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.