Each week during the 2018 prep football season, The Hays Daily News will highlight five games of interest from the area.

Ell-Saline (7-2) at Plainville (7-2), 6 p.m.

Last season, it took double overtime for the Plainville Cardinals to get the better of Ell-Saline in Brookville, and not much has changed for either team entering Friday’s regional round. Each enters with a 7-2 mark, and each suffered defeat at the hands of defending 2-1A state champion Smith Center. And each of those games weren’t decided until the fourth quarter. Plainville, after leading the Redmen in the second half, fell 21-10, while Ell-Saline had the Redmen — who fumbled four times — on the ropes until the final seconds in a 15-8 loss.

Ell-Saline’s two losses have been by a combined nine points. In Week 3, the Cardinals lost to Hutchinson-Trinity 8-6. Plainville got its second loss from Phillipsburg, a 31-3 rout in Week 2. Since falling to Smith Center, Plainville has reeled off five straight, not giving up more than the 13 points two weeks ago against Oakley. Each team features multi-threat quarterbacks — Plainville with Jordan Finnesy and Ell-Saline with Nick Davenport. Finnesy now has passed for 1,311 yards and 17 scores to five interceptions, and is the team’s leading rusher by 53 yards — 683 compared to Jared Casey’s 635. Casey has 11 rushing TDs with Finnesy finding paydirt eight times in the ground game.

The winner Friday will face either Elkhart (8-0) or Inman (6-3) in the sectional round.

Lakin (8-1) at Phillipsburg (9-0), 7 p.m.

Coached by former Ness City head coach Chris Bamberger, who guided the Eagles to an Eight-Man Division I state title in 2012, Lakin enjoyed another improvement in 2018.

The Eagles have improved each of the four seasons under Bamberger, a Jetmore graduate.

That improvement included last week’s win against Norton, which sealed Lakin’s first playoff win since before the millennium (1999). The Broncos bring an 8-1 record — with a four-point loss to Cimarron — to unbeaten Phillipsburg, a team on a tear the last several seasons.

The Panthers are one of only four unbeaten teams in the 2A ranks, and have yet to be truly tested. In true Phillipsburg fashion, the Panthers have played backups through much of the second half in each of their nine wins. Phillipsburg has outscored its opponents 441-91.

Virtually no one has had success against Phillipsburg’s first string. The Panthers have outscored their opponents 334-24 in the first halves of its games this season and the Panthers never have given up more than six points in the first two quarters and have had four first-half shutouts.

The Broncos bring a solid rushing attack with four backs with at least 200 yards rushing behind a solid line. Junior Kayden Christiansen leads the way with 913 rushing yards on 137 carries with 14 touchdowns. The Broncos have netted 2,296 rushing yards.

Phillipsburg counters with a multi-talented offense that has seen a variety of stars, among them quarterback Trey Sides and running backs Treylan Gross and Cha’Ron Ellis. If need be, the Panthers also boast now the state’s all-time leading kicking scorer in senior Jonathan Hunnacutt. The winner of Friday’s contest will face either Conway Springs (9-0) or Chaparral (7-2).

Ness City (7-2) at Central Plains (9-0), 7 p.m.

Eight-Man Division I in the western half of the state is simply loaded. This matchup in the regional round is a good reminder to that fact. In Week 1, Ness City and Central Plains’ matchup came down to the wire — though the Oilers scored two late TDs to make it look more lopsided in a 30-14 win. Also, Ness City quarterback John Pfannenstiel did not play in that contest, which was tied at 14 with about 6 minutes to play.

However, since a Week 2 32-8 victory against Victoria, Central Plains has been nothing short of dominant. The Oilers haven’t allowed a touchdown since, outscoring its last seven opponents 414-0. It’s worth pointing out that only one of those seven wins, however, features an opponent — Little River at 7-2 — with more than four wins.

Ness City, since falling to the Oilers Week 1, has gone 7-1 with a two-point road loss to Spearville. Two weeks ago, the Eagles held on to defeat previously unbeaten Jetmore-Hodgeman County, and wrapped up a home game in the Week 9 playoffs.

The winner will face either Clifton-Clyde (9-0) or Hoxie (7-2) next week.

Hoxie (8-1) at Clifton-Clyde (9-0), 6 p.m.

Hoxie is the defending Eight-Man Division I state champion and has had its up-and-down moments this season. Outside of a 64-30 loss to St. Francis, Clifton-Clyde will present the biggest challenge Hoxie will face in its title defense season. Clifton-Clyde hasn’t had a contest within 24 points all year — that coming in a 54-30 win against Victoria, a game that decided a district champion. Outside of that, Clifton-Clyde has outscored opponents 446-50, and hasn’t given up more than 14 points in any contest.

Hoxie, behind 2,370 rushing yards and 44 rushing scores, averages 49 points per game — slightly boosted by a 74-point outing against WaKeeney-Trego — and has given up a little more than 21 points per night.

The winner will face either Central Plains (9-0) or Ness City (7-2) next week.

Victoria (7-2) at St. Francis (9-0), 6:30 p.m. (CT)

After a 7-2 mark a season ago that resulted in a first-round loss to Spearville in the Eight-Man DIvision I playoffs, St. Francis looks very much like the team that went 11-1 and finished runner-up two seasons ago. The Indians have blown out every opponent with its closest contests being 34-point wins against Dighton (7-2) and Hoxie (7-2). The Indians averaging nearly 50 points per contest and have recorded four shutouts, and have not allowed more than the 30 they surrendered to Hoxie in Week 5.

Victoria, which hasn’t faced St. Francis as an eight-man program, might again be without services of starting quarterback Cooper Windholz. In his absence a week ago, freshman Grant Schoenrock led the Knights to a 34-28 victory against Wichita County, a team St. Francis beat 44-6 in district play this season. The Indians have outscored opponents 446-78.

The Knights have gone 7-2 against the classifications second-toughest scheduled, according to preppowerindex.com.

The winner will take on either Jetmore-Hodgeman County (8-1) or Spearville (7-2) next week.