What’s that? More changes to the content? Yup. Replacing the “Pick ‘Em” this year will be our “Games To Watch”.
The games that the SEK-Sports.com staff picks as the “games to watch” from each league won’t necessarily be the high-profile, marquee games, but instead ones to watch across the region for perhaps a streak, interesting storyline or other significance.
That doesn’t mean we won’t pick marquee games, but our goal is to dig deeper than the most appealing on paper.
As a reminder, if you’re attending this, or any other varsity sports this season, please text in your score updates and results to 620-325-9531.
Also, tweet us or message us your video or picture nominations for our “Top 5 Plays of the Week”. We will release the top 5 plays every Sunday.
With that being said…here are the Week 1 football games to watch across each league:
In what used to be one of the regions more exciting rivalries, Galena has close to a 10-year winning streak over their neighbors. Galena has outscored Riverton 163-21 in the last three meetings. However, 5th year head coach Johnny Mallatt finds his program with close to 40 student-athletes suiting up this season. While Riverton continue to rebuild, Galena seemingly continues to reload. The Bulldogs lost quite a bit of talent to graduation, but coach Beau Sarwinkski continues to get the most of his athletes year in and year out. While this may not be as close of finishes in this rivalry that 2014 and 2010 once saw, this will be an excellent measuring stick for Mallatt’s Rams in how far they’ve come and how far they have yet to go.
Lyon County League
Not only is this one of the better, even match-ups of the Lyon County League but for many, this will be the first game that someone other than Mike Hevel will coach a Waverly football team. As our LCL beat writer Michael Dieker pointed out in his Lebo preview, the Wolves will bring back all of last year’s team and should be in contention for a top 2 finish in the LCL.
Pioneer League coaches picked these two teams to finish in the top 2 spots. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that will be most likely determined right of the gate of the 2019 season. Both squads are coming off a season that graduated a talented group of seniors including most of the frontline. Last year’s win by Prairie View snapped a 4-year losing streak to the Chargers and the last two meetings, split by both teams, were decided by 3 points or fewer. The first game of the season, league rivalry, this is a must-attend for any high school football fan looking for a game to watch.
SCBL / Three Rivers League 8-Man
Last year Sedan handed Saint Paul their only regular-season loss, a game in which St. Paul led from kickoff until the 4th quarter. The Indians are 2 years removed from a runner-up finish at State and lost a talented group of seniors; however, they have one of the most talented backs in the state returning in senior Adam Albertini, who put up 2,240 rushing yards and 51 touchdowns in 2018. Sedan returns 10 seniors including an equally talented skill player in senior Tayte Halderman, who rushed for 1,066 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 23-of-53 passes for 426 yards and throwing four scores. There will not be a game in the entire Sunflower State that will have as exciting pair of players on opposite sides competing as this ballgame featuring St. Paul’s Albertini and Sedan’s Halderman.
Welcome to the SEK League, Coach! Chanute, Fort Scott, Independence will 3 feature debuts of new head coaches. Long-time assistants Clete Frazell and Bo Graham will take over the head coaching headset for Chanute and Fort Scott, respectively. While long-time Neodesha head coach John Black moves south to revitalize the Bulldog program. No league in the eastern half of the state saw as much turn over as the SEK League. It is definitely a new era, a new look, and new opportunities for this league.
Three Rivers League 11-Man
After snapping a losing streak that spanned 28 games, there’s a lot of optimism for Southeast Lancer fans. Coach Jarrad Hansen’s team finished one win shy of posting the first winning record at the school since 2012. With a talented group of seniors, they have the chance to not only accomplish that but also compete for a league title and spot in the playoffs. Eyes will be on Southeast to determine if last year was just a one-off or can they continue the momentum into the 2019 season.
Eureka was picked in the SEK-Sports.com Fan Poll last for the Tri-Valley League. Why? They have back quite a bit of size on the defense in height and weight and overall will be a much more talented team, as long as they avoid the injury bug. Coach Nichols has rebuilt a culture that has not only the student-athletes buying in but the community as well. Leon-Bluestem hired their head coach late, so they are playing from behind before the first whistle. Once again Eureka will play at least their first three games on the road, two of which on neutral ground. One has to believe that Eureka, given all that they have gone through in the last year and being picked last, will be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and something to prove.
Which games will you be attending or watching? Comment below.