Tuesday, August 31, 2010

10 bold predictions for 2010 Football Season

With the season upon us, here are ten bold predictions compiled in the sports office:

1. Smith Center will not make the quarterfinals in class 3A.
Smith Center moves up from Class 2-1A to play with the big boys this year. There might not be a more stacked Class than Class 3A football. Smith Center should have no trouble winning district and its first two playoff games, but then it will run into the winner of the Garden Plain-Conway Springs-Hutchinson Trinity scrum, and I think that is where the Redmen will fall.

2. Tate Omli will be the best statistical football player in the state in 2010.
If you have not heard of Ell-Saline’s Tate Omli, consider yourself warned. This kid does it all for the Cardinals on offense, defense and special teams. In his last two seasons, he has passed for 3,500 yards, rushed for 1,700 yards, accounted for 60 touchdowns and had 22 interceptions on the defensive side of the ball. Omli will have the best stats of any player when the dust settles.

3. Kingman will win as many games this year (2) as it has since 2005.
Kingman is 2-35 dating back to 2005. This year the Eagles escape the meat grinder that is AVCTL Division IV into the considerably softer Central Kansas League. The Eagles will win two of three from Haven, Nickerson or Sterling to get to two wins. All those AVCTL Division IV games should pay off a little bit.

4. Hutchinson will not win the 5A State Title.
No I have not had a CAT Scan recently, and maybe I should look into it, but I think your 5A Champion will be Gardner-Edgerton this year (hence the title BOLD predictions). Bear with me for a second. Hutchinson returns five starters, while Gardner Returns 12. The big thing is that Gardner has moved into the Eastern Kansas League this year and will be considerably more battle tested. The Blazers will play seven of their nine regular season games against 5A and 6A competition, last year that number was three as the Blazers played 4A teams for their first six games. Then head coach Marvin Diener has won 214 games in his 25-year career, so it is safe to say he knows what he is doing. Add in the best college prospect in the state in quarterback Bubba Starling and the Blazers look very good. Remember, bold predictions people.

5. Laque Mayes of Rose Hill will lead the state in rushing yards.
Mayes went for over 2,000 yards last year as a junior, and this year looks to be no different. The big key is on the line with TCU commit Brady Foltz (6-4, 285 pounds) and Brandon Walther (6-2, 245 pounds) opening up holes. That kind of size is hard to compete with in class 4A. Add in the fact that Rose Hill looks primed for another deep playoff run, and Mayes looks like a lock to be the top running back in the state.

6. The winners of week one games between: Heights and Bishop Carroll, Hesston and Pratt, Andale and Wellington, McPherson and Andover and Rose Hill and Buhler will all run the table in their respective leagues.
Week one is ridiculously stacked. All of these match-ups are among teams picked to finish at the top and the biggest tests come early. There is a big drop-off in the City League after Carroll-Heights. Hesston and Pratt look to be the class of the Central Kansas League. Andale and Wellington always seem to be the teams to beat in Division IV. AVCTL Division II has gotten stronger, but McPherson and Andover are the clear favorites. Rose Hill and Buhler are both powers that are on another level in Division III.

7. Wichita West will finish better than seventh in league for the first time since 2004 and win at least four games for the first time since 2002.
West has had some very lean years recently to say the least, but head coach Heath Henderson is looking to turn that around on the strength of quarterback Dorian Flournoy and running back Arnez Jones. Both have a lot of experience. I think they beat North and East and then steal one from Southeast to win three league games and finish sixth. Then, after dealing with Carroll and Hutchinson in the first two weeks of distrcts, the Pioneers salvage the last game of the year against Liberal to get to four wins.

8. Hutchinson Trinity will win the 3A state championship.
Class 3A is an absolute toss-up this year, but Hutchinson Trinity returns the quarterback-receiver duo of Derek Racette and Michael Mesh. As CatchItKansas.com reporter Mike Mendez pointed out, Wichita Collegiate showed just what a potent passing attack can accomplish. I think the Celtics actually lose to Garden Plain in districts to take second, but it will work in their favor as Smith Center, Garden Plain and Conway Springs will all be pushed to the other side of the bracket as the likely district winners. This means Hutch Trinity will only have to deal with one of those three instead of more, and that would not come until the semifinals.

9. The best statistical 8-Man players in the state will be Reggie Jordan of Hill City for Division I and Braden Lebeda of Caldwell in Division II.
Reggie Jordan may not have much help in Hill City, but in 8-Man you only need one star sometimes to make things go. Jordan accounted for 2,707 total yards and 35 touchdowns last season from the quarterback position. Braden Lebeda will lead the Caldwell Blue Jays as a quarterback. Last year he had 1,362 yards passing with 24 touchdowns and 1,248 yards rushing with 21 touchdowns. Caldwell also returns all but two starters, so Lebeda will have plenty of help to take the heat off of him.

10. No team will go undefeated in 11-man football.
There are no truly dominant teams in any class this year. Olathe North might be the closest, but it only returns eight starters total. It has talent, but two straight undefeated seasons in Class 6A is never a guarantee. Gardner Edgerton and Hutchinson are both 5A favorites and both have very difficult schedules. Class 4A and 3A are toss ups with no clear-cut favorite. Class 2-1A has perennial power Pittsburg Colgan and last year’s champion Centralia, but neither returns a wealth of experience.

What do you think? Too bold? Should I just stick to the cross country stuff and let the big boy football predictions go? Let me know what your bold predictions are.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

AVCTL Division I Predictions

The AVCTL Division I has a new look, but several familiar faces will once again look to establish dominance in the league's top division.

1. Hutchinson
The Salthawks bring a 22-game winning streak into the 2010 season as the six-time defending state champion. Hutch will have to replace every skill position player and offensive linemen except for slot running back Hunter Stuckey which likely means the team will hit a road bump or two along the way this year. The team returns four starters to the defensive side of ball, along with a core group of seniors ready to lead. Despite the loss of an extremely talented and productive senior class, don’t expect too much of a drop-off for a powerful program that reloads year in and year out and is ranked 18th in the Southwest Region, which is comprised of six states including Texas, according to ESPN.

2. Salina Central

The Mustangs bring back a core group of starters to a squad that went 6-3 last year. Six players return to the offense including senior Cale Sharp who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. Shay Wooten will move to quarterback for his senior season, providing a dual-threat option for Central. Where the Mustangs will excel is on defense where they return seven starters including a pair of two-year starters on the line and three defensive backs. According to coach Mike Hall, the defensive unit will have no evident weaknesses this season. Central travels to Derby and Hutch this year, but will play all three of its district games in Salina to close the regular season.

3. Derby
The Panthers offense will be extremely talented this year with senior quarterback Tyler Harrison under center. As a junior, he passed for over 1,400 yards. Derby will have a more balanced attack this year as the unit returns five starters to the offensive line which will open up the running game. The defensive side of the ball will be a little spotty as several newcomers will be called upon to make an impact. The Panthers offense will get a pair of major challenges in the first two weeks of the season against Hutch and Salina Central.

4. Salina South
After reaching the quarterfinals last year, Sam Sellers hopes to lead his team back to the playoffs in his first full season as coach. His squad is young this year with an offense led by sophomore running back Cody Busby paving the way. Busby ran for over 1,000 yards a year ago. The Cougars return three starters to each side of the ball, which raises several question marks for this young team. South has a strong group of veteran coaches though that should be able to get the team into playoff contention come district play.

5. Newton

The Railers make the move up to Division I a year after going 7-3 and making the playoffs. Newton will be young and inexperienced this year with just three players returning to the offensive side of the ball and four coming back on defense. The team has just 13 incoming seniors off of last years roster, so several new faces will be present on the field this year. A tough division though should have Newton battle-tested for their district opponents: Emporia, Valley Center and McPherson.

6. Maize

The Eagles have made the playoffs two of the past three seasons, but with losing records both times. Maize returns six offensive starters which will give the team some direction this season. Running backs Scott Hendricks and Ty Turner, who combined for over 1,000 yards a year ago, will lead the charge for the team this year. A tough schedule will keep the team honest though with games against Derby, Salina Central and Hutchinson in a four-game stretch starting in Week 3. Maize’s district is made up of WAC contenders Dodge City and Garden City and rival Goddard.

7. Campus

The Colts are coming off a one-win season in head coach Mike Schartz first year and are looking for new direction in a new division. Unfortunately for Campus, it’s one of the toughest in the state. The team returns nine starters on offense and eight on defense, including their leading passer and rusher from a year ago. Campus’ defense gave up an average of 30 points per game last year but with eight players coming back on defense, Schartz says "expectations are high."

Must see games:
Rockhurst at Hutchinson, Sept. 3
Salina Central at Derby, Sept. 3
Hutchinson at Derby, Sept. 10
Salina Central at Hutchinson, Sept. 24
Salina Central at Salina South, Oct. 15
Bishop Carroll at Hutchinson, Oct. 29

How do you think the league will play out? Let me know your thoughts and leave a comment below.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big class XC preseason look

It is about Cross Country time, which is my favorite time of the year (no offense to track). I have been a huge fan of Cross and distance running for the last six years. Here are some things I am looking forward to this year in the two big classes:

- Just how good can Bishop Carroll be as a boys team? It returns four all-state runners plus another one that finished 27th. Three of those five returners were only freshmen last year. It is not going to be a question of if Carroll can win, but by how much. The Golden Eagles replace Mulvane as the best cross country team in the state this year.

- Who wins the 5A title individually on the boys side? David Thor of Carroll stepped up and showed what he is capable of on the track. Chris Wise has been a good runner for Hutchinson. Can James Hampton of Carroll step up and win a title as a sophomore? All answers I am interested in finding out.

- For the girls, Mackenzie Maki of Kapaun is the favorite and will continue to be until I see her lose at the state XC meet. The only girls that will push her that have been around are Kaelyn Balch of Bishop Carroll and Morgan Wedekind of Valley Center. Wedekind will only race them at the state meet if Valley moves up to 5A.

- The 6A boys are up for grabs, but watch the usual suspects of Lawrence and Shawnee Mission Northwest. It has been a while since that SMNW dynasty has made its full presence known. - Seven of the top 10 boys from last year, including the top six, graduated. That means dominance is up for grabs in the individual race as well.

- The 6A girls team race will likely be a Northeast Kansas show once again, but the individual title will be interesting as six of the top ten return including Megan Ballinger of Goddard and the Derby duo of Emily Hornbeck and Amber Green.

- There are several meets I am looking forward too as well
o Carroll Invitational on Sept. 3 – Maki, Balch, Green, Ballinger, and darkhorse Amber Eichkorn of North will all be there for the girls.
o Greg Wilson Classic on Sept. 3 – Big early meet for those NE Kansas schools with Aquinas SM East, SM NW, Free State and others will be there.
o Emporia Invitational on Sept. 11 – Might as well call it NE Kansas vs. Central Kansas. There is a great mix of teams here.
o Wichita Southeast Invite on Sept. 18 – The best team and runners in the City will be established here with Washburn Rural coming back down to compete.
o Rim Rock on Sept. 25 – Any team that is a good team will be here. Bottom line the best team in Kansas will be decided this weekend.
o Newton Invitational on Oct. 2 – Great mix of big and small teams from near and far
o El Dorado Invite on Oct. 9 – Last chance for local teams to make a statement heading into the big three

There are some quick hits of what I am looking for out of the big classes this year. I will get to the smaller classes over the next couple days. What do you guys think? What big class teams and individuals are you looking at this year? Did I miss somebody? Would you like something more in-depth for a preview or is this quick one cover it well enough? If enough people want something more in-depth I will put something together.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AVCTL Div. II predictions

The AVCTL Div. II has a whole new look in 2010. Here are my picks for the first year of the realigned league.

1. McPherson
I’m going to go way out on a limb here and pick the Bullpups to win another league championship. McPherson’s offense will be fun to watch once again in 2010. Seven players from last year’s offense that averaged just short of 46 points-per-game are back for more. With all-state receiver Christian Ulsaker flanked by all-league receiver Nick Gawanda, plus first-team all-league backs Kevin O’Conner and Seth Davenport, the Bullpups will score however they want, whenever they want. Add in Goddard transfer Tyler Mathews at quarterback, and the only way this team doesn’t score is if they don’t show up to play. Coach Tom Young will not let that happen.
The only question with McPherson is whether or not they will stop anybody from scoring. All-league safety Kenan Warren is the only returning defensive starter. However, Young has 304 wins that each tell me this defense will be fine.

2. Andover Central
As cowardly as my pick to win the league is, I will get a little crazy with my runner up. Andover has had Central’s number over the past few years. Both teams return seven offensive players and six defensive players. But I think this season will belong to the Jaguars based on one thing: big nasty linemen on both sides of the ball.
With 6-5, 280-pound Boston Stiverson and 6-5, 270-pound Jens Danielsen, I’m glad I will never have to get in a three-point stance and look up at either of them, let alone both of them. Big talented linemen are essential at every level of football, and the Jaguars have them. The question for Central’s opponents is not whether they will be sore in bed on Saturday morning. It’s whether they will be in the right mindset to play on Friday without caring about the consequences.
Central has a returning quarterback in Landon Huslig, a returning tight end in Matt Clements, and a returning fullback in Aaron Hoy. With this kind of base, the Jaguar backs and receivers stand to have monster years.

3. Andover
Like its cross-town rival Central, Andover has seven returning offensive starters and six returning defensive starters. But one of the players Andover losses is quarterback Aaron Hansen who has taken the snaps in each of coach Mike Lee’s three seasons with the Trojans.
Even though Andover loses Hansen in the passing game, the Trojans have the talent at running back with Ben Croitoru and Blake Gumeringer, and a defense that will allow this team to make a legitimate run at a league title. Luke Linder and Jonathan Nye are two beasts on the defensive line, Jordan Ray can hit from the linebacker position, and Caleb Windholz can make plays in the secondary.

4. Goddard
Goddard has struggled in recent years in Div. I. After a 1-8 season last year, the Lions will get an overhaul with a new head coach in Charlie Nally, and a new league. Like Andover Central, Goddard has two 270-pound linemen to move the line of scrimmage with 5-11 Jaden Wood and 6-4 Seth Roberts. The Lions have four upperclassmen at running back, giving them the ability to wear teams out with fresh legs up until the final gun.
Goddard also has a wealth of linebackers on the defensive side of the ball. With players in these positions, Nally has a good start in building what he says will not be a foo-foo offense or foo-foo defense. The Lions are going to hit.

5. Arkansas City
Ark City had a decent season last year at 4-5. The bad news is that they finished with an 0-3 losing streak once district games rolled around. The Bulldogs have a lot coming back with eight returning offensive starters, but the line of scrimmage will be suspect on both sides of the ball.
Skill positions will give Ark City a chance to win games. Brandon Young will take over at quarterback in the spread-option offense. Young was a receiver last year who can make plays with the ball. Justin Spencer returns after starting at running back as a sophomore last year. Head coach Derrin Wegner is high on Spencer, who stands at 6-1, 185 pounds and also plays linebacker. Whoever opponents put in charge of preparing ice packs will not see Spencer in the same light Wegner does. Ark City receiver Dylan Burroughs is a 6-3, 200-pound playmaker who stands to have a breakout season for the Bulldogs.
But without the proven experience on the line of scrimmage, Ark City is sitting at No. 5 for me.

6. Valley Center
The Hornets are coming off an 0-9 season last year. They have only four returning starters on each side of the ball. But Valley Center hopes it has a keeper in new head coach Pat Haxton. Haxton takes over at Valley Center after leading Southeast of Saline in a wildly successful program, highlighted by a 3A state championship in 2005.
Valley Center has some good things to build on. D.J. Crager, Austin Southards and Ryan Haxton make a corps of experienced linemen. Quarterback Adam Ingle takes the helm at quarterback, and Loi Tran gives Ingle a target to throw to.
Defensively, Jace Nibarger and Southards give a good base to the Hornets’ linebacker corps. But Valley Center needs Haxton to spark a change in culture at the school for this team to start climbing the ladder in a tough realigned Div. II.

How do you think the league will play out? Share your picks for the AVCTL Div. II and tell us why you made them!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

WAC Football Predictions

1. Great Bend
The Panthers haven't made the playoffs since 2007 and that is a contentious point with head coach Bo Black. He expects better; from his players and himself. But he can't choose who he plays in Districts and the Hutch juggernaut moves on, as does McPherson.

Black returns Greg Hildebrand at quarterback who had a great season in 2009. 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior, and measurables make Black's offense pretty stout. Throw in four other returning starters on offense, and they will be one to watch.

2. Liberal
3-7 and 0-4 in the WAC resulted in a rough opening season for new coach Wade Stanley but left him with areas to build on.

Slader McVey was inexperienced under center last season, despite throwing for nearly 1,700 yards, but he has matured since then. He has a good target in K-State commit Jade Cathy. The Tall receiver will be very valuable as the Redskins continue to adjust to their new spread offense. The Defense looks solid so maybe Liberal will grab a few more wins and some very important ones in conference.

3. Dodge City
Great Bend coach Bo Black said last season that "the stars aligned for Dodge City." Not many would argue with him. The Red Demons oozed talent on the field but faltered in the WAC and fell short in the playoffs, finishing 8-3.

Quaterback Ty Thomas is gone as is running back Jace Banner who were the stalwarts of that potent offensive threat. Jared Helfrich will replace Thomas, and Rico Hogan and Trey Hallman will find new expanded roles in the offense on the wings.

The defense will be stought, and they will need that will some new faces on the other side of the ball.

4. Hays
Ryan Cornelsen worked a miracle last season with the Indians, turning the lap dogs to attack dogs in the WAC, taking the conference title and finishing 7-2.

Look for much of the same but not on the same scale in 2010 from Cornelsen's crew. New everything on offense will be something to watch. Austin Unrien will take the snaps this season. Unrien primarily returned kicks and filled in as a receiver last season and kicked. He has never played quarterback before.

It's a rebuilding season for Hays but now that Hutch and McPherson have left, a chance at postseason play will be much more achievable for the Indians.

5. Garden City
New coach, new offense, new players, new everything. Sometimes new is a good thing. Up is the only way to go for Garden City.

The Buffaloes return 13 starters on both sides of the ball, which gives them high hopes and the credentials of new coach Brian Hill are tremendous. Hill was the offensive coordinator at Garden City Community College before taking the job with the Buffs, who went 4-5 last season.

Hill also brings a spread offense with him and will hope returning quarterback Cody Burnbeck catches on fast. Six other returning starters will need to as well. The defense is weak. Not much more needs to be said and newcomers will get their shot in 2010.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

GWAL Football Predictions

Much will remain the same as it has in the City League for the last few seasons, but there should be some subtle changes in the standings. Here is how I see the City League shaking out:

1. Bishop Carroll
Yes, Blake Bell is gone. Yes, Heights made it to the state championship game. Bishop Carroll returns too many starters to not be favored in the top of this league. Tyler Nance takes over at quarterback, and that formula worked pretty well for Bell a couple years ago. I am not comparing the two athletes in the least, but Carroll has a winning tradition that cannot be overlooked. Alan Schuckman returns 15 starters from a team that walloped Heights 28-0 last season. Carroll should run the table in the City League.

2. Heights
The Falcons have the second easiest schedule in the City based on last year’s results. Heights’ opponents won 50.5-percent of their games last season. Rick Wheeler’s squad made a great run to end last season, but the slow start is a little worrisome. I think the Carroll-Heights game is close, but in the end it goes to Carroll. That should be Heights’ only loss in the City.

3. Kapaun
Kapaun only returns seven total starters, but they are good ones. Keaton Lewis provides stability at the quarterback position. He should be one of the best in the City League this year after earning second-team all-league honors last season. Michael Reynolds will be a force to be reckoned with on the defensinve line; couple that with Will Hutton and the Kapaun defensive line is going to be good. The Crusaders suffered their three regular season losses by a total of 12 points. I like Kapaun’s chances with strong senior leadership to move into the upper tier of the league this year.

4. Northwest
It has been the same story each of the last three years for Northwest. Lose to Carroll and lose to Heights. Then the Grizzlies have gone 1-3 in playoff games. Demarcus Robinson is gone, but Northwest always seems to have a strong running game. My worry comes from Northwest having question marks at quarterback. Jordan Weideman is the starter, but he is out for the first part of the season. That means Northwest must play Kapaun, Carroll and Heights with a patchwork passing game and a relatively unproven backfield.

5. South
South was the surprise team last season, but Cory Brack has this team heading in the right direction. DuWayne Kelly is an athlete and should fill in nicely at the quarterback position. Jordan Turner is a big, strong defensive lineman the Titans are building around. A season like last year should help get attitudes right and interest in the South football program.

6. West
The bottom half of this league is up for grabs, and West has the experience to move up. Arnez Jones is back to start at running back for the third consecutive year. Dorian Flournoy is also back to run the spread offense. The other thing that appeals about West’s prospects to finish here in the league standings is not having to play Northwest.

7. Southeast
Southeast struggled last year even with Division I stud Joseph Randle last season. This year it is tied with West for the toughest schedule based on last year’s results. Southeast’s opponents won 56.8-percent of its games last season. The reason I put it here is because Southeast has to play all of the top teams in the City League. East is the team it does not play.

8. East
East has not been the same since the Brown Brothers graduated. CJ Graham will be the focus in the backfield, but past him there are not too many players that earned all-league honors returning. If East is going to get out of the basement, it will have to do it out of the gate as it has North, West and a short-handed Northwest to open the season.

9. North
North struggled last season and this year will likely be no different in Kelley Sayahnejad’s first year as head coach. The Redskins do not return any player that completed a pass or had over 100 yards receiving or rushing last year. That spells trouble in the City League.

This Rose definitely has a thorn

And that thorn would be grades. GRADES! In high school! That's what's keeping Rockhurst's Michael Rose on the sidelines for the first six weeks of the season. Why is this important? Well obviously the first reason is that Rockhurst's first game of the season is against Hutchinson. But also, Rose is a 4-star linebacker who is headed to Nebraska next year (****correction, he's actually a Junior this year****). That is HUGE.

Even on teams like Hutch you rarely have a solid DI guy on your team. Even a stud like Josh Smith had to walk-on at Kansas (which I think was a stupid decision by Turner Gill to not give the kid a scholarship, but I digress). That's why this could be a big deal. With Rose on the sidelines does that detract from the game itself?

I'm wondering what's going through Randy Dreiling's head (actually I wonder that every day because it's a stream of hilarity in my brain)? I know he is definitely NOT thinking 'Oh wow, thankfully that kid is out, I didn't want to play against him anyway!' Yeah that's not Coach Dreiling's style. If anything I think Coach is quite a bit pissed off that that kid didn't take care of his life in the classroom and now it's possible that Rockhurst could pull the 'Well yeah we lost but one of our best players wasn't in the game.' Randy Dreiling is a competitor. He'd love to have every single player on Rockhurst's team be division one scholarship guys just so he could beat them and prove (yet again) that Hutch is a power to be reckoned with.

It will bug me if Hutch ends up winning and someone, anyone, with Rockhurst tries to make the excuse of Rose not being in the game. I'm not saying they will, this is simply hypothetical. I believe every team is only as good as the last player they have sitting on the bench. And if that's true...well, Rockhurst is pretty damn good with Rose riding the pine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CPL Football Predictions

1. Garden Plain
The Owls have fallen to the eventual state champions each of the past two years in the playoffs. Garden Plain captured the state title in 2007 and is gearing up for another strong showing in Class 3A this season. The program is a combined 34-3 in the past three seasons under veteran head coach Todd Puetz. The team lost several talents from last season but that doesn’t seem to matter for the Owls who will again rely on their potent running game and a high powered offense that averaged over 45 points per game last year. The team returns five starters on offense and six on defense along with 40 returning lettermen.

2. Conway Springs
Much like Garden Plain, the Cardinals have been highly successful the past few seasons which includes a 3A state championship in 2008. Conway returns eight offensive starters including three senior offensive linemen and seniors Kayl Barkley (TE) and Austin Pauly (RB). The squad also brings in three other running backs with starting experience to run the single-wing offense. The Cardinals will look to replace all-state quarterback Caleb Brill with sophomore Tanner Wood this season to lead an offense that scored 47 points per game a year ago. Couple that with a defense returning several starters to a unit that held opponents to just 14 points per game last year and you have another well-rounded team. Conway should have little standing in their way as far as district play goes. Their three opponents went a combined 7-20 last season.

3. Cheney
Cheney returns four players to the offensive side of the ball and five on defense along with 12 lettermen. Dustin McEwen enters his sixth season as head coach of the Cardinals and is expecting his team to make a splash this season. Brian Dewey returns to the quarterback position for his senior year and will have a pair of senior receivers to look to this season. Cheney has a rough regular-season schedule with heavyweights Garden Plain, Conway Springs and Hutchinson Trinity and an intriguing district schedule that includes Maize South, Andale, and league foe Wichita Trinity. The Cardinals match up with the Knights in the final week of district play in a game that could ultimately determine who goes to the playoffs and who goes home.

4. Wichita Trinity
The Knights, in just their third season of football, are already making adjustments as they enter this season under new head coach Tyler Ryan. The team returns five starters on each side of the ball which includes a veteran backfield composed of Morgan Burns and fullback Austin Kessinger. The two will also look to be major contributors on the defensive side of the ball, with Kessinger at linebacker and Burns at the safety position. Trinity will also be chasing their first playoff appearance this year, but as stated above, that may all come down to the final week of district play when the Knights host Cheney.

5. Medicine Lodge
After a 5-4 finish in head coach Peter Jelovic’s first season, the Indians are looking to stay on the fast track. The squad ran a multiple-formation offense that showed very positive results as the team averaged over 30 points per game last year. The team has to replace their quarterback following the departure of Josh Rogers and will look to their returning veterans to step up and fill in the holes this year. Medicine Lodge’s chances of reaching the playoffs got significantly better with their district realignment. They will still have to square off against juggernaut Conway Springs, but then face off against Kingman and Chaparral in their final two games. The Eagles and Roadrunners were a combined 2-16 last year.

6. Chaparral
The Roadrunners open the 2010 season under new leadership as Justin Burke, who was previously at Dodge City, takes the reins. The school hasn’t had a winning season since 2002 but the program is looking to turn it around this season. The offense returns the school’s all-time passing leader, Justin Wilcox, to the lineup for his senior season. He will have an offensive line that returns three starters to protect him along with his favorite target from a year ago, Matt Struble, returning to make an impact. According to Burke, the team has several holes and lacks depth at nearly every position on the field. Chaparral will be better than the 2-7 record they posted last year, but how much better is yet to be determined.

7. Independent
The Panthers have finished 2-7 in each of the past two seasons and are still in search of their first-ever playoff appearance. The team’s spread offense will be run by senior Sam Dunne who will have fellow classmate Brett Soucie returning as his main target. Independent has a rough three-game stretch in the middle of the season facing off against Conway, Wichita Trinity and Garden Plain in consecutive weeks. The Panthers chances get significantly better in district play though. With the exception of Wichita Collegiate, this is one of the weaker districts in the state with Douglass and Belle Plaine joining the mix. Excluding the Spartans, the remaining teams were a combined 7-21 last year and 23-60 in the past three seasons.

8. Douglass
Douglass has improved each of the last three seasons and will look to continue their upward trend under new head coach Jeffrey Ast. The Bulldogs went 4-6 last season, defeating Independent and Bluestem to reach the bi-district round before getting blasted by Conway. The team will be young this year returning just four players on offense, three on defense and only 10 lettermen. Douglass opens the season with three home games. The catch, they are against a majority of the league’s top teams: Trinity, Conway and Garden Plain. The Bulldogs host Independent and travel to Belle Plaine in their first two district games before closing the season at Collegiate.

9. Belle Plaine
After posting a 5-4 record in 2007, the Dragons have stumbled the past two seasons combining to win just one game. Head coach Brian Seba is in his second year at the helm and is looking to add depth and accountability to the program this season. Belle Plaine doesn’t get any breaks this year as they will face off against the past three defending state champions in Class 3A. The Dragons face Bluestem, the only team they beat during the 2009 season, in Week 3.

10. Bluestem
According to coach George Stewart, the Lions are in year three of a five year rebuilding program. Bluestem snapped a 69-game losing streak during the 2008 season after defeating Belle Plaine, but fell back to the bottom last year finishing 0-9. The squad opens with games against Garden Plain and Wichita Trinity before facing Belle Plaine on Sept. 17. The Lions district looks much different this season as they take on Eureka (1-8 in 2009), Fredonia (5-4) and Neodesha (4-5).

Must see games:
Garden Plain at Cheney, Sept. 10
Conway Springs at Garden Plain, Sept. 24
Cheney at Conway Springs, Oct. 1
Conway Springs vs. Wichita Trinity (at Circle), Oct. 8
Hutchinson Trinity at Garden Plain, Oct. 15
Cheney at Wichita Trinity (at Circle), Oct. 28

How do you think the league will play out? Let me know your thoughts and leave a comment below.

AVCTL III Football Predictions

The new AVCTL Division III has two new teams with two distinct tiers. Here is how I think they will finish.

1. Rose Hill
Rose Hill moves up to Division III after spending a few years in Division IV with 4A giant Andale. The Rockets become the immediate favorite to win the Division III title based on two things. First, the Rockets have Texas Christian commit Brady Foltz and his 6-4, 285-pound frame and Brandon Walther and his 6-2, 270-pound body on the line. Second, Laque Mayes and his 2,000-plus yards of rushing are back for a senior season. Rose Hill opens with Buhler and the Crusaders will get a taste of their own medicine in week one. Last season Jorden Oden ran wild for Buhler, but this year it is going to be Mayes that is the story of Division III. The defense lost some players, but Jared Vaughan and his 75 tackles are back in the secondary. Rose Hill’s matchup at Andale in week three will be a clash of two of the prohibitive 4A champions.

2. Mulvane
Mulvane trouble keeping opponents off the scoreboard last season, but scoring was no issue. The Wildcats have the luxury of Gus Strunk back to quarterback the shotgun offense. Strunk threw for 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Mulvane only has four offensive starters returning, but the most important position is solid and that makes it a solid football team. Head coach Dave Fennewald is altering the defense and that should help the Wildcats keep teams off the scoreboard.

3. Buhler
Buhler has been very good over the last few years, but the loss of running back Jorden Oden and quarterback Jake Reffner leave question marks for the Crusaders. It will not be easy replacing Oden’s 213 yards per game output. Buhler got a glimpse of what life would be like without Oden after he was knocked out for the team’s playoff game against Topeka Hayden. The eventual champion Wildcats beat Buhler by two touchdowns. Roman Davidson, Buhler’s leading tackler, is also gone. The Crusaders will not have enough firepower to compete with the top of 4A, but a 6-3 season and a trip to the playoffs are well within the grasp of Buhler.

4. Augusta
Roger Robben takes over for longtime Augusta head coach Steve Pazzie, and he has his work cut out for him. Augusta is only 5-23 over the last three seasons, but Robben has a wealth of experience returning as last season’s 2-8 team returns 18 total starters. Robben has won before at Goddard, and winning in Division III of the AVCTL should prove to be easier than winning in Division I. The Orioles will not be great this season, but the team’s overall experience should be enough to keep it out of the basement.

5. Winfield
Winfield moves from a primarily 5A schedule to a 4A schedule as it moves down in classification and division in the AVCTL. The Vikings return only three starters overall, but years of 5A football should help the underclassmen be better prepared to face the smaller schools. Winfield is running a spread offense with a new quarterback, so growing pains should be expected. Head coach Justin Price’s Vikings will not be able to compete with the top half of this division, but the bottom half will be up for grabs.

6. El Dorado
The Wildcats were 0-9 last season and welcome a new coach this year. Things probably will not turn around in a hurry for El Dorado, but 10 returning starters is nice for first-year head coach Zack Hood. El Dorado likely will have to struggle for another year or two before climbing out of the basement given the overall strength of Division III and its coaches.

District Predictions
Rose Hill (3-0 District Champion)
Mulvane (3-0 District Champion)
Buhler (2-1 runner-up to Pratt)
Augusta (1-2 with win over El Dorado)
Winfield (0-3)
El Dorado (0-3)

Friday, August 13, 2010

CKL Football Predictions

The inaugural season of the Central Kansas League will be very similar to the old MCAA, but with a couple new faces in Pratt and Kingman. The departure of the defending 3A-champion Wichita Collegiate will leave the balance of power at the top wide open with teams scrambling to establish dominance early. Here are my picks for the first year of the CKL.

1. Pratt

Pratt is a somewhat mysterious addition for a lot of the coaches around the league. Coming from the Mid-State league, the old MCAA teams haven’t had a ton of experience with the Greenbacks, possibly giving the team an element of surprise. However this team can play and missed a trip to the playoffs by a narrow 14-12 loss to Ulysses in districts last year. This year, Pratt returns five all-league seniors in running back Jake Siroky, offensive tackle Steele Flemming, guard Lawson Short, running back Brady Seidel, and tight end Taylor Baird. This multiple wing offense will put points on the board.
One interesting thing to look for this year will be how Pratt’s base nickel defense shakes out in the CKL. The five defensive back formation gives Pratt a blitz that could be coming from anywhere on the field. It will be interesting to see how opposing offenses combat an unorthodox base defense.
The Greenbacks start the season with a big test against Hesston. Both of these teams like the amount of speed featured on their respective rosters. This game will be a track meet.

2. Hesston

Under head coach Nate Wollenberg, the Swathers were always in the mix, if not the best team in the MCAA. This year, Wollenberg is out, but Hesston snagged Marc Marinelli from Andale, where he was 50-3 in his four years as an assistant with the Indians.
Hesston has been able to run the ball for years, but if the Swathers can put together a consistent passing game to keep defenses honest, look out. Running back Kyle Perry gives Hesston a big play threat in both the running and passing game. Lucas Petrocci also figures to have a big year for the Swathers.
Like Pratt, Hesston has speed to burn. Defensively, they will be tough to beat on the outside. Linebackers Brandon Harmony and Cody Lowery will probably sandwich their share of ball carriers this year.
Hesston will be running a new system under a new coach this year. If the team can buy in and make it work, they can win the league. But until they prove it, the Swathers are No. 2 on my list.

3. Hillsboro

Hillsboro is another team with a ton of tradition in the MCAA. Second-year head coach and principal Max Heinrichs set the groundwork to bring the Trojans back to their glory years after a 7-4 season and a playoff win last year.
With a pair of competing quarterbacks in Luke Moore and Lucas Sinclair, combined with a triumvirate of 6-foot receivers in Ben Bebermeyer, Derek Kelsey and Tyler Proffit, Hillsboro may capture some of the passing magic that Collegiate rode to a state championship last year.
Making the Trojans even more dangerous are senior running backs Chance Reece and Caleb Hilliard. Hillsboro also has some size on the offensive line setting the table for the Trojans choice of offensive firepower.
Hillsboro’s front seven defensively will be tough to get through. Ethan Franz and Daniel Kenney are two 250-pound bruisers taking on blocks at the line of scrimmage and second-team all-league linebacker Hilliard with Reece give Hillsboro a formidable corps of linebackers.
The Trojans open the year with Halstead, and play hated rival Hesston in the fourth game.

4. Halstead

Halstead takes fourth on my list, but really, it’s a coin flip when any of these “H-Towns,” get together. Halstead opens the year with Hillsboro, and gets Hesston in week two leaving little time to iron out the kinks before these three rivals get at each others’ throats.
The Dragons have plenty of weapons offensively, with Simon McKee taking the snaps. Last season, McKee threw for 832 yards and 9 touchdowns. Dakota Becker gives McKee a big receiver to go to as a tight end who averaged 18.6 yards per catch last year.
In the running game, Tanner Strohl is a Darren Sproles type who rushed for 936 yards last year, averaging nearly 5 yards per carry. Strohl, at 5-foot-4, is a compressed ball of bad news for any defense.
Like Pratt, Halstead will use a base nickel defense. Twin brothers Devon and Ryan Bibb will be a key part of the Halstead secondary, as will Becker.
Ethan Rodenberg will lead the linebackers but will have plenty of help from Jon Stepanek.
If things come together for Halstead, the Dragons could find themselves as one of the early elite teams in the CKL.

5. Smoky Valley

The Vikings are another team who have a tradition of excellence in the MCAA, but have had a little hiccup in the past few years. Smoky Valley finished 3-6 last year, but those types of seasons are the exception, not the rule in Lindsborg. Coach Chris Hattabaugh is entering his second season as the head coach at Smoky Valley and football success is on the rise.
Nick Deterding is a tall quarterback who can see the field with ease at 6-foot-1. Smoky Valley has five 6-foot receivers who will torment CKL defensive backs in Greyson Pihl, Stephen DeWitt, Seth Nelson, Cody Bowers and Raymond Dauer.
The Vikings’ defense will have to prove itself, starting with the defensive line. Alex Peterson is the only returning player at the line of scrimmage. But Smoky Valley’s linebackers with Weston VanRanken, DeWitt and Bowers may make up for the defensive line’s lack of experience.

6. Lyons

Lyons is a dark horse in the CKL. I have the Lions at the No. 6 spot, but don’t be surprised if this team comes out from under the radar in the CKL. Like a lion, Lyons has done a lot of damage under head coach Matt Sandbo without really making a lot of noise in the process. Last season, Lyons was 6-4 and made a second-straight playoff appearance in Sandbo’s second year.
Lyons starts a sophomore quarterback, which will probably lead to some growing pains. However, Lyons returns players who all started in all five of the offensive line positions. James Weston, Tyler Carlson, Kinsly Kroetsch and Seth Bowles will be there to protect sophomore quarterback Mathew Vincent.
The strength on the offensive line translates to the defensive side for this team as well. Luis Rascon and Bowles are returning starters at linebacker and Lyons has a warrior in the secondary with Taylor Stonebraker. Stonebraker finished the year playing with a broken hand last season.

7. Sterling

The good news for Sterling is they return eight starters, both on its offense, and defense. The bad news is that they are starters from a 3-7 team.
The Black Bears returners will be a year older and wiser however. Junior quarterback Seth Humphreys will lead the offense, but Sterling loses some key players from the offensive line. Mike Dow and Guy Oden will need to step up on the line for Sterling to score points. The Black Bears do have depth in the backfield with Bryant Patterson, Aryn Walton and Chad Bennett.
Sterling’s secondary will be a strength with Bennett at the cornerback position. Linebackers will be a question mark with the loss of Heath Hewitt and Dylan Flickinger from last year.

8. Nickerson

Nickerson had a rough 1-8 season last year. But head coach Max Heinlein is happy with the work he has seen with his team over the summer. Nickerson has some talent to work with on the offensive line with Austin Schweizer, Lupe Ramirez and Kyle Cokely holding down the right side for the Panthers. Hector Rodriguez and Keelan Jackson will get a bunch of opportunities to carry the ball in Nickerson’s flex-bone offense.
The offensive line transfers over to the defensive line, giving Nickerson a chance to control the line of scrimmage, and maybe the game.

9. Kingman

Kingman has had a rough end to the decade, going 2-35 dating back to the end of the 2005 season. Third-year head coach Darby Jones has yet to win a game with the Eagles.
But in Kingman’s defense, up until this year, the Eagles have had the murderer’s row of the AVCTL Div. IV to deal with. With the likes of Andale, Rose Hill and Wellington in your league, wins are going to be tough to come by.
This year, Kingman has a new league to deal with, a group of kids who have been with the program long enough to get the system, and an optimistic outlook.
Mikabe Erdman is a returning quarterback for the Eagles who threw for 1,113 yards last year as a sophomore. Running Back Stephen Gutierrez can hurt teams on the ground, or by catching passes.
Defensively, Stone Hageman and Scott Osner give Kingman a good group of linebackers. Blake Bergkamp is a force in the secondary.
The years of playing brutal Div. IV competition could have Kingman playing at a different level than some of the teams in the league are used to playing.

10. Haven

The Wildcats have had a tough time on the gridiron in recent years. In its last 47 games, Haven has gone 1-46.
This season, Haven does have Ridge Foster at quarterback, Kevin Borntrager at receiver, Trae Regier running the ball, and a gamer on the line of scrimmage in James Leiker.
Although the wins have been tough to come by, Haven starts the year with Kingman and Belle Plaine, giving the Wildcats a golden opportunity to pick up at least 1 win if not 2.

These are my CKL predictions. What do you think? Did I get it right or miss the boat completely? How would you rank the league? Leave a comment and share your CKL predictions.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

AVCTL IV Football Predictions

The Ark-Valley Chisholm Trail League Division IV has a new look this season with two new teams, but I think you will not see much new at the top. Here are my picks for how the league will shake out.

1. Andale
Andale is 36-3 over the last three seasons. Three of those losses have come against Topeka Hayden. Gary O’Hair never has to rebuild because the infrastructure is there at Andale. The junior varisty team was 8-1 last year and O’Hair has the advantage of superior numbers.

The Indians lost many stars off of last season’s team including offensive lineman BJ Finney, but Jake Hattabaugh is back and he is a great player to have back. Andale also has many running backs to rely on.

There is also the fact that Andale has been plain dominant in AVCTL Division IV. Take these facts into mind:

- Andale has outscored division opponents 648-122 in the last three years winning all 18 league games
- That is outscoring league opponents in the league 36-6.8 over the last 18 games
- Only six of the last 18 league opponents have managed double digits against Andale
- Kingman is happy to be gone as Andale has outscored it 223-27 over the last three seasons

Add up all those numbers and it leads to another year of dominance by the Indians. They are the king of Division IV until they get knocked off.

2. Wellington
There are three definite tiers to this league and Wellington comes in as a clear No. 2. Linn Hibbs’ Crusaders have been very good, but not great over the last three years. Wellington is 2-3 in the playoffs, but has made the playoffs 18 years running. That streak does not look to change, but Andale’s consistent dominance of Wellington also does not look to change too much.

Andale has knocked the Crusaders out of the playoffs each of the last two years. In those games over the last three years Wellington has been outscored by an average of 29.4-11.4 over five games.

That being said, I think Wellington makes the playoffs and has very little trouble winning the other four league games.

3. Circle
This one was tough. It was very tough, but Circle has continually improved over the last three years from 1-8 in 2007 to 2-7 in 2008 to 4-5 last year. The big thing I like about Circle is Jordan Phillips and Alex Gardnier.

Phillips is a known commodity. The Oklahoma commit is Mr. Everything for the T-Birds as he played all three ways last season. He can catch passes, he can block, he can kick and the boy can tackle and create havoc on the defensive side of the ball. He will not run up against anyone in this league that can solo block him.

Gardiner is an athlete. There is nothing he cannot do for this team as a dual threat quarterback. He can sling it as proof by his 193-foot javelin throwing ability. His top receiving target is also back this season in Richard Mould.

They return the key starters and have 13 back overall. These are 13 seniors that have had the luxury of being in the same system for their entire high school careers.

4. Wichita Collegiate
Let’s just start by saying that this is not the MCAA. AVCTL IV has athletes and players that Collegiate football has not experienced for a while. That coupled with losing virtually every important skill player, this could be a rough season for the Spartans. At least one they have not experienced in a while.

Raymond Taylor is a nice back as head coach Bill Messamore called him “one of the best backs we have ever had here.” He is likely not the level of DeAngelo Evans, but it is still some high praise. The problem comes when you consider the Spartans are starting a sophomore quarterback and have a new receiving corp.

I saw this group play 7-on-7 in Derby and, even though not all the starters were there, it just didn’t look like last year, and it rightfully should not look the same. It is not easy to replace the best statistical quarterback in state history.

5. Clearwater
Clearwater has been improving in the last several years, but the Fighting Indians still are not on a level with the four teams above. They have made the playoffs each of the last three years, but in fairly weak districts. This year is different with Wellington, Mulvane and Winfield to contend with.

Six offensive starters return, but Clearwater is replacing all its skill positions. Its big receiver will be tight end Colin Frickey and he is only a sophomore.

6. Maize South
Maize South has 20 of 22 starters back from last season’s team. That is great to have, but the Mavericks are a young school and are playing in their first season of league and district schedules. There will be growing pains and this season looks to have many of those. Maize South got rocked last season by small schools like La Crosse and Meade, so it stands to reason it may be a couple years before Maize South can expect consistent winning in the rough AVCTL IV.

Predictions in district play:
Andale – (3-0 district champion)
Wellington – (2-1 District runner-up to Mulvane)
Circle – (2-1 District runner-up to Rose Hill)
Collegiate (3-0 District champions)
Clearwater (1-2 with win over Wellington)
Maize South (0-3)

What is your take? How do you think the league will shake out? Leave a comment and give me your AVCTL IV Predictions!

The Bryce Brown Saga part 427

Ahhhh Bryce Brown. How your stories have entertained us here in the sports office over the last couple of years. First you decide to team up with Brian Butler and make him your manager. Now, Brian has always been kind to me and he is a very nice guy in general. However, when your main qualification to manage people comes from your job as a former cell-phone store manager I have a problem.

Next came your overly dramatic college choice. This after a season at East where you fumbled the ball more than the guy in the movie The Program. You dragged it out and made it a LeBron-esque decision where you told us all you'd be wearing creamsicle-orange that fall in Knoxville. Ok ok, I get it. You are a big-time star coming out of Wichita, you're one of the top football recruits in the country and you feel entitled to making your day YOUR DAY. I get it, egos happen.

Now with your departure from Tennessee and your arrival in Manhattan you're still finding a way to make waves. From asking for your release via text message, to having your father speak to ESPN reporters only instead of the people who supported you for your 4 years of high school, you've managed to make a lot of people mad. That's a fact that upsets me because I think you and your brother Arthur are good kids that have gotten mixed up in a lot of bad decisions.

But here's the thing that confuses me the most, and maybe I have coach Snyder to blame here, but why in the world are you going to sit out a year at Kansas State? I know that Coach Snyder probably wants you to be around the program and get used to how they do things there. Maybe you just want to be around your brother again? I could understand that. My brothers live thousands of miles away from me and I'd love to live closer to them. It's a family thing, I get that. But what I don't get is why you'd give up an entire season of playing football.

If you sit out this season you'll still be able to train with the Wildcats but you won't get any game action at all. Isn't that the most important part about getting better? If you sit out this season you'll have 3 years of eligibility left and that's definitely a positive. But can you honestly tell me that you wouldn't leave early anyway for the NFL if that opportunity came up?

Maybe this idea is stupid but I only throw it out there because I was out in Towanda this morning covering Butler's pre-season practice. This team is nationally ranked every year. They've won multiple national titles and will always be in the news. Why not pull a Cameron Newton, go play for a solid ju-co team then finish your last two years at Kansas State? Afraid of getting hurt? Dez Bryant showed that could happen in practice. I think if you're really concerned about your future you should go to a ju-co, play this fall and not pay nearly as much in tuition as you will at Kansas State.

Either that or you could invent a time machine where you and your brother Arthur make the right decision right out of high school and stay in state. But who am I to advise you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Random musings...

Well it's been a while since I last shared my scintillating insights into the world of sports...which I'm sure has been a welcome break for our readers! Anyway, with football coming up on Monday (MONDAY!) I thought I might throw out a few odds and ends that have been running (or jogging, yogging maybe, could be a soft j) through my mind.

First of all it was disappointing to hear that former Mulvane LB Huldon Tharp will take a medical redshirt this season after reaggravating an ankle injury that he apparently hurt in the spring. He had 59 tackles last season for the Jayhawks and so I was really looking forward to seeing what he could do this season. More than that though I'm really hoping that Hutch's Josh Smith and Collegiate's Blake Jabslonski find themselves on the Jayhawks roster this year. They're two of the most talented football players to come out of our local schools recently and it would be a shame for them to not make the team. Coach Gill talks about wanting Kansas kids and wanting to build his program with in-state talent so hopefully he stays true to that.

I'm looking at the schedule for the first Friday night of high school football and trying to pick out which game I really want to shoot. The first one that sticks out at me, of course, is Heights vs. Bishop Carroll at Heights. I went to that game two years ago, when Blake Bell made his debut at quarterback. Carroll won that year and won last year at Carroll. However this year I think Heights is going to cream the Golden Eagles. Not just because Blake Bell now resides in Norman but because the Falcons return most every integral player from last season. I love the job that Rick Wheeler does at Heights and I know that Alan Schuckman will have the Eagles about as well-prepared as a college team; however Heights has a definite advantage this year and I think the Falcons will take this game easily.

Second game I'm looking at is Andale vs. Wellington at Wellington. Not only do I want to go because I think it'll be a good game but I just love Linn Hibbs. Coach Hibbs is one of the most genuine people I've ever met. He makes me want to brave the 100+ degree temperatures to shoot a football preview. Plus he always promises me free hamburgers every time I go down there! I'm a sucker for a good hamburger.

How many games will Collegiate win this year? Honestly, I don't think they'll win a lot. I see them finishing at 6-3, 2-1 in league losing to Andale at Andale. Without Jablonski and Brett LeMaster I don't think Collegiate has enough going for it this year. The Spartans had an insane advantage last year because of their air-attack power. Unless they've got a kid with Jablonski's arm and an O-line that is solid the Spartans will not be the 'perfect storm' they were last year.

The only bad part about football season starting is lugging around equipment in this stifling heat to get interview and do football previews. This time of year I truly envy newspaper writers who can just make phone calls from the comfort of the air-conditioned desks. But I am ready, so ready, for football to start.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Salina South golfer to compete in First Tee Open

Benjamin Hargrave, an incoming sophomore at Salina South, will compete in The First Tee Open this year at Pebble Beach. The event is a 54-hole golf tournament that includes 78 Champions Tour players and 78 junior golfers. In addition, 156 amateurs compete.

The First Tee Open takes place Aug. 30 through Sept. 5. Juniors ages 15 to 18 are chosen through national qualifying events.

Hargrave placed 11th in May at the Class 5A state tournament. He was the top state finisher for the Cougars.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oliver Bradwell Update

I recently did a blog on Oliver Bradwell, a standout sprinter from Wichita. That blog can be found here:

Oliver Bradwell: Historically Fast

Bradwell has been out growing his legend the last couple weeks at the Junior World Meet and the AAU National meet this past weekend.

In Moncton, Canada from July 19-25 Bradwell did not make it out of Semis in the 200-meter dash, but he was a part of the USA 400-meter relay team that won gold with a time of 38.93 seconds.

Bradwell claimed another gold medal this past weekend in Norfolk, Va. He easily won the 100-meter dash for the young men with a time of 10.52 seconds. That was a full two-tenths of a second better than the second place finisher.

Bradwell will be going to Barton County Community College this fall to play soccer and run track.

Starling dazzles at Area Code games

Two-sport star Bubba Starling from Gardner-Edgerton has been a star at the Area Code games over the last few days in Long Beach, Calif. Starling is playing for the Midwest team the Chicago White Sox and his team has yet to lose.

The Gardner-Ederton star has been pitching and playing outfield for the White Sox. Here is a link to an ESPN Rise feature on Starling:

A boy named 'Bubba': White Sox pitcher two-sport star

Starling is being projected as a first round draft pick in next June's MLB draft. He is committed to Nebraska for football and baseball as of right now.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hutchinson regionally ranked by ESPN

ESPN has put out its Top 50 Rankings for the 2010 High School football season, and the six-time defending state champions Salthawks are ranked 18th in the Southwest Region that includes Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Hutchinson is the only Kansas school ranked anywhere in the ESPN rankings, but its first game of the year is against another regionally ranked team in Rockhurst (MO). Rockhurst is ranked 16th in the region.

The two schools have split their first two games in the new rivarly. This year's game will be in Hutchinson once again.

Click here for the complete ESPN Rankings

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Coughenour earns All-American Award

Tyler Cougehnour, formerly of Collegiate, has been named a Second-Team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association and Rawlings. For the complete team:

2010 ABCA/Rawlings High School All-Americans

Catchy Award discussion/history

After more than 3,000 votes the 2010 Catchy Awards have come to a close. You can go here for the story:

2010 Catchy Award Winners

After three years I decided to compile a little history on the Catchy Awards. Here are some of the numbers I came up with:

· Andover Central and Wichita Heights are tied for the most Catchy winners in three years with seven winners each. Kapaun is third with five winners. Bishop Carroll, Hutchinson, Smith Center and Independent all have four each.

· The most nominations also belong to those top two schools. Andover Central has the most nominees with 19 in three years. Wichita Heights has 16, and Collegiate has garnered 15 nods in the Catchy Awards.

· The most winners in any one year went to Andover Central in year one when the Jaguars had five winners. No other school has ever had more than two in the same year.

· In three years there have been a total of 8,515 votes cast in the Catchy Awards.

· 94 different schools have had at least one nominee in three years and 49 different schools have had at least one winner.

So what did you guys think? Do you agree with the athletes that won this year? Do you like the way the Catchy Awards are run? What changes would you like to see made? What categories would you like to see for next year? Comment and let us know!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hutchinson golfer defends Junior Match Play title

Several area high school athletes were competing last week at Eagle Bend Golf Course in Lawrence during Kansas Junior Golf Association events.

First, the Junior Section Team Championship took place at the course, ending Wednesday, July 28. The South Central Section defended its title, beat the second-place Metro Section 1,748-1,798. Other teams participating were the West, Northeast, North Central and Southeast sections.

Max Lazzo, a 2010 graduate of Kapaun Mt. Carmel, won his age division (18 and over) and the overall title. He shot a 137, tying with Jordan Hecker of Russell, who won the 16-17 age division.

However, Lazzo defeated Hecker in a playoff. Hecker will be a junior this year at Russell.

Sterling’s Michael Gellerman and Wellington’s Myles Miller tied for second in the 16-17 category with scores of 138. In the 14-15 division, Circle’s Dominic Lara claimed the top spot by shooting a 139.

Next up at Eagle Bend was Junior Match Play, which ended Friday, July 30. Hutchinson’s Thane Ringler, the top seed, defended his title. He took on the No. 14 seed, Travis Mays, for the championship. Mays, of Blue Valley West, was the Class 6A state champion this year.

Ringler edged Mays in match play 5&4. Ringler, a 2010 graduate of Hutchinson, will continue his golf career at The Masters College, a Christian College in Santa Clarita, Calif.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Shrining" Moment

I realize I am late to the party, but having just recently met Josh Smith at the Shrine Bowl practice, watching Smith score three touchdowns against the East squad and grabbing West MVP honors, I was ecstatic.

Couldn't have happened to a more grounded kid. No surprise the KU coaches wanted him on their team.

But I am troubled that he is only receiving a walk-on offer. I understand his size is an issue, fine. He isn't that tall, but neither were a lot of great college players. The kid ran for over 300 yards against Bishop Carroll - in the playoffs!!! And that wasn't a fluke. He did it all season. Ask all of Hutchinson's opponents.

The point is he is effective. The West loses to the East last night without Smith. No question.

It will be interesting to see how much run he gets in Lawrence. Good luck to Josh Smith with the Jayhawks.