Monday, November 4, 2013

Sunflower League Week Nine Review

Lawrence's Price Morgan has the potential to be a big
time performer in the Sunflower League going forward.
Photo LJWorld.
Down and Out

Lawrence (3-6)
The Chesties spent the year reloading and it will pay dividends for the next few seasons. After starting five sophomores this year -- Alan ClothierJD Woods, Amani Bledsoe, Price Morgan and Tanner Green -- it appears LHS will be back in the thick of things next fall.

Olathe Northwest (3-6)
The Ravens had some nice moments this past year, including their near victory against SM East and their win at SM West, but the program will need to get over its image problem if it wants to make an impact around the league anytime soon. Players like Adam Harter and Jack Hatzfeld will be instrumental in turning the tide in 2014.

Olathe South (5-4)
The Falcons will have a Seurer on their roster for another year, and as long as that's the case they'll have chance to do big things. While losing players like Braden Smith and Tom McCue won't be easy to overcome, I don't anticipate the program doing any worse than .500 next year.

SM North (0-9)
Will Schneider. Will Schneider. Will Schneider. The Indians will go as Schneider goes the next three seasons. The freshman quarterback stood 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds in his first year as the signal caller, and he will only get bigger, stronger and better. Aside from Schneider, returning 14 starters won't hurt their chances going forward.

SM South (4-5)
The Raiders are trending upward, the only question is how long will it take until they legitimately compete for a league title? Running backs Marshall Bland and Tyler Perdue will ensure the offense will have a strong rushing attack, but their passing game must be more potent if they want more in 2014.

SM West (4-5)
The Vikings will be losing a ton of starters, and they'll certainly experience growing pains in 2014. Carter Pembridge, Tarik Watson and Isaiah Macklin will help to stabilize that, but it will all be building towards 2015 and 2016, two years in which the Vikings' roster could be loaded.

Week Nine Player of the Week

Joe Dineen, Lawrence Free State: So much for that rib injury. Dineen responded by passing for 156 yards and two touchdowns, and adding 101 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground. He'll lead Free State against SM Northwest this Friday.

Final Power Rankings

1. Lawrence Free State (8-1): The league's most under appreciated program has won 18 of its last 21 games. Now comes the tough part -- winning four more games in a row. Free State has made the Sub-State round three times under Bob Lisher so clearly they have the blue print for how to get that far. But everyone knows expectations are much greater than making Sub-State.

2. SM East (8-1): The Lancers might have just put together the quietest 8-1 season on record. Maybe it's because they haven't exactly put up gaudy numbers (only twice did they score more than 30 points), or maybe it's because they had more close games than we typically see from 8-1 teams (they had four wins by a touchdown or less, including two in overtime). But quite frankly, I don't think the Lancers have minded avoiding the limelight thus far.

3. Olathe North (6-3): I think we could all see Olathe North winning a state title just as easily as we could see them dropping out of the playoffs with a Regional loss to BV Northwest. The Eagles had four close games this season, and went 1-3 in those contests. They're best when they can get an early lead then milk the clock with their strong rushing attack. When they've been put under pressure this fall, they haven't fared extraordinarily well.

4. Olathe East (6-3): Can we just start chalking the Hawks up for a playoff berth so long as Jeff Meyers stays on board as head coach? Watching Olathe East is like watching a machine. Limited turnovers, zero mental mistakes, and they don't really play call very aggressively on offense or defense, but it is always enough to get a winning record and into the playoffs. The question of whether that style of play can win a state title has yet to be answered.

5. Olathe South (5-4): We knew going into 2013 that the Falcons would struggle with new personnel, and probably have a tough time making the playoffs. While those items both held true, I would say they exceeded expectations in this rebuilding year. The 5-4 record was a good gauge for the year -- they performed just above what most had anticipated. The week nine loss to Olathe North was rough, but I would have a hard time calling it unexpected.

6. SM West (4-5): For the third year in a row the team I've chosen #1 in the Preseason Power Rankings has failed to make the playoffs. But I wasn't alone in pegging the Vikings atop the league in August, considering they returned a boatload of talent and experience from their state title run in 2012. The Vikes and the Sunflower League will never forget Andre Maloney, but the 1-5 collapse to end the season will make the on the field results from 2013 a forgettable year for the program.

7. SM South (4-5): The Raiders were improved across the board this fall, although their record didn't show that. The next step for SM South will be getting rid of the mental mistakes. Against Olathe East the Raiders turned the ball over five times, not to mention committing multiple drive-killing penalties -- and they still only lost by 10 points. Their talent pool appears to be improving, and an easier district in 2014 should help the program reach more milestones.

8. Leavenworth (3-6): The Pioneers will be making the playoffs for the second time in three years, which is a major accomplishment for the program. If you were around the Sunflower League in the 2000s you know how much of a laughingstock the Leavenworth football program used to be. In fact, their 2009 club was probably the worst team in the league's modern era. Regardless of how they finish the year, you can't overlook how much better the program is now than it was just four seasons ago.

9. Lawrence (3-6): Returning a ton of starters doesn't guarantee success, but losing a ton of starters almost certainly guarantees struggles. While the Chesties went through their fair share of growing pains in 2013, and the end of the day they still came within a point of making the playoffs with basically a completely new roster. The good news for LHS is that their tremendous sophomore class got a ton of experience this year, and the best is yet to come for that group.

10. SM Northwest (3-6): Kudos to the Cougars for not letting early season disappointments sabotage their district performance. SM Northwest needed to go 2-0 to close the year and they did exactly that. And before we write off the Cougars' chances of winning any games in the playoffs, remember, they actually held a 3-0 halftime lead on Free State in week two before eventually losing.

11. Olathe Northwest (3-6): Well, Olathe Northwest has fielded a varsity football program for a decade now and they're still yet to post a winning record. I truly think the difference this year came down to week three, when the Ravens lost on a last-second Hail Mary from SM East. Following that loss the Ravens showed up to games haphazardly, going 2-4 to close out the season. They will get better under Chip Sherman; the only question is when?

12. SM North (0-9): The Indians will go, at a minimum, 34 consecutive months without a victory. And that's assuming they notch a win in the first month of the 2014 season. Fortunately for the program, they invested in a mortgage policy this fall (starting 15 underclassmen, including multiple sophomores) which should help them out as early as next year. I would be surprised if the Indians don't break the losing streak in 2014.

1 comment:

Alexa said...

Have the season end stats been released yet? Looked like it was a close race for passing and receiving yards last week.