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Friday Night Fever: Preview of All Week One Area High School Football Matchups
By Jonny Kane, Justin Fluke, Brandon Tadtman
Copyright: MSC Sports
09/03/2021

The 2021 High School Football season officially kicks off tonight! Last season had plenty of ups and downs across the date due to Covid-19. Although we still are working through the pandemic, it's not stopping the state from putting together a true, full season in 2021. From the Twin Valley League, Big 7, and Northeast Kansas League... we have it all covered on Friday Night Fever and on the always FREE MSCSPORTS.NET! Also on Twitter at Kanzaland Sports!

2021 Pick Records

Jonny

Last week: N/A
Overall: 0-0
Last season: 150-23 (87%)

Justin

Last week: N/A
Overall: 0-0
Last season: 150-23 (87%)

Brandon

Last week: N/A
Overall:  0-0
Last season: N/A

Games to be Broadcast

Jefferson West at Perry Lecompton - 103.9 KNZA
Nemaha Central at Holton - Holton Channel
Sabetha at Chapman - Sabetha Channel
Valley Falls at Wetmore – 92.1 KMZA
Lafyette at Atchison  – KAIR 93.7 FM

Week 1 Games

Big 7

Hiawatha at Troy

Troy is looking to completely forget about the 2020 season where COVID quarantines and key injuries plagued the Trojans to a 2-7 record. Ninth-year head coach Derek Jasper heads into tonight with plenty of optimism and for good reason with senior Cam Anderson back at quarterback after throwing for over 1,500 yards a year ago along with seven starters on offense and eight on defense. The Trojans need to find a way to run the football after averaging just 20 yards per game on the ground last season.

The Redhawks also return a solid core following a three-win campaign, which was the most in four years. Coach Michael Downard is now in his fifth season at Hiawatha and third as head coach with a drastically increased number of 45 players out.  And undersized line is a big key to the Hawks success this year. 

Hiawatha blanked the Trojans 23-0 last season forcing five turnovers in what was the first meeting in more than a decade.

Jonny’s Pick: Hiawatha
Justin’s Pick: Hiawatha
Brandon’s Pick: Hiawatha

Riverside at Royal Valley

Riverside is coming off a disappointing 4-5 campaign where the Cyclones went 1-4 after starting the season 3-1. The Cyclones had a strong senior class a year ago and it is showing early on this season with just 18 players out for third-year head coach Bryce Paden. Luckily, third-year quarterback Kobe Davis returns after throwing for over 2,900 yards the past two seasons, so he is going to be asked to shoulder a bulk of the load early on until the underclassman get caught up to speed.

David Boucher takes over the head role at Royal Valley football this year after six seasons as an assistant. The Panthers have 32 players out and have won just three total games the past two years, going 0-7 in 2020. About half the starters return and a sophomore, Aiden McKinsey, is set to start at quarterback.   

Tonight marks the first meeting since 2019 after COVID-19 forced Royal Valley to cancel last season’s opener. The Cyclones dominated the Panthers two years ago 42-14 with Davis tossing a pair of touchdown passes.

Jonny’s Pick: Riverside
Justin’s Pick: Riverside
Brandon’s Pick: Royal Valley

Nemaha Central at Holton

Nemaha Central made it to the state semifinals a year ago and now enters a new era with Michael Glatczak set to take over the reigns of the program for Warren Seitz who departed after 10 seasons on the sidelines. Although it is a new era the expectations do not change in Seneca with a strong squad back that many expect to compete for a 2A State Championship, headlined by senior quarterback Zac Kramer who threw for over 1,500 yards and ran for 1,000 more with 29 total touchdowns last season. It all is going to start and end with Kramer who is going to be one of the most electrifying players in the class.

Holton meanwhile is coming off a 9-2 campaign and sub-state appearance after all their wins came by at least 20 points in 2020. The Wildcat defense returns seven starters and should be one of the best units around with several experienced and big senior lineman complimented by a talented and deep junior class. It’s the 26th season at Holton for Coach Brooks Barta who has multiple new skill guys to carry the ball in the Wildcat wishbone attack.

Last year in a wild week one thriller in Seneca, Holton escaped with a 15-13 win, getting multiple chances before hitting and game-winning field goal with no time on the clock.  The last six games in this series have all been decided by 14 points or less with Holton winning the last three.

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

Jefferson West at Perry-Lecompton

Jeff West battled Covid issues as much as anyone last year and now has a new coach after 15 years with Steve Johnson at the helm.  David Bowen takes over the Tigers after spending the previous two years in Hays and Baldwin.  The Tigers lost seven starting seniors but do return half their starters on both sides of the football along 11 letter-winners.  It’s all going to start with senior Kaden Stones who will take over the reigns at quarterback after playing running back last season, but he should have plenty of athletes around him to be successful.

Perry Lecompton meanwhile is amid one of the best runs the school has seen coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes in the state championship game including an 11-2 record a year ago. The Kaws claimed their first Big 7 League title a year ago but head into this year with a big roster turnover after graduating 12 seniors, 10 of which were starters. Following the graduation of all-state quarterback Billy Welch, junior Gunnar Ball is set to take over the offense while senior Reichen Rush is back at running back following nearly 1,000 yards on the ground a year ago. Two starters do return on the line with senior Wesley Monaghan and junior Jeremiah Monroe each back.

Perry dominated Jeff West 54-6 last season while each team has won twice in the last four meetings.

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

Sabetha at Chapman

Sabetha battled COVID and injuries just like everyone last season but despite that, still managed to go 4-1 in the Big 7 and finish with a 5-4 record overall. Only half of the starters from a year ago return which includes junior Josh Herrmann at running back after he ran for over 400 yards and five touchdowns last season. Thad Menold is also back to lead the offensive line, while Matthew Garber is set to take over the reigns at quarterback. The Bluejays and 13-year head coach Garrett Michael will continue to value ball control on offense and Garber appears to be ready to fit the bill. Chapman went 4-3 last season with two games cancelled due to Covid, alternating wins and losses throughout the year. Chapman racked up wins over Abilene, Council Grove and Goodland and took down Sabetha 34-29 last season in the opener scoring in the final minutes for the victory.  

Jonny’s Pick: Sabetha
Justin’s Pick: Sabetha
Brandon’s Pick: Chapman

Twin Valley League

Marysville at Valley Heights

Just like what ended the Mustangs season a year ago, Valley Heights starts 2021 being placed in a team quarantine which cancels their week one game against Marysville. The Bulldogs have found a replacement and will travel to Beloit tonight at 7 pm.

Jonny’s Pick: N/A
Justin’s Pick: N/A
Brandon’s Pick: N/A

Centralia at Rossville

Centraliaput together another solid campaign in 2020 finishing 8-3 just one year after winning it all. The Panthers had a chance to make a deep playoff run but were upset by Lyndon in the playoffs who they blew out just weeks prior.  In typical Centralia fashion the Panthers rushed for over 300 yards per game last year and scored 33 points a night behind a strong offensive line. That experienced line has since graduated and with only five starters back on each side of the ball leaves Coach Glatczak with several question marks heading into the season. Rossville won its fourth state title under coach Derick Hammes with a 13-0 record. Rossville beat Hoisington, 31-19, in the championship. The Bulldawgs return senior quarterback Torrey Horak, the defending consensus 2A Offensive Player of the Year. Horak completed 93 of 157 passes for 1,447 yards with 25 touchdowns against four interceptions. Horak rushed 162 times for 1,628 yards with 30 TDs. Rossville finished 13-0 and paced 2A in scoring offense with 52.2 points a game. War on 24 rival Silver Lake was second at 51.1 points a game. Maur Hill was a distant third at 42.7 points permitted a contest.

Jonny’s Pick: Rossville
Justin’s Pick: Rossville
Brandon’s Pick: Rossville

Clifton Clyde at Onaga

Clifton-Clyde has been nothing short of great over the last few seasons and have one of the most experience coaches in the state of Kansas with Russ Steinbrock entering his 21st season as head coach. The Eagles finished 8-2 last season falling to eventual champion Little River and graduated a strong senior class. The Eagles still bring back seven players that have started on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball, giving Coach Steinbrock plenty to work with heading into the season. Onaga took a step back last season and finished with just two wins and zero seniors on the roster. Onaga struggled defensively allowing 45 points per game including over 60 three times so that is going to be step one for Buffalo Head Coach Ben Kolterman who embarks on his fourth season at the helm. With every starter back from a season ago, the Buffaloes have a chance to get back on track despite a gauntlet of a schedule.

Jonny’s Pick: Clifton-Clyde
Justin’s Pick: Clifton-Clyde
Brandon’s Pick: Clifton-Clyde

Washington County at Frankfort

Washington County continued to see improvements a year ago winning four games to finish above .500. The defense was the biggest problem for Washington County a year ago allowing over 40 points per game including over 45 points in each of the Tigers three losses. Head Coach Doug Thompson now enters 2021 with several question marks after the graduation of a strong senior class a year ago, but a solid core of athletes that should fit in nicely. Frankfort had another season to remember in 2020 as they churned out the school’s best ever finish making it to the sub-state round of the playoffs before falling to eventual state champion Hanover for the third straight year. Frankfort now turns the page to 2021 with the winningest senior class in school history to replace leaving sixth-year head coach Nick Anderson with several question marks heading into week one. 

Jonny’s Pick: Frankfort
Justin’s Pick: Frankfort
Brandon’s Pick: Washington Co.

Pike Valley at Hanover

Pike Valley tallied at 3-5 record last season including a season opening 46-0 loss to Hanover. Started the season but won 2 of their last 3 with wins over Osborne and Blue Valley. Hanover continued to dominate the 8-man ranks a season ago with another successful season finishing 11-0 and claiming the 8-man DII State Championship. The numbers speak for themselves as the Wildcats scored over 55 points per game and held opponents to single digits with their closest win being a 20-point victory over fellow TVL foe Clifton-Clyde. Under 17-year head coach Matt Heuer Hanover turns the page to 2021 and despite returning just four starters to each side of the ball will look and expect to be great as always.

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

Doniphan West at Blue Valley

This is the season that Doniphan West fans have been looking forward too. After losing only two seniors the past couple years, the Mustangs now have eight seniors among 12 lettermen back and the most experienced team around in 2021. Coach Perry Smith enters his third year knowing D-West has all the pieces and potential for a very successful season and long playoff run. Blue Valley has gone backwards recently winning just two games two years ago and going winless last season. Low numbers once again haunted the Rams who were shutout four times while scoring double digits just once which came in a 68-32 loss to Wetmore. Not only did low numbers play a factor for Blue Valley but COVID-19 forced the Rams to miss the first three weeks of the season. Coach Matt Schreiber and the Rams have since closed the page and now look forward to a new season and a new sense of optimism heading into the 2021 campaign with a young group ready to take a big leap.

Jonny’s Pick: Doniphan West
Justin’s Pick: Doniphan West
Brandon’s Pick: Doniphan West

Valley Falls at Wetmore

The Valley Falls Dragons will have a new captain manning the ship in 2021 as first year head coach Wyatt Hofstra steps in after two years as an assistant. The Dragons have combined for an overall record of 5-12 since 2019, finishing 2020 at 3-5. The Dragons will have to replace three key seniors from last season but do bring back junior quarterback Dylan Cervantez who completed 60 percent of his passes last season throwing for six touchdowns in his first year under center. Samuel Drinkard also returns at running back following over 375 yards and six scores on the ground last season giving the Dragons a solid one-two punch heading into the year.

Wetmore will enter the 2021 season under new head coach Miles Hanzlicek and lost just one letterwinner from last season returning seven starters on offense and seven starters on defense. The Cardinals struggled last season finishing just 1-4 and dealt with COVID along with injuries, but with a fresh start and a lot of returning players, expectations should be much stronger this season.

Jonny’s Pick: Valley Falls
Justin’s Pick: Valley Falls
Brandon’s Pick: Valley Falls

Wheatland/Grinnell at Axtell

Wheatland/Grinnell finished last season 8-3 overall and got to the third weekend of the state playoffs. They lost week one last season to Axtell 58-18. After that loss they would go on to win 8 of their next 9 games before losing to Victoria in the playoffs. Axtell put together another strong season a year ago winning seven games before running into eventual state champion Hanover in the playoffs. The Eagles dealt with youth and adversity all season long including the loss of all-state lineman Kolby Talbot in the first game of the year, but still put together one of the best offenses in the state averaging over 40 points a night. But six key contributors have graduated leaving ninth-year head coach Eric Detweiler with a few question marks heading into the season.

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

Solomon at Linn

Linn picked up a new week one opponent just yesterday following Rock Hills being place in a team quarantine. The Bulldogs did not play a year ago due to low numbers and after going winless in 2019 it is hard to put together expectations. Linn is coached by Trevor Kuhlman and are looking to get the season started on the right foot. Solomon had their week one game against Rural Vista due to COVID-19 protocols, but the Gorillas found Linn and will look to improve on their 4-5 record from a season ago.

Jonny’s Pick: Solomon
Justin’s Pick: Solomon
Brandon’s Pick: Solomon

Northeast Kansas League

Oskaloosa at Jackson Heights

Russell Norton has taken over the program at Oskaloosa with high hopes of being able to put together a winning team on the field in 2021 after going winless last season. The Bears do return solid experience at quarterback in senior Chord Perry, while Nick Henry returns at running back giving Oskaloosa a formidable backfield.

The Cobras were behind the game from the start a year ago after being forced to miss the first two weeks of the season due to quarantine and never were able to recover going 4-5. Jackson Heights is going to look a lot different this year, with an abundance of skill position players back and not the luxury of as many big strong linemen. The Cobras are venturing away from the wishbone offense under 10th year Coach Caleb Wick with several athletes back including quarterback Jason Bosley who is healthy heading into week one after breaking his foot a year ago in week five. Bosley will be joined by senior Wyatt Bacon and junior Alex Browning in the backfield which should give the Cobras plenty of options.

The two teams last played back in 2017 when the Cobras blanked the Bears 28-0.

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

Council Grove at Maur Hill-Mount Academy

This game was made just yesterday after McLouth broke the news that the team had been placed in quarantine and would no longer be able to play. Luckily for the Ravens, they not only were able to find a week one opponent just hours later, but they also now get to open the season at home. MH-MA has proved they are a program to be reckoned with after going perfect through the regular season and claiming a NEKL title before falling to eventual state champion Rossville in the second round of the playoffs. The Ravens bring back just a handful of starters from a year ago but one of those returners is senior Drew Caudle at quarterback who accounted for over 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.

Council Grove meanwhile had Northern Heights go into quarantine forcing them to pick up the game with MH-MA. The Braves went just 2-7 a year ago with their only two victories coming over Northern Heights and West Franklin.

Jonny’s Pick: MH-MA
Justin’s Pick: MH-MA
Brandon’s Pick: MH-MA

ACCHS at Horton

ACCHS is set to enter a new era with as Alex Thornburgh has taken over the program following a 3-6 campaign a year ago. The Tigers did win two of their first three games of the season but struggled through the middle portion of the schedule before a victory over Southeast-Cherokee to end the year. It was a young and inexperienced group a year ago but that is not the case entering 2021 as seven starters return on each side of the ball giving Coach Thornburgh plenty of optimism heading into week one. Horton looks to break out of a 29-game losing streak with one loss by 24 points and all the rest by 30 or more.  David Losey returns as head coach and a second year in the system should be a huge help. Six starters return on both sides of the football, but the schedule remains a tough challenge as the Chargers look for continual progress and more consistency.

Jonny’s Pick: ACCHS
Justin’s Pick: ACCHS
Brandon’s Pick: ACCHS

Pleasant Ridge at Jefferson County North

Pleasant Ridge took another step back last season winning just two games to finish the year at 2-5. The Rams did have two league wins to their credit, but they were over opponents who combined to finish 0-15. The Rams had a new head coach in Logan Fritz so there was obviously a learning curve that the team had to deal with. It was a new-look Rams team a year ago that featured a much faster pace than typically seen in Easton and you can expect more of that this season. Coach Fritz embarks on year two with a lot to replace, but several athletes that are ready to get the job done. Jeff County North won the Northeast Kansas League for the third time in six seasons under head coach Jeff Schneider sharing it with MH-MA.  The Chargers had one of the toughest schedules around with three ranked teams in Class 1A but still found a way to win seven games before falling to Lyndon in the playoffs. After a strong 2020 the Chargers and Coach Schneider head into this season with seven starters back on each side of the ball and high expectations of repeating at league champions along with a deep playoff run in Class 1A.

Jonny’s Pick: JCN
Justin’s Pick: JCN
Brandon’s Pick: JCN

OTHER

St. Joseph Lafayette at Atchison

Atchison finished 2-7 last season and 2-6 in district play picking up wins over Bonner Springs and Turner while throwing their schedule together as the season went on. The newly named Phoenix were forced to pick up Pittsburg in week two, Wamego in week four, Pittsburg in week seven and Leavenworth in week eight. Safe to say it was tough sledding for Atchison who enters year 24 under head coach Jim Smith with six starters back on each side of the ball but plenty of optimism heading into 2021. Lafayette opened the season 1-0 last week with a 13-0 win over Carnahan after going 4-6 last season which included a 28-7 victory over Atchison.

Jonny’s Pick: Atchison
Justin’s Pick: Lafayette
Brandon’s Pick: Lafayette


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