|Free State's Bryce Torneden. LJWorld.|
It is extremely rare for me to put a team in the 'Three Up' category after a loss, but I think the Chesty Lions -- despite losing in the waning seconds to SM West -- found their swagger in the loss and could be a completely different looking team from here on out.
Could anyone have mapped a more exciting start to the Dustin Delaney era? Two blowout victories followed by a last second victory on a Hail Mary on a day known as "Lancer Day" among the SM East faithful.
Lawrence Free State
After trailing 20-7 at halftime, the Firebirds clicked in the second half and rattled off three touchdowns in an impressive offensive display. Theirs and SM West's comebacks in week three have set up a phenomenal mid-season game between the two this week at Free State.
The Ravens have plenty of positives to take away from their close loss to SM East. They fought hard, never gave in, and even converted a pressure packed two-point conversion to take a late lead in the fourth quarter. But I'm not sure I've ever seen a Sunflower League team lose an upset bid on such a heartbreaking last play.
The Hawks, at 1-2, have led in the fourth quarter of both their losses. Granted, they've played as tough of a schedule as anybody in the league, but they've had some bad defensive lapses in each game. Clean up the lapses and I could see them finishing the regular season 7-2.
Giving up 62 points hurts. Bad. But the Indians' Performance Line (0 wins, 21 points scored, 142 points allowed) through three weeks is still 34 points above the baseline worst we've seen in the modern era, courtesy of the 2009 Leavenworth Pioneers who through three weeks had the most awful PL (0 wins, 6 points scored, 161 points allowed) we've ever witnessed.
Week Three Players of the Week
Ra'Keim Abdul, SM South: Abdul recorded three rushing touchdowns and 110 yards rushing on 17 carries, in addition to returning a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown, and recording an interception to seal the victory.
Venus Triplett, Olathe North: In a dominating victory against SM North, Triplett carried the ball 23 times for 236 yards and three touchdowns -- more than doubling his output from the first two weeks of the season.
Week Four Power Rankings
1. SM West (3-0): Good cop -- the Vikings have found a way to win all three of their games despite playing well below their ceiling. Bad cop -- the Vikings will get smoked on Friday if they play the way they did the first 46 and a half minutes against Lawrence.
2. Lawrence Free State (3-0): The Firebirds, like the Vikings, haven't exactly been world-beaters since their week one thrashing of SM North. Still, they came back and beat a very good Olathe East team this past week and they'll be playing for Sub-State revenge this Friday.
3. SM East (3-0): To be fair, most of us expected the Lancers to begin the season 3-0. Week four is when the team will begin showing their true colors, as they start a five game stretch that includes Olathe North, SM South, Free State and SM West.
4. SM South (2-1): The Raiders quietly put together an impressive first-third of the regular season. Their remaining schedule isn't exactly daunting, and includes two teams who are currently 0-3. Their next two games will set the tone for what to expect from them in districts.
5. Olathe North (2-1): The only thing the Eagles proved this past week was that they could score a ton of points against the league's worst team. Their matchup this Friday with SM East is intriguing on many levels and I could really see it going either way.
6. Olathe East (1-2): The Hawks' record is quite deceptive, and I think this will be the lowest they dip in the rankings. Matter of fact, don't be surprised if the Hawks carry a six-game winning streak into the playoffs. They'll likely be favored in their next five games.
7. Olathe South (2-1): The Falcons pulled out a gritty and impressive road win this past week at Leavenworth. That being said, it's still very difficult to gauge this team's potential. For now, they're 2-1 with a good shot of finishing above .500 on the regular season.
8. Olathe Northwest (1-2): Change is subtle. While the Ravens' last-second loss to SM East seemed almost cliche given the program's repeated near-misses, the effort and fact they stormed back to gain the lead with under a minute remaining is a hint of where this program's headed.
9. Lawrence (0-3): Something clicked for the Chesty Lions, despite their loss. Maybe it was the 13-play, 94-yard drive they used to tie SM West late. Maybe it was the 62-yard Nyle Anderson touchdown run to gain the lead. Or maybe the Chesties are just sick of losing.
10. Leavenworth (1-2): I can't fault the Pioneers for dropping a close one to Olathe South. But if they want to gain the league's respect, they really need to take care of business against SM Northwest this week. Everyone knows Leavenworth has talent, but not everyone knows if they can turn it into victories.
11. SM Northwest (0-3): The Cougars finally came through in the scoring category, but of course it was their defense which allowed 21 points (on top of a defensive touchdown) which came back to haunt them. Maybe they'll finally put it all together when they host Leavenworth this Thursday.
12. SM North (0-3): The more repetitions the young Indians get, the better. The 48-point loss to Olathe North was pretty bad on the surface, but sometimes it's the blowout losses that make a team hungry and fuel the intensity going forward.