Each week, the HDN will pick five games to highlight as the 2017 prep football season rolls on. In Week 3, the focus is on the CPL as Otis-Bison visits Claflin to take on Central Plains in a rematch of a game that came down to the wire a year ago, one of just three losses for the Cougars.
Otis-Bison (2-0) at Claflin-Central Plains (1-1)
Much like last season, Otis-Bison has seen little in the way of a challenge from St. John and Ellinwood in the first two weeks. The Cougars steamrolled St. John 58-0 to start the year, then put up 56 points in the first quarter to win 56-0 last week against Ellinwood. Central Plains, however, is 1-1 after getting blitzed at home by Victoria 34-8 in Week 1, then coming back to beat Ness City 44-20 last Friday.
In the matchup last season in Otis, it appeared the Cougars were going to score late, but a turnover led to points on the other end for the Oilers in the eventual victory.
Much of Otis-Bison’s team is new this year, though, and the skill guys (namely Kade Urban and Brad Lightfoot) from that club are gone. Anton Foust, a junior, leads the Cougar offense now, along with senior Blake Bahr. Foust has completed 6 of 7 passes for 191 yards (31.8 average) with four touchdowns. He also has rushed 10 times for 87 yards and three scores. Bahr has 143 rushing yards with three scores.
Junior end Maitland Wiltse, at 6-foot-4, has three receiving scores and 118 yards on just four catches.
Central Plains was a state quarterfinalist a year ago, a 10-1 campaign that ended with a loss to Spearville. The Oilers have just five losses combined the last four seasons, including a 13-0 state championship in 2014. While the teams are in the CPL, this will only be the third meeting between the two schools in that same time frame. Both previous meetings were won by the Oilers.
Hoxie (2-0) at Wallace County (0-2)
For years, the Wallace County High School football team has been among the elite in Eight-Man Division II. The Wildcats the last three seasons have made it to the sub-state round of the classification, ending in runner-up showings, a game shy of the state title match.
For the second straight season, though, the Wildcats are 0-2 against a beefy early season schedule that includes two teams from Eight-Man Division I, District 8.
Hoxie is the third team from that district that has playoffs in mind. Last season, Wallace County broke its winless streak with a 30-22 victory in this game in Hoxie, then went on to win eight of its next nine games before falling to Dighton in the sub-state round.
Now under longtime coach Kevin Ayers, the Wildcats will be looking for the same Friday, while Hoxie looks to be improved from a club that finished 6-3 a season ago.
Hoxie has put up 54-0 and 46-0 wins against Tribune-Greeley County and Downs-Lakeside, while Wallace County has yet to find the end zone in a pair of mercy rule losses to St. Francis and Rawlins County.
Perhaps adding fuel to Hoxie’s fire will be the fact the Indians have not won in this matchup the previous six tries — since defeating Wallace County 44-0 in 2010. Hoxie has featured a heavy dose of the run game the first two weeks. Latham Schwarz has 28 carries for 223 yards and six touchdowns as the leader. Jared Kennedy also has completed 7 of 14 passes for 114 yards and three TDs.
Phillipsburg (2-0) at Plainville (0-2)
Plainville might be 0-2 after losses to Smith Center and Norton in Mid-Continent League action. But some coaches — including Panther coach J.B. Covington — don’t count out the Cardinals. Despite giving up 40 points (five touchdowns coming from quarterback Jace Ruder) to Norton last week, the Cardinals still have a highly touted defense, led by senior Hayden Gillum and sophomore Jared Casey. The Cardinals will look for their first win of the season after making a run at the Class 2-1A state championship game a year ago.
Plainville put up 10 points a week ago in Norton despite the fact sophomore quarterback Jordan Finnesy was picked off three times. He has five interceptions through two games with 13 completions and one touchdown coming last week against Norton.
Plainville hasn’t beaten Phillipsburg since a 37-21 win in 2011, part of the Cardinals’ 10-2 campaign.
The Panthers are rolling this season after putting up a 54-8 win against Clay Center, then a 23-0 win last week against Smith Center. Phillispburg led just 7-0 at halftime last week, then got a kickoff return for a touchdown and a long pass play in the third to break the game open.
Eight different backs have collected a carry out of the Panthers’ backfield with senior standout Kirk Coomes leading the way with 21 carries for 179 yards and two scores. He has also caught the only TD pass from junior quarterback Trey Sides, the play that went for a 59-yard score last week.
Smith Center (1-1) at TMP-Marian (1-1)
Last season, the Thomas More Prep-Marian football team went to Smith Center under then first-year coach Jason Cauley and the Redmen took out their frustrations of an 0-2 start with a 62-0 shellacking of the Monarchs.
For all intents and purposes, it seems the Monarchs are a bit different team in Cauley’s second year. Smith Center, on the other hand, is looking as good as it ever has.
Each team enters Friday’s TMP homecoming with a 1-1 mark. The Monarchs fell 32-27 in Week 1 despite a state record-setting performance from senior quarterback David McFarland (648 passing yards, 63 attempts, 4 touchdowns). A week later, the Monarchs blew out Ellis, 49-13, behind a big night from senior running back Gavin Schumacher (20 carries, 170 yards, 3 touchdowns). In addition, McFarland threw for 218 yards, completing 18 of 31 passes.
Smith Center, in its two games, has yet to see a team pass the ball much. The Redmen defeated Plainville, 16-7, to start the season, then fell 23-0 to Class 3A playoff hopeful Phillipsburg last week. Neither team attempted more than 19 passes, and Phillipsburg threw just eight.
The Redmen, known for their wishbone running attack, likely will stick to that against TMP. Senior Jesse Staples has 125 yards on 20 carries through two games with a pair of touchdowns he scored in the opener. The blowout win by the Redmen a year ago started a string of nine straight victories. Smith Center didn’t lose again until a 14-0 setback to Plainville in the 2-1A sub-state championship game.
Washington County (0-2) at La Crosse (0-2)
Two teams will meet up in La Crosse each thirsty for the first win of the season. The same was true last season for La Crosse when the Leopards traveled to Washington County in Week 3 and lost 36-14. At that point, though, the Tigers were 2-0 instead of 0-2.
The Leopards are seeking their first win after falling 30-20 to Elkhart at home to start the season, then getting blasted 49-7 by Class 4A Colby.
La Crosse is virtually a new team from a year ago and likely is still finding its rhythm.
Five different Leopards have received a touch in the backfield, led by 27 carries for sophomore Hunter Morgan. He has 65 yards and a touchdown, while Christian Suppes has 23 carries for 119 yards and a score. In addition, senior Adrien Collins and Morgan have combined to throw a total of 16 passing attempts, completing six for 136 yards.