Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sunflower League Sectional Round Playoff Preview

On November 19th, 2009, Blue Valley and Olathe
North played one of the best playoff games in
Kansas City high school football history. James
, pictured, rushed for 213 yards on 30
carries in the game. Olathe North ultimately won
the contest, 16-14. Photo Kansas City Star.
Class 6A

Blue Valley (9-1)
at Olathe North (10-0)
Where: ODAC
Last meeting: Olathe North defeated Blue Valley, 16-14, in the Sub-State Round of the 2009 playoffs.
Topeka CJ spread: Blue Valley -3

What's on the line

Blue Valley
The Tigers have won six 5A state titles, but they've yet to claim a 6A title, despite coming pretty close in 2008 and 2009. A 6A state championship would put Blue Valley up there with Hutchinson as the only program in Kansas high school football history with state titles in both 5A and 6A. They would still need two playoff victories, but getting a win here would do wonders for their confidence, which is already sky-high.

Olathe North
It's all about pride for this group of Eagles. Win, and they get one step closer to Olathe North's ninth 6A state title, and a place at the table in the Eagle program's shrine of fame. A loss and they're no different than Olathe North's 1992, 2005, or 2008 teams who lost in Sectionals (which would be a shame given how good of a season the Eagles have had this fall).

Did you know
These programs met in 2004 and 2005 in the 5A state playoffs, and 2009 in the 6A state playoffs. In the 2004 game, Olathe North ransacked Blue Valley's defending Class 5A champion club, 47-21. Blue Valley returned the favor in 2005, crushing the Eagles 49-0. In 2009 (pictured above) it took an Olathe North field goal with under 15 second remaining in the game for the Eagles to squeak away with the victory.

SM West (6-4) at SM East (10-0)
Where: SM North District Stadium
Last meeting: SM East defeated SM West, 42-19, in week four.
Topeka CJ spread: SM East -20

What's on the line

SM East
The Lancers have two bigger ideas they're working with. For one, they're probably as hungry as any team remaining in 6A, given how they came up a couple minutes late and a touchdown short in last year's state title game. They know the agony of defeat, and want to forever cleanse that feeling by going back and claiming the title. And on the other hand -- and this is way, way too early to say, but it is something you have to consider -- if the Lancers can win this game and power their way to a state title, they would be 24-2 over the last two seasons, with two title appearances and a championship. That has the inklings of the beginning of a dynasty, something currently absent (but always lurking) in Class 6A.

SM West
When I played at SM West, the one team on the calendar you had to beat was SM East. The past two seasons the Vikings have gone 0-2 against the Lancers, and have been outscored 69-19. Those two statistics alone should be enough motivation for SM West to leave everything on the field when the teams square off on Friday. And, from an overall rivalry perspective, there probably couldn't be a better gift for your rival than spoiling their undefeated season this late in the year.

Did you know
SM East and SM West have only played once before in the playoffs, in 1985. SM West won the game, 14-0, en route to winning the Class 6A state title (h/t @BookterT3).

Lawrence Free State (7-3) at Junction City (8-2)
Where: Junction City High School
Last meeting: Junction City defeated Free State, 19-14, in the 2008 6A state title game.
Topeka CJ spread: Free State -11

What's on the line

Junction City
The Blue Jays are really a forgotten program across the Kansas high school football scene, especially given the relative success they've had the past seven seasons. In that time frame, Junction City has gone 54-16, and they've never lost more than three games in any one of those seasons. They have also infamously missed the playoffs four of those years despite having records of 6-3 or 7-2 in the regular season. The reality is, at the end of the day, Junction City is a solid program and one of just five outside of Hutchinson and Olathe North with a 6A crown since 1996. A victory here might really wake the masses up to what the program's all about.

Lawrence Free State
I'm imagining and kind of hoping the Free State coaching staff has been littering the Firebirds' locker room and facilities with press clippings from the 2008 6A state title game -- you know, the one where Junction City beat the Firebirds 19-14? Granted, that was six years ago, and many of Free State's current starters were 10, 11 and 12 years old at the time, but those sort of vendettas have a way of staying with a program. I can assure you the Free State coaching staff would enjoy a victory here as much as any they've had all season.

Did you know
A Free State victory would mark the program's fourth Sub-State berth in the last nine years. That would tie them with Olathe North for the most Sub-State appearances in that time span.

Other 6A
Hutchinson (6-4) at Derby (9-1)

Class 5A

St. Thomas Aquinas (7-3) at Leavenworth (6-4)
Where. Pioneer Stadium
Last meeting: N/A
Topeka CJ spread: Aquinas -11

What's on the line

It's hard to fathom the idea Leavenworth is one win away from playing in Sub-State. Heck, it's crazy to think Leavenworth is sitting at 6-4 and on the verge of playing in a Sectional game for the first time in 24 years. Mark Littrell has done a remarkable job with his club and you can't give him enough praise for what they've been able to accomplish. But could you imagine the kind of praise Littrell would get if he can somehow coach his Pioneers past Randy Dreiling and St. Thomas Aquinas?

St. Thomas Aquinas
This game has everything to do with Dreiling imposing his will on Kansas 5A East high school football. Dreiling's a legendary head coach and a future Kansas Hall-of-Famer for sure, but to just waltz into Aquinas and lead the program to a Sub-State berth (or better) in year one would be embarrassing for the longstanding 5A East programs like Blue Valley West and and Mill Valley. With Dreiling at the helm it was only a matter of time before the program was elite, but in year one? The Saints can crush the hopes and dreams of many 5A East programs if they can find their way to Sub-State this quickly.

Did you know
Littrell and Dreiling have squared off twice before as head coaches, and both times were in 6A state title games. Dreiling's Hutchinson clubs beat Olathe South for the 6A state title in both 2004 and 2007.

Other 5A
Salina South (9-1) at Maize South (8-2)
Shawnee Heights (6-4) at Pittsburg (9-1)
Wichita Heights (8-2) at Bishop Carroll (10-0)

No comments: