For the second consecutive year, high school football districts for much of the state of Kansas will begin this week. The only classifications not affected will be Class 6-4A, where every game, and up-to-13 points, in the regular season matters and Class 1A, whose districts will begin in the traditional week 7 portion of their schedules.
We break down the Class 2A Districts for SEK-Sports.com coverage area teams.
CLASS 2A DISTRICT 1
The Red Drivls are under the direction of first-year head coach Eddie Kearns. He has the task of trying to reinvigorate the excitement of football in the hallways and community. It will take a few more years before Erie is a contender in a district, but you have to start somewhere. Erie looks to be the spoiler role for many teams in this district and trying to dash other teams playoff expectations.
The Cubs are by far and away the favorite to win this district. The Cubs are averaging 48 points per game offensively and giving up an average of 11 points per game on defense. Senior Conor Haviland has been a one-man wrecking crew with 589 yards rushing on 48 carries and 11 touchdowns. He’s also the teams’ quarterback going 6 of 15 on 80 yards with 1 touchdown thrown and 1 interception. Isiah Coronado has also been in the mix with 238 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns for the Cubs. The biggest question mark for the Cubs has been their defense. Their flaws were exposed by a talented Eureka team and will most likely face challenges from Jayhawk-Linn and Southeast for the top spot in this district.
So far for the Jayhawks, they have taken care of business as they should. They were able to squeeze out a win over Pleasanton last week, who is without one of their top players for the rest of the year. Information and stats from Jayhawk-Linn have been sparse, but talking with coaches they are a gritty team and stick to what works with them. While they are 3-0, they have faced against a smaller Yates Center team, who will drop down to 8-man next year in the new classifications, and a young Uniontown team. Games against Humboldt and Southeast will be the true measuring stick for the Jayhawks.
Much like Erie, Northeast looks to play the spoiler role for teams and their bid for a playoff spot. Senior Jasper Atchison leads the team with 368 yards on 68 carries. He has scored 2 of the team’s 5 offensive touchdowns. This is a youthful program with a new head coach, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make things interesting for teams vying for a playoff spot. The Vikings were able to snap a 30 game losing streak earlier this year, so anything is possible.
Perhaps the biggest challenger to the Cubs for the top stop in this district is Southeast-Cherokee. Coach Jerrad Hansen’s Lancers are off to a 3-0 start. They defeated the youthful Uniontown and Yates Center teams and battled past Pleasanton. You can take the common opponents with Jayhawk-Linn and try to go from there on who will give Humboldt the biggest challenge. Bryce Peterson at quarterback is 7 of 22 with 142 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. What stands out about the Lancers is not 1, not 2, not even 3 but FOUR rushers with over 150 yards, and 3 of them close to or above 200 yards rushing. Leading the charge is Zaden Hendricks with 357 yards rushing, Peterson with 255 yards on the ground, Jakob Tavernaro with 183 yards and Gage Oplotnik with 155 yards. Even with the perhaps the bit of a lighter first 3 games of the season, the Lancers have soundly taken care of business. The biggest question to answer for Southeast is how will their defense respond to an equally impressive Humboldt Cubs team and Jayhawk-Linn. Do not count out the Lancers as a contender for the top spot in this district.
Continuing with the youth movement is Riverton. Coach Mallott is getting kids out of the hallways and on to the playing field. Much like Erie and Northeast, this team is young, but they do have some size and talent out on the playing field. Riverton should be able to give Southeast, Jayhawk-Linn and Humboldt some fits in their match up and could easily be a turnover or run away from pulling off an upset or 2.
SEK-SPORTS.COM 3A DISTRICT 1 PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
CLASS 2 DISTRICT 5
The Chargers offense, led by Zaine Lantz, Gavin Hooper, and Wyatt Gillman, is starting to find their stride at the right time. Hooper is 25 of 52 for 406 yards throwing with 6 touchdowns and 1 interception. Wyatt Gillman is leading the charge for Cherryvale with 35 carries for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns while Lantz has caught 10 receptions for 4 touchdowns and 236 yards. The Charger defense is averaging 19 PPG after giving up 42 points to Caney Valley, but bouncing back with allowing 1 score in each of their games against Bluestem and Erie. Early on penalties and turnovers were an issue for the Chargers, but if they can fix those minor adjustments, the Chargers should expect to find themselves in a position to host a playoff game.
The Tornadoes will have the advantage of playing at home for their entire district schedule. Obviously, in their first matchup against Fredonia to open district play, there will be a lot of emotions running high at playing in their facility. As long as they play within their game, Eureka has the talent to make some noise in this district. The Tornadoes have been plagued with injuries in the past that’s prevented them from taking the next step. The close loss to a talented Humboldt team has proven that the Tornadoes are for real this year and are positioned to make a run. Cade Larcom, Zach Hare, and Justin Zimmers lead the way for the Tornadoes and will be a fun trio to watch in any game involving Eureka.
The Yellowjackets bring in one of the most well-balanced teams in this district. They can do just enough of everything to hurt their opponent. Junior John Dutton leads the team at the quarterback position going 20 of 39 with 421 yards passing and 6 touchdowns. He’s backed up by runners Buddy Claibourn and freshman Taron Ward, who has rushed for 255 yards and 208 respectively. Fredonia’s defense is a bit suspect, but that doesn’t mean senior Matt Weilert should be overlooked. He has 4 sacks through 3 games and is 3rd on the team in 15 tackles. If Fredonia were to get into an offensive back-and-forth game, the odds would be in the Yellowjackets favor.
The Bluestreaks are young. They have a new head coach in Dave Gillett. The Bluestreaks have been outscored so far this season 137-39. Senior quarterback Mayson Ellis is 18 of 42 with 172 yards passing with a touchdown and interception. Juniors Phoenix Carpenter and Seth Strange are some bright spots for the young Bluestreaks with their 146 yards rushing each. Coach Gillett is putting the Bluestreaks on the right path, but unfortunately, it will most likely be next year before Neodesha contends for a playoff spot.
Belle Plain & Douglass
Douglass comes in with a 1-2 record. They have 3 rushers, 2 of which are underclassman, with over 100 yards rushing. 2 of the rushers have over 150+ yards. They can also throw the ball with almost 2 yards through the air and 2 touchdowns. The Bulldogs defense has given up 73 points in the last 2 games, however.
On paper, Belle Plaine looks to be the knee-jerk top choice to win the district. 3-0, all 3 shut out wins, outscoring their opponents 96-0 in that stretch. Without digging deeper the Dragons would be the top choice, 1st pick. A closer look reveals their opponents are a combined 2-7 with an offensive average of 8 points per game and giving up 31 points per game. It could be argued Belle Plaine has not faced a balanced team in the likes of Fredonia, Cherryvale, or Eureka.
CLASS 2 DISTRICT 5
- Belle Plaine