Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunflower League Week Two Review, News & Notes

SM West's Isaiah Macklin (right) had coverage
on Olathe Northwest's Manny Psihountas Friday
night at CBAC. Olathe Northwest won the game,
22-0. Photo Mark Witters.
Eli's News and Notes

**The only thing worse than seeing a player go down with a severe injury is seeing that same player being carted into an ambulance. Olathe East's James McGinnis' head injury on Friday was stark reminder of how little importance the game of football has when you evaluate the big picture. Let's all be thankful McGinnis had a successful surgery and has now moved to a recovery stage. I'm a firm believer the benefits of football (hard work, developing camaraderie, being part of a team, etc.) far outweigh the negatives, but that's not to say the negatives don't unveil themselves from time to time.

**SM North has now lost 21 games in a row, which matches the Sunflower League's modern record for consecutive losses, set by Leavenworth from 2008-2010. Their sophomore quarterback Will Schneider isn't to blame, however. He leads the Sunflower League in passing yards with 468 and passing touchdowns with six.

**If you're not familiar with Brian Libeer's work, get yourself acquainted. A champion of the Sunflower League, Libeer is SM East's unofficial videographer. You may hate the Lancers, but it's hard not to enjoy Libeer's work. Libeer's Vimeo page can be linked here.

Trending Up

Olathe South: This offseason the Falcons modified their blocking schemes, and made some slight variations to their offense, and the results have been incredible -- so far. Olathe South is also playing lights out defensively and forcing turnovers at a great clip. You really couldn't script a better start to the season through two games, however, a win against Olathe North this Friday would be the cherry on top.

SM Northwest: There was preseason chatter that SM North was going to end their losing streak at the Cougars' expense in week two -- and that almost happened. But SM Northwest made a resilient comeback late in the fourth quarter and won on a field goal. Another nice little takeaway from the game was the explosiveness of SM Northwest's offense. Sure, SM North isn't a world-beater, but the Cougars showed they have some playmakers.

#PrayforJames: Olathe East defensive back James McGinnis' injury on Friday (documented here) put a clouded cover on the weekend, but the support the Sunflower League and surrounding communities have shown has been wonderful. We ask that you please continue to keep McGinnis and his family in your thoughts and prayers as he continues to battle through the recovery process.

Trending Down

SM South: After a promising performance in week one, the Raiders seemed to take a step back against their hated rival, losing by 38 points. That's now nine losses in the last 10 matchups between the schools. Granted, SM East has looked close to flawless this year, but the point remains SM South come out flat. The Raiders need to find a way to be more competitive in big games like this.

SM West: There's no doubt the Vikings have experienced talent in players like Isaiah Macklin, Asher Goldston, Tarik Watson and Carter Pembridge -- but they just don't seem to have the pieces put together to do anything at this point in the season. The outcome of their game against SM North on Friday could completely define where they go from here.

Game managing quarterbacks: While I still think having dominant running backs is essential to winning a state title, I don't think you can make it out of the Sunflower League alive without a dynamic quarterback, or at least a compensatory plan (i.e., a Wildcat formation, rotating in a true dual-threat quarterback, etc.). Olathe North has been pretty lousy on offense without their starting dual-threat quarterback, Cole Murphy. Meanwhile, the two teams playing the best right now -- Olathe South and SM East -- have dual-threat quarterbacks in Jake Seurer and Gunnar Englund who have played incredible.

Week Three Power Rankings

1. SM East (2-0): The Lancers have outscored their opponents 88-10 through two games, and their starting defense has only given up a field goal. SM East hasn't played the world's most challenging schedule (their opponents are a combined 1-3) but that won't change any time soon -- their schedule is loaded with cream puffs through the rest of the regular season.

2. Olathe North (2-0): For the second week in a row the Eagles came away with a victory after overcoming a halftime deficit, and that was without first-string quarterback Cole Murphy who was nursing a leg injury. With a matchup this Friday against Olathe South, we're going to find out whether the Eagles' close calls have been early-season cobwebs, or a sign of who they truly are.

3. Olathe South (2-0): At one point in the fourth quarter against Olathe East, Olathe South led 46-3. That's insane! I didn't foresee this kind of mojo from the Falcons, especially this early in the year. They completely controlled Friday's game from start to finish. Now, it's time to face the big fish -- Olathe North. ODAC will be rocking again on Friday.

4. Lawrence Free State (1-1): The Firebirds are kind of who we thought they were. The zone-read spread offense will keep them in any game, and they compete hard on defense. The question is, do they have the horses to get over the hump and become a legitimate title threat this season? Or will their youth delay that for a year? We'll find out in the coming weeks.

5. Olathe East (1-1): Olathe East's week two performance was a complete dichotomy from where they were at in week one. It's as if they forgot how to pass the ball, stop the run, and play coverage on a tight end, all in a week. The especially concerning thing was the Hawks' complete lack of energy. However, I tend to think Olathe East just had a bad day and Olathe South came out on fire.

6. Lawrence (1-1): Lawrence looked quite a bit better in week two, but then again, Leavenworth hasn't quite proven to be Blue Valley West either. The Chesty Lions have one of the league's most talented running back duos in JD Woods and Trey Moore, and I expect LHS to ride those two as far as they can this fall. The spread seems to be dead -- the Chesty Lions are back to power football.

7. Olathe Northwest (1-1): Friday's win against SM West was probably the most complete game of the Chip Sherman era at Olathe Northwest. Offensively they aren't gangbusters, but they managed three touchdowns and a field goal, which was solid. Their defense played great forcing four turnovers and blocking a punt. Questions still remain, but I like the direction the Ravens are headed.

8. SM South (1-1): To cite a relevant analogy, the Raiders played SM East the same way the Royals have played the Tigers all season. After a solid week one performance, the Raiders looked to be back in their sub-.500 form of the past few seasons. SM South is a better club than what they showed on Friday and they'll get chance to prove that against Olathe East this week.

9. SM West (0-2): This is sort of uncharted territory for the Vikings. They sit at 0-2 for the first time since 2003, and their offense has been terrible (through two games they've committed six turnovers and scored just two touchdowns). SM North looked like an easy week three game, but with the way the Indians closed things out Friday, the Vikings had better beware.

10. Leavenworth (1-1): The Pioneers need to treat every game as preparation for districts, because as a I stated in the preseason, having dropped to 5A they won't face any of these teams again. Part of that logic means includes focusing on the effort as much as the outcome. Leavenworth nearly came back to tie this game in the fourth quarter after being down by 13 early. That tells you something.

11. SM Northwest (1-1): The Cougars jumped out to a 24-0 lead against SM North, took their foot off the pedal, and nearly lost the game. Fortunately for SM Northwest, I think they gained some much needed confidence by winning late, and they have a W to show for it. Running back Duron Lowe needs 20 touches a game, minimum, as he appears to be the team's best offensive hope.

12. SM North (0-2): SM North was seconds away from completing a 24-point comeback and ending their hideous losing streak against their rival. So close. But, if you're the Indians, you've got to be excited. The program hasn't shown that kind of fight in years, and their next opponent -- SM West -- is reeling at 0-2 and provides another chance for the Indians to shed the losing streak.


Who's Your Daddy said...

I agree with your thoughts on the dual threat QB. Miller at Olathe East is as good if not better than the QB's you named but is hamstrung by poor play calling and rudimentary pass routes. He had a tough game Friday against a very tough Olathe South defense. Nevertheless I expect him to come back strong and have a standout year. Olathe East seemed obviously ill prepared for the Olathe South game plan. The Olathe East coaching staff seems to have a real problem building a game plan that utilizes their best talent.

Who's Your Daddy said...

I have to admit that Olathe South was much better than I expected. Their defense was fast and physical. Their offensive and defensive line play was as good as i've seen in several years. From what I understand there are some problems at North with unhappy players. When you have a player like Moore who has only been targeted three times all year I can see why. I wont be a bit surprised if South knocks off the Eagles on Friday.

Austin Lockwood said...

I've always had the impression that Chazz Burgess is just as good as Murphy at QB. I think he's BETTER at WR but he's definitely able to take more hits and make plays with his feet at QB.

Austin Lockwood said...

also "cream puff" might be the most delicious term to use to describe a football team. Just sayin'