Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sunflower League Week Six Game Previews

Mitchell Tyler and SM East will take their
Lancer Magic to this week's tilt with Free
 State, working towards a second Sunflower
League title in four years. Photo by
Marisa Walton, SME Harbinger.
Game of the Week
Lawrence Free State (4-1) at 
SM East (5-0) at SM North District Stadium

This is the second time this season we've seen the top two ranked teams in the Power Rankings face off -- consider it a pre-district treat. Free State suffered their first loss of the year last week when they traveled to ODAC, got down early against Olathe North, and didn't have enough in the tank to make a full fourth quarter comeback. For SM East, it was sort of the opposite. The Lancers jumped out to a sizable early lead on SM South, only to let the Raiders back in the game, before finishing things off with a victory in overtime. Free State will be hungry for a win, while thus far nobody has been able to touch the Lancer Magic. What's more, league implications will be on the line. If SM East wins, they'll claim their fifth Sunflower League title in school history. If Free State wins, and takes care of Wyandotte in two weeks, the Firebirds will at worst share the league crown with SM East.

SM South (2-3) at SM North (0-5) at SM North District Stadium (Thursday game)

Five teams (technically) have face SM North this year coming off of losses, and all five have won in dominating fashion. Can SM South become number six? The Raiders certainly could use the victory, having dropped their last two games after starting the season a respectable 2-1. But they've got to take care of things early to ensure things go their way late. While SM North hasn't done much this season, the quarterback to receiver combination of Will Schneider and Nick Perez has shown the ability to sneak up on teams quite a few times this year. SM South has the horses to take care of business, and they really need to in order to gain some momentum heading into a challenging district.

Olathe Northwest (2-3) at SM West (3-2) at SM South District Stadium

The Ravens are in a tough position here. The team had a nice bounce back victory against SM North last week, but now they're facing a SM West that is not only hungry after suffering two straight losses, but also extremely motivated to play for fallen teammate Andre Maloney. And they're going on the road... For SM West, in addition to those two items, they will really be focused on establishing more of an identity in the run game (the program's usual bread-and-butter) as they enter districts. Without Maloney, they won't have as much of the deep ball threat they've had all year, and defensively they'll be more susceptible to big plays because Maloney won't be out there to run down ballcarriers. This is a pre-district tune-up game for both teams, wrapped in perhaps more emotion than any game the league's seen all year.

Olathe North (3-2) at Lawrence (2-3) at Lawrence High Stadium

Time for two immovable forces to clash. Olathe North will be bringing arguably the league's best defensive front seven to 19th and Louisiana, while LHS will attempt to combat it with what's looked like the league's best rushing attack over the last three Fridays. If you like chess matches in smash mouth football, this will be the game for you. When the two teams trade possession, Olathe North will showcase running back Venus Triplett, who had a heyday against Free State's defense this past Thursday. But he'll have to get past a Lawrence defense led by Drew Green -- a unit which has been extremely stingy throughout the middle third of the year so far. If LHS wins, then the Chesty Lions are for real and we should be expecting a strong playoff run. If Olathe North takes this one, then there's no telling who'll be able to slow them down going forward.

Leavenworth (2-3) at Olathe East (3-2) at CBAC

This is one of these games where both teams legitimately feel they are going to win. Leavenworth had a dopamine boost following their upset win against SM West unseen in the town since a guy named Wayne Simien was at the school. Olathe East, like seemingly every Jeff Meyers team, has worked out the early kinks and looks to be on track to dominating their opponents through the remainder of the regular season and then some. The wildcard performer in this game will be Leavenworth tailback Isaiah Ross, who -- teamed with Jason Randall in the zone-read scheme last week -- gave SM West's defense fits. Ross and Randall make up one of the fastest combos in the league, but Olathe East's defense might have the best set of wheels. It should be a fun one, with plenty of speed to burn.

SM Northwest (1-4) at Olathe South (3-2) at ODAC

There are quite a few interesting facets to this game. The league's top two tacklers -- Jake Seurer from Olathe South and Devin Shockley from SM Northwest -- will be leading each respective defense, while two offenses that have struggled will look to get rolling before districts set in. SM Northwest hasn't played as poorly as their 1-4 record would indicate, but they just haven't had many things go their way so far. But that could all change this Friday. For Olathe South, a challenging district awaits, and as last season showed, there's not telling how a team will perform once they make it to those final three games -- especially in a loaded district. Bouncing back from the loss to Olathe East would be huge for the Falcons' team morale.


8timestatechamps said...

I am being told that SMNW is going to play BVHS week #1 next year.

8timestatechamps said...

From the LJW:
The Lions will open next fall against Blue Valley West, and the Firebirds, who had other non-league matchups fall through, will face Shawnee Mission West, a Sunflower League team from outside its division.

Eli Underwood said...

So we have:

Olathe South and Hutchinson
Olathe East and Garden City
Olathe North and Rogers Heritage (Ark.)
SM West and Free State
Lawrence and Blue Valley West
Olathe Northwest and Hays
SM Northwest and Blue Valley (?)

I've also heard SME wanted to get something worked out with Rockhurst (essentially taking the place of what was the Hutchinson game the past six years) but I haven't heard substantiating.

MahValley said...

Would like to see sfl teams head west or south for these games or possibly head to missouri for a match-up like sme is looking at doing.

Eli Underwood said...

I think some programs may be hesitant to schedule out of state competition unless they know they have a dominant team returning to play in the game (e.g., Olathe North scheduling Heritage when we all know they're going to be really good next season). Nothing worse than going out of state, staying at a hotel, chartering buses, etc., etc. only to get your tail whipped. Make your team, the SFL and Kansas look weak.

Eli Underwood said...

Edit: SM East will be playing Gardner-Edgerton week one the next two years.

Free State Fan said...

Would have much preferred to play someone outside the league. I'm bummed because it won't seem like anything's changed for FS by staying in league. Sorta like kissing your sister if you ask me. I doubt FS tried real hard to find a different foe because they will graduate a ton from this year's team and are playing it "safe" by playing a known opponent. Wonder how the SMW crowd sees it? Just my 2 cents...

TheImpaler said...

So LFS and LAW will not play the next two years? Wow. That sucks. Also cannot believe West and Free State couldn't get better out of league matchups. I know it's become kind of a rivalry game but only a so-so one since the games never really seem to be close. Also SMW does not figure to be that great next year, they graduate almost everybody this year. Do we know what the league split is going to be?

TheImpaler said...

On the other hand the only team with an easier district than SMW is SME...I cannot believe the uneven-ness of the districts from a competitive standpoint. I mean I knew Harmon, Wyan and SMN would wind up in a district together but this is ridiculous. Did things just get better or worse?

8timestatechamps said...

LFS and LAW still play just in the first 6 weeks.

TheImpaler said...

Okay, originally they said LAW and LFS would be on opposite sides of the league. Trying to puzzle out who's on each side of the league then.

Sunflower football news said...

I would like to see after this two year trip against G-E is completed to see the Lancers take on the Bishop Miege Stags... The schools opened in the same year '58 and have never faced each other in Varsity Football competition, yet have in every other Varsity sport since both schools opened.

It would be great to see the "Battle of Mission Road" finally take place sometime before both schools turn 60 before the end of the decade!

Sunflower football news said...

I hear ya TheImpaler. The league tried this back in 1969-72 doing the same thing and splitting the 5 SMSD schools, and in addition to that split both Washington and Wyandotte, and Topeka and Top West when those schools were still part of the old SFL towards the end of the early-mid 70s...

Needless to say, splitting the league in to two divisions failed miserably by fault of all the AD's and went back to a single table/standings. I have a solution to pass along both Eli, and Johnny both have available to them.

Austin Lockwood said...

Wait wait wait, this may be a silly question but, how is a league champ decided with divisions? Would it just be divisional champs or what?

Free State Fan said...

EagleSenior - I can't imagine there will be a "real league champion" after this year - my argument has always been there never has been because of the first 7, last 7 deal. They will probably claim one as champ based on playing all 5 in your division and 3 in the other, but just wait... someone will have a better record and beat the top team in the other division, but still "lose" the "league championship" to that team. It'll happen at some point. I reiterate, create four 8-team leagues, divisions, or whatever you want to call them. Then you have a true champion and a much better playoff structure. Sometimes common sense ain't worth 2 cents...