The 2019 high school football season is off and running! There are plenty of exciting matchups this week to follow for the capital city and the surrounding area. Here’s a preview of the Topeka area’s pigskin contests…
SUMNER ACADEMY (0-1) at HIGHLAND PARK (0-1)
Hummer Sports Park, Topeka (THURSDAY)
Kicking off the week is the Thursday night affair between two teams looking for their first wins of the season. Highland Park has found it difficult just to be close in games over the last handful of years, but last year they very nearly earned their first win of the Mike Foristiere era against the Sabres, falling in the end 36-34. The Scots will be hyped to play this game as it represents a real chance to snap what is now a 44-game losing streak.
KEY TO THE GAME: If the Scots can jump out to an early lead, it would be massive for their confidence. Eliminating the special teams miscues that cost them in their Week One loss to Seaman will also be crucial for Highland Park’s chances.
SEAMAN (1-0) at HAYDEN (1-0)
Hayden Field, Topeka
Envista Credit Union Game of the Week – LIVE on Country 106.9
Expect a low-scoring, physical slugfest with these two teams. Glenn O’Neil has had the upper hand on his good friend Bill Arnold in their three meetings, with the Vikings winning by scores of 14-0, 17-6, and 13-0 last season. Both teams eased to Week One victories, but going to 2-0 will be a tall task. Hayden will have to prepare to see two different quarterbacks, with Reid Cowan healthy and joining the mix with the versatile Brayden Vawter, who threw two touchdown passes last week but can shift to wingback if O’Neil decides to go with the junior under center. Linebacker play will be crucial at keeping the running game for either side from turning out explosive plays. Seaman’s group is led by Vawter and Drayton Foster, who has moved inside this season, while Will DeVader, Diego Carr, Jordan Rainer and Desmond Purnell form the athletic Wildcat linebacker corps. It should be an entertaining, hard-hitting edition of this great rivalry.
KEY TO THE GAME: Scoring opportunities will be hard to come by, so both teams will have to be sharp in the red zone and finish their drives, something that troubled Hayden in their loss in this game last season.
MANHATTAN (1-0) at TOPEKA HIGH (1-0)
Hummer Sports Park, Topeka
It’s the marquee matchup in the Centennial League this season, just as it has been the last few, as these two massively talented 6A squads clash on Chuck Lower Field. Both teams are coming off opening wins, but Manhattan suffered a significant loss in beating Olathe Northwest, as star lineman and future Kansas State Wildcat Sam Shields was injured and is out indefinitely. That may swing the advantage in the trenches towards the Trojans, but their offensive line must play better than they did in Week One. Topeka High lost this game in controversial fashion last season when Ky Thomas‘ dive for the end zone on a two-point conversion in overtime was ruled short of the goal line. Surely Thomas and the rest of his teammates will be motivated by that memory as they pursue a win that would be significant in the league title race as well as the 6A West standings.
KEY TO THE GAME: Topeka High can’t afford to beat themselves with turnovers or penalties. If the Trojans can stay ahead of the sticks on offense they’ll have no problem lighting up the scoreboard, and their speed on defense should allow them to slow Manhattan on that side.
TOPEKA WEST (0-1) at EMPORIA (1-0)
Welch Stadium, Emporia
Chargers coach Ryan Kelly is trying to instill a physicality and toughness in his team, but he didn’t see enough of that in their Week One loss to Hayden. They are going to need to bring that attitude to the field against a very tough Spartan team that suffocated the Washburn Rural offense last week in a road win. Emporia is outstanding up front, led by Iowa State commit Hayden Pauls, and they’re fast defensively.
KEY TO THE GAME: Emporia’s offense is built to pick up yards on the ground. West has the size to hold their own up front, so their linebackers must be sure tacklers and make sure the Spartans don’t have any explosive running plays.
TURNER (0-1) at SHAWNEE HEIGHTS (1-0)
Lester Wetter Field, Tecumseh
The T-Birds struggled with Topeka High’s size and speed in an opening 44-7 loss last Friday night, but they’ll be ready to rebound in their United Kansas Conference opener against a Golden Bears team that was blanked 35-0 by Harmon in their opener. Heights has weapons on the ground in Davion Gardenhire and Marquis Barksdale and they’ll hope to get that thunder-and-lightning dynamic established early behind their solid offensive line.
KEY TO THE GAME: Heights should look to make Turner chase their offense from sideline to sideline. The T-Birds have the speed to make big plays on the perimeter, and it will wear out the Golden Bears as the game goes on.
WASHBURN RURAL (0-1) at JUNCTION CITY (1-0)
Al Simpler Stadium, Junction City
The Junior Blues offense was stuck in neutral in their 17-6 loss to Emporia, but they had plenty of chances to score more, and that was a function of the hard work and playmaking ability of their defense. Led by senior linebacker Drake McCall, the ‘Wild Bunch’ made the Spartans work hard for their 17 points. The Rural defense will need to be solid again against a Blue Jay offense that scored 48 points against Hays in their season opener.
KEY TO THE GAME: Rural’s offensive line has to be better and open up running lanes for Jaylen Carter. If he finds success, it opens up everything else for the Junior Blues offense and will rebuild their confidence after Week One’s slow start.
And elsewhere in the 580 Preps coverage area this week…
Lawrence (1-0) at Shawnee Mission East (0-1) (Thursday)
Chapman (0-1) at Wamego (1-0)
Clifton-Clyde (1-0) at Valley Falls (0-1)
Colony-Crest (1-0) at Burlingame (1-0)
Free State (1-0) at Olathe East (0-1)
Jackson Heights (1-0) at ACCHS (1-0)
Jeff West (1-0) at Royal Valley (0-1)
McLouth (0-1) at JCN (1-0)
Olpe (1-0) at Burlington (1-0)
Osage City (0-1) at Lyndon (1-0)
Osawatomie (0-1) at Santa Fe Trail (0-1)
Oskaloosa (0-1) at Maur Hill-Mount Academy (1-0)
Perry-Lecompton (1-0) at Holton (0-1)
Riley County (1-0) at Centralia (0-1)
Rock Creek (0-1) at St. Marys (0-1)
Rossville (1-0) at Silver Lake (1-0)
Wabaunsee (0-1) at Mission Valley (1-0)