Saturday, October 28, 2017

6A Playoffs Under-Review: 1st Round


Lawrence Free State: The Firebirds (9-0) had no worries going into their Week-9 match-up with a hapless Wichita North (0-9) and they left the game feeling no different. The Indians could barely stop anything on defense, leading to some crazy stats. One stat that stood out is Jax Dineen's rushing average, a set of numbers that are still awaiting further confirmation. The JR runningback didn't get the ball much, but he didn't need it as he amassed an earth-shattering 153-yards and three touchdowns on four carries (statistics reported by LJWorld). The scores came came on runs of 70, 51 and 15 yards and were all made in the first half.

Dineen was not the only back to score big, as SR Zach Wilson got a trio of scores himself on runs of 4, 12 and 39-yards. In total, five Free State players scored on offense to go along with a blocked punt recovered by Lovette Epelle on special teams. Free State might have a little more challenge against the Junction City Blue Jays (5-3) who only has a single win against a team with a winning record this season.

Time to Hit the Panic Button?

SM East/Gardner-Edgerton: While the end result was more-or-less typical for the Lancers, fans likely felt hints of panic as halftime came around and G-E still held a 21-14 lead. The tensity was even higher after a scoreless third quarter, but that dissipated quickly with East hitting the turbo button and blowing out the Trailblazers 28-7 in the final period. 

Despite the late-game collapse, Gardner-Edgerton once again brought up questions on SM East's ability to keep it together in the playoffs for the second year in a row. The Lancers will get another chance to see what they're made of in their first match against Olathe Northwest (4-5) since 2013 (It seem's we'll need to have a conversation about that fact in the future). Despite the feisty nature of the Trailblazers, it's still safe to say that SM East can be expected to take care of business when the Ravens come to town.

Lawrence/BVNW: We were a failed two-point conversion away from another jaw-dropping exit for Lawrence, who fell to SM North 49-52 in the second round last year. For their credit, the Lions at least led throughout the entirety of the game. Unlike SM East, the team was on the opposite end of the situation, trying with all their might to halt an increasingly desperate Huskies squad.

Sticking to their normal gameplan, three Lawrence players split both the caries and scores. The Lions were led mostly by SR quarterback  Dante Jackson (143-yards, 1TD) and SR runningback Angel Garcia (123-yards, 2TD's), with SR Hunter Krom tacking on 89-yards and a score of his own before leaving the game with an injury midway through the game. Garcia showed that the starting RB spot is safe, but if Krom has to miss the team's 2nd Round rematch with Olathe North (6-3), there may be another source of concern for the team's chances.

Flaws Creeping Up?

Olathe North: Lawrence would have a ton more to worry about if Olathe North's offense managed to at least score more than twice against one of the worst defenses in Class 6A. The BV West Jaguars (1-8) gave up an average of 46 points per game and never gave up less than 26 points before facing Eagles. What was considered a cakewalk against a team who's lone win came against win-less Gardner became a frustrating slog as the team never managed to put the game away.

The silver lining of the match may be that the score isn't  completely indicative of what occurred, as the Jags only managed their single score very late in the fourth quarter, at a point where it was too little, too late. If the defense can keep up it's momentum (they have allowed an average of 13ppg since their Week 5 win at Lawrence), the Eagles should still have hope of reaching the Sectional round with another win over Lawrence.

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