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.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Week-5/2017 Game Previews


Lawrence vs Olathe North @ LAW (ONE leads the series 19-13) - Since 1989 
* Since the Eagles joined the SFL in 1989, the Chesty Lions, and Eagles have played in many memorable games. Coming off a very tough road loss to the Lancers, the Eagles will have to find a way to defeat the Chesty Lions. Since the 2013 season, the schools are at 2-2 apiece in the Weir2/McCartney era. Should the Eagles find a way to come away with a road win, this would boost the confidence of a great fan base prior to the last half of regular season games to play.  

Free State vs Olathe South @ ODAC (OSF leads the series 7-10)
* As the SFL has found itself growing, playing the opponents you are used to see in the previous decade at times decline. Since 2010, both teams have met in four games splitting at 2-2. From 1997 to 2008 they met in 13 straight seasons. Throughout 2013 to 2015, both teams have not faced each other from their prior stretch of mentioned game logs. This is a toss up game should the Falcons come out with a strong game. It will take everything the Falcons defense can achieve to stop a high-flying Firebirds offensive line.


Leavenworth vs Olathe Northwest @ Leavenworth (ONW leads the series 9-4)
* In what could be a clincher game of sorts for the Pioneers, a possible third win could help them a lot come 5A bracket seeding. This will be a tough task as well, Chip Sherman's Ravens have played well against the Pioneers as of late, and are 4-2 since 2010. Should the Raven's come away with a win, it will boost the team moving forward in their final regular season games.

Olathe East vs SM South @ CBAC (OEH leads the series 19-0)
* With the only modern day losing streak still alive of all 12 SFL teams, the Raiders are looking to continue their winning ways against the Hawks. All that said, for any non-Olathe team making a road trip to ODAC, or CBAC has a very tough task ahead of them trying to get a win. Even with it being the Ravens home field, the Olathe Records at CBAC are as high as ODAC against road teams. Both teams managed to get a "W" last week, and are looking to continue building up for a better bracket position as regular season games are beginning to disappear.

SM East vs SM North @ SM North (SMN leads the series 23-30-1)
* As the Lancers were thus born from the Shawnee-Mission Indians, a traditional "Nut Cup" Championship Commemorative Cup, constructed by the 1958 Lancers, and Indians, decided to bring together something both programs could swap back and fourth throughout the Football seasons, come and gone. To this day, the "Nut Cup" tradition exists entering its 60th season between both schools. Entering the nights game, the Lancers have maintained the Cup since 2008 winning 10 straight games. Tonights game will the 55th all-time meeting. Ben Bartlett and his Indians are hoping to change this course of meetings and end their current 10-game losing streak.

SM Northwest vs SM West @ SM South (SMW leads the series 34-17)
* In a rare struggle to find wins this season, the Vikings are looking to end this four-game skid. Since the 2010 season, the Vikings are 6-2 in their last eight games. The last win for the Cougars came during week-9 of the 2013 season, as the Vikings have won three in a row since then. Historically SM West' Tim Callaghan has had great success against all four of his fellow SMSD-4 opponents at the final whistle. Bo Black's Cougars are ready for a great game, and with some quality play by Stewart at QB, and Goodpasteur out wide, the Vikings could be in for a long evening under the lights.

Monday, September 25, 2017

3 UP - 3 DOWN

3 UP

1 - Free State Firebirds

Head Coach Bob Lisher, and the Firebirds are off to another fast start to the 2017 season. With a couple huge defeats in recent weeks, upsetting the Park Hill Trojans, and the SM Northwest Cougars the Firebirds have found a rhythm of play. Over the course of the next two weeks, they will have a road trip to Olathe playing at both "Dacs."  

2 - SM South Raiders

Coming off a huge win against the Pioneers last week, the Raiders will meet a fellow 2-2 team in the Olathe East Hawks. In 19 previous tries since 1992 when Olathe East opened as a Varsity Football program, the Hawks have never been defeated by the Raiders at any one time. This 2017 team, has the opportunity to end the streak of 19 straight losses, which is currently the longest losing streak of any of the current 12 Football programs. 

3 - SM East Lancers

Dominance. Unfortunately, the Olathe North Eagles found themselves a victim of the scoreboard again to the Lancers, this time on the road at SM North this past week. SM East, led by Andy Maddux, and Milton Braash, are once again taking the league as a whole by storm. While setbacks in taking care of the ball are early problems the Lancers are facing, they are quick to get the ball back with the Eagles, as well as the Hawklets from week-3 punting the ball away with their great Shark Defense. 


1 - SM West Vikings 

In what is perhaps one of the slowest starts in the 15 years of Viking Football under Tim Callaghan, the Vikings can redeem themselves against their sister school the SM Northwest Cougars. While both teams are down, and giving up Points For totals that are out of character, each team will be fighting hard until the final whistle to come out on top with a win. Despite their current records, these two teams are no strangers to each other and always playing tough Friday night games. 

2 - Olathe North Eagles

The Olathe North Eagles have been outscored 21 to 95 in their last two combined games against the Blue Springs South Jaguars, and SM East Lancers. The last time this feat took place was in former Head Coach Gene Weir's 2011 return season to the Eagles. Looking back on that 2011 start, the Eagles lost four straight games before closing out the late season with a 3-3 record and first round playoff exit. While these numbers are bad, historically speaking, the Eagles can, and do have an opportunity to change this current path of play. 

3 - SM Northwest Cougars

In the SMSD-5, the Cougars, similar to the Vikings are off to very slow starts. With week-5 now in the forefront, playing quality Football, and finding a way to get some additional win's under their belt is a huge goal to accomplish, that requires everyones participation. While the Cougars record stands at 1-3, they have a chance to finish out with a 2-2 record before week-9 game assignments take place entering the post season. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Week-4/2017 Game Previews

ONE 14 SME 45 - Final
SMS 35 LVP 7 - Final
LAW 00 SMW 00
LFS 00 SNW 00
OEH 00 OSF 00
ONW 00 SMN 00



Olathe North vs SM East @ SM North (ONE leads the series 17-6)
* It's no secret that the Eagles and Lancers have became somewhat of a rivalry game over the last 10 meetings. While the Eagles have dominated this series since the 80s, the Lancers have come on strong under their resurgence of play led by the Lancers Shark defense and strong offensive prowess in the last four seasons. The Lancers are 4-1 since 2013 and are looking to continue this run against Olathe North.

Leavenworth vs SM South @ SM South (SM South leads the series 20-4)
* While the Raiders have consistently dominated the series, as a team, taking a team led by Mark Littrell has been very tough to defeat overall. Despite the 5A status of the Pioneers, the Raiders should look to take advantage of this game and to end their 2016 frustrations. Maintaing possession, and few turnovers will determine who comes out with a win.


Lawrence vs SM West @ SM South (SMW leads the series 28-15)
* In one of the best competitive series of Sunflower opponents, the Chesty Lions and Vikings meet again only this time in the rehabbed SM South Stadium. For nearly a decade, the Chest Lions have struggled heavily against the Vikings, at home, and even worse on the road. The Vikings have won 8 of the last 10 games, going away and have a great chance of continuing to dominate this series of play.

Free State vs SM Northwest @Free State (LFS leads the series 9-3)
* The Firebirds and Cougars will meet for the 13th time with the Firebirds dominating in every part of the season. With the Cougars working hard the last couple years, it would be a great upset on the road for a tough schedule ahead. The Firebirds have won six straight dating back to the 2008 season.

Olathe East vs Olathe South @ ODAC (OSF leads the series 16-14)
* The Falcons lead the series overall by two games. While historically both are intra-district rivals, the Hawks are 4-6 in their last 10 games. With 2016 behind them, and at the midway point of the season, both schools are hoping for winning records.

Olathe Northwest vs SM North @ CBAC (ONW leads the series 6-2)
* With only a limited series of games played, the Raven's will have a tough game ahead of them vs. an upstart Indians Football team. The Indians motivation from last seasons with defeating an Olathe school will carry on with hopes of returning to the top of the league standings early on. This game alone can help both teams on seeding for week-9.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Week-3/2017 Game Previews


LAW 35 vs LSW 49
LFS 21 vs PHT 16
LVP 6 vs NKC 27
OEH 13 vs LIB 34
ONE 7 vs BSS 50
ONW 23 vs LSN 24
OSF 15 vs LST 28
SME 17 vs ROC 21
SMN 29 vs LAN 20
SNW 36 vs GRA 29
SMS 0 vs WTG 7 - OT
SMW 0 vs BSW 42


In an unprecedented turn of events in 2016 the Sunflower League Football programs O-ffered (0-10) against the Suburban League in all 10 gridiron games. Can 2017 change that course of events? Only the SM North Indians managed the non-conference win against the Lansing Lions, while the Lancers lost on the road at Rockhurst (0-11) overall.

Below are the listings and locations of game fields for week-3 to take place. With only the Lancers, and Hawklets having a game history against each other, many of the Sunflower Football programs had yet to face a team in Missouri since SM Northwest was built in 1969. Outside of all of the SMSD-5 Football programs all playing Rockhurst at one time or another in their past, the Cougars played the Winnetonka Griffins going 3-1 from 1975 to 1978.

The Lawrence Chesty Lions, and Shawnee-Mission Indians were fortunate to play in a league decades ago with a handful of Missouri schools and both faced the William Chrisman Bears in the mid-1930's!

Lawrence vs Lee's Summit West (LSW leads the series 1-0) @ Lawrence
* In another great game, the Chesty Lions and Titans will meet for round two. The 2016 Titans gave up a touchdown last year at home in a 28-7 route. This should be a great night in Lawrence with both the Titans and Trojans attempting to come out winners in this non-conference battle week-3.

Free State vs Park Hill (PHT leads the series 1-0) @ Free State
* Coach Josh Hood's Trojans are off to a fast start averaging 44 PPG, and could prove to be a thorn in the Firebirds side. While this game will not mean all that much in the overall Sunflower table it could set the Firebirds back. This will be the first time the Trojans will find themselves in the State of Kansas for a game dating back to the 70s of the original Sunflower League era. While at home, Bob Lisher can use this to his advantage and split the series carrying over in to week-4.

Leavenworth vs North Kansas City (NKC leads the series 1-0) @ Leavenworth
* Can the Pioneers continue on their current streak? The Hornets are struggling big time at 0-4, and are looking for their first win of the season. The edge goes to the Pioneers if they can keep going strong prior to their week-4 game against the SM South Raiders.

Olathe East vs Liberty (Liberty leads the series 1-0) @ Liberty
* The Hawks are coming off a big win over their district rivals the ON Eagles. Can this carry over to a powerful Liberty Bluejays Football program? This game will prove to be a tough go from the kickoff as Liberty has proven to play well in their new digs, and as advertised is a beautiful new stadium to play.

Olathe North vs Blue Springs South (BSS leads the series 1-0) @ Blue Springs South
* For two schools with traditionally strong Football programs, both teams are looking to find their identity on the field of play. Under second year Coach and alumni Jon Oyler, returning the Jaguars to regular season dominance is a weekly goal.

Olathe Northwest vs Lee's Summit North (LSN leads the series 1-0) @ LS North
* In only their second meeting, the Ravens and Broncos will meet in their history. This game is a break that the Ravens will need to get a win prior to resuming SFL play in week-4.

Olathe South vs Lee's Summit (LST leads the series 1-0) @ Lee's Summit
* While Coach Craig Lewis is no stranger to the Lees Summit Tigers, the Falcons will meet them for the second time in the history of the program. This game will be another strong suit that could fit the Falcons for a win while the Tigers finally found the win column in week-4 over the Columbia Rock Bridge Bruins. If the Falcons can come away with a win, it will be a great momentum swing for the Falcons entering the middle of their schedule.

SM East vs Rockhurst @ SM North (First time hosting since 1981; Rock leads 9-3)
* In their second meeting since the 1982 season (34 years) the Lancers look to avenge their road loss and multiple turnover game in their home at Larry Taylor Field. Rockhurst knows how this works, and will come out fast looking to score and maintain possession away from the Lancers offense. This will be a great game for Lancers the SM East offense to make a statement and defeat the Hawklets. Below is the game history since the 1965 season.

SM East vs. Rockhurst Hawklets                           
Arch Unruh (2-1, 3, 333) - Last 10 games played                                         
            65-7     W         35-27               2-1       1-0       
            Glen Percy (1-3, 4, 250)                             
            75-8     W           7-6                 3-1       2-0       
            76-8     L            6-12               3-2       2-1      
            77-8     L          15-22               3-3       2-2      
            78-8     L            7-13               3-4       2-3      
            Harold Wambsgans (0-2, 2, 250)               
            79-3     L            6-7                 3-5       2-4     
            80-3     L            9-26               3-6       2-5      
            Emerson Wilson (0-2, 2, 000)                                  
            81-3     L            0-27               3-7       2-6       
            82-3     L          14-34               3-8       2-7     
            Dustin Delaney (0-1, 2, 000+)              
                        vs.  Tony Severino (1-0, 1, 1.000+)
            16-3     L-8       20-26               3-9       2-8                  
SM North vs Lansing (LAN leads the series 1-0) @ Lansing 
* In the second of two games not including a Suburban foe, the Indians will meet up with the Lions, only this time of Lansing coming off a big win over the Bishop Ward Cyclones in week-2. SM North should bring a stronger competition from the start and should be able to defeat a very confident youthful Lions Football program.

SM Northwest vs Grandview (GRA leads the series 1-0) @ Grandview
* The Bulldogs are 1-3 in all games played, with a win over the PH South Panthers in week-2. This is a good chance for the Cougars to take advantage of this game and get in the win column.

SM South vs Winnetonka (WIN leads the series 1-0) @ SM South 
* This is perhaps a game that can solidify the Raiders coming back on to the SFL scene and in a strong way. The Griffins have struggled early on to keep up with their opponents giving up an average of 52.2 PPG. With the win against the Indians in week-1, confidence will be a great factor on the field, and sidelines with improvement from Brett Oberzan's Raiders.

SM West vs Blue Springs (BSW leads the series 1-0) @ Blue Springs
* The Vikings reverse their fortune after a slow 0-2 start? The unusually cold Blue Springs Wildcats are 2-2 to start the season in the Suburban League.

Monday, September 11, 2017

3 UP - 3 DOWN

3 UP

1 - Leavenworth Pioneers

In a very rare Sunflower start, the Pioneers have found themselves at the top of the standings with the Chesty Lions, Firebirds, Eagles, and Lancers. Although things are bound to change, which they always do, this is still proof (regardless of the play on the field) the Pioneers can, and will compete with anyone. The last Pioneers win against the Vikings, came on the night Andre Maloney suffered a stroke and passed away only days later. 

To this day, the Sunflower League continues to honor the leadership, fun, smiles, passion, and love for the game Andre Maloney brought to his fellow Vikings on and off the field and in the hallways of SM West High School. To our current student-athletes, don't hesitate to ask your Coach about Andre Maloney. He was a one of a kind athlete and a joy to watch, compete against, and make friends with any day of the week. 

2 - Chesty Lions & Firebirds

Same class?! Probably so. With both of the programs off to a fast start, and with no signs of slowing down these two are a fitting tandem at the top of the Sunflower League. While these two do not meet until week-8, both will continue to succeed until another team will attempt to knock them off in the standings. 

3 - Olathe East Hawks

The Olathe East Hawks came away with a huge road win on the road at ODAC against the Olathe North Eagles. Although these two did not meet in 2016, the Hawks came out on the short end in their last three meetings in 13, 14, and 2015. The 2012 season netted their last win against the Eagles in Gene Weir's return to the Sunflower League after nine seasons with the Richland Rebels of TX. 


1 - SM West Vikings

Of the 12 Football programs, the Vikings 0-2 start is the most surprising of the standings. Digging throughout the depths of the West Vikings program, the 2014 program started 0-2 as well finishing with a 6-5 record. There is still plenty of time, and win's to happen for the team as it enters the meat of the schedule. That said, a huge road block, and a possible huge road win could be possible against a 2-2 Blue Springs Wildcats led by Kelly Donahoe. 

To the Viking faithful "Nordic Nasties" continue to carry on the strong traditions each any every game, and that of Andre Maloney

2 - Olathe Northwest Ravens

The Ravens have seemed to find themselves once again behind the 8-ball similar to the SM North Indians. Coming up a road game to a very much improved Lee's Summit Broncos Football program could provide a quality challenge, and perhaps a revenge win needed to 'right the ship'. Olathe Northwest is better than what their record consists of, now its time to see them succeed. 

3 - SM North Indians 

With a slow start to the season, the Indians seem to be reeling a lot from leadership lost to graduation. The 2017 season is still young and there is plenty of time to raise their level of play. With a game on the road against a strong Lions program, no doubt a quick non-conference break could do some good and bring confidence to a good Indians program.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Week-2/2017 Game Previews

LAW 69 vs SMN 31 - Final
OEH 29 vs ONE 12 - Final
OSF 21 vs ONW 7 - Final
SME 41 vs SNW 0 - Final
SMW 14 vs LVP 16 - Final
LFS 49 vs SMS 0 - Final


Lawrence vs SM North (LAW leads the series 50-21-3) @ SM North
* Once again, two of the longest tenured Sunflower schools will meet on the gridiron.

Dating back to the early 1940's these two will meet for the 75th time. Since Ben Bartlett took over four years ago, he has led the Indians to a 1-1 overall record vs. Dirk Wedd's Chesty Lions. There is no doubt, having this game at home can prove to benefit the Indians well coming off a strong 2016 season.

Free State vs SM South (LFS leads the series 7-2) @ Free State 
* With the season kicked off, the Raiders will look to bring back some experience vs. a very strong Firebirds program. Can the Raiders do the unthinkable and walk away with an upset victory? It will be hard to tell this early on, but do not count them out. With 2016 behind them, the Raiders are looking to make changes for the best each, and every week ahead.

Leavenworth vs SM West (SMW leads the series 24-3) @ SM South
* The Vikings will host the Pioneers one final time at SM South stadium. Although the Pioneers success's are few and far between, Mark Littrell is one who can change that with his knowledge of the Vikings play in hopes of an upset. Tim Callaghan is no stranger to Mark Littrell's old Falcons teams, and knows that this will be a great game from the start should the Pioneers come out with a strong offensive push.

Olathe East vs Olathe North (ONE leads the series 18-8) @ ODAC
* Can the Hawks dethrone the Eagles from the top of the nest? One will find out tonight, as the Eagles are coming off a tough non-conference loss to the Hutchinson SaltHawks. These two teams have met for many great games on the gridiron in the past, and one can only look forward to more in the future!

It will be a tough call to see how the Eagles will play as well with the Heights Falcons in their back-pocket, and an intra-district game can only bring. Since 2010, the Hawks are 1-6 in seven meetings.

Olathe South vs Olathe Northwest (OSF leads the series 11-1) @ CBAC
* In another great Olathe #233 matchup, the Falcons will take on the Ravens at CBAC. Unfortunately, at home, the Ravens have had a rough time against their fellow Eagles, and Hawks, at the CBAC. The only time the Ravens have defeated the Falcons was in week-4 of the 2015 season. That game ended a 10 game losing streak with the arrival of Chip Sherman to the gridiron of Olathe.

The Ravens do have a good chance of making this a game, providing the Falcons can recover from the Lancer loss a week prior.

SM East vs SM Northwest (SNW leads the series 25-21) @ SM North  
* While the series is misleading with the NW Cougars four games above 500 vs. the Lancers, the Cougars have struggled since 2009 to get a win against SM East. Under Chip Sherman, and Dustin Delaney the Lancers have reeled off 10 straight win's while the Cougars too, have had three Coaching changes. Despite all of that Bo Black, is looking to see his NW Cougars take the chances they need to take to upset the Lancers at Larry Taylor Field.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Opposite Ends - Kansas Football vs. Texas Football

If a person were to say that Kansas football can't compare to essentially the motherland of the sport, most high school football fans would say they're stating the obvious. Massive stadiums funded privately for the sake of a sport are common place. High schools like those in Allen, TX and Corpus Christi, have been able to call stadiums with capacities of 18,000 people home. However, it's considered normal for powerhouse schools to have the biggest, nicest amenities. What would a lesser known program bring to the table compared to some of the biggest venues in the entire state of Kansas...?

Lumpkins Stadium

Waxahachie, TX

Capacity: 9,500
#39 Ranked in Texas (#292 Nationally)*
State Championships:  '92
Class Level: 5A
Opened: 1972

Lumpkins Stadium, home to the Waxahachie Indians
Photo by Austin Lockwood

Driving up to the stadium was an unreal experience for me when it came to a high school game. The Waxahachie Indians were opening their new season against the Lakeview Centennial Patriots, a middling 6A team hoping for a return trip to the playoffs after going 8-4 last year. Waxahachie had a rougher go of things, losing the final four games of the season and missing the playoffs with a 6-4 record. 

Neither team has any true rivalry or anything significant to play for aside from fixing any issues before district play begins. Despite the low stakes involved in the game, even the biggest rivalry games such as Lawrence-Free State and ONHS-OSHS couldn't absolutely pack a parking lot over an hour before game time like how I witnessed that Friday night. Arriving in town through the highway, I was thinking about what I should do before actually going to the stadium since I had arrived earlier than expected with over an hour before game time. Those thoughts were squashed quickly when I noticed a long stretch of vehicles lining the service road for almost half a mile, all leading to the main entrance of Lumpkin Stadium.

Pulling up to the complex, the sheer size of the structure kept me staring throughout my entire wait to park (Multiple parking attendants were lined up to speed up the process). The approach to the the ticket booth felt more like I was attending a DII college game that would cost me at least $50 for a good seat; not the $8 I paid for a reserved spot at the 50-yard line. Sitting on opposite sides of the giant painted brick "W" at the base of the stairs were two engraved memorials to the lone championship team of 1992 and longtime team physician Dr. David Williams.

The lone state champions for Waxahachie
football. Immortalized in stone at in front
of the main entrance.
Photos by Austin Lockwood
Fortunately, I was able to get in just in time to get a look around before players entered the field. The main thing that caught my eye after the sheer size of the almost packed stands was a large statue of the Indian mascot for the school. The statue towered over the faculty workers as they prepared for kickoff, but it's size was nothing compared to the large jumbotron display that stood nearby. (Seemingly) Professional highlight reels mixed with the team's local radio broadcast showed a level of production that again, seemed more fitting for a mid-level college instead of a simple high school in the middle of Texas.
"The Indian" stands tall near an HD display used as both a second scoreboard
and for various advertising.
Photo by Austin Lockwood

Before I knew it, the game had begun. Waxahachie quickly showed it's power over the small Lakeview squad, stuffing the Patriots on their opening drive and returning the punt for the first touchdown of many on the night. With every score, you could almost feel the concrete floors vibrate as the crowd went wild. The cheers didn't die even as the game slowly devolved into a routine blowout, as the Patriots couldn't keep up for more than a quarter before falling apart defensively in a 63-24 loss. On my way outside of the stadium, I took another look at the main structure and noticed the team store. Not a simple set of tables with shirts,, but an actual section of the building designed specifically to sell Indian merchandise.

While small compared to what you would find at bigger stadiums, the air conditioned store sold both the typical shirts and hoodie along with calendars, stickers, inflatable thunder sticks and other random team-themed items. While driving out of the parking lot, I had to take another look back to fully accept that I had actually attended a high school football game...

Shawnee Mission South District Stadium

Shawnee, KS

Capacity: 9,000
Shared between five schools
Primary Occupants: SM South, SM West
State Championships: '72, '73, '75, '85, '12
Class Level: 6A

It isn't pretty, it isn't new, it isn't even particularly nice. However, it has a surprisingly large capacity. So surprising that I almost used O.D.A.C as the main Kansas representative before double checking other fields in the league. I've seen plenty of games at this place from both the field and the stands. After all these years, the best way I could describe it is that it does what it's designed to do. People can fit in it. There really isn't anything else to it. With a tiny, cramped press box and plain, steel benches lining both sides, spectators go into each week hoping a good game will distract them from the pain in their rear-end caused by the cheap seating.

Image result for shawnee mission south district stadium fan section

Other stadiums have fancier designs like both Lawrence schools, but their stadiums' fancy stonework comes at the cost of overall capacity with Lawrence High Stadium barely cracking the 4,000 mark and Free State holding even less at around 3,500. 

While all SFL fanbases are capable of filling out their home stands, it is rare to actually approach capacity like what I saw during the opener in Texas. It was obvious that the football program of Waxahachie was far more ingrained in the town's culture than what you can find anywhere in most of Eastern Kansas. Senior citizens packed the center handicap section, with people unrelated to any players or the program itself coming together for the sake of supporting the team and by extension, the town itself. Students only filled out roughly 1/8 of the home stands and parents largely occupying the reserved seats, special fold up chairs similar to those found in Arrowhead Stadium. 

Lumpkin Stadium vs. O.D.A.C
I'm aware that this part of the story has somewhat reverted back to Texas again, but that's mainly due to how incredibly different football is in this part of the country. It was never a question about whether or not Kansas was better than Texas. It was about the questions revolving around where Kansas football stands on a national level. After looking at where we stand compared to the very top of the ladder, it's a wonder if  football here will ever reach the kind of level where it isn't considered a phenomenon for a team to be ranked in the Top 100 on sites like MaxPreps (Bishop Miege opened the 2017 season at #77). Unless larger schools find a way to bring in more interest and more money, such ideas are mere pipe dreams.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Week 1 Under Review

Thursday Games Quick Reactions

Jack Mason (22) punched in his first TD
of the season with a 2-yd run.
Photo from
(Stats taken from, 810 Varsity, LJWorld and PrepsKC)
Olathe East  21-22 Hutchinson (W)

Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised that not only did the Hawks keep up with Hutchinson for the entire game, but to keep a lead until the final minute of regulation is a far bigger improvement compared to last season's 41-13 blowout loss to the Salthawks. That said, unless the turnovers can be brought under control, losses will start to add up. The Hawks turned the ball over four times, killing chances to cushion their lead by anymore than two scores.

Despite the critical mistakes in the turnover game, the defense did manage a couple takeaways of their own. JR Trevon Kearney also showed his speed with a 76-yard TD run for the only score of the second half. The Hawks need more runs like that to keep up with the tough teams left in a front-loaded schedule. 

Olathe South 7-28 SM East (W)

The only true surprise here was that SM East didn't drop 40 for literally the 19th time in three seasons. JR Andy Maddox had a good performance in his first game replacing former QB Luke Kaiser from last year. Along with two touchdown throws from Maddox to SR Kelyn Bolton, the Lancers mainly stuck to their traditional ground game, splitting 180 yards among six ball-carriers. SR Milton Braasch II took the brunt of the load, getting 22 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Despite the three-touchdown loss. The Falcons are already showing improvement compared to their rocky 2016 campaign. It may take some time for them to fully come into their own like last year, but a game against a seemingly struggling defense at Olathe Northwest should show give us a better idea of what Olathe South can do in 2017.

Lawrence (W) 42-21 SM Northwest

Krom (33) bulldozed through
defenders all night for 334 yards.
Photo by Nick Krug for LJWorld
I had to check both 810Varsity and LJWorld to verify the stats for this game. Considering they both report the same, I can safely say SMNW showed the #1 way to lose a game while also throwing for a whopping 362 yards. Despite the good yardage from Spencer Stewart, the JR quarterback only managed to complete 54% of his passes on the night while also throwing three picks to only one scoring throw. He did manage to run one in himself on a night where the run game was almost non-existent (11 yards total for the team). I feel it's never a good idea to pass for 82% of your offensive plays, and the issues showed as Lawrence began to not even bother going for the run and focusing on harassing the QB.

On the other side of the field, the almost complete opposite story took place, as SR Hunter Krom showed everybody what they were missing after his season-ending injury in last year's opener. The veteran running back had one of the highest rushing totals in school history after running all over the Cougars for a whopping 334 yards and three scores. As if it wasn't bad enough that the Lions had a running back had what could be considered a good passing game by running the ball, Lawrence also showed much more efficient passing from JR Garrett Romero, who went 7-11 for only 110 yards, but also threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions. The season is still young, but if balance can't be found on offense and the leaky defense can't be plugged, it will be another long one for SMNW.

Friday Night Quick Reactions

Lawrence Free State (W) 56-9 Shawnee Mission West

Opening week was a good one for the city of Lawrence. While the Lions put on a show offensively, rival Free State matched it with solid defense and a nice amount of offense to go with it. Discipline was very much one-sided in this one, with Free State forcing four turnovers with all leading to scores (including one going 60 yards for touchdown off a fumble). Things didn't start too hot for the Firebirds, who gave up a safety not even a minute into the game, but once RB Jax Dineen (70 yards, 2TD) got going, the scoring didn't seem to stop.

There wasn't much to say for SM West, as their struggles were far from what was expected going into Friday's game. The Vikings only managed 169 total yards with only a single touchdown from QB Wesley Clark in garbage time late in the 4th. SM West showed they plan to have returning starter Kirby Grigsby (22 attempts for 36 yards) as the feature back. He did his best to fight through the game despite averaging only 1.6 yards per carry. The hope is that improved performance along the entirety of the offensive line will help the offense bounce back against Leavenworth next Friday.

Leavenworth (W) 13-6 Lansing

Leavenworth is now 2-2 against the
Lansing Lions since 2014
Photo by Alan Dale from LVTimes
The blossoming rivalry between future league partners showed all viewers stout defenses and seemingly inept special teams play on the way to a victory for the Leavenworth Pioneers, who are in their final season as a member of the Sunflower League.

A quiet first quarter from both offenses eventually cracked after a pair of short runs ended the half with a 7-6 Pioneer lead. Both offenses struggled for points, but SR RB Devin Johnston kept Leavenworth on top  with 105 yards and the game-sealing 17-yard TD run with less than two minutes to go. It's still too soon to tell how the Pioneers will fare against the SFL's 6A teams, but what can currently be considered an easy schedule should help the team impress in their final season with the league.

Olathe North (W) 39-25 Wichita Heights

The game started off quietly for both teams with neither side scoring throughout the fourth quarter. The scoreboard operator had to get to work in a hurry from that point onward, as the two teams combined for 64 points in three quarters. Stats have not  been available for Heights players, but the visiting Falcons entered halftime with high hopes after edging Olathe North 18-13 at the break. After that, aside from a score late in the fourth, it was all Eagles, who used their own form of airing it out with JR QB Zac Krause tossing three touchdown passes with 191 passing yards.

Even more unlike tradition, Olathe North generally struggled to get anything going on the ground. Krause also led Eagle backs with 28 yards on three rushing attempts. The team totaled only 45 yards as a unit, with JR's Daymonn Sanchez and Mason Myers getting the remaining 17 yards split into 9 carries. Despite the lack of a running game, both backs did their parts receiving with 57 and 102 receiving yards respectively. Both saw the end-zone with Sanchez nabbing one TD catch and the remaining two going to Myers. The Eagles will need to find a way to either maintain the passing game or fix the running game before their game against a frustrated Olathe East team if they hope to maintain their momentum going into the rest of the season.

Olathe Northwest 20-49 Goddard (W)

I'll be honest, I kind of forgot Goddard existed and had to look them up to find out that they were actually a good team. Anyways, this game hardly met the expectations that were set after last season's double-overtime thriller. While stats are not currently available from the main sources, the Ravens started off well enough, scoring a touchdown early in the half before the floodgates opened as Goddard kept chopping up the classic ONW defense until a 49-6 lead gave the Ravens a chance to improve the aesthetics of the final score with a couple touchdown runs in garbage time. There isn't much else to say until stats are found. The team got whooped by a 5A team coming off a title game loss to Mill Valley.

SM South (W) 22-19 SM North

For just the second time since the start of the 2015 season, Raiders fans can go home cheering for a victory. Despite the close score, SM South managed to hold the lead and squash a comeback attempt from the Indians to nab the win and show that progress has been made compared to last year's 0-9 debacle. On the other side, the Indians will need more production offensively. The team seemed to show that it will still need time adjusting to life without 4-year starter Will Schneider taking snaps at QB.