Droulliard promptly fumbled and had a 3 and out before Horner came back. The next option would be a sophomore in Kopp but the experience is not there. If you mean that there are players in positions other than qb who could play the only person who could remotely pull that off is Cook, but he chose to be a wide out.

MahValley said...

NF, When I am in town scouting players I spend thursday noon through saturday noon watching soph, vr and jvar and I can assure that there are others with the athletic ability to play the qb position that with some extra practice time would be good choices for a spread or read option offense.