Friday, 20 April 2018
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Friday Night Fever - Preview of All Week One Kanzaland Area Football Matchups
Copyright: MSC Sports

The start of the Kansas high school football season is here as week one action kicks off tonight. To get prepared for all the action for Kanzaland area teams from the Big Seven League, Twin Valley League, Northeast Kansas League and a few other teams we have a Friday Night Fever preview of all the games. 

Week One Games to be Broadcasted:
103.9 KNZA – Royal Valley at Hiawatha  (click here to listen)
92.1 KMZA & Sabetha Channel - Centralia at Sabetha (click here to listen & to watch)
KAIR 93.7 FM - Jefferson County North at Maur Hill-Mount Academy (click here to listen)
Holton Channel & KAIR 1470 AM - Holton at Atchison (click here to listen & watch & listen on KAIR

Maur Hill-Mount Academy vs. Jefferson County North
Maur Hill-Mount Academy and Jefferson County North enter the 2017 season with two of the most experienced teams in the Northeast Kansas League and around the area. The Ravens bring back nine starters to an offense that put up over 38 points per game last season, including sophomore quarterback Jack Caudle who threw for over 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns in his freshman campaign. Caudle will be joined in the backfield by senior tailback Ronald Faulk-Tindal who enters 2017 as one of the top returners around the area, after rushing for nearly 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns a season ago.

Jefferson County North is coming off the school’s first league title since 2001, but are looking to make a deeper playoff run after injuries cut the Chargers season short in 2016. JCN has a great chance to do just that, as all skill players are back from an offense that put up over 3,200 yards of total offense and nearly 35 points per game. Seniors Ridge Robertson and Samuel Larson are expected to shoulder the load of the offense heading into 2017, after both rushing for over 700 yards last season. The Chargers took last season’s meeting 34-14, after jumping out to a 24-0 lead at halftime.

McLouth at Oskaloosa
Oskaloosa and McLouth are each coming off 4-5 seasons dealing with turnovers and mental mistakes late in games. The Bears and Coach Scott Whaley enter Friday night searching for a new quarterback, but luckily the backfield is covered with four guys who can tote the rock led by senior Jared Miller who ran for over 400 yards a season ago. The key for the Bears is staying healthy, while the underclassman also need to step and fill some of the holes. The Bulldogs on the otherhand return the majority of a team that could’ve easily been 6-3 a season ago, but critical mistakes kept McLouth from reaching the postseason. Coach Gary Freeman brings back eight starters on each side of the ball, with hopes of avenging last year’s season opening 14-6 loss to the Bears.

Pleasant Ridge at Horton

While every football team is optimistic to start the new season and ready for a clean slate, the Horton Chargers are certainly excited to turn their program back in the right direction.  After losing 17 of their last 18 games, 10th year Coach Nick Dowell welcomes back five starters on both sides of the ball and has two impact transfer players that will help as upper-classmen (Gunnar Madere and Conner Winter).  Besides staying healthy, Horton must take care of the ball of offense and eliminate giving up big plays on defense, which looks attainable with four of their top five tacklers back and more depth at the skill positions that recent history.  Four new starting lineman must come together quickly as the Chargers look to avenge a 36-0 loss against Pleasant Ridge that opened their season last year. 

After finishing at the top of the league standings in 2015, the Rams took a step back last season finishing with just three wins. The Rams were able to win their final two district games and reach the playoffs, but turnovers and penalties kept Pleasant Ridge from advancing any further. The Rams return nearly all skill guys to an offense that finished in the league in rushing, but the key is going to be sustaining drives and cutting down on mistakes if Pleasant Ridge wants to get back to the top of the league standings.

Maranatha at Jackson Heights
Maranatha only has 13 players on their 11-man roster and will play the Northeast Kansas League schedule from last year when they were combined with Immaculata.  Coach Bryan Burdette hopes to keep all his young players healthy to compete for a full season with his son, Nate, the returning catalyst of the offense. 

Jackson Heights only lost four seniors from last year’s team that went 5-0 in the NEKL and then lost three tight district games and failed to return to the post season.  The graduated foursome were all key players that earned league honors and three played linebacker, which is a concern for a defense that allowed just 15 points per game last year.  The Cobras have a big but very young line with four starting underclassmen and also have a sophomore quarterback (Cooper Williams) taking the reins. Yet, there are playmakers to lead the wishbone backfield, including Brady Holliday, who has earned top NEKL kudos for the last two years.  Last year Jackson Heights pitched a 44-0 shutout in the season opener.   

ACCHS at Nemaha Central
For the past few years the Nemaha Central Thunder has rolled past ACCHS by wide margins including last year’s 66-0 season opening win. The Thunder enter this season feeling like they have some unfinished business as they finished last year 12-1 and fell to the eventual 3A State champs, Rossville in the Sub-State round of the playoffs 27-22. Coach Warren Seitz enters this season with a team full of experience back especially in the trenches. Senior, Mitchell Henry moves over to quarterback and is came with experience out of the backfield, while multiple guys will get opportunities at tailback and fullback with Luke Reitz and Mitchell Heiman helping lead the group, while at receiver there’s a plethora of upperclassmen including Luke Haverkamp who returns. Thunder look to be a balanced offense again after averaging 44.6 points per game, while the defense looks to stymie opponents again after limiting teams to 11.6 points per game.

ACCHS brings in the only new head coach to the Big 7 League, as Corey Thomas takes over a squad that is coming off a winless season. Thomas and his players do enter the season with some familiarity towards each other as Thomas served as an assistant basketball coach last year. The Tigers do bring back three starters up front, but the key is going to have to be the defense which gave up over 55 points per game a season ago. The Tigers will be green in experience and team full of youth but also full of guys eager to help the Tigers “raise the standard” of Tiger football.

Royal Valley at Hiawatha
This game was a week one surprise a year ago as Hiawatha posted their first Big 7 League win since 2013 and the 21-0 victory was their first shutout in 10 years.  The Redhawks started 3-1 under new Coach Ted Brown and finished 4-5 before losing nine solid seniors and record-setting signal caller, Joseph Kunkel.  This year, Hiawatha has just two seniors on the roster, but many sophomores and juniors with varsity experience.  Hiawatha won’t sneak up on anyone this year and hopes to maintain confidence and take another step forward with a couple bright seasons ahead.  They start two offensive lineman over 315 pounds and average 263 across the front line.  

Royal Valley also lost nine seniors after their 3-6 campaign, but Coach Jake Lott enters his fourth year with one of the biggest lines in the area.  The Panthers five starters up front average 257 pounds, but a new sophomore quarterback (Gavin Cumpton) must help the Panthers cut down on mistakes and put more points on the board after failing to score in three of their first four contest last season.  Three starting linebackers return to lead the Royal Valley defense, which should be improved in 2017.

Perry Lecompton at Riverside
Riverside was hit hard by the injury bug last year and after a 2-0 start, had six key starters out before district play began.  The Cyclones can’t afford bad health in 2017 with just 26 players on the roster.  Coach Scot Koranda does have a fourth year starting quarterback in Andrew Miller with hopes of passing a bit more to balance the offense.  Finding four new starting lineman is a concern along with surrendering less than 32 points per game on defense.  Riverside eeked out a 19-14 road win at Perry last year but finished the season with six losses in seven games.

Perry Lecompton went 4-6 last season to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.  17th year Coach Mike Paramore however, has just one varsity starter returning on offense and no player back that had 100 yards of offense.  Still, the Kaws have some key pieces reuniting on defense and some play-makers ready to step up.  Perry doesn’t have a real tough schedule and needs to gel quickly to build confidence after just eight points kept them from starting 4-0 last season.   

Jeff West at Chapman
It was a nightmare kind of season for Jeff West football in 2016 with numerous injuries and losing six starters to injury forced a handful of freshman into starting roles.  The Tigers will still be young this year with 36 of their 48 players underclassmen, but they have some talent and just need some confidence after a 1-8 campaign.  Coach Steve Johnson will use two young quarterbacks to engineer more offense and should see a nice uptick in the win column after the JV went 7-1 last season. 

Chapman has a new coach (Kurt Webster) this year after also going 1-8 last year.  The Irish lost eight straight after slipping by Jeff West 8-6 in the season opener.  Chapman was shutout in four of their final five games in 2016 and scored 44 points the entire season.  Coach Webster plans a flex bone offense and 4-2-5 defense to kick-off a new era.  

Atchison at Holton
It was typical Holton football, advancing to the Sub-State playoff game last year, but it took a lot to get there after an 0-3 start to the season, with the trio defeats all coming in the fourth quarter by a combined 14 points.  Coach Brooks Barta begins his 21st year with six starters back on defense, including the top two tacklers in Dylan Aeschliman and Jackson Martin.  Martin will miss the first game of the season however, which also hurts the Wildcat wishbone backfield that has only AJ Haussler returning with varsity experience.  Mason Strader will be handing the ball to new tailbacks after losing a pair of seniors than ran for 3,000 yards.  Holton has the lowest numbers of seniors they have ever had under Coach Barta, but some decent size and depth across the line.   

For three straight seasons the Atchison Redman have breezed through the Kansas City-Atchison League going undefeated the past two years and rallied for a 24-14 home win against Holton last year starting the season 6-0 before stumbling through districts without a win.  Coach Jim Smith won his 100th game, but graduated his son (Adam), the KCAL Player of the year at quarterback and a few other talented athletes that are now playing college football. Coach Jim Smith just has three starters returning on each side of the ball, but is optimistic his senior class can push the Redmen through the early season growing pains and be in positon for another league title.

Sabetha at Centralia
Sabetha Bluejays and Centralia Panthers have played the last two years and the Bluejays were victorious each team including last year’s 40-14 contest. Both teams are coming off of entirely different seasons. Sabetha notched a 9-2 record and made the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season but head into this season having to replace a dynamic duo in the backfield in Trae Synder and Blake Plattner who each ran for 1,300-plus yards last year. Bluejays however bring back a slew of upperclassmen and plenty of athletes that have played significant roles over the past few years and others that have gained experience. Bluejays will look to rely upon the rushing attack again and while graduation takes Synder and Plattner away a trio of guys that ran for 140-plus yards are back in Joe Gruber, Wyatt Beyer and Joel Hackney. Brandon Brownlee will lead the charge on offense as the signal caller giving the team a heady player in charge but don’t be surprised to see Gabe Graber jump into the quarterback spot also. and the defense which gave up only 13.5 points per game comes back with plenty of starters back including tpo three tackles which includes leading tackler last year Cauy Rokey at linebacker.

Centralia last year experience as season atypical to what they’ve grow accustom to over the years. Coach Larry Glatczak and his crew fell upon hard times last year having to revamp things with an overhaul of players but also injuries changing up things drastically throughout the year. The positive of last year’s struggles it led to opportunities for young guys on the team to gain valuable varsity experience. This year those guys step into roles that the Panthers expect to see contributition from as guys like Kamble Haverkamp, Isaac Gore and others will be looked upon to make plays. The young guys will be led by a solid senior core that leads the charge along the lines for Centralia, while also Trenton Flentie returns from injury to take on the quarterback spot again. Panthers are on the prowl to get back to the playoffs (missed playoffs for first time in 20 years last year) and the top of the Twin Valley League.

Troy at Valley Heights
Troy begins defense of their Twin Valley League title with a new cast of characters after losing 13 super seniors that rewrote all the record books at Troy, including an undefeated football season that resulted in the school’s first State Championship.  Only two starters return for Coach Derek Jasper, who’s sophomore son (Kipp) takes over at quarterback.  The Trojans hope to keep playing fast and hard and spread the ball around on offense, but know there may certainly be some rebuilding growing pains in 2017 as the 4-2 JV team from last year steps into new Friday night roles. 

Valley Heights was back in the playoffs last year and posted a 7-3 mark but just ran into the eventual 2-1A State Champs in Troy in the first round of the playoffs (42-16) and fell to the Trojans in the season opener 58-27. Graduation claims four really key seniors from last year including the starting quarterback a spot that is still somewhat undecided for the Mustangs. The positive thing is whoever lines up at quarterback will have some really good experience multiple starters are back along the line including a pair of All-TVL players and at the tight end and back positions key guys are back too so the Mustangs will have players to rely upon and guide the new quarterback adjust. Jordan Yungeberg was close to 1,000 yards last year and he expects to carry a heavy load early in the season for the Mustangs as the team gets its bearings. Coach Tony Trimble also wants to see his defense step it up a reigning in some big plays and the return of Harrison Blaske at linebacker will help led the defense.

Doniphan West at Washington County
Despite being light on overall numbers, Doniphan West is further ahead this year starting a second season with Coach Rob Randall.  The Mustangs also have a fourth-year starting quarterback in Levi Watts and all league stud Clayton Ridout to lead the offense and defense.  Luke Blevins is another senior back with all-league honors as a wideout, but major strides are needed for a defense that allowed nearly 40 points per game last season. 
Last year was a another playoff season for the Washington County Tigers finishing 8-3 including a 50-0 season opening win over Doniphan West but graduation claimed most of the team and the Tigers enter the 2017 season with only 15 players and plans on making the move to 8-Man football the next two years. While staying healthy will be key with low numbers for the Tigers the team will be relying upon inexperience and youth also so perhaps the Tigers will be entering the season with a learning curve having to make adjustments on the fly.

Frankfort at Onaga
This was a tight game to open the season last year with Frankfort earning the win 42-34 over the Onaga and this year the contest could set up to be another tight battle between the two TVL foes. Both teams enter the season low on numbers and also dealing with the inexperience factor. For the Onaga Buffaloes they got their first taste of 8-Man football last year but the main core of last year’s team has graduated and new guys will have to step up and do enter the season after crazy State recording setting win over Valley Falls to end the season last year. While the team will be young and green in experience the return over senior, Tanner Marten expects to be huge for the team. Marten missed all of last year with an injury and while this will be his first go around in 8-Man action he’s proved he can be a force and Onaga will look to him to make in impact out of the backfield and at linebacker.

Frankfort has flirted with the playoffs the past few seasons and did so last year finishing 5-4 for the third consecutive season. This year the team has to replace plenty of production on both sides of the ball and just like Onaga and several other teams has low numbers and starts the season down a few guys due to illness. While the team does bring back some upperclassmen to help lead the way the Wildcats will go with sophomore, Brandon Bussman at quarterback for week one as their planned starter senior, Austin Hardwick his recovering from an illness. Multiple underclassmen will be looked to for contributions from the start of the season and sophomore, Garrett Dalinghaus is a guy that looks to have his workload increased after a solid freshman season.

Linn at Clifton-Clyde
Clifton-Clyde has taken the last two in the series with Linn including a 28-8 season opening win last year. Last year the Clifton-Clyde Eagles returned the flight pattern to the playoffs after going just 3-15 combined the previous two years. Offensively the Eagles put up some numbers last year but plenty of the yardage came from the playmaker Caleb Charbonneau who has graduated leaving a wide open gap on offense for guys to step up into. The trio of Brant Douglas, Drake Steinbrock and Christian Seifert all proved capable of producing last season and how will be looked upon to led the way. While the Eagles made the playoffs they did give up 31.6 points per game and look to reign that in a bit to stay competitive in a tough 8-Man DI District.

For the Linn Bulldogs it felt like a broke record when it came to their record as they finished yet again 4-5 doing so for the eighth time in the last 10 years. The Bulldogs played in plenty of lopsided games beating the teams they should be beat and falling to teams they should fall to based on experience. This season Coach Jeremy Miller had to replace multiple multi-year starters but does bring back 1,000+ yard rusher and the teams second leading tackler in Evan Bott. Bott as a senior and one of the most experience guys on the team will be looked upon to lead the way early and help carry the load for a Bulldog team just like many others low on overall numbers.

Wetmore at Valley Falls
Last year mark the first 8-Man football season for Valley Falls and the first varsity football season for Wetmore for the first time since the late 1980’s. Both teams had their trying times over the course of the season and the two had a interesting battle week one with Valley Falls claiming their lone win of the season winning 24-14. The Dragons had plenty of adjusting to do last year with their Coach Nick Cummings adjusting to the 8-Man game and then the team changed the offense about three games into the season the change however perhaps turned the Dragons in the right direction despite not translating to wins. This year Tyler Lockhart is back at quarterback and just a sophomore threw for over 1,000 yards last year. Lockhart will have plenty of capable playmakers around him as Carter Allen and Lucas Welborn are back in the backfield and Cole Brosa at receiver. A huge portion of the focus for the Dragons will be improving the defensive  side of the ball after surrendering over 500 points last year.

Wetmore Cardinals enter the 2017 looking for their first varsity football win in a long time after going 0-9 last year but had opportunities for a win or two but just fell short. This year the Cardinals have just 13 guys on the roster and the team will be relatively young overall. Coach Rick Schnacker will look to guys like seniors, Ethan Osterhaus and Kyler Vance along with his returning quarterback junior, Joel Hutfles to lead the way. The Cardinals enter the season eager to continue to progress as team and program and Coach Schnacker wants to see his team learn from last year and put together whole games and finish.

Axtell at St. Mary’s Academy
Heading into last year the Axtell Eagles had plenty of unknown with their roster as there were plenty of new starters and young guys getting to start in prominent roles. The season turned out to be a solid one for the Eagles finishing 4-5. This year the team looks to take steps forward and make a push towards a return to the playoffs. Quinn Buessing is back at quarterback after throwing for over 1,100 yards last year as a freshman and senior, Michael Swanson and junior, Hunter Koch are both back after accounting for 800-plus and 700-plus yards total offense, respectively. Taking steps on defense this year will help the Eagles perhaps get to where they want to be as they gave up 46 points per game last year and look to bring that number down and with the team’s top three tacklers back that will only help as a guy like Nate Buessing could be a big time player for the Eagles this season.

Week one opponent for Axtell is once again St. Mary’s Academy who went 9-0 last year winning a title in the in competition with the home school and Christian schools and beat Axtell 52-12 to open last year. St. Mary’s Academy sets up to be solid again this season with multiple key guys back.

Lebo at Hanover
After several deep runs in the playoffs the Hanover Wildcats reached the top of the pinnacle last year winning the 8-Man Division II State title claiming their first State crown since 2009. The Wildcats were dominate last year using a balanced offense and strong defense that gave up just 22 points on the season. The departure of State record holder and All-State quarterback, Will Bruna will be tough to replace but the Wildcats have a plethora of playmakers back and hand the offense off to Daiken Stallbaumer. Both Carter Bruna and Kevin Deiderich are back after rushing for 500-plus yards each and plenty of experiencing back at receiver too. On defense the team’s top two tacklers have graduated up big man Carlos Emmanuel is back to anchor the line and he enters the season getting some looks from Division I colleges.

Lebo actually gave Hanover their closest game of 2016 season as the Wildcats won only 22-0 in the season opener last year. While graduation hit Lebo tough than Hanover the team’s leading rusher in Brian Reese is back and playmaker Peyton Baldwin also returns. A playoff team last year Lebo should be a solid test for Hanover to open the season.

Colony-Crest at Blue Valley-Randolph
Colony-Crest took care of Blue Valley-Randolph in week one last year 40-16 and the Rams struggled during the season finishing 2-7. The Rams enter 2017 with a quartet of starters back on each side of the ball and look to develop a level of consistency on both sides of the ball this year after only scoring 24.2 points per game and giving up 49.9 points per game. Both Cole Montgomery and Dylan Krause are both back with experience and expect to be key pieces to what the Rams want to do and accomplish. Colony-Crest had their share of struggles last year too but are coming off a 4-5 season and do bring back multiple key guys in prominent positions.

Marysville at Rossville
Marysville Bulldogs took a leap forward last year posting a 7-3 mark and qualified for the playoffs for the second straight year, notching their first winning season since 2009. The foundation is back this year for Coach Dustin Heuer and the Bulldogs to continue their upward trend and be in the 3A playoff picture and perhaps win the North Central Kansas League. Senior, Jack Blumer is back after tossing for around 1,300 yards and is a dual-threat. He will have some nice playmakers back around him with Derek Roever at tailback and the likes of Gabe Pieschl, Brennan Wetter and Tyler Rader. The Bulldog defense mauled opponents and held multiple teams to under 100 yards of total offense and gave up just 11.5 points per game.

Bulldogs draw the three-time defending 3A champions Rossville in the season opener again this year. Marysville last year challenged Rossville giving them one of their closest games on the season. Rossville has developed into the powerhouse of Class 3A but enter this season in their quest for a fourth straight title having to replace a lot of key players as only two offensive starters are back and only three on defense. Senior, Sheldon Hulbert takes on the quarterback duties taking over for an All-State guy in Jacob Bradshaw who took over for Tucker Horak. Cole Schumacher and Dawson Hammes both are also gone and were huge parts to Rossville’s success the past few years. A guy like Perry Foster will get plenty of opportunities to be an impact guy especially coming out of the backfield after rushing for 700-plus yards last year.

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Hiawatha, KS 66434
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