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We’re halfway through the 2019 high school football season, which means tonight is the start of the stretch drive as teams try to start playing their best football while positioning themselves for playoff seeding. Here’s a look at the city’s games tonight…

JEFF WEST (4-0) at HAYDEN (4-0)
Hayden Field, Topeka
Envista Credit Union Game of the Week – LIVE on AM 580 WIBW/FM News 104.9

As impressive as Hayden has been in steamrolling their first four opponents this season, one number for Jeff West is even more impressive: zero. That’s how many points the Tigers have allowed this season, posting four straight shutouts in getting off to their 4-0 start. Standout lineman Kauli Saili leads the way for the impressive Tiger D. It will be the sternest challenge yet for the Hayden offense, which has been explosive in averaging 46.5 yards per game with a different standout seemingly every night. The Wildcats will look to the speed of Desmond Purnell and Jack Konrade and the power of Will DeVader and Diego Carr to wear away at the Tigers and put some points up against them

KEY TO THE GAME: It’s arguable whether or not Jeff West is the best team that Hayden has played, but it’s inarguable that Hayden is the best team Jeff West has seen. If they can maintain their shutout streak through the opening quarter – a quarter that Hayden has dominated this season, outscoring foes 70-0 in the first 12 minutes of games – they’ll grow in confidence and this game will feel more and more like a dogfight.

HIGHLAND PARK (0-4) at JUNCTION CITY (4-0)
Al Simpler Stadium, Junction City

The Blue Jays are flying high off their stunning last-second win at Topeka High last Thursday and are in control of their own destiny in the Centennial League title race. Now, with an extra day off, they’ll face an undermanned Highland Park team that had to play last Saturday after rain delayed their game against Topeka West. This one isn’t about winning for the Scots as much as it’s about surviving and staying healthy to proceed through the rest of their schedule.

KEY TO THE GAME: The Scots will hope to stay healthy, show progress in the understanding of their assignments, and take what positives they can from playing a team that’s looking formidable.

KC WASHINGTON (3-1) at SHAWNEE HEIGHTS (1-3)
Lester Wetter Field, Tecumseh

The Thunderbirds have shown that they are a capable first half team, but the second 24 minutes have been a struggle for them in losses the last two weeks to Schlagle and Basehor-Linwood. Getting back on the winning track won’t be easy against a Wildcat team that features a ballhawking defense led by defensive back Tywan Muturi, one of the state’s leaders in interceptions. Heights quarterback Hunter Wohler is developing a big-play connection with Brayden Zirkle and is also comfortable using his legs, which he’ll need to help the T-Birds control and protect the ball in this game.

KEY TO THE GAME: A football game is 48 minutes, and if Heights puts two full halves together of good ball control offense and assignment-sound defense, the way they have played in opening up first-half leads the last two weeks, they’ll be plenty capable of earning a victory.

TOPEKA HIGH (3-1) at SEAMAN (1-3)
Don Pierce Field, Topeka

Neither of these teams are pleased with their performances last week. The Trojans were one play short in a loss to Junction City, while Seaman never got in the game in their loss to Emporia. That should mean two very motivated squads take the field in North Topeka tonight. The Trojan defense in particular will be looking to bounce back, while the Vikings offense, whether it’s Reid Cowan (questionable) or Brayden Vawter under center, hope they can find the timing and rhythm that eluded them until the second half last week.

KEY TO THE GAME: The start of this game will be critical for both teams. Seaman will look to play with more energy off the bat than they mustered last week, and they’ll need all of it to keep up with the Topeka High offense.

WASHBURN RURAL (0-4) at TOPEKA WEST (1-3)
Hummer Sports Park, Topeka

Topeka West was starving for a win, and they went out and got one, dominating Highland Park last week and finding some promising offensive playmakers in the process. Now it’s Washburn Rural who is desperately seeking a victory. They’ve played a vicious schedule to start, with their opponents holding a collecting 14-2 record. They hope that will pay off for them in the second half of the season and that they can do a better job establishing the run with Jaylen Carter moving forward.

KEY TO THE GAME: Can Topeka West feed on their confidence built after last week’s win? Washburn Rural will hope to puncture that confidence with an early scoring drive or two.

And elsewhere in the 580 Preps coverage area tonight…

Burlingame (3-1) at Valley Falls (1-3)
Chapman (1-3) at Rock Creek (1-3)
Council Grove (2-2) at St. Marys (0-4)
Free State (3-1) at Sedalia (MO) Smith-Cotton (0-5)
Hillsboro (2-2) at Wabaunsee (1-3)
Holton (3-1) at Royal Valley (0-4)
JCN (4-0) at KC Christ Prep (4-1)
Lawrence (4-0) at Shawnee Mission Northwest (4-0)
Lyndon (4-0) at Northern Heights (4-0)
Manhattan (3-1) at Emporia (3-1)
Marysville (4-0) at Wamego (4-0)
McLouth (0-4) at West Franklin (0-4)
Mission Valley (2-2) at Riley County (2-2)
Osage City (2-2) at Oskaloosa (1-3)
Prairie View (4-0) at Burlington (2-2)
Rossville (2-2) at Southeast of Saline (4-0)
Santa Fe Trail (2-2) at Perry-Lecompton (2-2)
Silver Lake (4-0) at Central Heights (0-4)
Valley Heights (4-0) at Jackson Heights (2-2)


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