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Thursday night football kicks off the city action this week, so a day early, it’s a preview of all the action heading into Week Six…

SEAMAN (1-4) at TOPEKA WEST (1-4)
Hummer Sports Park, Topeka (THURSDAY)
Envista Credit Union Game of the Week – LIVE on AM 580 WIBW/FM News 104.9

Both of these teams could use a win as they jockey for better positioning in the 5A East standings. It’s been a while since the Vikings tasted victory, with four straight losses following their opening victory over Highland Park. The Vikings are capable of playing well against good competition, as their first-half performances against Manhattan and Topeka High suggest, but still need to put 48 consistent minutes of football together. That’s also been the challenge for the Chargers, particularly with youth and inexperience on offense. Expect both teams to come out with a lot of energy in this Thursday night affair.

KEY TO THE GAME: Consistency on offense starts with the quarterback. Can West get freshman starter Malachi Berg comfortable and in a rhythm early? Will Seaman be able to establish balance on offense with either Reid Cowan or Brayden Vawter under center?

TOPEKA HIGH (4-1) at WASHBURN RURAL (1-4)
Bowen-Glaze Stadium, Topeka
Envista Credit Union Game of the Week – LIVE on AM 580 WIBW/FM News 104.9

These games were scorefests last season, with a pair of electrifying offenses lighting up the scoreboards in their Week 6 meeting and again in the regional round of the 6A playoffs. The Trojans won both matchups, 63-38 and 56-21, and their offense might be even better this year given Da’Vonshai Harden‘s growth as a passer. The Junior Blues haven’t been nearly as prolific offensively this season, but quarterback Cooper Carlgren is coming off the best game of his season in Rural’s first victory of the year last Friday. Topeka High’s Ky Thomas enters the game, unofficially, 70 yards away from setting a new career record for rushing yards in the city of Topeka.

KEY TO THE GAME: If Washburn Rural wants to put a scare into Topeka High, or more, they will have to be their best from the get-go. An early scoring drive will put pressure on the Trojan defense, and allow the confidence gained in last week’s win to carry over.

BISHOP WARD (0-5) at HAYDEN (5-0)
Hayden Field, Topeka

The Wildcats are coming off their toughest test of the season, which they passed with a late goal line stand in a 13-6 win over Jeff West. That puts Hayden in the driver’s seat for a 3A District 3 title. Bishop Ward, meanwhile, enters tonight’s contest on a 52-game losing streak. There’s little to suggest there will be the same level of drama at Hayden Field as there was last Friday night.

KEY TO THE GAME: For Hayden, it’s two-fold – don’t get complacent against an over-matched opponent, and don’t suffer any key injuries.

EMPORIA (3-2) at HIGHLAND PARK (0-5)
Hummer Sports Park, Topeka

The undermanned Scots are suffering through the expected growing pains this season, especially on defense, but despite barely dressing more than the required 11 players each week, they are competing in a way that has made head coach Mike Foristere proud. They host an Emporia squad coming in frustrated after a loss last week to Manhattan, and eager to get back on the winning path.

KEY TO THE GAME: Highland Park moved the ball effectively against Junction City last week but had difficulty in the red zone. Finishing drives will be something the Scots must learn as they continue to build towards respectability.

SHAWNEE HEIGHTS (2-3) at LEAVENWORTH (2-3)
Pioneer Stadium, Leavenworth

The Thunderbirds snapped a two-game skid last week by beating Washington and bring a 1-1 record in United Kansas Conference play on the road to Leavenworth. The T-Birds have discovered the most potent passer-receiver combo in the city with Hunter Wohler finding Brayden Zirkle for big plays on a weekly basis. They take on a much-improved Pioneer squad that claims a shocking win over Basehor-Linwood earlier this season. Big Reese Williams is an intimidating tight end for Leavenworth, who is 2-1 in UKC action.

KEY TO THE GAME: The T-Birds have seen plenty of athletic quarterbacks this season and by and large have done well to limit their impact as runners. It will be tough to accomplish that feat against Leavenworth’s JoVaughn Darthard, but the Heights defense must keep him contained and force him to beat them with his arm.

And elsewhere in the 580 Preps coverage area tonight…

Central Heights (0-5) at Osage City (3-2)
Free State (4-1) at Olathe South (2-3)
Iola (1-4) at Burlington (2-3)
JCN (4-1) at Lyndon (5-0)
Junction City (5-0) at Manhattan (4-1)
Maranatha (4-1) at Burlingame (4-1)
Oskaloosa (1-4) at McLouth (0-5)
Perry-Lecompton (3-2) at Jeff West (4-1)
Riley County (3-2) at Council Grove (2-3)
Rock Creek (2-3) at Hesston (4-1)
Royal Valley (0-5) at Marysville (5-0)
Sabetha (4-1) at Holton (4-1)
Shawnee Mission South (2-3) at Lawrence (5-0)
Southeast of Saline (4-1) at Mission Valley (2-3)
St. Marys (1-4) at Rossville (3-2)
Troy (2-3) at Jackson Heights (3-2)
Valley Falls (1-4) at Madison (5-0)
Wabaunsee (1-4) at Valley Heights (4-1)
Wamego (4-1) at Hiawatha (0-5)
Wellsville (3-2) at Santa Fe Trail (2-3)
West Franklin (1-4) at Silver Lake (5-0)


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