|Free State's Bryce Torneden (left) and
Carson Bowen will lead the Firebirds as
they travel to take on SM West in the
season-opener on Thursday. Photo LJW.
Lawrence Free State (0-0) at SM West (0-0) at SM South District Stadium (Thursday game)
This is one of the two Thursday games to begin the Sunflower League season ... SM West head coach Tim Callaghan is 9-2 all-time in season opening games ... Free State's 19-4 record the past two seasons is the best in the league ... these teams have faced off three times in the past two years, with Free State holding a 2-1 edge in those games.
Lawrence (0-0) at Blue Valley West (0-0) at BVDAC (Thursday game)
This is one of the two Thursday games to begin the Sunflower League season ... Lawrence and Blue Valley West have never faced one another ... Blue Valley West went 8-4 a season ago in Class 5A, losing to Blue Valley in Sub-State ... LHS holds the Kansas high school record for state titles with 10 ... LHS junior lineman Amani Bledsoe holds four FBS offers and could be the state's premier lineman in the class of 2016.
Great Bend (0-0) at Leavenworth (0-0) at Pioneer Stadium
Leavenworth dropped a classification in the offseason, and will be the lone Sunflower League representative in Class 5A in 2014 ... Great Bend's new head coach is Tony Crough, who replaces Bo Black, who left the program to take the Hays job this past offseason ... Great Bend went 4-5 in 2013 ... Leavenworth has gone 1-5 in their last six season-openers.
Hays (0-0) at Olathe Northwest (0-0) at CBAC (5:30 pm)
Since its inception on the varsity scene in 2004, Olathe Northwest has yet to achieve a winning record in any one season ... Hays went 6-3 a season ago under Ryan Cornelson ... Cornelson left to take the job at Hutchinson, and he was replaced by Bo Black ... Black spent the past 13 seasons at Great Bend, going 82-47 ... Hays is led by quarterback Alex Delton, a K-State commit ... this is the early game of the two-part "Battle for Sunflower State Power" series at CBAC.
Garden City (0-0) at Olathe East (0-0) at CBAC (8:00 pm)
The Buffaloes from Garden City went 8-4 a season ago, making a Sub-State appearance ... Olathe East has recorded 14 winning seasons in a row ... depending on the traffic, the drive by bus from Garden City to Olathe is about six hours ... this game will have a late kickoff, acting as the second game of the two-part "Battle for Sunflower State Power" series at CBAC.
Olathe North (0-0) at Rogers (Ark) Heritage (0-0) at Rogers Heritage
Olathe North enters 2014 as the state title favorite in Class 6A ... the Rogers Heritage War Eagles have only been playing varsity football since 2008 ... the War Eagles went 5-6 last year ... the Eagles from Olathe North went 8-4 last season, falling to SM East in Sub-State ... Olathe North features three players who are either FBS commits or have FBS offers, which is the most of any school in Kansas.
Olathe South (0-0) at Hutchinson (0-0) at Hutchinson
Hutchinson's legendary head coach Randy Dreiling left the program to take a job at St. Thomas Aquinas in this past offseason ... Dreiling's successor, Ryan Cornelson, spent the previous five years at Hays High School ... After going 12-1 in 2011, Olathe South has compiled a 10-8 record the past two seasons .. Hutchinson was much maligned by injuries a season ago, and finished 5-4.
SM East (0-0) at Gardner-Edgerton (0-0) at Gardner-Edgerton
SM East is coming off their best season in school history, where they finished 11-2 as the 6A State Runner-Up ... Gardner-Edgerton went 8-2 last fall, losing to Olathe East in the Regional Round of the 6A state playoffs ... SM East returns 16 starters, and the Lancers have won four season openers in a row ... this is one of three opening week games between the Sunflower League and the EKL.
SM North (0-0) at SM South (0-0) at SM South District Stadium
SM North carries a 19-game losing streak into this contest ... the Indians interim head coach is Ben Barlett, who filled in for Don Simmons after he abruptly left this summer to take the head coaching job at Greene County Tech (Ark) High School ... SM South will be attempting to collect their first winning record in over 15 years this upcoming fall, after falling just short going 4-5 each of the past two years ... SM South has lost every season-opener dating back to the late 1990s.
Blue Valley (0-0) at SM Northwest (0-0) at SM North District Stadium
Blue Valley, the defending Class 5A state champion, has been widely recognized as the bully of Class 5A with 11 state title appearances since 1991, and six state titles in that time frame ... the Tigers were bumped up to Class 6A in the offseason ... SM Northwest qualified for the playoffs last season, but the program hasn't had a winning record since 2010 ... Blue Valley offensive lineman AJ Harris (6-3, 300), a Missouri commit, is rated as the top high school football prospect in Kansas by Rivals.com ... Blue Valley went 10-3 a season ago.