Monday, October 16, 2017

Week-8/2017 Game Previews

10-19

SM East vs SM West (SMW leads the series 38-15) @ SM North
* While many, if not all local media outlets believe this to be a "rivalry" it is far from it. On a historic run in the 70s, and 80s, the Vikings went on an 18-2 run with Dick Purdy and Harold Wambsgans leading the way. That run again continued under Tim Callaghan until the 2010 season. From 1996 and again until 2003 the Vikings won 13 straight under three different Coaches (Shelton, Krug, and Callaghan.) The tides have seemingly made an abrupt 180d turn when Chip Sherman, and now Dustin Delaney have taken the reigns of the Lancer Football program. This game should be a lot of fun, as the Lancer Defense is once again hoping for a strong game against the Vikings offense. 3 of the 5 games have resulted in shutouts for the Lancers.

10-20

Lawrence vs Free State (LFS leads the series 13-7) @ Lawrence
* Outside of Olathe North vs Olathe South, and SM East vs SM South Football rivalry games, the City League game pitting the Chesty Lions vs. Firebirds should be nothing short of spectacular in 2017. For what will be Dirk Wedd's final game against the Firebirds the Chesty Lions have only won 2 of their 7 games this decade against a powerful Firebirds defense. This is no easy task as the roots of this rivalry have formed such a powerful following locally. For continued coverage, check out Bobby Nightengale's Lawrence Journal World write up!

Leavenworth vs Olathe East (OEH leads the series 14-0) @ CBAC
* In Mark Litrell's tenure at Olathe South, he had no trouble defeating the Pioneers of that era. While at Olathe South, he finished 6-6 in 12 games vs. the Hawks. Moving to Leavenworth a few years later after returning from Texas, his Pioneers have found a winning mentality under his leadership. While the Hawks are undefeated in 8 total meetings at ODAC against the Pioneers, this will be a great evening for the Pioneers to come away with a win as both teams are gaining seeding places for next weeks play-in/playoff game #9. This could be a huge game for the Pioneers prior to their week-9 seeding in the 5A bracket.

Olathe North vs SM Northwest (ONE leads the series 20-4) @ SM North
* The Eagles and Cougars will meet for their 25th all-time meeting at SM North. One thing to look for in this game will be the play of Cougars QB Shawn Stewart, and WR Hayden Goodpastuer to try to break up an Eagles strength defeating the Cougars defense. Olathe North has won 8 of the last 10 meetings and NW can only hope to continue this run, while the Cougars struggled on the road at CBAC last fall.

Olathe Northwest vs SM South (ONW leads the series 6-0) @ SM South
* Six games is enough if not more of a sample size of games played for these two. While the Sunflower has grown to its strength at 12 teams, these two have rarely met consecutively at any one point since 2004 when Olathe NW became a Varsity program. The Raiders have already found a way to surprise many this year, and could find a way to break this winless streak of only six games.

Olathe South vs SM North (OSF leads the series 10-6) @ ODAC
* The Falcons and Indians have met for some great meetings early on in the late 90s and early 00's. With the Indians playing exceptionally well under Ben Bartlett, the Falcons could have some problems. Since 2010, the Falcons are 3-1 in four rare meetings.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Week-7/2017 Game Previews



10-12


Lawrence vs SM East (LAW leads the series 42-12) @ SM South
* There is no question that this match up will cause a possible shaking of the top-8 in the final couple weeks of this modern day regular season play. While the Chesty Lions own the series outright, the Lancers have won four of their last five since 2010. The lone loss for SM East came in 2011, but since then domination has been full force. The Lancers Shark Defense has given up only 22 points in their last three games since 2013 against the Chesty Lions. 

Olathe North vs Olathe Northwest (ONE leads the series 9-2) @ ODAC
* A rivalry? Not so much. With the Owls now geographically closer to Olathe North will one be formed? Since the opening of the Ravens program they have struggled mightily against the Eagles from day one. 2006, and 2011 are the last times the Ravens have defeated the Eagles. This could be a toss up  on the books for sure, but this Ravens team is due for an extremely rare win at ODAC. 



10-13

Free State vs Olathe East (OEH leads the series 11-8) @ Free State
* In a huge late-season match up for the Hawks, this could be a momentum changer prior to Free State entering their week-9 game against the western 6A schools. Historically the Firebirds have struggled against the Hawks despite their eight wins. Since 2010, the Firebirds have managed a 1-3 record and a first round exit playoff loss in the 2010 season. This will probably be one of the best games of the night.

Leavenworth vs Olathe South (OSF leads the series 19-1) @ Leavenworth
* For possibly the 21st and final time the Falcons will play on the road at Leavenworth. There is no secret that all of the Olathe Four have dominated the series against the Pioneers since they joined the Sunflower in 1981. Can Mark Littrell come away with a win against his former High School prior to leaving for the United Kansas Conference?!

SM North vs SM Northwest - Hula Bowl (Series tied 23-23) @ SM North
* The Indians and Cougars will meet for their 44th all-time meeting at Larry Taylor Field. In their annual Hula-Bowl match up, most everything has gone the Cougars way in the last 10 seasons. Both schools in that time have had multiple coaching changes which have not helped, but the rivalry is stronger than ever with Ben Bartlett, and Bo Black leading the way. The Cougars have won the last 12 of the last 13 games dating back to the 2002 season.

SM South vs SM West (SMW leads the series 36-20-1) @ SM South
* The Vikings of SM West under Tim Callaghan have contributed to a run against the Raiders similar to that of the OE Hawks. In each meeting that West has had vs. the Raiders since 2004, they have come out on the losing end of the final whistle. That said, the Raiders, who have been playing far better in all of 2017 than last year could make this a struggle for the Vikings. Streaks are meant to be broken as the Vikings have won 18 straight overall since 1997, and 13 straight since 2004.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Week-6 3 UP 3 DOWN

3 UP

1 - SM East Lancers 

Where to start? Leadership, Coaching, student-athletes, fans? The Lancers of SM East are once again competing an a rate of success never seen before. While that phrase sounds like high praise, the Lancers have a lot of work ahead of them and with two big games left in the regular season. The Chesty Lions recently split two games with Olathe North and South and would love to steal a road win against the Lancers at SM South Stadium. In the last three meetings, the Lancers have called SM North Stadium home in wins against the Chesty Lions. 

2 - SM South Raiders

The Raiders of SM South have gone from zero to hero in a matter of 12 months. Sporting an 0-ffer in 2016, the student-athletes of the Raiders Football team are eager to build this success. This week will be a huge game against sister school SM West. Since the 1997 season the Raiders are winless in 18 tries only having not played the Vikings in 2002 and 2003. There is no better time than now under Coach Brett Oberzan to start breaking these losing streaks as the talent pool is rebuilding for the Raiders. 

3 - SM Northwest Cougars 

Similar to the SM South Raiders, the Cougars of SM Northwest have began their remarkable turnaround after going a combined 2-16 in Bo Black's first two years at the helm. There is no question that learning from the film, and off-season preparations are paying off for the student-athletes inside the Cougar Football program. Two weeks ago the Cougars defeated the Vikings which has given them great confidence going in to the latter part of this 2017 season. 


3 DOWN

1 - SM West Vikings

In a very rare season, the Vikings have found themselves at the bottom of the league standings. While this is happening this 2017 season, except the team to learn a lot from what it is going through in a down year to rebound. From 6-4 to 0-6 is a wake up call for sure. This years Freshman will be Sophomores next Fall and looking to find and prove to the Viking Coaching staff that they are worthy of a possible starting spot. Coming up the Vikings will see the SM South Raiders with a chance to find their first win of the season. In all meetings since 2003, Tim Callaghan and his Vikings are 13-0 having never lost to the Raiders.

2 - OS Falcons

In 2016 the Falcons were the surprise of the Sunflower League. With a late season run that took them to a week-10 while the other three Football programs stayed home, it is a tough gig the second time around. QB SR Nick Jouret has either been playing and/or injured which has hurt in the standings. The Falcons should not be underestimated though, this group of young men are talented, and have a quality Coaching staff around them to keep building on. 

3 - SM North Indians

The Indians of SM North have been hit hard this season with its graduation of former SR QB Nick Schneider. Unfortunately from year to year, season to season, creating consistency in any Football program is hard. That said, the Indians have felt the sting as hard as anyone within the Sunflower League. This years program while losing their QB, has many bright spots ahead and a lot to work on for the future ahead. 


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Chip Sherman to MO HOF



Congratulations to Olathe Northwest Ravens Football Coach Chip Sherman on his selection to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. 

Chip Sherman is in his fifth season as Raven's Head Coach and will be home facing the Free State Firebirds in a big week-6 match up in hopes of getting the Ravens to a 3-3 record and back to 500. 

Coach Chip Sherman is known for his incredible success with the Platte County Pirates, in which he lead the program for 20 years from 1988 to 2007 with a record of 191-37 all-time. This tenure culminated in a series of State Football titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, in which his son was also a member of the Pirates team. While this three year run took place, the Pirates themselves, won a record (at the time) 52 straight games dating from game #1 of the 2000 season to game #10 with a defeat of KC-Southeast High School. Unfortunately the Pirates fell to Chillicothe in week-11 of the MO playoffs and the winning streak ended. 

At the conclusion of the 2007 season, Chip Sherman retired from Platte County as perhaps one of the most iconic figures within the city itself just outside of the Kansas City limits. 

In 2008, the Salina South Cougars came calling from central Kansas, in hopes of reviving a Football program in need of some major repair. With an 8-3 record, Chip Sherman's Cougars accomplished what he set out to do. Although it was only a single season he stayed in Salina, his leadership on, and off the gridiron continued. Following his resignation from the Salina School District, Chip Sherman again applied for positions around the Kansas City metro area and a return to be closer to his family. 

For a school not known for High School Football (traditionally, a Tennis, Swim & Dive, Golf) dominate school, the SM East Lancers of Prairie Village, KS came calling. Athletic Director (former) Jim Ricker found himself in the midst of a Coaching change with John Stonner taking a position as an Assistant Coach for Tim Callaghan at nearby SM West. In the spring of 2009, Chip Sherman was announced as the 9th Head Coach in Lancer Football history. 

The next four years of SM East Football soon changed the face of everything Lancer Football it had not known in its previous four decades of poor gridiron play. From 2009 to 2012, the Lancers went 26-15 and accomplished many achievements together as a team and school. The 2010 season, the Football Lancers finished 8-2, and found themselves defeating the Free State Firebirds and SM West Vikings ending a 20 game losing streak that dated back to the 1993 season. This 8-2 season alone, changed the course of history for the current Lancers playing today. 

In this era of Lancer Football the Chip Sherman run came to an end with a loss to Olathe East in the first round of the 2012 season, and a third consecutive winning season. Also a first for the Lancers of Prairie Village, KS. Chip Sherman had accomplished a lot in this run, including, and most importantly a bout with non-hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer in which he was diagnosed with, all while teaching, and coaching every day. Fighting, and defeating this cancer is perhaps one of his greatest victories of all-time outside of the world of High School Football, and family. 

Following this legendary four year term with SM East, the Olathe Northwest Ravens found themselves in need of a Head Coach with the resignation of the only Head Coach the school has ever known Todd Dain. Coach (Principal of SM South) Todd Dain became an Administrator, the following school year, and Raven's AD Jay Novacek found Chip Sherman as the Ravens next leader. 

These days the fifth year Ravens Coach is making a difference in Ravens Football. The team itself as seen the play change for the better and he continues to make a difference in his student-athletes lives in his 30th year as a Head Coach. 

Congratulations from the Sunflower Football News Chip! 



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Week-6/2017 Game Previews

Week-6

Lawrence vs Olathe South (OSF leads the series 16-15) @ ODAC
* Since the 2010 season, the Falcons have dominated the series against the Chesty Lions. Olathe South is 4-2 in those six meetings, and have continued to be strong despite their last few seasons. Combined, former Falcons Head Coach Jeff Gourley, and current Head Coach Craig Lewis are 8-3 in their last 11 games overall.

Free State vs Olathe Northwest (LFS leads the series 8-1) @ CBAC
* In nine total meetings, the Firebirds have dominated the Ravens from the start. Look for Free State to continue this run, with the Ravens hoping to gain some momentum and possibly a middle of the pack-seeding for week-9 play. This will not be any easy game for the Ravens as the Firebirds continue to take advantage of their experienced play throughout the season.

Leavenworth vs SM North (SMN leads the series 17-10) @ LVP
* Ben Bartlett, and his Indians will only meet the Pioneers for the second time in his young four year tenure as Head Coach. 2016 they came away with a win at home, and will continue to prepare hard for a tough SM Northwest meeting the following week.

Olathe East vs SM East (OEH leads the series 13-5) @ CBAC
* Entering week-6, the Lancers and Hawks will meet for the 19th time in their series. Since the beginning of the decade, these two have met only three times, with the Lancers winning two of the last three. SM East is 69-20 in PF, and PA in their last two games with a 2013 meeting in the 6A playoffs, and a 49-7 drubbing in their 2016 week-6 meeting.

Olathe North vs SM West (ONE leads the series 15-5) @ ODAC
* The Eagles and Vikings will maintain GOTW features for this huge SFL matchup. As everyone is preparing for a better seeding, the Vikings remain the strong side having gone 4-2 in their last six meetings against the Eagles. That said, the Eagles have had three Coaching changes in this time which may, or may not even factor in to this weeks game.

SM Northwest vs SM South (SNW leads the series 25-22) @ SM South
* The Cougars will be on the road in week-6 to an improving Raiders team looking to find a higher seeding in the post-season. With a stronger group and prepared by the Raiders Coaching staff, the Raiders have a chance to make this a quality game providing a cut down in turnovers, and mistakes made in all facets of play. There is no doubt that the Cougars will come poised to play and catch a local road win at the renovated SM South Stadium.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Week 5 Scores

Free State 31 - 6 Olathe South - Final
SM South 14 - 42 Olathe East -Final

Olathe North 33 - 28 Lawrence - Final
SM Northwest 35 - 14 SM West - Final
Olathe NW 48 - 9 Leavenworth - Final
SM North 6 - 59 SM East - Final

Mid-Season Wrap-Up - Weeks 1-4




Suburban Smackdown


Well, there was definitely an improvement in the Sunflower League's record against the Suburban League compared to last year, though that doesn't mean much to most fans aside from those of the Firebirds and Cougars. Each team beat Park Hill (4-1) and Grandview (1-4) respecively; with Free State scraping by with a 21-17 win, while SM Northwest had an easier time on offense, topping the Bulldogs 36-29.

However, aside from a 29-20 Indian win over 5A Lansing (1-2), no other SFL team walked away with a win. Losses ranged greatly in severity from Olathe NW's 1-point nail biter against Lee's Summit North (3-2), to Olathe North's 7-50 thrashing at the hands of Blue Springs South (1-4). At the end of the day though, the league got it's rear end torn off and handed back to itself by the Suburban teams, and the record isn't even close with the home-and-home series ending with a 2-18 tally for the Kansas side. We could go into each loss in detail, but it feels more important to discuss where each team is standing with five league games remaining on the schedule.

Full Steam Ahead

Photo by SME Harbinger
Lawrence Free State (5-0)

It's hard to belie that this is the first time the Firebirds entered Week 5 of the season undefeated since they won four straight in 2013 to start off a 9-2 season. Free State sits as the lone undefeated team left in the league with their next three games coming against opponents with a combined record of
4-8. It wouldn't be out of the question t expect a 7-0 record heading into their regular season finale against Lawrence High.

Shawnee Mission East (3-1)

A 21-17 loss to the likes of Rockhurst (4-2
) is what could be considered right for one of the current football powerhouses of Kansas. The Lancers have only lost three regular season games since 2014, and two of them have come against the Hawklets. A rebound blowout win over Olathe North (1-3) was just what the doctor ordered as the Lancers get another seemingly easy game against SM North before taking on Lawrence (3-1) in Week 8.

Hopeful Playoff Runs


Lawrence High (3-1)

The Lions survived a close one against a win-less SM West squad one week after their lone loss so far. The team's season will end with a little more challenge then the rest of the league's top half, with games against SM East (3-1) and rival Free State (5-0), who has a good chance of entering the matchup undefeated.


Olathe East (3-2)

While a 3-2 record may not be in-line with the great Olathe East teams of the past, the Hawks have shown that they are currently the most improved team in the city of Olathe after convincing wins over  Olathe North and South. The team should consider a 4-4 record a blessing heading into the playoffs a blessing though, as they should only be favored to win their season finale against Leavenworth (2-2).

Fighting to Avoid the Big Dogs


Olathe North (1-3) / Olathe Northwest (1-3)

While the Ravens have faired much better in their losses than their rival, ONW's biggest test resulted in a 29-point loss to 5A Goddard. The Eagles haven't faired well, though, as the team enters a contest against Lawrence (3-1) riding a three-game losing streak. Olathe North has one of the easier back-end schedules against three teams with a combined record of 2-10. Both teams will need to fight for every win to improve their seedings heading into the final stretch of the season.

Shawnee Mission West (0-4)

The Olathe schools may not need to worry about facing the top seed of the 6A East thanks to a Vikings squad who's biggest accomplishment is staying within seven points of Lawrence in a 28-35 loss. Most teams want to avoid the bottom seed at all costs, but considering the team fell to 5A Leavenworth, it may not matter who they face at this point.

Mid-Season Power Rankings


1. Lawrence Free State (5-0) - The Firebirds are undefeated against what turned out to be a rather lackluster schedule, but the team showed they mean business with a win over Park Hill (4-2) and they have sufficiently stomped their other competition so far. The combination of RB Jax Dineen (547 yds., 10 TD's) and QB Jordan Preston (7-1 TD:INT) has proven deadly and the team will need even more production from them against the 6A West teams.

2. Shawnee Mission East (3-1) - The Lancers were a couple plays and potentially a fumble away from beating one of the most storied high school programs in the region. Outside of the one blemishon their record, the team is continuing to steam roll through the league and won't face a real test until Lawrence in Week 6. RB Milton Braach II has been as effective as ever, averaging 129.8 yards in a game with seven touchdowns.

3. Lawrence High (3-1) - Very few were spared by Week 3's throttling at the hands of the Suburban League. It really feels like a strangely dull start to the season, as the league's top three teams won't see each other until Lawrence faces both SM East and Free State respectively.

4. Olathe East (3-2) - Out of all of the Olathe Schools, Olathe East seems to have been the only one to truly bounce back after a terrible year for the city in general. A 5-3 record isn't exactly the best stretch goal a team would like, but Olathe East shouldn't be choosey heading into the playoffs.

5. Shawnee Mission South (2-3) - The drop off between the top four teams of the league seems pretty steep. The Raiders have already improving infinitely more compared to last year; but aside from a 35-7 win against what was thought to be a decent Leavenworth squad, it still feels too hopeful to expect a sweep of their last three opponents for a winning record.

6. Leavenworth (2-2) - Dreadful showings against North KC (1-5) and #5 SM South keep the Pioneers down. However, wins have apparently been hard to come by for the league and Leavenworth has two, depending on their seed, a decent playoff run still isn't off the table.

7. Olathe South (1-4) - Disregarding the playoff's first round, Olathe South became the one of the first two teams to exit the running for a winning record after an offensive trainwreck of a loss to Free State. It certainly hasn't been easy for the Falcons, who have already played the three of the Top 4 teams in the league. It won't get any easier with a match-up with Lawrence approaching over the horizon.

8. Olathe Northwest (1-3) - Out of all the one-win teams, Olathe Northwest may have been the closest to a 3-1 record. The Ravens were a single point away from beating their Suburban League opponent, which was a lot better than some may have hoped for.

9.  Olathe North (1-3) - As usual for the lower third of the league, there isn't much to talk about besides which lone win is more impressive or how bad the losses are. Olathe North may still have a chance at a winning record, but starting QB Mason Myers was brought in against SM East and the absence of starter Zac Krause was certainly felt.

10. Shawnee Mission North (1-4) - While averaging a flat 21 points a game isn't a sign of the worst offense ever, SM North has given up an average of 38 points. That is just not acceptable if a team wants to win games and the offense is definitely missing Will Schneider despite the efforts of his successor Dustin McKessor (436 yds., 7-4 TD:INT), who was overall impressive against Lawrence and Lansing.

11. Shawnee Mission Northwest (1-3) - The Cougars may have been one of just two winners against the Suburban League, but every other game has been a true disaster. Giving up 40 points on average while only scoring an average of 15 is a recipe for bad times as the Cougars try to regroup for the fight to avoid the top seeds of the playoffs.

12. Shawnee Mission West (0-4) - You can't avoid the bottom of the list if you don't win and the Vikings have not done that so far. With the way things are looking, it may not happen at all this year.