Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunflower League Sectional Round Review

Quarterback Gunnar Englund and the SM East flexbone offense were too much for SM West's
defense to handle on Friday night. The Lancers won, 41-0. Photo David Compton.
The Good

**With Olathe North's victory against Blue Valley, the Sunflower League was guaranteed a representee in the 6A state title game for the 46th year in a row. The 6A classification has only been around for 46 years.

**Lawrence Free State's victory against Junction City kept the Firebirds alive in the 6A West bracket. If Free State can beat Hutchinson on Friday, the 6A state title game will feature two Sunflower League teams for the first time in history.

The Bad

**An undefeated team will suffer their first and only lost of the 2014 season this week, and be done for the year. Olathe North (11-0) and SM East (11-0) will be the first teams to square off in the 6A East Sub-State round, undefeated, since 2007, when Free State and SM West were in the same position.

**Leavenworth wasn't able to fully capitalize on a weak 5A East. With Blue Valley making the jump to 6A, and Bishop Miege dropping to 4A, the East side of the 5A landscape was particularly undermanned this fall. The Pioneers did an excellent job advancing to Sectionals, but in the end, they just couldn't get past Aquinas.

The Ugly

**SM East has outscored their opponents 531-97 this fall, for an average margin of victory of 48-9. That's a beautiful stat if you're a Lancer, but to the rest of the league, that's complete domination.

**Lawrence Free State begin playing 6A West opponents six weeks ago. They've gone 5-0 since. Their opponents' records, as of each game, were as follows: 2-5, 6-1, 7-1, 7-2, and 8-2. Needless to say, it's been an impressive run for a Free State team that entered that stretch at 3-3. If the Firebirds knock off Hutchinson (7-4) Friday, it would suggest they really exposed 6A West (if they haven't already).

Sectional Round Player of the Week

Bryce Torneden, Free State: Across the board, there wasn't one player who jumped out as having a completely dominant performance that would rank head and shoulders above the rest. But as far as production goes, no player had the impact of Torneden. The junior quarterback combined for 313 total yards, from a variety of sources. He completed nine of his 16 passes for 145 yards, carried the ball 19 times for 89 yards and two touchdowns, returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown, and had 47 kick return yards.

Down and Out

Leavenworth (6-5)
Well, it appears the Pioneers have found their niche in class 5A. They should do all in their power to remain in 5A going forward. The team went 5-1 against 5A competition, but just 1-4 against 6A clubs. But we also can't lose sight of the big picture. Head coach Mark Littrell and his staff know how to win, and Leavenworth is no longer going to be the perennial doormat we grew accustomed to for so many years. No, Leavenworth is finally a program capable of doing some damage.

SM West (6-5)
The 41-0 loss to SM East was a rotten ending to what turned out to be a pretty solid season for one of the league's youngest teams. With the amount of youth they broke in this fall (their defense, for instance, featured eight starters who were non-seniors) it's reasonable to believe the Vikings could return to being one of the league's more dominant fixtures starting next fall.

1 comment:

Free State Fan said...

All eyes are, rightly so, on the East side of the state this Friday. But a quick look out West shows FS has dominated 5 weeks in a row. As the article points out, 4 of which were against top West foes. The Junction City coach said it best after Friday's beatdown, "This game was won a long time ago in the weigh room under the squat rack. Those kids are tough, physical kids." The SFL is a brutal league and the West side of the state, I think, has a new respect for it due to the FS run. I like FS to beat Hutch Friday and have a rematch chance against ON or SME. Good luck to both of them. They've had tremendous years. Go 'Birds!