Class 1A District 1 Preview

When Pleasanton, Colgan, Yates Center, and Uniontown all take the field on Friday night, it will mark the beginning of Class-1A District 1 play. Throughout the next three weeks of the season, these four football programs will compete head-to-head with one another for playoff positioning. While many districts around Kansas have seen many changes and realignments, the Class-1A District 1 has not. Only Pleasanton is new this year, replacing Oswego as the two schools flip-flopped in the 11-man and 8-man divisions.

While last season only the top two teams from the Class-1A District 1 qualified for the playoffs, this season all four will automatically be slotted into the first round of the postseason. The reasoning for this is that with the reshuffling of the classes throughout Kansas, Class 1A was left with just thirty-one teams. If every team was not allowed to qualify, Class 1A would have one less round in the playoffs than all the other classes.

Every team can throw out what they have done up to this point in the season, because only what they accomplish over the next three weeks will have any bearing on where they slot into the postseason. With that being said, lets dive into how each team in District 1 has gotten to this point.

How they got here:

Pleasanton Blu-Jays (5-0, 3-0 TRL) — Many believed that the Blu-Jays would have a successful season in 2018 as they transitioned from 8-man football to 11-man football. After all, they were voted to finish second in the Three Rivers League Coaches Poll. However, not many people living outside of Pleasanton saw this type of success coming.

The Blu-Jays came roaring out of the gates to open the season, defeating three straight league foes. Pleasanton ran away with a victory in week one against Northeast, winning 42-14. In week two the Blu-Jays leaned on their defense as they shut out Southeast 8-0. While most teams noticed Pleasanton’s success in the first two weeks, it was in week three when they were put on notice that the Blu-Jays were no fluke as they hosted the three time defending TRL champion Jayhawk-Linn Jayhawks. Pleasanton not only defeated the Jayhawks, but they pulled away in the second half, winning 36-12. Since that victory the Blu-Jays have wins over Leon-Bluestem and 8-man Osceola to move to an impressive 5-0 on the season.

While its helps that the offense led by play-making quarterback Kaden McKee has scored 35+ points in four out of their five contests, it is the defense that has stepped up big time for the Blu-Jays. On average they are only allowing a minuscule 10.8 points per game.

There were question marks surrounding the Pleasanton football program as the season began. Would there be a learning curve from 8-man to 11-man? Could they immediately compete with 11-man schools? Could the Air-Raid offense Coach Dustin Johnson runs continue its success at the 11-man level? Well, through five weeks of the season, Pleasanton has squashed any doubts surrounding the teams transition to 11-man football. Look for the high flying Blu-Jays to continue their success as district play begins.

St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers (3-2, 3-0 CNC) — Last season the St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers rode an eight game winning streak all the way to the state championship game. While they did fall to Smith Center in the championship game, the Panthers still finished the year with a 10-3 record as well as being the Class 2-1A State runner-up. That SMC team lost a handful of talented players, but they also brought back a lot of talented players. With nine starters returning to the team, including seven who are seniors, the Panthers looked to continue their winning ways in 2018.

SMC traditionally has a tough schedule where they play bigger schools to prepare themselves for postseason play, and usually, that strategy works. This year the schedule was no different. SMC opened the season with back-to-back road contests against CNC rivals, Columbus and Frontenac. The Panthers handily defeated Columbus 40-6 and then turned around in week two to beat the Raiders in a defensive battle, 14-0. After dispatching Baxter Springs by a score of 47-8 Colgan had a 3-0 record. Week four saw the Panthers travel to play Centralia in a rematch of last seasons quarterfinal match-up. As many most likely remember, Centralia had a fourth quarter lead last time the two teams met, but they still lost to the Panthers. This season however, SMC was shutout by Centralia, falling 20-0 for their first loss of the season. Colgan lost again in a nail bitter during week five’s contest with Abilene 22-20.

After winning three straight games to open the season, SMC has now dropped each of their last two games. But, with the schedule the Panthers have played, a 3-2 record is nothing to scoff at either. I look for the Panthers to continue their dominance over the district and get back to their winning ways.

Yates Center Wildcats (1-4, 1-2 TRL) — Last season the Wildcats began the season with a 1-5 record. Despite the woeful start, Yates Center was still able to sneak into the playoffs finishing with a 3-6 record after defeating Uniontown 24-22 and Oswego 20-18 in consecutive weeks.

In 2018 Yates Center has experienced a similar start to that of last year. They were defeated in the season opener against Jayhawk-Linn 44-0. In week two the Wildcats were able to find success, beating Northeast 44-22. While Yates Center did defeat Northeast, it has been their only victory of the season. They have lost their last three contests to Southeast, Northern Heights, and Leon-Bluestem.

A year ago Yates Center showed exactly why you should disregard a teams record heading into district play. This season the Wildcats will need to gain momentum heading in the postseason throughout the last three weeks.

Uniontown Eagles (1-4, 1-2 TRL) — Uniontown entered 2018 with internal and external high expectations for the upcoming season. After all, they finished 4-5 a season ago, a marked improvement from their 2-7 record a season prior, and narrowly missed qualifying for the playoffs. In addition, the Eagles were picked to finish second in the TRL, tied with Pleasanton, in the preseason coaches poll. They also returned a handful of talented players, including All-League and All-State performers. However, for some reason, things have not clicked for the Eagles this season.

Uniontown fell in their season opener to Southeast 20-6. In week two, Uniontown also lost to Jayhawk-Linn 18-6. Both games were competitive throughout, but the Eagles’ offense was unable to muster the necessary points. I wrote in the preseason about the potential of this offense to be explosive, and with good reason when looking at their skill positions. To this point however, untimely penalties and turnovers have plagued the Uniontown offense. The Eagles did break into the win column against Northeast a week later, winning 52-12. In that contest the offense appeared to show glimpses of its high scoring potential. Weeks four and five saw Uniontown fall to traditional small-school powerhouses Lyndon and Olpe. While they did not come away with a victory, those contests against schools that regularly attain success should aid the Eagles as they head into district play.

While this season has been a disappoint for the Uniontown football program thus far, winning two of their next three games will guarantee the Eagles a top spot in the postseason coming out of the district. Is this the season that Jeremy Neville’s team finally breaks through?

Class-1A District 1 Schedule:

Friday, October 5

— Uniontown @ Pleasanton

— Yates Center @ St. Mary’s Colgan

Friday, October 12

— Pleasanton @ St. Mary’s Colgan

— Uniontown @ Yates Center

Friday, October 19

— St. Mary’s Colgan @ Uniontown

— Pleasanton @ Yates Center

District Predictions:

  1. St. Mary’s Colgan (3-0)
  2. Pleasanton (2-1)
  3. Uniontown (1-2)
  4. Yates Center (0-3)

**An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated how this seasons Class-1A playoff system would work. 

You can stay up to date on where teams stand in each of their districts by regularly checking our Postseason football page. As always, keep an eye out for new content daily here on SEK-Sports.com.