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Two games in to the 2019 season, there are two Topeka-area teams out to 2-0 starts, and three still looking for their first wins. This week features two city rivalry games, and three teams heading out on the road in search of victory. Here’s a preview of the action.

HAYDEN (2-0) at WASHBURN RURAL (0-2)
Bowen-Glaze Stadium, Topeka
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The trendline in this rivalry is striking. The Wildcats used to be able to count on their yearly rivalry battle with the Junior Blues as a win… but Steve Buhler has changed all that, going 5-1 as the Rural head coach against Hayden, with four straight victories, including a 33-17 win at Hayden Field last year. This year, Rural comes in to this game in need of a victory, having struggled to produce points and consistent offense in a pair of losses to start the season. Meanwhile, the Wildcats have run rampant over their first two opponents, scoring 55 and 54 points in wins over Topeka West and Seaman.

KEY TO THE GAME: Both sides feature terrific speed at the skill positions. Rural’s running back Jaylen Carter is a blur and Cortez Sanders is a big play threat at wide receiver. For Hayden, Desmond PurnellJack Konrade and Cole Chisham have shown the ability to get to the edge and create explosive plays. Whichever defense is able to eliminate the 20+ yard run and force their opponent to sustain long drives will have an advantage in this game.

SEAMAN (1-1) at MANHATTAN (1-1)
Bishop Stadium, Manhattan

Both teams come into this game licking their wounds from last week, as the Vikings were routed at Hayden and the Indians let a fourth-quarter lead slip away in a loss at Topeka High. Manhattan is a fast-starting team and Dayne Aschenbrenner is off to a terrific start under center. Seaman is still looking for their solution at quarterback after both Reid Cowan and Brayden Vawter struggled at times last week, but they have some burgeoning talents in their running game who can help take the pressure off of whoever is under center and also keep the ball out of the Indians’ hands. The big question for Seaman is whether their defense, gashed on the ground last week, can recover and be more disciplined in their assignments this week.

KEY TO THE GAME: Whether it’s Vawter or Cowan, Seaman will have a capable passer and runner taking snaps. Early confidence and rhythm will be important for both QBs and the entire offense, because they’ll need to put points up to keep up with a potent Manhattan offense.

SHAWNEE HEIGHTS (1-1) at SCHLAGLE (1-0)
F.L. Schlagle Stadium, Kansas City

The T-Birds won their United Kansas Conference opener last week, cruising past Turner. They’ll look to make it two wins over KCK schools in as many weeks as they travel to face the Stallions. Heights found good balance in their running game in thrashing the Golden Bears, as Davion Gardenhire and Antonio Ruiz both had big games on the ground. That offensive confidence will need to carry over to this week against a Stallion squad led by star running back and future Jayhawk Jaylin Richardson.

KEY TO THE GAME: The assignment for the T-Birds is simple – contain Richardson by any means necessary. Heights’ veteran line will need to win in the trenches and give the T-Birds linebackers, led by tackling machine Timirance Adams, a chance to get to the ballcarrier.

TOPEKA HIGH (2-0) at HIGHLAND PARK (0-2)
Hummer Sports Park, Topeka

Victory was close enough to taste for the Scots last week, but what would have been the first win in 44 games eluded them in a 26-24 loss to Sumner Academy. Now the Scots, who may have found their recipe for success on offense in the running threats of quarterback Trey Prosper and running back Jeremy Kendrick behind a young but improving offensive line, have to regroup against one of their biggest challenges of the season. On the flip side are the Trojans, riding high after finally getting past Manhattan. Walt Alexander’s charges must refocus and take care of business in pursuit of another Centennial League championship.

KEY TO THE GAME: The Trojans would love to jump all over Highland Park early, dominate the first half, and rest their regulars ahead of a Thursday night test against Junction City. If Ky Thomas breaks some long scoring runs early, they can do just that.

TOPEKA WEST (0-2) at JUNCTION CITY (2-0)
Al Simpler Stadium, Junction City

Chargers coach Ryan Kelly is still looking for his team to show improvement offensively and in the trenches. Those things will have to come this week against a potent Junction City offense, led by standout running back Russell Wilkey. The Blue Jays are averaging 41.5 points per game and are looking for a 2-0 start in league play ahead of their visit to Topeka High next week. But if they get caught looking too far ahead, Topeka West has the athletes and the size to make things interesting if they match Junction City’s physicality.

KEY TO THE GAME: The Chargers have shown the ability to move the ball on offense at times, but much of that success has come in the second half of games with the outcome all but decided. If they can put together an early scoring drive with the tools they’ve shown, it would be a big boost.

Elsewhere in the 580 Preps coverage area tonight…

Burlingame (2-0) @ Marais des Cygnes Valley (0-2)
Central Heights (0-2) @ Wabaunsee (0-2)
Council Grove (1-1) @ Osage City (0-2)
Hiawatha (0-2) @ Jeff West (2-0)
Holton (1-1) @ Nemaha Central (1-1)
JCN (2-0) @ Oskaloosa (0-2)
Lawrence (2-0) @ Gardner-Edgerton (2-0)
Legend (CO) @ Emporia (2-0)
Lyndon (2-0) @ West Franklin (0-2)
Maur Hill-Mount Academy (2-0) @ Jackson Heights (2-0)
Northern Heights (2-0) @ Mission Valley (2-0)
Pleasant Ridge (0-2) @ McLouth (0-2)
Rossville (1-1) @ Rock Creek (1-1)
Royal Valley (0-2) @ Riverside (1-1)
Sabetha (2-0) @ Perry-Lecompton (1-1)
Santa Fe Trail (1-1) @ Anderson County (1-1)
Shawnee Mission North (0-2) @ Free State (1-1)
Silver Lake (2-0) @ Riley County (1-1)
St. Marys (0-2) @ Centralia (1-1)
Valley Falls (0-2) @ Washington County (1-1)
Wamego (2-0) @ Clay Center (1-1)
Wellsville (2-0) @ Burlington (1-1)

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