Saturday, October 31, 2015

District Reviews: Who's IN & Who's OUT

Now that things are all said and done with the regular season, I wanted to look briefly at how each district went for the final year of the districts system.

6A District 1

Champion: Shawnee Mission East 8-1 (3-0)
Runner-Up: Shawnee Mission North 3-6 (2-1)

KC Wyandotte 1-8 (1-2)
KC Harmon 2-7 (0-3)


It was like execution day for the teams missing the word "East" in their names. The Lancers have fallen off the radar a tiny bit since their loss to Lawrence Free State in Week 5, but they are not out of the running for a state championship in the slightest and the point was driven home as they demolished all three opponents in their district. SM North showed that they were the clear second in the district, but it's a bittersweet reward when last year's state champs demolished the same competition by an even greater margin. Can't the Indians have anything? I guess a 3-6 (0-5) record will have to do for this season.

6A District 2

Champion: Blue Valley North 8-1 (3-0)
Runner-Up: Shawnee Mission West 7-2 (2-1)

SM South 1-8 (1-2)
SM Northwest 1-8 (0-3)


SM South ended the season on a high note by narrowly beating SM Northwest 14-6. The bar was already at the bottom but a step towards bad is way better than a final step in to win-less territory. On the upper half, the Sunflower League got another yearly surprise against the EKL after SM West fell flat against the BV North Mustangs in similar fashion to their loss against SM East in Week 4. Both teams have a good chance to go far, but history has been betting against EKL teams that the 6A level since the playoffs began. Blue Valley High made it to Sectionals last year, which is the farthest a team outside the SFL has gone since before 2010.

6A District 3

Champion: Blue Valley 7-2 (3-0)
Runner-Up: Blue Valley Northwest 2-7 (2-1)

Gardner-Edgerton 2-7 (1-2)
Olathe South 1-8 (0-3)


It feels like we all just forgot that this district existed, considering people like to talk about how bad SM East's district was. This district might have been the worst in the entire state with the three teams not called the Tigers combining for five wins on the entire season. At least District 1 could find 6 wins among the bottom three. I guess you could say the EKL has the best chance for a 6A state championship considering this district adds to a total of three Blue Valley schools in the same bracket. The Tigers will be playing an uphill battle from the starting blocks as they have to go through SM West (8-1) and likely Lawrence (9-0) just to get to Sub-State this year.

6A District 4

Champion: Lawrence 9-0 (3-0)
Runner-Up: Olathe North 8-1 (2-1)

Olathe Northwest 6-3 (1-2)
Olathe East 3-6 (0-3)


The deathmatch in the toughest district in 6A East finally came to a close in appropriate fashion after Olathe North barely escaped a frantic comeback bid against Olathe Northwest. The Eagles were a single play away from the upset over Lawrence the week before, which just goes to show how close and competitive this district actually was. Lawrence gets the easier match-up between the two qualifiers by far, as they open Regionals against SM North (3-6) while Olathe North gets to take on BV North (8-1) who finished 2nd in the EKL.

6A District 5

Champion: Lawrence Free State 6-3 (3-0)
Runner-Up: Topeka High 8-1 (2-1)

Manhattan 5-4 (1-2)
Washburn Rural 5-4 (0-3)


I think we can all agree that Free State is one of the top teams in the state. The Firebirds ran over every team in their district while winning six straight games to end the season. They start off against an average Wichita West (5-4) team who barely escaped Haysville Campus (2-7) in a 64-63 shoot-out and got dismembered by Derby (8-1) to the tune of 56-28. I can say the Firebirds should easily make it out of Regionals where they'll likely take on Wichita Northwest (9-0) who is the team to beat in the 6A West.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sunflower Football Preview: Week 9

Districts Week #3 

56 SM East vs SM North 34
47 Lawrence vs Olathe East 8
21 Free State vs Topeka 0
19 Leavenworth vs Lansing 48
21 SM West vs BV North 49
  9 Olathe South vs Gardner-Edgerton 12
  6 SM Northwest vs SM South 14
13 Olathe Northwest vs Olathe North 19

Thursday Oct. 29
SM East vs SM North (@ SM North)
Coming in to tonights week-9 game, the outcomes of point differential have pre-determinted a trip the 6A Playoffs for the Lancers and Indians. Although they will not meet again in week-10, seeding will soon determine where each falls by Saturday for the East side of the brackets.

Since 2008, the Lancers have won seven (7) straight games and are 9-1 in their last 10 vs the Indians. With North QB Will Schneider coming off a huge game against Harmon, the Lancers will be another tough test to face.

SM North leads the series 30-20-1 in 51 games played

Friday Oct. 30

Lawrence vs Olathe East (@ CBAC)
In a came that will most likely be completed by half, the Chesty Lions could find themselves at 9-0 and undefeated for the first time in the regular season since the 1993 season under legend Dick Purdy.

That 1993 season, which also brought the Lions another State Title finishing 12-0, led to the birth of the Olathe East Hawks only a year earlier. Lawrence's JD Woods ground game alone could be unstoppable for the Hawks defense, but if they plan to go to the air game, Hawks Deon Union could be a thorn in the Lions side that could keep this a close game.

Lawrence leads the series 10-8 in 18 games played

Free State vs Topeka (@ Free State)
Since the Firebirds inception to the Sunflower League in 1997, they are the only team that has faced the Trojans more than any other SMSD #5 or Wyandotte Football team since they left for the Centennail League years ago.

Bob Lisher's game plans have been a great in the last five weeks, and similar to the 2014 season, have picked a great time to be on a hot streak. Despite the run of five straight, the Topeka Trojans still managed an impressive 37 point performance in last years loss. Free State went on to defeat Wichita Northwest, and Junction City prior to losing to the Hutchinson SaltHawks in the SubState Final.

Free State leads the series 9-3 in 12 games played

Leavenworth vs Lansing (@ Lansing)
For most of us Sunflower alumni of the early 2000's this match up reminds us of the days of McCall's (Olathe North) vs Littrell's (Olathe South) during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. John McCall's talented Eagles went on dominating run's after Gene Weir's first retirement, leaving the Falcons under Mark Littrell 0-2 vs his opponent.

Years later, and after a run with the both part of the Richland Rebels TX under Gene Weir, these two great Coaches, and very talented teams take each other on again. The Pioneers won last seasons District game with a 63-0 shutout and Littrell now 1-2 vs McCall. Will the tide turn on this District? The Lions are playing very well and have sported some great wins over a down Piper Pirates, and struggling Washington and Turner programs. Both teams are led by former Eagles (Maurice Mack Jr and Jeremy Milne.)

Leavenworth leads the series 1-0 in all game(s) played

SM West vs BV North (@ SM South)
The Vikings and Mustangs are already in the drivers seat as this is perhaps one of the biggest games of the season for the Vikings coming off a tough loss to the Lancers earlier in the season.

Look for the Mustangs offense, led by Joey Dolan, to be very creative in his offensive play calls. The Raiders struggled immensely against this upstart team that was in the same boat in this fairly recent era. Last year the Vikings escaped with a 24-21 win.

*** Continue to stay posted on the SM West Vikings Football program as Tim Callaghan reaches a feat that no other SMSD #5 Football coach has come close too for over 37 years!
*** The SM West Sports Department out of The Saga, will feature some great work as that time nears

SM West leads the series 7-5

Olathe South vs Gardner-Edgerton (@ G-E)
In a fairly new series, the Falcons and Trailblazers will meet for only the third time.

With both teams struggling at (1-7) getting that second win will be a move towards improvement. The Falcons are looking to continue to play strong as the season closes out, and a win against a talented EKL team would build some confidence for the 2016 season. The Trailblazers led by Marvin Diener are continuing to play well against the Sunflower League as well.

Don't take the down seasons for granted, because at any time they can change after a great off-season of 7v7 summer season. Although it is impossible to gauge much from those games as a fan some times, the comaraderie will be a great asset for 2016.

Gardner-Edgerton leads the series 2-1 at 3 games played

SM Northwest vs SM South (@ SM North)
As the SMSD #5 Football teams close out the year, two struggling teams, both with new Head Coaches are looking to find their niche within the Sunflower League.

Although things do not happen over night, look for both teams to come out strong and play hard to close out the season. The Cougars, looking for their second win have improved greatly from the prior seasons despite their current record of play. The Raiders, though, looking for their first win, also have something to play for well, representing the Football program's 50th season.

Coming off a 3-7 2014, and taking on a new Head Coach to start the year is hard for most any team, especially within the Sunflower League. This game alone, will be the teams 46th meeting all time.

Series is tied at 23-23 at 46 games played

Olathe Northwest vs Olathe North (@ ODAC)
In what could be a game similar to the SM West vs BV North match, the Ravens and Eagles will be fighting for the final playoff spot to join the Chesty Lions.

Since 2010, the Raven's have managed two wins against the Eagles, with both being upsets of sorts against some very talented teams. With a new regime under Chris McCartney, the Eagles defense could have their hands full with the Ravens offensive power. From start to finish, and all three aspects of the game, these teams are evenly matched across the board for perhaps the first time ever in this series.

Although the Eagles vs Falcons is the top rivalry within the District, this could soon become a great game years to come as these two fight it out. Only in the very near future, will we be able to tell what could happen as the Eagles will lose student-athletes to the future Olathe West while the Ravens will lose a smaller percentage of student's... Something to ponder as the end of this decade creeps closer

Olathe North leads the series 9-2 in 11 games played


Monday, October 26, 2015

Pass & Review: Week 8 - Changing of the Guard

As the Regular season winds down we find ourselves with a new Co-Sunflower League Champion.

The Chesty Lions of Lawrence and the Olathe North Eagles are back on top displaying their top talent as we head in to the 6A State Playoffs two weeks from now.

With the run of eight (8) straight by Lawrence since the Dick Purdy era of the 90's returning, Olathe North finds themselves in great company despite a tough loss to close out week-8.

The Chesty Lions last Sunflower Championship happened during the 1993 season prior to the rise of the Eagles in the mid-1990's led by Gene Weir, John McCall, and Tim Callaghan (two former  Eagles Assistants) now making their own marks within the league, both locally and beyond.

One thing we will know, is that the Sunflower League alone will have a great chance at representing the East side of the 6A State. Not without some great competition nearby, the Eagles, and Chesty Lions have to compete against a talented, and playoff experienced Blue Valley Tigers.

Outside of their EKL schedule, games in which they have faced Sunflower opponents, the Tigers have come away winners nearly 90% of the time since 2010.

Other variables will take place as well, should the Chesty Lions or Eagles run in to the SM East Lancers as well. This is one place where each and every week, our Coaches, and players prepare to play the best competition they can to move on to the next round.

To the Chesty Lions, it is great to see you back in form as your history, past and present is revealed in your play this season.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sunflower Football Preview: Week 8

Districts Week #2

21 SM Northwest vs BV North 45
62 SM North vs Harmon 14
31 Lawrence vs Olathe North 28
31 Free State vs Manhattan 14
46 Leavenworth vs Washington 0
7 Olathe East vs Olathe Northwest 24
16 Olathe South vs Blue Valley 49
70 SM East vs Wyandotte 14
0 SM South vs SM West

Thursday Oct. 22

SM Northwest vs BV North (@ BVDAC) 
The BV North Mustangs enter this series with a 4-0 lead, and looking to make it five all-time. In perhaps one of the hardest Districts to play, the Mustangs will look to steal the District outright from the Vikings who they face in week-9.

During their most recent meeting in 2014, the Mustangs won by 10, a 45-35 score.

BV North leads the series 4-0.

SM North vs Harmon (@ SM NORTH) 
In only their second ever meeting, the Indians and Hawks meet on a Thursday evening to start week-2 of District play. Look to see QB Will Schneider and his Indians get their third win of the season, while the Hawks too, are looking to get win number three as well.

Should the Harmon Hawks play to their potential or better, this would be a huge upset if the Indians were to lose.

SM North leads the series 1-0.

Friday Oct. 23

Lawrence vs Olathe North (@ LAWRENCE) 
In perhaps to biggest battle of them all prior to closing out the regular season/District, the Chesty Lions will host the Olathe North Eagles to decide the Sunflower Champion.

While Olathe North is no stranger to big games late in the season, it will take a quick strike offensively by the Chesty Lions to hold down the Eagles. During their 2014 game, a 27-0 final quieted the Lawrence faithful. This could be a very high scoring match up, and probably a "Game of the Week" for sure. The Eagles are 7-3 vs the Lions in their last 10 games.

Olathe North leads the series 19W-15L, in 34 games played.

Free State vs Manhattan (@ FREE STATE) 
As the 2014 regular season came to an end and Free State started meeting the West side of the state for District match ups, a run in with the Manhattan Indians came calling for the first time in school history.

Joe Schartz' Indians have been strong his leadership going 14-4 in District play since taking over in 2009. This could be a great game if the Indians are able to stop a strong Firebirds offense which is on a four game winning streak. This will be a game to keep an eye on throughout Friday.

Free State leads the series 1-0. 

Leavenworth vs Washington (@ WASHINGTON)  
In only their second meeting, the much experienced Pioneers led by Mark Littrell, will take on first year Washington Head Coach Maurice Mack (Simone Award Winner 2001 - Olathe North.) Do not be deceived by the Pioneers record at (1-6).

While the Wildcats are in a learning under Coach Mack, this will be a turning point for the Pioneers to get a second win under their belts. This game should be a great match up for both teams, while the Wildcats are working to get points on the scoreboard, and the Pioneers polish up their game and working their way in to a future week-10 game.

DYK - Maurice Mack was 3-0 in District play vs Mark Littrell and his former OS Falcons from 2000-2002 as a Student-athlete under Gene Weir.

Leavenworth leads the series 1-0.

Olathe East vs Olathe Northwest (@ CBAC)  
Entering their 13th all-time game played, the Hawks look regain what the Raven's took away from them in 2014.

With a dominate force since the beginning of this series since 2004, the Hawks have unstoppable since the arrival of Chip Sherman in 2013. Last seasons week-8 win for the Ravens 34-7 trouncing on the road was the confidence that has carried over in to this current season of play. The Raven's air game could be something to take advantage of for the Hawks with Deon Union's great plays on defense in previous games. The deciding factor will be possession and clock management.

Olathe East leads the series 11W-1L, 12 games played.

Olathe South vs Blue Valley (@ ODAC) 
The Blue Valley Tigers are taking on a struggling Falcons Football squad reeling from previous losses in which graduation of former athletes has hit this team hard.

Blue Valley's offense will come out firing quickly as they are averaging just under 40 PPG, and playing very good on the road at 3-0. It will take some great work for the Falcons to come away with an "upset" of sorts.

Blue Valley leads the series 3-0. 

SM East vs Wyandotte (@ SM NORTH) 
With a home game in the works for the Lancers after a dominate road win at Art Lawrence Stadium last week, the Lancers are looking to take care of the Wyandotte Bulldogs.

During their 2014 meeting on the road, the Lancers won convincingly 56-12. This win of the Lancers also happened to be their #250th all-time Varsity win for the school.

SM East leads the series 37W-10L, in 47 games played.

SM South vs SM West (@ SM SOUTH) 
The Vikings are playing at their best right now, with only a hiccup loss to the Lancers a few weeks back.

With Adam Rellihan and crew leading the ship, the Raiders defense will have their work cut out for them in containing the Viking offense. The Raiders will have to play at the top of their game and cut down on the fumbles that have plagued them all season long. West has won the last 10 in a row against the Raiders dating back to the 2005 season, and Tim Callaghan is 12-0 all-time in wins over the Raiders.
SM West leads the series 34-20-1, in 55 games played. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sunflower League Preview: Week 7 - Districts Week #1

Scoreboard Oct. 16
35 Lawrence vs Olathe Northwest 7
35 Free State vs Washburn Rural 7
38 Leavenworth vs Schlagle 0
27 Olathe East vs Olathe North 53
20 Olathe South vs BV Northwest 44
69 SM East vs Harmon
49 SM North vs Wyandotte 30
 6 SM Northwest vs SM West 45
 0 SM South vs BV North 48


6A District #5 - EAST
Lawrence vs Olathe Northwest (@ CBAC)
The Chesty Lions are on the road again, in which it seems that they have been on the road for most of the season. Since this series started in 2004, only seven games have been played. The lineage is small, but the sample size is good enough to wear you could call this game a toss up.

Look for Lawrence to leave everything out on the field with JD Woods in the backfield and leading the SFL in TD's.

Lawrence leads the series 5W-2L, in 7 games played. Lawrence has won the last two meetings in 2013 and 2014. 

6A District #5 - WEST
Free State vs Washburn Rural (@ WASH RURAL)  
The Free State Firebirds take on a former JR Blues powerhouse during the 1990s under the legendary Ron Bowen. These days, the Blues sidelines are patrolled by 3rd year Head Coach Steve Buhler.

Free State has been on a roll entering week-7 with a three game winning streak, while the JR Blues are 2-1 in their last three games.

Free State being the farthest west within the Sunflower League has been fortunate to face non-conference foes more than other teams in recent era. Look to see the Blues try to upset the Firebirds and end a possible four game winning streak but the numbers are in the Firebirds favor.

Free State leads the series 7W-0L, in 7 game played.

5A District #1
Leavenworth vs Schlagle (@ LEAVENWORTH) 
The Pioneers (0-6) are home to the Schlagle Stallions in their second ever meeting between both schools. 

In their first meeting, the Pioneers dominated 29-8. Leavenworth again will be looking for their first win of the season, while in 2014, they had a record of 2-4. Schlagle could be the front runner in this game if the Pioneers cannot strike first. 

6A District #4 - EAST
Olathe East vs Olathe North (@ CBAC)
These two teams are no stranger to each other as the lineage's of the Eagles traces to the opening of Olathe East, and now in to it's second ever

While the Eagles have reeled off a 6-0 start, the Hawks too, are finding their niche and making a name for themselves under first year Head Coach Jesse Owen. Olathe East is 2W-4L since the 2010 season. Both losses to the Eagles came in 2013, and 2014.

The Eagles lead the series 17W-8L, in 25 all-time games played since 1992. 

6A District #4 - EAST 
Olathe South vs BV Northwest (@ ODAC) 
In a game that matters to both teams, nothing will come easy in this District.

There is not much of a lineage between the Falcons and Huskies with both schools having opened in the early 80's and 90's. This is a must win game for both programs, with the Huskies winless after six games, while OS defeated the OE Hawks early on in week-2.

The Falcons own the series 3W-1L, in only four meetings played: 99-10-11-14. 

6A District #1 - EAST 
SM East vs Harmon (@ HARMON/Art Lawrence Stadium) 
Entering week-7, the Lancers are coming off a resounding road win against the Leavenworth Pioneers and 260th all-time.  

With a dominating 83-0 final last season at SM North, the Lancers take to the road to play in old Art Lawrence Stadium, and home of the Hawks. The last time the Lancers played at ALS, was during the 2005 season. 

The Lancers are 8-2 in their last 10 games vs the Hawks. They also own the series 20W-3L, in 23 games played. 

6A District #1 - EAST 
SM North vs Wyandotte (@ WYANDOTTE) 
In perhaps one of the greatest historical games week-7 brings us, are the Shawnee-Mission Indians vs the KCK Bulldogs (North vs. Wyandotte) in its more modern day decorum. 

The Indians and Bulldogs date back to the late 1930s, and have been playing each other on and off for years. Though both programs have had their fair share of down times, the Indians are looking to again shake things up in this District one bracket. 

SM North leads the series 27W-20L-7T (27-20-7), in 54 games played. 

6A District #2 - EAST
SM Northwest vs SM West (@ SM NORTH) 
In an intra-District match up, the struggling NW Cougars, are taking on a hot SM West Vikings. 

It will take a lot of ball possession and points to get on the board to get past a Vikings team currently on a tear. In the last 10 games, SM West is 8-2, and their last losses to NW came in 2007, and 2013. 

This game is perhaps a preview of a good Northwest team that is out to prove a lot to the league, and the State that they can compete. With SM South, and BV North in the same District, an upset can always be in the works. The Vikings lead the all-time series at 31W-17L, in 48 games played. 

6A District #2 - EAST 
SM South vs BV North (@ SM SOUTH) 
Neighbors. Close neighbors these two are, as they meet officially 13th time. 

The series is tied 7W-7L,  in 14 games played with the Raiders last win coming in 2014. In that time, the Raiders have won nearly 15 games more than the Mustangs who find themselves in a bounce back season. Previously the Raiders have won four straight since the 2011 season, since 2006 all meetings are in District play.  

It was just last year BV North ended a 19 game losing streak. Since that 2014 win against G-E in week-6, the Mustangs are 7-3 in their last 10 games. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pass & Review: Changes ahead for 2016

Goodbye to District Play


In some ways more than others, the ending of KSHSAA 6 & 5A District play will a blessing of sorts after 36 seasons.

Since 1980, the KSHSAA instilled a playoff system that would help the schools from both the West and East benefit greatly at the time. Prior to this district format, a points system (that included league games/wins, and non-conference opponents) all factored into play.

During this time, Olathe South had yet to be built, as well as many other high schools in Northeast Johnson County and a handful west of Topeka before the population growth, as well as enrollments skyrocketing in counties across the state.

During the 2004 season, the KSHSAA finally voted in to allow the top 2 teams out of each of the eight (8), four (4) team Districts. These Districts, since the 1980-81 school year were designed for geographical purposes as well as enrollments for all classes. Specific School District's had really nothing to do with the system, as it was implemented to benefit each school.

For years, we have been fortunate to see many 3-0 schools go on like most to advance on to week-10 and beyond, while the 2-1 (#2 seed) as well could make some playoff noise. Due to point differential if a school was even at 1-2, could get in ahead of the 2-1 team.

A prime example of this was the 2002 SM East vs SM South week-9 rivalry game. BV North, and Wyandotte were also in this District, both having bowed out early on. Both schools managed 2-1 records, while slugging it in to get to the next round. At the conclusion of the game, the Raiders were believed to be District Champions and move on to the playoffs. In the end, South had to return their Championship to the Lancers due to most points scored. This is one of many awful ways to have gotten in, while the Lancers were 3-6 going in to the playoffs, and the Raiders were also 3-6.

The last few years, a handful of teams in the West side of the brackets finished at 1-8 and still managed to get in. This happened due to scoring 60+ points in a single game, making up for the points for in the previous two losses.

With only two more weeks in the District to go, I will have a future post explaining what the format will be, and how the Sunflower, and our local neighbors in the EKL will move forward. It could wait until the Football playoffs are over with, as moving that too far ahead will be more beneficial to the 2016-17 school year and Football season.

Change is a pain to get used too, but it is not our call to make this happen.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sunflower League Scoreboard: Week 6


Thursday, October 8th
Olathe North 56 vs SM North 6

Friday, October 9th
63 Lawrence vs Olathe South 7
  7 Leavenworth vs SM East 48
14 Olathe East vs SM West 42
29 SM Northwest vs. Olathe Northwest 50
  6 SM South vs Free State 56

Weekly Recap 2015: Week 5

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

The Good

Photo by KC Star, 2015

* Ahem... It is true that the Lancers' 17-game winning streak ended at the hands of Lawrence Free State. The win should quiet most people who doubted that the Firebirds were still able to compete with the best.

* Maybe the rocky start was just the fans overreacting? Olathe East has won three in a row and probably should've beat Olathe South in Week 2. Regardless, the Hawks are sitting pretty at 3-2 and play their fourth Shawnee Mission school in a row when they go to take on the Vikings.

The Bad

* There is currently a district that has a combined record of (18-3) including Olathe North's win yesterday. On the flip side, there are districts with records of (6-14), (5-15), and (7-14). The (5-15) district is comprised of Junction City (5-0), Wichita East (0-5), South (0-5), and Southeast (0-5). TWO of those teams will make the playoffs and TWO of the teams in the LAW/OE/ON/ONW district will be sitting at home when November comes around. The new system next year just got really appealing.

* The Weekly Pick 'Em challenge taking place on the Message Board has been rather quiet lately due to scheduling and the clear line dividing the top and lower halves of the league. It's difficult to pick an underdog when they get demolished every single week.

Trending UP

Olathe Northwest - It will be a terrible shame if this team doesn't make the playoffs. Despite the awesome start, these boys are still one of the two odd teams out in my eyes since they got stuck in the same district as Lawrence and Olathe North. They just need one upset and these guys are in. Until then, let's hope for a 5-1 record.

Lawrence Free State - The Firebirds finally got a win against one of the better teams in the state and did so by double digits. Both Bryce Torneden and Sam Skwarlo are just trucking through opposing defenses and at least one should have 1,000 yards rushing before the playoffs come around. 

Trending DOWN

▼ Olathe South - So can we just write off all the things I said about Olathe South earlier this year? The Falcons have lost three straight and are losing by and average of 32.5 points per game. I think they can beat the bottom Shawnee Mission schools, but that might be a stretch too.

▼ Shawnee Mission East - Let's not call 911 just yet. The Lancers lost to the best 1-3 team I've ever seen. Despite that, a loss is a loss and this one was by double digits. I'm confident a 8-1 record can be the expectation, but the Lancers don't seem as threatening at the moment. Maybe that can be a good thing later on?

Power Rankings:

1. ▲1 Lawrence (5-0) - The Lions just keep on trucking and hit SM South at full speed. They now have to survive the gauntlet that is the Olathe School district. Up first is the lesser of the four, Olathe South (1-4). J.D. Woods should be ready to eat come Friday.

2.  ▲1  Olathe North (5-0) - Another expected win was earned by the Eagles who are trucking through a cupcake league schedule. They get one more prep week before the hell they call a district. Vinnie Shabazz and Matt Wright are firing at full cylinders and they need to keep it going.

3. 2  Shawnee Mission East (4-1) - The Lancers lost to a 1-3 team and got ran over defensively for 334 yards. I'm not saying they're done for, but something clearly went wrong last week. The easy district should rebuild confidence heading into the playoffs.

4. -- Olathe Northwest (4-1) - If only they didn't have that district... They do have a good chance of upsetting Lawrence or Olathe North, but we are probably going to see a 2-7 team make it into the playoffs while a 7-2 or 6-3 team sits at home. I don't like the new system being put in, but at least this should be the last year we have to deal with this.

 ▲1 Lawrence Free State (2-3) - They beat the #1 team in the state and showed the world that the SM East defense isn't just a giant grey wall on the field.

6. 1 Shawnee Mission West (4-1) - They LOST to the #1 team in the state and losing by a smaller amount than the rest of the fallen doesn't sound so nice anymore. A big win over Olathe South (1-4) helps a little, but the district should give a better... oh wait, their district opponents are a combined (5-10). Well, Blue Valley North
(4-1) should be fun to watch on Week 9! 

-- Olathe East (3-2) - The Hawks are riding a good hot streak at the right time, but they need a little more firepower and diversity to compete with their district. A winning record at this point never hurt anybody though.

8.  -- Olathe South (1-4) - I want to believe this team is better than the Bottom 4! Just like SM North, this might actually be a playoff bound team given the district (5-10 record combined), but anything past that will be a shocker.

9.  -- SM Northwest (1-4) - The offense has sputter that last couple weeks and one of the best defenses in the league is paying the Cougars a visit this Friday. Yikes.

10. -- Shawnee Mission North (1-4) -  I'm not sure how reliable these scores are, because I've been hearing a lot of the points the Indians score come in the second halves when it's already over.

11. -- Leavenworth (0-5) - Let's hope the 5A district is as bad as we all think, these boys deserve a couple wins after all these beatings they had to endure. The Pioneers get one more hell week before they can hopefully compete again.

12. -- Shawnee Mission South (0-5) - SM South doesn't really have any upside. It's unfortunate but this tiny team can't really do anything this year and (0-9) is still the expectation.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sunflower League Preview: Week 6


Thursday, October 8th
Olathe North 56 vs SM North 6

Friday, October 9th
Lawrence vs Olathe South
Leavenworth vs SM East
Olathe East vs SM West
SM Northwest vs. Olathe Northwest
SM South vs Free State

Thursday Oct. 8
Olathe North vs SM North (@ SM North)
The Indians will have their work cut out for them at home taking on the Olathe North Eagles.

Olathe North has a history of spoiling the Indians parade when they come to SM North. During the early 2000's the Eagles spoiled what was a great Indians team that finished 9-2 in 2000, with bookend losses to the Eagles deep in the 6A playoffs. 2003 was the last Win for the Indians, while the Eagles have reeled off seven straight wins in 06-07-09-10-11-13 and 14 seasons.

* The Eagles are 20W-1L, in 21 games played since entering the SFL in 1989
* Former Indians Head Coach Sam Brown (Retired) has the only recorded win against John McCall (current Lansing Head Coach) during week-1 of the 2003 season

Friday Oct. 9
Lawrence vs Olathe South (@ Lawrence)
Friday night, the Falcons take a road trip to take on the Chesty Lions.

This is a tightly contested series, with the Falcons owning a three game lead over the Lions. Last year at ODAC, the Lions lost by two 29-27. OS is 4W-1L against the Chesty Lions since 2010.

Can the Falcons stop the Chesty Lions? This is two game road trip could be trouble following the struggles at SM West.

* Falcons lead the series 16W-13L, in 29 games played
* Frequent meetings on the schedule since moving to the Sunflower in 1989

Leavenworth vs SM East (@ Leavenworth)
This could be an interesting match up as the Lancers travel to Leavenworth to play the Pioneers.

Although the Lancers may own the series, Leavenworth has been playing great Football since the start of the decade. Don't get down by their recent Points For, numbers can be deceiving. QB Drew Sachen, and company are up for every obstacle coming their way.

The Lancers have had a relatively easy time putting the Pioneers away in their last three meetings averaging 37 PPG, while allowing only 10 PPG, with a shutout in the 2013 season.

* SM East leads the series 25W-3L, in 28 games played since 1981
* The last time SM East lost to Leavenworth was the '99 season, SM East has since won 10 in a row
* Leavenworth Head Coach Mark Littrel is 5-3 all-time vs SM East with Olathe South and Leavenworth

Olathe East vs SM West (@ CBAC)
The hot Olathe East Hawks with a three game win streak will be taking on a strong Vikings team that is coming off another Olathe win vs the Falcons last week.

Both teams have stellar defenses, with Olathe East' Deon Union and defensive backs, snagging five interceptions at home vs the NW Cougars.

Since 2010, the series is tied 2 wins a piece. Olathe East has lost two in a row against the Vikings in 12 and 14.

* Olathe East leads the series 13W-8L, in 21 games played
* First time Tim Callaghan will face Olathe East under a new Coaching regime

SM Northwest vs Olathe Northwest (@ SM North)
This time Bo Black will face the Raven's as the Cougars Head Coach unlike the 2014 season in his single season with the Hays Indians.

The 2014 match up found the Cougars in a deep hole from the start, and eventually being shutout 31-0. Bo Black has given this Cougar offense a good look as to what the future will look like, which is bright for a team that has struggled often in recent years.

Both teams boast stellar passing games which could make it rough for the defense on the field. Stay alert for sure against the Raven's.

* The Ravens lead the series 5W-4L, in 9 games played
* Olathe Northwest has won three straight since the 2012 season

SM South vs Free State (@ Free State)
The Firebirds have found their stride after starting 0-3, while the Raiders are looking for their first win of the 2015 season.

With a huge win under their belts against the Lancers, Free State's momentum against the Raiders can easily carry strong to close out the rest of the season. The Raiders meanwhile, will need to find a way to move the ball against a talented defense that shutout SM East the final two quarters of last week's game.

For Brett Oberzan, this will be a homecoming of sorts as he is in his first season with the Raiders. The Raiders are the last SFL team looking for their first win of the season.

* First year Head Coach Brett Oberzan (& Chesty Lion alumni) will face his former school in which he was an Assistant for the previous 10+ seasons

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sunflower Team of The Week 5: Free State Firebirds

Congrats to the Free State Firebirds on their sound defeat of the rolling SM East Lancers.

Friday night at SM North Stadium, the Firebirds came out firing, and out to spoil a Homecoming Night for the Lancers.

QB Bryce Torneden, WR Jay Dineen, RB Sam Skwarlo, and the offensive line provided great production throughout the game and kept the Lancer defense on its heels all night long.

This win should propel the Firebirds to close out the regular season strong heading in to District play in a couple weeks. Despite the slow start, things are coming together and their district in 6A West doesn't look as menacing anymore.

Don't be fooled though, regardless of their 2-3 record, district games against Washburn Rural, Manhattan, and Topeka won't be easy. The three schools yield a record of 16-4 in 20 games combined. Look forward to seeing Free State continue to make noise in the West side of the 6A bracket as they did so during the 2014 season.

Should they run in to Hutch again, it could make for a great game deep in the playoffs.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sunflower League Preview: Week 5

Olathe East 25 vs SM Northwest 14
Lawrence 42 vs SM South 7
Free State 32 vs SM East 20
Leavenworth 23 vs Olathe North 48
Olathe Northwest 42 vs SM North 22
Olathe South 7 vs SM West 46

Thursday Oct. 2
Olathe East vs SM Northwest (@CBAC)
Entering this matchup, the Hawks lead the series 13W-7L in 20 games played since the 1992 season.

Since 2010, the Hawks have won 2 of the last 3 games. Their last loss came last season on the road at SM North in what felt like an upset for a NW Cougar team that had not defeated the Hawks since 1999 season formerly under Scott Diebold.

Last season's game could have been a turning point for the Cougars, but found themselves losing two straight after a sounds 27-7 win. Some reason, both teams lost steam as the season wound down, but with two Coaching regimes now in the forefront, the programs find themselves moving forward, making great strides.

* First Coaching match up for Bo Black and Jesse Owen
* The 2014 Cougar win, ended a streak of 12 straight by the Hawks dating back to 2000's week-9 win
* OE leads 13W-7L, in 20 games played

Friday Oct. 3

Lawrence vs SM South (@ Lawrence)
Lawrence coming off a strong win against the NW Cougars last week, are finally "Home" for their first official "Home game" of the season. 

In a seemingly dominating fashion, the Lions have found themselves winning 8 of the last 10 games against the Raiders, and four of their last five. The 2009 Raiders won 28-7, but have had a rough go, in their last four meetings. Look for the Chesty Lions to strike quickly, as they have done in each of their first four games this season. South will need to do everything it can, to stop an electric offense led by QB Alan Clothier, and RB JD Woods. 

* The Chesty Lions lead the series 29W-10L, in 39 games played since 1968
* Lawrence is 8W-2L in last 10 games played with SM South, a 2009 win 1-4 in last 5

Free State vs SM East (@ SM North)
In a tightly contested match up, these two very talented teams will look to knock each other off. In the last 10 meetings, the Firebirds own a 6W-4L record over SM East. Dustin Delaney is 1-1 vs Bob Lisher entering this third game between the two.

Look for SR QB Bryce Torneden to face SME's JR Luke Kaiser and an incredible Air vs. Ground game. These teams are no strangers to each other any time they meet up. Since 2010, the Lancers have won 3 of the last 5 games, with a solid 42-14 win in 2014. Free State is coming off it's first win against Leavenworth, while the Lancers won in a hot SMSD matchup vs the SM West Vikings. 

* Free State leads the series 8W-5L, in 13 games played
* 2006 was the last time these two met in the 6A State Playoffs

Leavenworth vs Olathe North (@ ODAC)
Making a trip to ODAC, is a place Pioneer's Mark Littrell used to call home. In his time at Olathe South, he struggled quite a bit to face some great Gene Weir Eagles teams of past. Now 2016, ODAC is a whole new world, as a new Coach has taken over, and Littrell's gridiron talent is now in Leavenworth.

Leavenworth has their work cut out for them, but look to see them rebound of their loss to Chip Sherman's Raven's as some motivation to build as the middle of the season begins to take shape.

* The Eagles lead the series 14W-0L, in 14 games played since 2000

Olathe Northwest vs SM North (@ CBAC)
Olathe Northwest opened in 2004 officially to the Varsity Football season, thus beginning a new challenge for many SFL Football teams. With a nine (9) game schedule, room to play everyone is impossible with 12 teams.

With not much of a history, these two have only faced each other six (6) times. Former Head Coach Todd Dain, and former SM North Head Coach Ryan Majors (who's Indians earned the win) are long removed from the current game to be played.

Look for Chip Sherman's passing game to give the Indians a fit, as they will need to do everything they can to stop an offensive juggernaut of point production. The Indians, too, will have an uphill battle and could come out on top if the Raven's are unable to do well in the passing game. Defense will be key in stopping the hot start of the Raven's offense.

* Raven's lead the series 5W-1L, in 6 games played
* Indians last win was 2008

Olathe South vs SM West (@ SM South)
With both teams coming off of intra-District losses, rebounding quickly will become a necessary evil as weeks begin to run out. While the Falcons are experiencing one of their worst losses in school history, the Vikings too, are looking to get back to the win column.

The Falcons will need to come out big to start the game and to keep the Vikings offense off the field. As good as the Vikings passing game looked against the Lancers defense in the second half, it would have to do the same or better to come out on top against the Falcons.

* The Falcons lead the series 11W-6L, in 17 games played
* SM West is 4W-2L in the last six games