Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kansas Domination

It’s a simple question really, one that takes only a short response. The problem comes when trying to justify your short answer.

Which football program has dominated the most? Let’s start off by looking at the contenders.

Smith Center sports the nation’s longest active winning streak, currently at 71 games. The last time the Redmen lost the current group of seniors were still riding their bikes to practice, because they were in the 7th grade. Quick, name the last team other than Smith Center to win the 2A state championship! It’s Pittsburg-Colgan in 2003, and 2002, and 2001, and 2000 (speaking of dominance!) Smith Center has simply been dominant in 2A for the better part of this decade. Pretty tough to argue with that, but let’s argue anyways!

Hutchinson has matched Smith Center every step of the way when talking about state championships. Randy Dreiling’s program also has five consecutive state titles, and they’ve done it in two different classes. The Salthawks have been so dominant in Kansas; they’ve started playing one of the powerhouses of Missouri, Rockhurst. Two years ago Hutch went undefeated before losing two games last year during the regular season. Want proof that Randy Dreiling can fire up his troops? The Salthawks lost the two games last year by a combined 10 points. In the two rematches this year, the Salthawks have outscored them by 63. The ‘Hawks know the definition of revenge! After losing their second game last year, they proceeded to outscore the rest of their opponents 462-87. THAT is dominance!

Closer to home, Wichita’s Bishop Carroll has enjoyed a recent run of success in the City League. The Golden Eagles currently hold a two game lead with only three to play in route to their sixth city league title in eight seasons. They’ve shared the title with others a few times, but its none-the-less impressive what Alan Schuckman has done on the west side of Wichita. Maybe not as impressive as 5 straight state titles, but certainly a dominating run for Carroll.

How about Garden Plain? In the eight seasons under Todd Puetz, the Owls are 90-13. Averaging 11 wins per season is dominant. If the Owls have played 103 games in eight seasons, that means they’ve averaged almost 13 games per year, which puts them on average in the state semifinals. Pretty dominant!

I could go on with more schools, but I’d put these four up against just about anyone. Who’s the most dominate? I’ll leave that to you to decide. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section. Just make sure you back up your argument.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Area tennis heats up

Area tennis has heated up this week, and although Kansas City-area schools tend to dominate at Class 6A and 5A state tournaments, some local programs have produced tough competition.

Salina Central’s doubles teams continue to roll. Juniors Ashley DeTurk and Kelsey Hauserman won the doubles championship Thursday at the Salina South Invitational, raising their season record to 24-0. They defeated teammates – senior Abby Morris and freshman Gabby Briggs – for the tournament title. Morris and Briggs are 22-2 overall.

The girls have valuable state-tournament experience, too. DeTurk and Hauserman took fifth at state in doubles competition last year. Morris was part of another senior-freshman combo in 2006, when she and her senior teammate placed fourth in doubles.

Singles standouts include Kapaun Mt. Carmel’s Maddie Schulte and Madeline Engel, both juniors. They helped Kapaun secure the City League’s regular-season title this week. Schulte and her sister advanced to the 2008 state championship but placed second in doubles.

According to Kansas coaches, four of the top five teams in 5A are from this area. The top-ranked team is defending state champ St. Thomas Aquinas, followed by Salina Central, McPherson, Bishop Carroll and Kapaun.

Maize is ranked No. 4 in 6A. As usual, The Independent School and Wichita Collegiate dominate the lower classes’ rankings. Tennis regionals will be held in just two weeks.

On Monday, Sept. 28, the Kansas State High School Activities Association will release classifications based on each school’s enrollment. That’s the same day that assignments for tennis regionals will be announced.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It will never end...

It looks like the streak will never end...

It is nice to know that the country's longest active winning streak is nestled in the little town of Smith Center and it doesn't look like it will end anytime soon. The Redmen notched 70 last Friday over Norton.

For a while there, people were grumbling that Norton might be the one's to do. They jumped out and scored right off the bat and then smashed Colt Rogers deep on their own four yard line on the ensuing kickoff. Then the offense couldn't get anything moving in the first quarter. Bluejays 7, Redmen 0.

But then they kicked it into over drive and they won, and all was right in Smith County.

The Redmen currently hold the nation's longest ACTIVE winning streak at 70 games, and that ranks fourth all time for prep 11-man football.

SC is right behind South Panola High School from Batesville, Mississippi who had their streak snapped in 2003 at 89. Independence High School in Charlotte, North Carolina had their's broken at 109. But the longest in the history of ever comes from California at De La Salle High School, home to the Bronco's D.J. Williams, who won 151 games in a row!!!! (exclamations for emphasis) They didn't lose a game from 1992 to 2003. Simply wow.

It will take a long time for the Redmen to reach that level, and honestly they won't, but it will be fun to watch them try.

And they know it will end. Coach Barta, who is 8 games shy of 300 wins, admits it will end and he will be OK with it when it does. And the town knows it will end, and they admit that if it happened to Norton or Phillipsburg, two of their longest and arch-est of rivals, that would make it better. For a town to give up the nations longest winning streak to a team that isn't very good won't sit very well with them.

So here's to going for 71 against Phillipsburg! We'll be watching...

What to cover, what to cover?

There is a big situation we here at Eyewitness Sports and Catch it Kansas face every single week: what games should we cover? It's honestly a big debate every single week no matter what. The reason why it's such a huge debate is because we have people in here who have some very different views on what games are more important.

Now, I won't name any names in order to protect the (mostly) innocent, but there really is a huge divide in our office. On one hand we have the people who believe that we rarely need to shoot the smaller school games because that won't bring us an audience. Which, to be honest, is a valid point considering we're in a business that thrives on the numbers of viewers we bring in because that ups our sales numbers thus increasing our revenue. So for example, right now, if we had a choice to shoot Great Bend at Heights or Belle Plaine at Douglass, some people in our office would automatically say the Heights game because it will bring in more viewers.

On the other side of the argument are the people who believe that we need to give some love to those smaller schools to mix things up a little bit so we don't have the same schools every single week. Also, some of those smaller schools rarely have an opportunity to get a win so we try to pick the games where we'll be able to actually get some highlights of them. Again, yet another good argument to really bring in viewers that appreciate us taking the time to get to their school. So doesn't that essentially bring in more viewers to increase our revenue?

It's an interesting situation we find ourselves in every week. Do we go big or small? Do we give love to the smaller schools at the risk of blowing off the bigger schools that will probably win state this year? It's tougher than you may think to make that call, so maybe those reading this (I'm sure there are tens of you out there) could give us a little input? Post a comment or maybe write us an email and let us know which games you really want to see each week. A little input can go a long way.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Southeast XC Invitational...WOW!

Topeka Washburn Rural's Avery Clifton is the best female distance runner in the state of Kansas. Period. After today there are no arguments from me and there will not be anytime in the future. Clifton took everything Carroll freshman Kaelyn Balch could throw at her and ran away with the race in a blistering 13:48 4 kilometer time. Balch’s 14:01 in the same race is worthy of national XC headlines as well.

The Cessna Activities Center course is right in length and is not flat by any means. Clifton and Balch destroyed the course. Cross Country times are very tenuous things because courses differ in lengths and difficulties, but I don’t think that anyone can argue that Clifton and Balch are head and shoulders above the rest of the girls in the state right now.

Here is a little perspective on what sub-14 in the 4k means.

I run for Friends University and my coach said he had only ever heard of one other girl breaking 14 minutes in the 4k during high school. The girl’s name is Alissa McKaig (she did it twice in high school) and last fall she set the NAIA national meet record as a senior in college for the 5k and was the National Champion. She is now a professional runner.

Clifton and Balch’s race today was fun to witness. Mackenzie Maki of Kapaun is still back there lurking too. She ran 14:49 today which is not too shabby. She has the capability to drop down with Balch on any given day. I hope Clifton and Balch get at least one more chance to race at Rim Rock next weekend. It would be fun to watch the rematch.

And what cannot get lost in this is that Balch is only a freshman. She has the ability to run at the national level for sure.

What is your take on the times these girls threw down?

Friday, September 18, 2009


Any time you head on the road to a conference opponent, there is pressure to perform.

But Hays coach Ryan Cornelsen has more pressure on him because he is returning to his hometown of Liberal tonight with a shaky Indians squad.

Cornelsen was a hometown hero and that name is synonymous with Liberal because his Dad, Gary, is a coaching legend in this state for his work with the Redskins.

There was speculation that Cornelsen would take the open Liberal job last fall, but he decided to take a bigger job and rebuild a Hays football program that is in serious need of an overhaul.

So now he takes his new team into his hometown, with all his family and friends around, watching, with the shadow of his father in the stadium. Your ankle hurts but you still have to lead your team - doesn't compare.


What is the weirdest mascot you can remember from a high school?? Ringnecks was a popular choice, as was the Swathers. What is your pick?

My pick? My high school - The Eaglecrest Raptors. Spelled like Jurassic Park, but we were the bird of prey Raptor, which could have been a hawk, falcon or eagle. Techincally, we were all of them but our logo was the Philadelphia Eagle. And with out school name, confusion was rampant. Vary often at away games, it was the Eaglecrest Eagles.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ranked teams, state qualifiers battle in soccer tournaments

The Hays boys soccer team, which finished last season with a losing record, seems to be turning around its fortunes.

Hays defeated Wichita Trinity, a state qualifier last year, in the McPherson Invitational on Saturday and claimed the tournament championship. The victory lifted Hays’ overall record to 4-0.

The Indians blanked Trinity 2-0, and Hays keeper Hunter Wilkens tallied 10 saves. Trinity placed third at the Class 4-1A state tournament and completed its 2008 season 17-3-1.

Another member of the Western Athletic Conference - Great Bend - was less successful in its tournament outing, but after concluding last year with only one win, the Panthers already have matched that total. They edged Wichita North in the first round of the Titan Classic’s red bracket and then succumbed to the eventual champ, Hutchinson.

Great Bend placed fourth in the Titan Classic and now stands at 1-2. Incidentally, the Panthers’ only victory last year was against Hays.

The WAC team that fared best, Liberal, just missed the tournament title in the blue bracket Saturday. After dominating the defending Titan Classic champion, Wichita Southeast, Liberal struggled against Maize in the final. However, the Redskins should be a force this season.

In all, last weekend’s area tournaments featured five teams that qualified for state in 2008. Maize, Liberal and Southeast advanced to quarterfinals in the Titan Classic blue bracket, where Maize – the third-place finisher from Class 6A – prevailed.

Salina Central – which claimed fourth place in Class 5A – also finished fourth in the Goddard/Campus Invitational after losing several seniors to graduation. Newton blasted Winfield 5-0 for the invitational crown.

Two of those teams are represented in the Kansas Soccer Coaches Association rankings: Maize (No. 3 in Class 6A and No. 4 overall) and Liberal (No. 2 in 5A).

Hutchinson, which eked out a 1-0 win over Emporia in the Titan Classic red bracket finale, has replaced Emporia at the No. 5 position in 5A.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rain, rain go away... no seriously

Excuse me while I ring out my socks... it's been a little wet lately. And now it looks like the new turf at City Stadium is paying off - no mud, no flooding and games can go on as scheduled.

The only high school stadium in these parts that is that nice is Great Bend's Memorial stadium. The AstroGrass is tight and fast and now they have a sweet looking scoreboard on the south end to cap it all off. Having witnessed a downpour on that field, I can attest to the dexterity of the playing surface.

Hays and TMP play at Lewis-Field Stadium at FHSU which has the AstroGrass and it is great for those same reasons. (But that provides no sense of home field advantage because A) it isn't on your campus, and B) you share it with two other teams.)

Other than those fields, it is grass everywhere and with the current weather - no fun. Mud everywhere, puddles in the middle of the field or on the sidelines or really everywhere because puddles do that. One wrong step and your shoes are filled with wonderful rain water. Glorious.

From my point of view, that of current non-athlete - I have no need for mud and or slash puddles but during my formative days as a young no-talent high school football player, playing on a muddy field, with puddles everywhere and everyone is sliding all over the place is the way football should be played.

I'm just afraid if the rain keeps coming, the game we know and love might be morphed into an underwater version or everygame is going to be played at City Field or Fort Hays.

Let the games begin!!

After spending the summer beating the hype drum for the fall season, I could not be happier that the time for questions is over, and the time for answers starting to pile up is finally here.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not the guy who sits around and complains about the hype. I am a fight fan, and the promotional machine is an enormous part of any prizefight, from the monkey bars to Caesar’s Palace.

The hype lathers us up to the point where we can’t stand it. And if you think reading our previews through the month of August got you fired up for football season, try writing them.

In many ways, the fall season is like Christmas. Starting around Thanksgiving (who am I kidding, Christmas hype starts closer to Halloween these days), the anticipation builds. As the day draws near, presents start to show up under the tree.

What could those boxes possibly contain? Will this be the year I get the ultimate present? Or will this year bring me a huge container stuffed with newspaper that covers up a lousy pack of undies?

First, you eye the box from the outside, sizing it up just by how it looks. You pick it up and feel the weight. Next, you give it the shake. But you do it gently at first. There could be something fragile in there.

As you shake the box, you get a better feel for the weight but also get a sense for the sound it makes.

After setting the box down, having exhausted every tool at your disposal to solve the mystery, you close your eyes and try to imagine what’s in there, only to realize you still have no idea - and won’t until the time comes to open it.

And it drives you crazy.

Well … the time for speculation has come and gone. The bell has rung, and it’s time to come out fighting.

Hutchinson started the year with questions about whether the Salthawks could win an unprecedented sixth-straight state championship. But before Hutch could think about Kansas competition, it had to worry about Missouri powerhouse Rockhurst.

The game was dead even for most of the first quarter before the Salthawks’ defense slammed the door on Rockhurst and Hutch coasted to a 55-27 win.

When you combine the defense with a Hutch offense that didn’t throw a single pass, had 361 yards rushing in the first half alone and didn’t bring the punt team on for the entire game, you have one of the best teams in the region nationally, let alone in the state of Kansas.

Smith Center, also a team looking for an absurd sixth championship in a row, extended the nation’s longest current winning streak to 68 games after another ho-hum 59-0 season opener against Plainville.

When it comes to the top three teams in the GWAL - Bishop Carroll, Wichita Heights and Wichita Northwest - perhaps Carroll had the most questions coming into the year. The Golden Eagles have future University of Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell (I’ll bet the Sooners wish he were on the team at this point early in their season), but only two other returning starters join Bell in the offense.

In a tough Week 1 draw, Carroll had to welcome Heights in a game that could very well be for all the marbles. Seven of the last nine GWAL championships have been won by Carroll or Heights.

But even without a ton of experience, Carroll was not a gracious host to the Falcons and looks like the team to beat in the City League after a 28-0 shutout of Heights.

Northwest squeaked out a win over Kapaun Mt. Carmel on Thursday with a come-from-behind, 16-13 win to put itself in a four-way tie for first with Carroll, Wichita East and … Wichita West?

After winning just one game last year, West won its opener against Wichita South in dominating style, 34-7, to start the year undefeated and grab a share of first place.

Central Plains League locomotives Conway Springs and Garden Plain both picked up steam as they head toward each other down opposite ends of the same track.

Last year’s 3A champion, Conway Springs, showed that things will go on as usual without Jaydan Bird, now a freshman linebacker at OU, and that new coach Matt Biehler will fit in perfectly as the Cardinals smashed Cheney 35-7. Garden Plain steamrolled Wichita Independent in a 72-0 blowout.

These are just a small sample of the Week 1 storylines.

What questions did your school begin to answer?

Friday, September 4, 2009

1st and 10 at Hillside and 37th

In honor of the final season of the Mid Central Activities Association, my 10th year fantasy football league has agreed to name all of its teams after MCAA schools this year. I’m the Sterling Black Bears. But don’t get too excited, gang – I haven’t made the playoffs since 2005.


A member of our production crew asked me the other night to explain what a “cream puff” opponent is. I explained that this is another way of saying that they’re not very good (soft, easy to sink your teeth into). Northern Colorado is a cream puff. Oklahoma is a jawbreaker.

Then she asked a great follow up that got me thinking. “What would laffy taffy be?”

Hmmm. I guess that would be any team that – on the surface – looks like it would be soft. But once you bite into it, you realize they’re actually very tough. Like Boise State (before everyone realized they were actually legit).

So there you go. A new addition to football vernacular: A Laffy Taffy Opponent.


Like most guys I don’t just drive from “A” to “B” – I try to do it as efficiently as possible. Anything I can do to cut 20 or 30 seconds off a route (without speeding, of course) is a must. By that token, any stoplight I come to tends to hinder that progress.

Driving from North to South and vice versa on Rock Road, I’ve had trips where I’ve managed to hit every single red light – even the cross walks. My record is 14 in a row. I’ve also had trips where I’ve managed to string 12 or 13 greens together (which is kind of like throwing a perfect game… you try not to think about it and you CERTAINLY don’t talk about the streak while it’s in progress).

Red lights annoy me to no end – especially when they’re triggered for no reason. But in an effort to avoid road rage, I recently invented a new game that makes dealing with them a little more fun. I call it “Stoplight Football.”

Every green light you pass through is a yard. Every red light is a tackle. You get four downs to pick up 10 green lights, just like in normal football. At least that’s the premise I started with, and it seemed to work.

Then it occurred to me that maybe turning right on red should be worth something. You weren’t technically stopped for it. If anything, you just JUKED a would-be tackler! Yeah!

Starting from the 20, you’d need 80 green lights to score a touchdown. The idea sounded great until I began considering the other logistics. What about a kicking game? How would one punt or kick off or try field goals? Maybe we’d be better off with a 50 yard field? Could we somehow incorporate passes to speed things up? What about driving on the interstate?

Ultimately the whole idea lost a lot of steam because it become too difficult to remember down and distance in my head – especially when resuming a game in progress at the start of a new car trip. It died completely when my wife threatened to never ride with me again if I didn’t stop announcing that it was “second and eight from 42” or asking if we should “go for it on fourth and two against 4:00 traffic?”

(Obviously – depending on field position – you would roll the dice any time between 10pm and sun-up. Rush hour is like the Ravens defense. Even trying to pick up one yard is a grind. Better kick it away and hope you can win the field position battle.)
Maybe she’s right. I watch enough football during the fall as is without bringing it into my daily commute.

Let me know if you can expand on my set of rules to make the game more efficient (particularly the special teams). If I get some good responses I may revisit this topic.


Tonight is Hutch and Rockhurst. Kansas vs. Missouri power. I talked to a Hutch official this morning and they’re expecting it be a one-ring circus. It’s only 11am and I’m wondering if I should go ahead and leave now. I’m sure I won’t be the first one there.