Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sunflower Team Of The Week - Olathe Northwest Ravens

Congrats to the Olathe Northwest Raven's as the #SFNfball Team of the Week. 

This past Friday night, the Raven's ended an 11 game losing streak that started in 2004 when the school officially began Varsity Football play. The Ravens now stand 1W-11L all-time after 12 games played. 

Historically, the Raven's have never faired well against their fellow #233 counterparts. 

As the season progresses, this certainly solidifies the Raven's as a force within the Sunflower.

Although there are still many questions to be answered prior to the "second season"/District play, the Raven's could be the spoiler and even in this group of four: Olathe East, Olathe North, Olathe Northwest and Lawrence, one of the top three will be the odd man out. 

Fan's, do not worry though, come 2016 everyone will make the playoffs similar to M & W Basketball, Soccer, Baseball, and Softball. 


Honorable Mention: Rogers-Heritage War Eagles

*** As of 9-29-15, Olathe North Athletic Director Jason Herman broke the Sunflower Football Twitter world with the news of the Rogers Heritage War Eagles use of an ineligible student-athlete during the week-1 road game at ODAC. 

Having done some research and digging of local Kansas City schools who have also had this happen to them past and present, this is nothing new, and at times does happen from year to year. 

In regards to scoring a forfeited game, the 35-33 loss the Eagles suffered is officially changed to a 1-0 Win. 

During the 2011 season, Olathe East had to forfeit a 35-27 win against the SM East Lancers, adjusting the record to 7-4 instead of 6-5. This was also due to an ineligible student-athlete.   

Cheers to Rogers Heritage for stepping up and notifying Olathe North about the ineligible player, and changing what needs to be changed. Win or loss, this was done the right way and it is time to move forward to week five (5) and separation week in the Sunflower standings. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Player Spotlight 2015: Free State RB Sam Skwarlo

Photo by LJWorld, 2015

Name: Sam Skwarlo
School: Lawrence Free State
Year: Senior (SR.)
Position: RB/LB
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 210 lbs.

2015 Statistics (as of Week 4):

Rushing: 55 Carries; 387 Yards; 4 TD; 96.75 Yds/Game;
7.06 Yds/Carry


After seeing this kid play twice agaisnt Lawrence High and Olathe North, I can personally say he may be one of the fastest players in this league. Seriously, the kid is averaging more than seven yards an attempt mainly because nobody even touches him until he's already past the linebackers or juking around corners.

Despite the loss, Skwarlo actually had his best game against Olathe North, where he sprinted his way to 196 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles. Most of his yards came on when he broke free on a few long runs and out ran almost everybody on the defense.

The one issue I noticed is his ability to smash through the middle on inside runs. That isn't to say he doesn't hit the holes at top speed. When the line can manage the smallest gap for him, you can safely bet he will slip through for at least five yards 90% of the time.

We've yet to see anything from him in the passing game, which is surprising given his speed. It would be interesting to see some screen passes or maybe watching him operate as a slot receiver (I believe Free State has run some swing passes, but my memory escapes me).


Skwarlo didn't see a lot of time last year behind a big stable of running backs, but he exploded in Week 2 and has yet to slow down. He currently has a streak of four games with a touchdown and you can't be unsatisfied with him earning almost a hundred yards per game. In terms of speed and wow-factor, this guy is one of the best in both departments.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weekly Recap 2015: Week 4

Kind of a boring week unless you love blowouts. Nonetheless, there is plenty to take away from these games!

The Good

Photo by LJWorld, 2015
* Olathe Northwest (3-1) won't succeed without a playoff berth, but winning three of their first four games doesn't hurt in the least. The Ravens also notched their first win against rival Olathe South in convincing fashion.

* Olathe North got to open up the playbook this week, as QB Matt Wright threw for 4 passing touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns went to WR Isaiah Simmons. I swear Matt Wright is covering himself in oil or something because I've yet to see him get taken down by the first tackler. You will know what I mean if you get to see him play this year. It's crazy. 

* The streak of 40+ point games continues for SM East who exploded in the second quarter and cruised to a 41-21  win over SM West.

The Bad

The streak of 40+ point games continues for SM East who exploded in the second half and won 41-21 over SM West. Seriously, this may be good for the Lancers, but the remaining Shawnee Mission schools have been obliterated the last three weeks and I kinda doubt SM North is going to stop another sweep of the school district. Considering that is almost half the SFL, that doesn't bode well for the other league teams once the playoffs come around.

* The lower half of the league is looking down and out now. Usually there's one or two teams in the bottom six that look interesting, but who is there that really looks like a threat? The Indians and Cougars have some offense but it doesn't matter when you give up 40+ points per game.

Trending UP

Olathe Northwest - The Ravens are off to one of their best starts and were one storm away from being 4-0. HC Chip Sherman has been working his magic and I wouldn't doubt they will enter district at 5-1. Now that I look at their schedule, a 7-2 regular season isn't impossible if they can find a way to beat the Lions or Eagles. 

 Shawnee Mission East
- What can I say? The Lancers played their first big opponent of the season and still came with a 21-point win over SM West. Things don't get easier against Lawrence Free State next week, but I'm fairly confident a 9-0 season can be expected again. Obviously nothing will change in their ranking; but, they definitely made a statement this week and the opportunity to make another is knocking at their door.

Trending DOWN
Shawnee Mission North - I suppose a 3-6 record is still possible assuming Wyandotte (0-4) is as bad as usual, but is a 3-7 (what playoff team would they beat?) record really the best this team can muster? I want to say no but there isn't much to take away from these losses.

Shawnee Mission West - It was looking good at first, but the Vikings couldn't catch up and let SM East (4-0) run away with it in the end. On the bright side, they were actually on the losing end of the closest game this week. That's somewhat impressive considering the opponent.

Power Rankings:

1. -- Shawnee Mission East (4-0) - They beat the first of sadly two big opponents this year by three scores and showed off the flexbone in all its glory once again. I'll say Free State (1-3) is still a threat, but 9-0 should be the expectation from here on out.

2.  -- Lawrence (4-0) - The offense returned in force this week against an inferior SM Northwest squad and came away with 40+ points for the second time this season (third game with 30+). A gimme game against SM South stands between them and a run through the Olathe schools. I would normally call that the gauntlet but this year... not so much.

3. ▲1  Olathe North (3-1) - A very nice win for the Eagles' homecoming game. The Eagles were able to open up the passing game this week and showed off the speed of their receivers and the mobility of QB Matt Wright.

4. ▲1 Olathe Northwest (3-1) - 1-11 isn't really the best record to have against a rival, but boy that win must feel sweet now. The Ravens got just their third shutout since 2011 and a couple more could be expected this year considering how well the defense is playing. ONW is giving up just 7.25 points per game this year. SM East is giving up 1o.25 points. Sheesh.

2 Shawnee Mission West (3-1) - The Vikings did well to score 21 against he SM East starters, but giving up the lead early spelled doom for them in what ended up being not that close of a game. This is still a good team, but Olathe North/Northwest were both impressive.

6. -- Lawrence Free State (1-3) - Finally! The Firebirds finally got their first win of the season and oh boy was it a doozy. They did what good teams need to do and blewout/shutout a team that was clearly inferior and made a statement while doing it. Can they do the same next week against SM East (4-0)? I'd say the chance of a win is 17:1. What? They beat 5A Leavenworth (0-4), let's not get ahead of ourselves.

-- Olathe East (2-2) - These guys went from one of the struggling offenses in the league to scoring the most points in a game this season. Nicely done. A similar result can be expected against SM Northwest (1-3) next week now that the offense has found some life through the air.

8.   Olathe South (1-3) - Deja vu, huh? I'm sure one of these two teams will win another game. Let's hope it's a sprint to that win and not a marathon.

9.  1 SM Northwest (1-3) - Second verse, same as the first! You could add SM North into this race, but they would feel like a third wheel on this bicycle that already has some spokes missing as it is.
10. -- Shawnee Mission North (1-3) -  The Indians need to at least slow opposing offenses down to come even close to a winning record. I'm not seeing much from them anymore besides a 4-5 ceiling and a playoff berth.

11. -- Leavenworth (0-4) - The poor Pioneers got one of the worst league schedules this year and the last. We can still hope the beatings will toughen them up enough for 5A competition, but getting shutout has to hurt. 0-5 in league play is the probable outcome this year but hopefully, next year's schedule will prove a little more merciful?

12. -- Shawnee Mission South (0-4) - I wasn't aware that the Raiders had such a tiny team. I swear I saw about 10 lineman on the entire varsity squad. There actually was one bright note though. SM South was able to score on a 85-95 yd. kickoff return on their second possessio (Sure, the first possession ended after a terrible swing pass that lost them a chunk of yards... eh).

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sunflower League Preview: Week 4

Scoreboard Week-4

Thursday Sept. 24
SM Northwest 6 vs Lawrence 41

Friday Sept. 25
Free State 43 vs Leavenworth 0
Olathe East 50 vs SM North 24
Olathe North 47 vs SM South 13
Olathe Northwest 31 vs Olathe South 0
SM East 42 vs SM West 21

Thursday 9-24 
SM Northwest vs Lawrence (@SM North)
These two talented teams have an incredible game approaching in the hours ahead.

Dating back to the Bill Freeman and even Tony Severino era's of Lawrence, and Northwest, these two are neck and neck when it comes to excitement offensively and defensively.

Things will be no different when they meet again in game #34. First year Sunflower Coach Bo Black will bring with him an offense the Chesty Lions may not be prepared for, even having scored 20 points against the Lancers in the previous week. The Lions run game should be nothing short of a task for the Cougars and keeping Amani Bledsoe's rushing yards to a minimum.

* The Cougars lead the series 19W-14L, in 33 games played
* Chesty Lions are 6-4 in the last 10 meetings, while NW has suffered through two coaching changes in that time

Friday 9-25

Free State vs Leavenworth (@Leavenworth)
Since the opening of Free State in 1997, the Firebirds have won every meeting against the Pioneers but one. The 2014 season was that one (1).

As well as the Pioneers have been playing in the recent seasons, look for them to come out strong after a rough SM West finish. This could be another great step forward for the Pioneers who have also started 0-3.

* Free State leads the series 16W-1L in 17 games played
* Mark Littrell's first Win over Free State (not as HC at Olathe South)

Olathe East vs SM North (@ SM North) 
Struggle again is the name of the game but impressive non-theless. The last Indians team to have defeated the Hawks came during the Fall 2000 season again under former Head Coach Sam Brown. With the leadership of Will Schneider, and the program heading in the right direction, this is a great opportunity to come out early with some scoring opportunities. This time is great for the Indians to end their 10 game losing streak against the Hawks.

The Hawks are hoping to continue improving coming off a solid road win against the SM South Raiders, while North was unable to make a dent in the Vikings defense except to get a late touchdown. This should be a hard fought game from start to finish.  

* OE leads the series 14W-5L, in 19 games played
* Both Jesse Owen, and Ben Bartlett have played against each others schools, only in different era's

Olathe North vs SM South (@ CBAC)
In a tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, these two programs date their first Sunflower match ups to the 1989 season when ON and OS first entered the league.

Although the Raiders won the first meeting during the '89 season, the Eagles ran off 12 straight victories in that time spanning four different Head Coaches, and the Raiders five Head Coaches within these last 27 seasons the teams have faced off.

While there is quite a bit of talent on the Eagles roster, the Raiders will have to do some immense work in taking care of the ball, and not fumbling in which has been a problem in each of their first three games. The Eagles are quick to get points on the board off of turnovers, and South will need to do its best to move the ball up and down the field of play getting in the scorebook.

* 12-2 vs. the Raiders since 1989 (both losses by Gene Weir)
* SM South last won in 2013 by the score of 10-7

Olathe Northwest vs Olathe South (@ ODAC)
Since it's inception, the Ravens have struggled from season one in 2004. In 11 consecutive games, the Falcons have came out quickly and dominated from start to finish.

From the outside looking in, the Falcons have found themselves struggling to get consistency, while the Ravens have been moving forward on all cylinder's. The Falcons have thrived well under Mark Littrell and Jeff Gourley vs the Ravens. The outcome of this game could change, but most likely we'll let the talent on the gridiron speak for itself.

Can Chip Sherman's pass happy offense throw off the Falcons?

* Mark Littrell @ Leavenworth (4-0) and Jeff Gourley (7-0) are 11-0 vs the ONW Ravens

SM East vs SM West (@SM South) - "Nut Cup" #2 
To start out, in the most realistic way of acknowledging this, the Vikings vs Lancers Football series is not a rivalry. Despite what local media outlets believe, this is far from the truth. In other sports these two compete in they are very much a rival such as Men's Basketball and Woman's Soccer (Coached by soccer alumni of both schools.)

Look for a great game as both schools at 3-0 will attempt to knock each other off the District podium. The Vikings are coming off an impressive win against SM North, while the Lancers handily defeated the Cougars to keep the game out of reach as the 3Q began. The last five meetings, SM East is 3W-2L since 2010.

* SM West leads the series 38W-13L in 51 games played, SM West @ 745 W%
* West Coaching legends Dick Purdy (11-3) and Harold Wambsgans (9-1) completed a dominate 20W-4L vs SM East from 1967-1989 (23 seasons)
* The Vikings are 6-4 in the last 10 meetings, and facing Dustin Delaney have scored only 19 points to 110 against in three (3) meetings
* 2010 SM East Lancers ended a 20 game losing streak defeating the Vikings at South in which they finished 8-2

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Weekly Recap 2015: Week 3

Rainy nights fortunately didn't lead to any delays this week!

The Good

DE Amani Bledsoe had an awesome night and
was a nightmare for QB Bryce Torneden.
Photo by LJWorld, 2015
* The big boys came to town in Lawrence Friday night and they didn't disappoint. Lawrence (3-0) played well defensively and held off a normally fast-paced Free State (0-3) team 14-12 and did enough on offense to take down their first "big" opponent of the season.

* Olathe East (1-2) got their first win of the season. Hopefully they will have some confidence on offense now that they scored a few touchdowns against a struggling SM South (0-3) defense. They have another game where a win can be expected against Leavenworth (0-3).

* SM West (3-0) had it's breakaway game when it blew out SM North (1-2) 49-7. It was nice to see the Vikings pull away from a team and not have to scramble to win by a single score and hopefully they can use this as a springboard as they become the first real test for SM East (3-0)

The Bad

* I'm seeing a trend here. 8 points; 4 points, 2 points; that is the loss margin for Free State's (0-3) first three games. Hopefully that isn't a trend, because Free State losing 21-20 to Olathe East (1-2) could spell doom in the confidence department which affects teams a lot more than some would think.

* I really wanted SM North (1-2) to do well this year. That hasn't happened as the Indians got ran over defensively two weeks in a row against SM Northwest (1-2) in a 29-44 loss and SM West (3-0) in a 7-49 rout. The offense isn't terrible but it can only do so much when the team gives up over 40 points a game.

Trending UP

 Olathe North - The Eagles showed off their offense again after destroying a struggling Olathe South team 40-14. They should hopefully earn a few more wins as their next four opponents have gone a combined 2-10 so far. The first team up is SM South (0-3).

 Lawrence  - The offense should get a chance to regroup against a weak SM Northwest (1-2) defense that's given up 128 points in three games. If the defense plays as well as it has lately, they can beat anybody in the state. Maybe even the Lancers.

Trending DOWN

▼ Lawrence Free State - I swear this team is good! A lot of people would agree with me when I say that the Firebirds are one of the best 0-3 teams that we've ever seen. I got to see two of their losses and I can say they have found the perfect ways to lose in the most heartbreaking ways possible.

Olathe South - We can at least say they are 1-1 against Olathe teams. They have one chance to get that final win against Olathe Northwest, but that won't happen if they play like they did against the Eagles. Poor offense and a porous defense is never a good combination and if they can't solve at least one side of the ball, a 3-6 record might be the best outcome. The bright side? 2nd place in their district is still an obtainable goal. 

Power Rankings:

1. -- Shawnee Mission East (3-0) - These guys have gotten to the point where they're difficult to write about because it's the same result every week. The Lancers have their first taste of real competition against #3 ranked SM West (3-0) who shouldn't be written off as easily as the last three opponents.

2.  -- Lawrence (3-0) - I said that I would move Lawrence up if they destroyed Free State. They failed to do so despite winning so here they remain. The offense should perform better in the near future but until then, they must stay here.

3. -- Shawnee Mission West (3-0) - The Vikings won nicely, but I'm not ranking SM North leagues above Free State just yet. A win against SM East will remove the little doubts I still have about this team's ability.

4. -- Olathe North (2-1) - The top four teams won, so not much movement here. The Eagles have it easier than most teams for the next few weeks so they need to be careful of potential trap games against SM North and Olathe East.

▲1 Olathe Northwest (2-1) - That 30-7 win over the Pioneers had to be nice. A win over Olathe South this week would be even nicer. The Ravens are 0-11 against Olathe South and this is the best opportunity yet to end that drought.

Lawrence Free State (0-3) - I'm doing away with ties in my power rankings, but it seems unfair to just put Free State above Olathe East even though the Hawks won. I do know that I would pick Free State to win against Olathe East this year so they get this spot for the week.

▲3 Olathe East (1-2) - Congrats to the Olathe East Hawks for beating the bottom team on this list. Let's see them try to do the same against the second worst ranked team.

8.   Olathe South (1-2) - Well, this week didn't exactly shed any light on which team is better between Olathe South and SM Northwest.  Both teams lost badly and neither were able to take away much except a "nowhere to go but up" mindset moving forward.

9.  1 SM Northwest (1-2) - The expectation for the Cougars to win was never there to begin with, but to give up 44 points in two quarters is pretty awful.

10. -- Shawnee Mission North (1-2) -  The Indians need to at least slow opposing offenses down to come even close to a winning record. I'm not seeing much from them anymore besides a 4-5 ceiling and a playoff berth.

11. -- Leavenworth (0-3) - Nobody is really expecting much outside of maybe a 3-6 record thanks to their 5A classification, but they need at least one win against 6A competition to scare anybody.

12. -- Shawnee Mission South (0-3) - The Raider offense made an astronomical jump in points scored by nearly doubling the total offense to 15 points in three games. If only we could ignore that they gave up a flat 100 points as well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sunflower Team of the Week - Week 3

Congrats to the Olathe East Hawks on their first win of the season vs. the SM South Raiders.

In a very ugly start to the game by both teams, issues holding the ball was the name of the game in the first half of play.

Beginning in the second, the Hawks came out firing on all cylinders once finally being able to hold on to the ball without turning it over.

Turnovers at one point seemed to be the centerpiece around the offensive line's that would ultimately determine who would get their first win. Points continued to add up with passing a great passing TD and a strong ground game for the Hawks.

Congrats to Coach Jesse Owen and coaching staff earning their first Sunflower Football League win in a new era of Hawks Football.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sunflower League Preview: Week 3

Week-3 Scoreboard
Thursday, Sept. 17th

SM South 7 vs Olathe East 29

Friday, Sept. 18th

SM East 44
vs SM Northwest 20
SM North 7 vs SM West 48
Lawrence 14 vs Free State 12
Olathe North 40 vs Olathe South 14
Olathe Northwest 30 vs Leavenworth 7

Thursday - 9/17

SM South vs Olathe East (@ SM South)
Olathe East opened in 1992, and the series began with the Raiders the following year in 1993. The Hawks lead in a dominating fashion over the Raiders in all facets of the game, both teams are 0-2 entering week-3. Improvement over the season by both as the season progresses.

For years, the mighty Olathe-3 dominated the SMSD #5, and finally, over time that has began to evolve back in the SMSD-5 Football teams in this recent era of SFL Football. The Raiders though, have been struggling against the Hawks since this series started. This will be the first time in this series that a new Head Coach will have started against each other with the departure of Jeff Meyers from OE.
* Olathe East leads the series 17W-0L in all games played --- never met in Playoffs
* Fred Merrill, Dr. Brett Potts (Blue Valley West Principal), Don Hanna (Blue Valley AC), Brandon Claypool and Ryan Lonergan (current SM West AC's) have never won against the Hawks
* Fresh starts and new era's of Football for both schools in 2015

Friday - 9/18

SM East vs SM Northwest (@ SM South)
Dominance and disappointment. From early on, 70s to 80s, and 90s to 00s, the Cougars often silenced the Lancers early and quietly on the game schedules of the past. The 2008 season under former Head Coach Aaron Barnett is the last win against the Lancers played at SM North.

Dominance in the fact that the Lancers for years have struggled against the Cougars. Yes, it's hard to believe that SM East has won 9 of the last 10, but the fact the Cougars have fallen short of many expectations in recent times during some of their greater days in the early 2000's, and again at the start of this decade are long gone.
* SM Northwest leads the series 25W-18L in 43 games played
* The Lancers are 9W-1L in their previous 10 games played
* SM East leads 76-19 in PF-PA in last two games

SM North vs SM West (@ SM North)
These two foes are familiar with each other, as most intra-District schools are these days. Dating back to the 60's and 70's, Coaching legends Larry Taylor of North took on Dick Purdy of SM West in classic match ups at both SMSD stadiums.

The Indians have struggled against the Vikings as of late. Not since the 2003 season, have the Indians came away with a Win from the Vikings, and Tim Callaghan's first season as Head Coach in which it is his only loss. West is 9-1 vs the Indians since he took over and in a dominate fashion to this day.

This week, they will meet again with West touting the home field at SM South, where the Indians have had a lot of trouble getting wins.
* Vikings lead the series 33W-19L, in 52 games played
* SM North Hall of Fame Teacher/Coach Larry Taylor is the only Head Coach to have a winning record against the Vikings
* Look for Will Schneider and his offense to find a way to lock down the Vikings, as they came off a come from behind victory last week

Lawrence vs Free State (@ Free State) - "City Showdown"
The Chesty Lions will be taking on the Firebirds of Free State in the city's 19th overall meeting.

Since the inception of this series, and pride that comes from both of these Football programs the Firebirds have dominated. With an 8-2 record in the last 10 games the intensity will make for a great game.

Breaking down this series, makes it a tough call to pick a winner. This is as tough as making a call of Olathe North and Olathe South as intense as that rivalry is as well! In 18 games played, only one game in the '99 season decided a District Title going to Free State. Historically speaking, these two have played 12 games in all playing the most in week-8. The series is tied at 6W-6L. With the addition of open scheduling given the option to all teams, this allowed a change in the schedule during the 2014 season to play in week-3. Free State came out with the win, and third straight since the 2012 season.

Lawrence is coming off a dominating win over Leavenworth, while Free State is coming off a loss to Olathe North.
* Free State leads the series 11W-7L in 18 games played
* The Chesty Lions look to end a three (3) game losing streak since 2012

Olathe North vs Olathe South (@ ODAC)
Since the opening of Olathe South in the Fall of 1981, this has been one of the greatest of city rivalries to date within the EKL (1981-1988) and present day SFL 1989-Present.

At the beginning of this current decade, the Eagles are 4-1 in all games played, with two shutouts of the Falcons in '10 and '13. This past season the Eagles won in OT with a 27-26 win. It was also the first OT game in the series history.

Here is a question to ponder, wondering what its historical back round is to the Olathe #233. Why is the Apple in the District logo red?! Are their four different versions to cover all 4+1 schools?! For you G!
* Olathe North is 23-5 vs Olathe South in the SFL 1989-2014 in 28 games played
* Olathe North is 29-7 in EKL & SFL combined 36 games played 1981-2014
* The Eagles have won the last three (3) since the 2012 season
Here is how the Coaching Breakdown of both schools plays out --->
Olathe North Eagles
Gene Weir 21-4 in 25 GC, 6-2 in EKL, 15-2 in SFL (81-88-89-99 losses to OS)
John McCall 2-0
Dave Bassore 0-1
Pete Flood 6-1
Chris McCartney 0-0
Olathe South Falcons
Bud Wheeler 3-12, 2-6 in EKL, 1-6 in SFL
Wayne McGinnis 0-2
Mark Littrell 3-8
Jeff Gourley 1-7

Olathe Northwest vs Leavenworth (@ CBAC)
The Ravens and Pioneers have squared off 10 times, with the Ravens coming off a week-3 win last season. Look for the Pioneers to come out swinging to get in to the win column.

While most of the games the Ravens have won have been on the road, the Pioneers, are looking to gain some respect against a very good Ravens defense. Although they fell short to the Vikings last week, the play of the defense will need to step up for Chip Sherman.

Offensively, we know the Pioneers are good, and if Drew Sachen and his O-Line can take care of him, they have a fighting chance as well. During the 2012 season the Pioneers won 30-23, so it can be done.
* Ravens lead the series 7W-3L in 10 games played
* Leavenworth has had four (4) different Head Coaches since Olathe Northwest opened in 2003
* SM South Principal Dr. Todd Dain was 6-3 vs the Pioneers as the Ravens first ever Head Coach

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pass & Review: Rivalry Week

The Sunflower League is known county, and state wide for having great rivalries. For our readers who date back a little further "Sun Country" who miss our daily dose of Prep sports of the former Sunflower Publications! 

2015 is no different than seasons past. Raiders vs Lancers, Eagles vs Falcons, Indians vs Cougars, and Chesty Lions vs Firebirds.

These headliners make for great competitive games from start to finish, if it is a Fall, Winter, or Spring Varsity sport. The Football season helps these rivalries begin their rise throughout the course of the school year.

SM East (1958-59) vs SM South (1966-67)
To date, the Lancers and Raiders rivalry began in 1966, in which a host of Lancer families south of 95th street were lost to the new attendance areas to College broadening and expanding the layout of southern Overland Park. For nearly four decades the Raiders dominated the Football series with the likeness’ of Steve Little, transfer Rodney Peete of AZ, and our own Rob Riggle who all donned the Raiders Varsity Football uniform both past and present. 

Today, the Lancers find themselves in the midst of a streak themselves against mighty SM South. The last 16 games, the Lancers are 11-5 since the 2000 season. Notables like former QB Christian Blessen, Adam Lowe, Connor Rellihan, and todays Lancers of Sky Tate, Wyatt Edmisten, and Mike Bamford are now staking claim to reclaiming streak of losses from those past decades of often horrid Lancer Football. It was not good in those days for those of us who remember them!

Olathe North (1920-21) vs Olathe South (1981-82)
In the Fall of 1981 the second (of eventually five) Olathe schools opened to the City of Olathe. The Eagles, and Falcons have been known for both some great barnburners of games of seasons past. These two name sake schools can’t go without giving credit to the legends on the gridiron that made these two Football programs household names. At the conclusion of the 80-81 school year, Bud Wheeler, who helped bring the Olathe Eagles out of the EKL doldrums of nearly six decades left to open the new Olathe South after seven years in charge of the Eagles. For weeks leading up to the High School Football season, the old Olathe Daily News wrote some great articles about this new rivalry. Former Eagles Sophomore Football Coach Gene Weir (hired by Bud Wheeler) now led the new Olathe North Eagles, while Bud Wheeler’s Falcons began to take shape and begin a great history of its own.

Although these two schools would both see numerous classes of great Student-athletes, and Head Coaches cycle through their hallways over the last three decades, one constant has always been the meeting of the minds on Friday nights at ODAC. Notable names to have dominated on the Olathe gridiron many of us can recall are: Darren Sproles (Philadelphia Eagles), Maurice Mack Jr (Washington Wildcats/KCAL Head Coach), James Franklin (of Olathe North), QB Zack Dyer of (OS) and of the present days Venus Triplett, Vinnie Shabazz, Cole Murphy (of Olathe North), the Seurer’s, Remington Whitely, and Braden Smith of (OS). Long after many of these athletes have gone off to college, the pros, and the day to day life post-HS Football career more Eagles, and Falcons will follow in many of these shoes that once patrolled the field, and sidelines of ODAC.   

SM North (1922-23) vs SM Northwest (1969-70)
The Hula Bowl as it is also known as, has been a feature of these two Football teams since the inception of Northwest in ’69.

In more recent seasons, these two teams have been subject to many Coaching changes and a talent pool struggling to keep up with its fellow Sunflower members on the gridiron. Since the 2002 season, the Cougars have won the last 13 meetings, while the Indians won the 2000 and 2001 seasons under former Head Coach Sam Brown.

Look for great competitions ahead under Ben Bartlett and Bo Black throughout the rest of the current decade. For both teams, the progress already made is showing.   

Lawrence (1891-92) vs Free State (1997-98)
Overcrowding. There is simply no better way of defining this great game until it became a reality during the 1997 season.

As the population began to exceed the hallway space and much more within the confines of Lawrence High, a new school was destined to open. As Dick Purdy was near the end of his legendary Teaching and Coaching career started to become a reality to the Lawrence community, a search had began after the end of the 1998-99 season. The Chesty Lions did not have far too look, choosing one of their own alumni, and Assistant's in Dirk Wedd. Dirk Wedd has led the Chesty Lions since 1999.

To the West, the Firebirds opened their doors in 97-98. Throughout their own search for a Football Coach, they brought in a former Chesty Lion alumni, and Blue Valley North Mustangs Head Coach during 1995-1995 Bob Lisher.

Bob Lisher has led the Firebirds since day one, and is one of only a handful of Head Coaches around in modern day SFL-EKL High Schools to do so. During the 2008 season, the Firebirds accomplished a dominating run winning the District Title, and defeating: SM Northwest, Olathe North, and Blue Valley (no easy task) for the right to play in the State Title game. Though the team fell short to the Junction City Bluejays, this run solidified the Firebirds as a powerhouse Football program within the Sunflower in only 12 seasons.    

Monday, September 14, 2015

Weekly Recap 2015: Week 2

Rainy, cloudy, and a beautiful Friday night to allow us to forget Thursdays stormy weather!

The Good

Photo by LJWorld, 2015
* Defeating the Indians for the 13th consecutive game was huge for the SM Northwest Cougars. Underestimating an opponent is the worst thing a team can do prior to game night and I can safely say that just about everybody is guilty of writing this team off. With four new Head Coaches in the mix, anything can happen on any given night. Bo Black's play calling and the play execution of game plan worked in their favor and the result was another great offensive night.

* Two weeks in and the SM East Lancers have already put up 94 points on the scoreboard and shut out their first two opponents. The 2004 Lancers were the last team to have back-to-back shutouts under John Stonner in District play defeating Wyandotte and Harmon 21-0 in both games.

*This isn't SFL related, but I want to give props to the KC Harmon for snapping their 31-game losing streak by beating Topeka Highland Park 30-26 (KC Harmon's last win was against Wyandotte on October 7th, 2011).

The Bad

* I have the SM South Raiders ranked near/at the bottom of the league, but the fact that they've given up 71 points in just two weeks is very disappointing. The offense is actually in a bigger need of improvement considering they have only scored 8 points in the first two games of the season.
The Raiders defense spent a majority of the game on the field trying to contain Wyatt Edmisten, Mike Bamford, and QB Luke Kaiser.

* The two SM South Raiders students who found themselves on the field during the game. Best of luck to you in your conduct as students representing the SMSD #512. Uncalled for, as someone could have been harmed, Referee, Coach, Player, Parent assisting the Band on site etc. Either last season, or the 2013 season SM East Assistant Principal Jeremy Higgins landed the tackle of the week on another South student running on to the field. The Raiders have a great Administration and I have faith they will handle this the right way.

* My ability to learn how to get pics up of the games I am at! Work in progress folks, learning along the way! - Kevin

Trending UP

 ▲ SM Northwest - I've been hearing that the Cougs have thrown for around 650 yards? What? Is that even a thing in any school besides SM North in this league? I didn't think this team would score much at all and here we are with these guys scoring 72 points in two games.

Lawrence High - SM Northwest was impressive scoring 72 points, but Lawrence outdid them a little more by scoring 76. While both teams are a little bit away from competing with the Lancers for top scoring offense, the Lions have definitely shown that they mean business. 

Offenses - The Sunflower League has scored a combined 573 points in the first two weeks. In the same time last year, the league scored 502. Both years have been good for certain teams but this amount of scoring is just incredible.

Trending DOWN

Lawrence Free State - If any team is being put through the wringer to start the year, it's the Firebirds. Free State has lost to both SM West and Olathe North in heartbreaking fashion and start the season (0-2); the first time they've lost their first two games in over 8 years.

Leavenworth - Off to a cold start, unlike the 2014 season. At 1-1 in the same time span last year, the Pioneers showed quite the upstart for a once struggling program. The next few days will be crucial as Leavenworth prepares to take on Olathe Northwest (1-1) who is already showing us what they are capable of.

Power Rankings:

1. -- Shawnee Mission East (2-0) - They haven't given up a point in two games while scoring 94. SM Northwest will need some divine help this week.

2.  ▲1 Lawrence (2-0) - I want to say Lawrence has played better competition, so they can be considered pretty close to SM East for now. If they play like they have been and destroy rival Lawrence Free State, they can expect that final little push up the rankings.

3. 1 Shawnee Mission West (2-0) - I think the weather saved this team, Olathe NW was up 12-0 when the game was delayed a day for weather. They still won though, so there's that. Let's see how they do against SM North.

4.▲3 Olathe North (1-1) - We're still not completely sure where the Eagles will stand when November comes around, but they definitely showed off their athletic ability.

5. -- Lawrence Free State (0-2) - The Firebirds played a good game but couldn't pull out the win. I'm still very confident that they will play well, it'll just take a week or so for them to climb back up... again.

2 Olathe Northwest (1-1) - Just like SM West's position, I think Olathe Northwest had a much better chance if the weather hadn't played a role. However, a loss is a loss.

 ▲3 Olathe South (1-1) - I still wonder how much of a down year it is for Olathe South. They're pretty much even with SM Northwest right now until next week when they play Olathe North.

8. ▲3 SM Northwest (1-1) - Maybe the Cougars are going to be the program to watch this year? Maybe.

9. -- Olathe East (0-2) - As much as some fans hate it, you need to score points to win games. The Hawks seemed to do well defensively until Olathe South ate up almost an entire quarter in one drive.

10. 4 Shawnee Mission North (1-1) - It still feels like the Indians had actually won a game against SMNW. 

11. 3 Leavenworth (0-2) - That Week 1 win they let slip away is going to hurt with every loss that comes before districts. Is  a 4-5 record still possible? We'll see once each team grows into its own form.

12. -- Shawnee Mission South (0-2) - We've been talking about offense for this entire post... well Shawnee Mission South has played two games where we saw 79 points scored. Unfortunately, only 8 of those were scored by the Raiders.