Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunflower League Sub-State Round Playoff Review

Mitchell Tyler and SM East pushed their record to 11-1 on
the season, and in doing so punched a ticket the 6A state
title game in Topeka, against Derby, on Saturday. Photo
courtesy Marisa Walton, SME Harbinger.
The Good

**SM East has fielded a football program for 56 years. In that time they've managed to win 100 state titles -- in sports not named football. This is the program's first trip to a football state title game.

**Despite the loss, Olathe North's Venus Triplett showed well, rushing for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. He very well might be the league's top returning player in 2014.

The Bad

**Olathe North's defense couldn't get a stop to save their lives. SM East actually scored on eight of their nine possessions.

**A rare November cold-front created freezing temperatures which plummeted as the game went along. The temperatures undoubtedly impacted what could have been a sold-out stadium. Nonetheless, the showing from both fanbases was still pretty solid considering the weather.

The Ugly

**SM East managed to go 11-1 against Sunflower League foes in the first year of running the flexbone offense -- an ugly stat for the rest of the league, that is.

**Olathe North could have gone to the half with the momentum, scoring a late second quarter touchdown and taking a 14-13 lead. But a bad kickoff, combined with some defensive lapses allowed SM East to put together a touchdown drive to go back ahead before halftime. I would argue SM East controlled the game from there on out.

Sub-State Round Player of the Week

Mitchell Tyler, SM East: It seemed like everyone played very well for SM East, but I would argue it was Tyler who was the true X-factor in the Lancers' victory. While he didn't score a touchdown, it seemed like he was making plays all over the field all night. Whether it was his 68-yard reception, or his 33-yard field goal to start the second half, he very easily could have been the reason for the 10-point differential.

The Remaining Two

Derby (11-1): Derby was everyone's favorite to win the 6A title in 2012 -- that was until they ran into a wily Hutchinson club in the Sub-State round and lost on a game-ending two-point conversion. The Panthers' margin of the victory this season (587-153) is outstanding, and with the exception of a six-point loss to Salina South in week one, they've basically had their way with the competition. On Friday they absolutely steamrolled Garden City, 55-17.

SM East (11-1): The Lancers are the third Sunflower League team in three years to go from seven wins the prior season to 11+ wins and a state title appearance. They'll be attempting to become the third to win a state title, as well. Their 10-point victory against Olathe North wasn't a blowout like the Derby game, but the Lancers' haven't been predicated on large margins of victory, so the win was par for the course. And you could argue Olathe North was a much stronger team that Garden City.

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