For Hayden, it’s the final game of the regular season. For everyone else, it’s playoff time. Let’s take a look at the seven games being played by city schools on what will be a chilly Friday night under the lights…
LEAVENWORTH (3-5) at SHAWNEE HEIGHTS (6-2) (LIVE ON 580 WIBW and FM NEWS 104.9)
Game In A Sentence: Next year, these two will be league foes, but tonight, the T-Birds and Pioneers play to keep their seasons alive.
Key To The Game: Can Shawnee Heights take care of the football? The T-Birds are -5 in the turnover department for the season and were -1 in their loss to Emporia last week. Heights’ ground game should be able to have success moving the ball on the Pioneers defense, with quarterback Mitchell Lady at the controls. If they are able to control the ball, and the tempo, they should be able to score plenty against a Leavenworth team that averaged just 11 points per game.
HAYDEN (4-4, 2-0 District) at JEFF WEST (2-6, 0-2)
Game In A Sentence: The Wildcats hope to stay hot heading into the 4A-II postseason.
Key To The Game: Does Jeff West have anybody who can keep up with DeShawn Hanika? To be fair to Jeff West, the answer to this question is probably ‘no’ for just about every 4A-II team. Hanika has had a pair of monster games in district play, and while Hayden’s running attack is gaining steam, the talented wideout’s connection with quarterback Sampson Huston has been the big-play duo that really separates the Wildcats as a state title contender.
TOPEKA WEST (1-7) at MAIZE (7-1)
Game In A Sentence: The Chargers head south to battle a perennially tough Eagles squad in the 5A West bracket.
Key To The Game: Can Topeka West stop the run? Maize’s Dalyn Johnson may not be big in stature, but he puts up big numbers as one of the top running backs in the AV-CTL. The Chargers had difficulty slowing down opposing ground games this season, surrendering over 350 rushing yards per contest. They’ll have to put up some resistance to the Eagles rushing attack to give themselves a chance to pull the upset.
HIGHLAND PARK (0-8) at SCHLAGLE (8-0)
Game In A Sentence: The Scots nearly pulled the upset over the Stallions in last year’s first round, and they get another crack at it this year.
Key To The Game: Can Will White make enough plays? Schlagle’s rushing attack, led by the state’s leading rusher Ivan Webb, has the capacity to control the ball and put up points. For Highland Park to match, they will need White to pop some big yardage from his quarterback position.
MILL VALLEY (4-4) at SEAMAN (4-4)
Game In A Sentence: The Vikings’ playoff journey starts with a visit from the defending 5A champions.
Key To The Game: Can the Vikings offense find its rhythm? Seaman will turn to Brayden Vawter, their backup quarterback, tonight due to an injury to starter Kobe Jones. The hope is that Vawter can make enough plays to keep the Jaguar defense honest and allow the Viking ground game, led by Dalton Temmen, room to operate.
WASHBURN RURAL (4-4) at GARDEN CITY (6-2)
Game In A Sentence: Red-hot Rural hopes to duplicate their playoff success of last season, starting with the long trip to the southeast.
Key To The Game: Will Rural find offensive balance? Over the last two weeks, the return of Jordan White from injury has re-energized the Junior Blues running game. That, combined with the potency shown in the passing game earlier in the season with Michael Schurig under center, gives Rural an opportunity to freeze defenses with major threats in both facets of offense. White and Jaylen Carter can set a tone on the ground, but some early throws from Schurig to Preston Williams or Braedon Breckenridge could have the Buffaloes on their heels.
WICHITA SOUTH (1-7) at TOPEKA HIGH (7-1)
Game In A Sentence: The potent Trojan offense is primed for a deep postseason run, with their first challenge coming from the Titans.
Key To The Game: Will the Trojans maintain focus? Coach Walt Alexander has been pleased with how his young and relatively inexperienced football team has prepared each week, particularly following their loss to Manhattan in Week Four. The Trojans have come prepared and started fast in their four wins since, and they’ll need the same mindset in each playoff game.