Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunflower League Week Six Review

Olathe North's Venus Triplett was nails again in week
six, scoring three touchdowns and going for 180 yards
rushing on just 19 carries. LJWorld.
Three Up

Olathe North
The Eagles are hitting their stride at the right time. It took a few early season lapses for the team to get their act together, but now they're playing like a legitimate state title contender.

Lawrence Free State
A victory over the league's only (previously) undefeated team was just what the doctor order. The Firebirds will be favored in every regular season game remaining.

Olathe East
Many things could happen in the next three to seven weeks, but one thing that won't happen is an end to Olathe East's string of winning seasons. Season number 14 above .500 looks just about sealed.

Three Down

This past Friday was a reality check for the Chesties. After playing exceedingly well for three games, they finally looked ordinary -- especially their rushing attack.

SM Northwest
The Cougars once again came up short in a close game, blowing a 12 point lead and at one point surrendering 20 straight points. Their district isn't insanely tough, however.

SM East
Lancer Magic is a bit tainted this week, and SM East proved to be mortal after all... but an 8-1 regular season and Sunflower League crown are totally in scope going forward.

Week Six Players of the Week

Venus Triplett, Olathe North: Triplett had yet another outstanding week, and it looks like he's going to get his numbers no matter what going forward. He rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries in Olathe North's victory over Lawrence.

Connor Leach, Olathe East: The Hawks' senior quarterback has been as consistent and efficient as any quarterback in the league through six weeks. Friday night he completed six of his 10 passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn't a "wow" stat line, but in a week void of big performances, Leach kind of earns a mid-season achievement award.

Week Seven Power Rankings

1. Lawrence Free State (5-1): Free State's overtime win against SM East was, in a word, huge. The Firebirds regained their perch atop the league, established themselves as the favorites to claim the top seed in 6A East, and with a win in two weeks against Leavenworth can claim a share of the Sunflower League crown.

2. SM East (5-1): Had a few plays gone differently in the fourth quarter and overtime, we would have seen a fourth SM East victory, in the final minutes of a game, in as many weeks. As it stands the Lancers can still claim a share of the Sunflower League title -- just the fifth in school history -- if they can beat SM Northwest on Friday.

3. Olathe North (4-2): The Eagles are rolling. And the scary part is how young they are. For those of you who didn't witness the late 1990s and early 2000s in the Sunflower League, Olathe North's 28-0 shutout, smash mouth victory (and box score) was the kind of performance we saw week after week after week from the Eagles during that time period.

4. Olathe East (4-2): It took a couple week, and a few tweaks here and there, but Olathe East is back to playing like, well, the Olathe East program we've come to know the last decade. Put most simply, they overwhelm you with a combination of a power running game and speed, and they win the games they're supposed to win.

5. Olathe South (4-2): The Falcons haven't exactly played an awe-inspiring schedule to date, but their 4-2 record entering district play is quite impressive, nonetheless (especially in such a year of parity in the league). The Falcons will face what could be the best team they've played all year this week when they host Gardner-Edgerton.

6. SM West (3-3): It's hard to know what to think of the Vikings at this point, or even gauge where they are at mentally. The three-game losing streak is the program's longest since 2007, and they've not once dominated a game this season. They have a clean slate, like everyone, in the next three weeks and only they can control how they want to finish.

7. SM South (3-3): The Raiders were down to their third-string running back against SM North, but they still managed to put together a nice effort in their third win of the season. The litmus test comes this week against Blue Valley Northwest. Win, and I would consider SM South's playoff chances to be very likely. Lose, and the Raiders will really be fighting an uphill battle to get in.

8. Olathe Northwest (3-3): The Ravens' week six victory over SM West gave the team three wins on the season, one more than they totaled through nine weeks in 2012. Chip Sherman's influence is becoming more obvious by the week. The tricky part begins this Friday, as they begin what might be toughest district in Kansas.

9. Lawrence (2-4): The Chesty Lions' run of dominant play kind of got tripped up this past week against Olathe North. The good news for LHS is that they only need to beat two of Free State, Leavenworth and Wyandotte to make the playoffs. Which means their game on Friday against Leavenworth could really be their most important game of the season.

10. Leavenworth (2-4): See LHS. The Pioneers haven't played with even an ounce of consistency this season, but they have a chance to make up for that when they host Lawrence Friday. Win, and the program is looking at a high probability of a second playoff berth in three seasons. A loss and it will be a struggle for the team to make it to the postseason.

11. SM Northwest (1-5): The Cougars would win the "Close, but No Cigar Award" if there were one. The good news for the Cougs is that SM North is worse, and SM West hasn't looked any better the last three weeks. Win those two in district play, and SM Northwest makes the postseason.

12. SM North (0-6): The Indians competed pretty well with SM South for a half, but they didn't have the horses to notch victory number one on the season. In the preseason I would have marked their game this week as a SM West blowout victory, but the two teams have combined to go 0-6 since week four. SM West is still a heavy favorite, but SM North's playing them at the right time, if such thing exists.

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