Friday, 10 July 2020
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Friday Night Fever: Preview of All Northeast Kansas Sectional Round Playoff Matchups
By Jonny Kane and Justin Fluke
Copyright: MSC Sports

Just eight teams remain across each classification after round two of the high school football playoffs took place in the state of Kansas last week. All sectional games are set to take place Friday night, with the winner of each matchup moving into the semifinals next week. A complete preview of each game can be found below along with predictions of each matchup by Jonny Kane and Justin Fluke.

Jonny’s Pick Record

Last week: 5-3
Overall record: 167-30 (85%)

Justin’s Pick Record

Last week: 6-2
Overall record: 169-28 (86%)

Games to be Broadcast

St. Mary’s-Colgan at Jackson Heights – 103.9 KNZA     6:00 PM KICKOFF

Humboldt at Nemaha Central – 92.1 KMZA

Prairie View at Perry Lecompton – KAIR 93.7 FM

Class 3A

Prairie View (10-0) at Perry Lecompton (7-3) on KAIR 93.7 FM

There is no doubt Perry Lecompton is peaking at the right time and has now won four straight games and six of their last seven (lost 8-3 at Jeff West) after starting the season 1-2. The Kaws avenged one one those losses from week two by winning at Holton 35-21 last week.  Perry's offense was unstoppable scoring on their first five possessions of the contest. Billy Welch (junior) was 19-23 throwing for 204 yards which was the fourth straight week to pass for at least 200 yards and now 1,835 with 20 touchdown tosses this season. Thad Metcalfe had 127 of the teams 140 rushing yards and had six receptions.  Metcalfe has 1,146 yards rushing and 13 trips to the endzone in his junior year.   Hayden Robb and Ryley Besler, two more juniors, each went over 100 tackles this year for a defense that has totaled 24 takeaways and 21 sacks.  Ticiano Gonzalez has made 18 of 19 kicks the last five weeks.  

Perry will face a new and unknown opponent this year in undefeated Prairie View who is making their trip to the round of eight since they won a state championship in 1970. The closest game for the Buffalos this season was a 22-6 win in week five against Burlington. Prairie View won the Pioneer Conference but faced only one team with more than five wins (beat Galena 28-0, who had a 6-4 record in week three) until last week's impressive 35-0 shutout against Columbus.  The Buffs are led by Hunter Boone at runningback who has more than 1,200 yards rushing this season and ran for more than 1,000 last year as a junior. He also leads the team in tackles. Prairie View runs for 290 yards per game as a team and throws for less than 80 yards per outing.

Prairie View won eight games last season for the first time since 1998 and only the seventh time in school history. Coach Kyle Littrell is now 22-6 in his three years at the school. The team returned only four starters on each side of the football this year, but hasn't missed a beat, especially on defense where the Buffalos have pitched five shutouts and allowed a total of just 70 points this season.

Coach Mike Paramore has Perry into the quarterfinal round of the playoffs for the first time since a state runner-up finish in 2008 and a seven-win season for the third straight year. The winner of this game will advance to Sub-State against the winner of Hayden and Frontenac. 

Jonny’s Pick: Perry Lecompton
Justin’s Pick: Perry Lecompton

Class 2A

Humboldt (10-0) at Nemaha Central (8-2) on 92.1 KMZA

It’s shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated games and perhaps the hardest game to predict with Humboldt undefeated on the year but Nemaha Central facing a much tougher schedule in the Big 7 League.

The Thunder are also playing some of their best football of the year after last week forcing four turnovers for the second straight game in a 29-21 win over Rossville in overtime last week which was the first win for a Seneca school over the Dawgs since the 1980’s. In last week’s win the Thunder battled back from a 14-7 halftime deficit as the defense was great in the second half holding the Dawgs to just one touchdown and only 125 total yards of offense. Bryce Uphaus also returned a punt for a score in the second half while quarterback Dylan Schultejans threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Leonard. In overtime Gavin Duryea delivered the game-winning touchdown and Schultejans ran in the 2-point conversion before the Thunder defense forced a turnover on downs to end the game. Duryea finished with 83 yards on the ground and two touchdowns in the win, while Schultejans threw for 83 yards and one score.

On the season Duryea is the leading rusher for the Thunder with 547 yards and six touchdowns while the big news heading into the sectional game is Nemaha Central will get Gage Palic back on offense after he has missed the past several weeks due to injury. Palic had been the leading rusher most of the season with 338 yards and eight touchdowns while Dylan Schultejans has thrown for 1,419 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2019. Andrew Leonard and Tyler Gerety are the leading pass catchers for the Thunder with each over 400 yards and a combined 14 touchdowns between the two.

Defensively the Thunder have been one of the best around allowing just 14.8 points per game led by Bryce Uphaus who has over 110 total tackles and 85 solo which nearly two times more than his next closest teammate including 25 tackles last week. Nemaha Central racked up three interceptions last week and have recorded eight interceptions the past three games.

Humboldt meanwhile has been treated to an undefeated season to this point for the second straight year featuring the top offense in Class 2A which averages 529 points per game. The Cubs are led by Conor Haviland who has rushed for 2,238 yards this season with 38 touchdowns to go along with 351 passing yards and five more scores. Cooper Jaro has also been strong this year for the Cubs rushing for 322 yards and six touchdowns while adding 103 receiving yards and 223 return yards.

The Cubs got here by blowing out Southeast-Cherokee last week for the second time this season by a 60-14 final. The Cubs led 48-0 at halftime as Haviland ran for 214 yards and five touchdowns while the defense forced four turnovers.

This is the first meeting between the two schools according to our records and the winner of tonight’s game will face off against either Silver Lake or Riley County in the final four.

Jonny’s Pick: Nemaha Central
Justin’s Pick: Nemaha Central

Class 1A

St. Mary’s-Colgan (7-3) at Jackson Heights (8-2) on 103.9 KNZA

Colgan and Jackson Heights meet for just the forth time on the football field, but the second straight season in 1A Sectionals after Colgan won at home 34-7 last year. Colgan also beat the Cobras in 2002 in Sub-State and the teams met a few times at state basketball, but will now face off for the first time at Jackson Heights. The Cobras are looking to advance to sub-state football for the first time since 1983. 

Colgan finished 9-3 last year, falling to Olpe in Sub-State without their quarterback, Cade Simmons, who was injured in the final minutes of the win against Jackson Heights. The Panthers now have 89 playoff wins, the most of any school in the state of Kansas.

Despite returning more than half their starters, Colgan lost their first two games this season to 3A playoff teams Frontenac (10-0) and Columbus (8-2) then lost to Centralia (9-1) in week four by way of a 30-0 shutout. Since, Colgan has rattled off six wins in a row including three shutouts of thier own. The Panthers topped Hillsboro 29-21 last week in a highly contested tight Regional matchup at home. 

Colgan averages 240 yards rushing per game and 50 yards passing. Blaise Dawson leads all backs with 722 yards while fullback Domenic Bevilacqua has 525 and both have 9 touchdowns. Jalen VanBecelaere and Derek VanBecelaere each have more than 300 yards rushing as well and Gianni Piccini has completed 35 of 66 passes for 456 yards. Kannon Keller is the middle linebacker who has 74 stops to led the defense which has 14 takeaways and 2 touchdowns. Last year, the Panthers recovered two Jackson Heights fumbles while building a 20-0 lead in a game that was marred by penalties and tempers flaring in the second half.  

Third-year Colgan Coach Shawn Seematter is returning to Jackson County, where he was a Royal Valley graduate in 2009 and later coach then under Jason Grider, who he followed to Halstead. Seematter took over at Colgan three years ago for legend Chuch Smith and guided the Panthers to a state championship game his first year.  He enters Friday with a 26-9 record with a lot of family and friends that will be in attendance at Jackson Heights on Friday night.  

Jackson Heights is in the quarterfinals for the third time in the last five years and also enters this game having won six straight contests.  The Cobras fell to MH-MA  (18-14) that prevented their fourth straight Northeast Kansas League title and lost at unbeaten Olpe the following week 28-14. Coach Caleb Wick is now 56-23 in his eighth season at Heights and has won at least eight games now in three consecutive campaigns.

The Cobras beat Valley Heights 6-0 in overtime last week, their fourth win against the Mustangs in the last two years. Jason Bosley scored the touchdown in OT and finished with 75 yards while Cooper Williams had 122 rushing to pace the wishbone attack. The green and gold defense pitched their second straight shutout and allowed only 125 yards to Valley Heights.

For the season, Williams has 1,331 yards, after posting more than 1,500 a year ago as a junior. Bosley has addd 879 as a first-year starter and Dylan Thompson the fullback has 630 yards rushing.  Cable Wareham has 305 yards rushing and is 7-21 passing for 127 yards in 2019. Jackson Heights averages 351 yards rushing per game behind a big, experienced and strong offensive line, including Carson Williams and Riley Watkins who led the team with 156 combined tackles.

Both teams have struggled converting on PAT kicks just over 50 percent of the time, so those kicks and field positions could play a huge factor this week. The game kicks at 6:00 pm and the winner will face with Olpe or Centralia in Class 1A Sub State next week.  

Jonny’s Pick: Jackson Heights
Justin’s Pick: Jackson Heights

Centralia (9-1) at Olpe (10-0)

It’s a rematch of last season’s sectional round game which Olpe won in a thriller 20-18 needing a stop of a Centralia 2-point conversion in the game’s final minutes. In that game Olpe jumped out to a 20-6 lead before the Panthers battled back with two Kamble Haverkamp touchdowns late.

Haverkamp continued to lead the charge for the Panthers last week in a 46-14 win over Northern Heights which was Centralia’s second dominant win over the Wildcats this season. He tallied 11 rushes for 149 yards and a touchdown while Ian Haverkamp had his first big game of the year scoring three touchdowns on just five carries. Kamble is now up to 1,870 yards rushing on the year with 27 touchdowns while Devon Feldkamp has had a breakout campaign adding 1,018 yards and 12 more scores. The Panthers are averaging 345 rushing yards per game and on the season are outscoring opponents 290-67 in the first half of games this season.

Olpe meanwhile is making their third straight appearance in the high school playoff quarterfinals after last year making it all the way to the state championship game last season before falling to Smith Center. Last week the Eagles continued to roll along shutting out Uniontown 56-0 which was the fourth shutout on the year for the Olpe defense which has allowed just 62 total points on the year. Colby Hoelting is the leader for the Eagles as he passed for three touchdowns last week while rushing for two more scores.

This year’s sectional round matchup marks just the third meeting between the two schools since 2013 with Olpe winning last year 20-18 and Centralia winning in ’13, 36-0. The winner of the matchup will take on either Pittsburg-St. Mary’s Colgan or Jackson Heights in the sub-state round next week.

Jonny’s Pick: Centralia
Justin’s Pick: Centralia

8-man DII

Hanover (9-1) at St. Paul (10-0)

For the second straight season Hanover and St. Paul are set to meet up with a spot in the semifinals on the line. Last season Hanover dominated the Indians winning 46-0 at halftime before going on to win a third straight state championship.

Last week the Wildcats won for a second time this season over state-ranked Frankfort in a thriller 36-32 in what was one of the top games in the state. Hanover jumped out to a 28-18 lead in the third quarter and Emmitt Jueneman recorded a fourth quarter touchdown to ice the game away and hold off a late Frankfort comeback attempt. Hanover is led on the year by Jacob Jueneman who has 1,132 yards and 18 touchdowns while Taegan Schwartz has added 765 yards and 15 scores.

St. Paul meanwhile is unbeaten at 10-0 winning the first nine games of the season by 45 points or more but last week got their toughest test in a 28-18 win over Waverly. The Indians needed a late touchdown by Easton Dent to seal the victory while the teams’s leader, Adam Albertini, scored two touchdowns in the win. Albertini is one of the most athletic and dangerous players in the state and is a guy who’s a threat to score each time he touches the ball.

These two teams have played just twice since 2008 with Hanover winning each game in shutout fashion 46-0 and 48-0. The winner will face off against Axtell or Lost Springs-Centre in the semifinals next week meaning a possible all-TVL showdown.

Jonny’s Pick: Hanover
Justin’s Pick: Hanover

Lost Springs-Centre (8-2) at Axell (9-1)

Axtell is looking to get back to the semifinals for the second straight season and get a possible rematch with TVL foe Hanover. The Eagles ended the Wildcats 43-game win streak back in week six with a 28-26 win before falling to Frankfort the following week for their only loss. Axtell was without all-state quarterback Quinn Buessing in that loss to Frankfort and since his return the following week the Eagles have three dominant victories including a 46-0 win over St. John-Tipton last week which was the Eagles third straight shutout.

In last week’s win over Beloit the Eagles scored 14 points in the first quarter and 16 points in the second and third quarters to end the game early. Buessing ran for two touchdowns in the win while throwing two to Derek Buessing and also recording an interception return for a score. He has now thrown for over 1,900 yards and 33 touchdowns this season while adding over 400 yards on the ground and 15 scores. Isaac Detweiler continues to lead the receiving core with over 650 yards and nine touchdowns while Derek Buessing is over 550 yards receiving with 15 scores.

Buessing and the Axtell offense will have perhaps their toughest test of the year against a Centre defense that has six shutouts on the year. The Cougars have allowed just six points in their last seven games and last week pitched a shutout in a 46-0 win over Colony-Crest. Centre is led by Jensen Riffel who has rushed for over 1,000 yards and 24 touchdowns while he also one tackle shy of 100 on the year.

The Cougars are looking to make their first semifinal appearance since 1995 while Axtell is looking to make the final four for the second straight season with the winner getting either Hanover or St. Paul next week.

Jonny’s Pick: Axtell
Justin’s Pick: Axtell

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Hiawatha, KS 66434
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