Each week during the 2018 prep football season, The Hays Daily News will highlight five games of interest from the area.
Hoisington (5-1, 3-0) at Phillipsburg (6-0, 3-0)
For all intents and purposes, this is the championship game in Class 2A, District 8. While Hoisington still has yet to play at Norton and Phillipsburg yet to play against Minneapolis — who sit third and fourth — Friday’s contest in Phillipsburg likely will decide who sits atop.
Phillipsburg, the No. 3 ranked team in 2A, has been untouched. The Panthers average 45 points per contest, led by a bevy of offensive weapons, and the defense has yet to give up more than the 20 points it allowed in a blowout win against Norton. Virtually all of the points given up by the Panthers have come in the second half when games already were out of control.
Hoisington brings a 5-1 mark with five straight wins after a 34-0 loss to open the season to Pratt, a 6-0 team that has recorded five shutouts and only given up 16 points.
The Cardinals, so far, have gone as far as Wyatt Pedigo goes. The junior back already has topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark, racking up 227.4 yards per contest. He has found the end zone 17 times on 90 carries and has 1,137 yards.
When it’s not him, it’s senior Braxton Donovan or senior Xavier Robinson on the attack for the Cardinals. The two combine for eight rushing scores and 77 carries.
Meanwhile, Phillipsburg can run any one of five guys out of the backfield and have added a formidable passing option in the arsenal this year with senior Trey Sides.
Last week, Sides threw two TD passes in a rout against Ellsworth, while adding a rushing score, one of three backs to find the zone. The regular onslaught of Treylan Gross, Cha’Ron Ellis, Nathan Moon and Sides has proven difficult to stop.
It’s also worth pointing out that Phillipsburg kicker Jonathan Hunnacutt is just seven points away from breaking the state’s all-time kick scoring record. He already owns the MCL’s longest field goal record with his 52-yarder against TMP-Marian. The senior needs just six kicking points to tie the state scoring record of 214 set by Olathe North’s Joe Garcia.
Since the start of the 2011 season, Phillipsburg has lost no more than three games in a season and hasn’t lost more than two since 2012. That includes one-loss records the past two seasons and deep runs into the 3A playoffs.
Victoria (4-2, 2-1) at Hill City (4-2, 2-1)
While Hill City has burst onto the scene in 2018 behind the playmaking ability of Conner Born and Dalen Journigan, the Ringnecks didn’t fare well against the best team so far in Eight-Man Division I, District 7. Friday presents a second opportunity to prove they belong with perennial contender Victoria visiting.
The winner will sit alone in second place behind district frontrunner Clifton-Clyde, which already has all but sealed up the district championship with wins against both.
Hill City lost 64-14 in Week 4 vs. Clifton-Clyde, while Victoria dropped a 54-30 road contest against the Eagles two weeks ago. The Knights’ other loss came at the hands of Central Plains — now 6-0 and ranked No.1 in Eight-Man I.
The Knights bounced back from their loss to Clifton-Clyde be rolling Washington County 52-6. Hill City, since the loss to Clifton-Clyde, has a pair of blowout wins, rolling Stockton and Lincoln a combined 106-12. Hill City has proven it can put up big points. Including putting up 76 in a 12-point loss to Osborne to open the season, Hill City averages 49.5 points per game. Take away the 14 points in the loss to Clifton-Clyde and that number jumps to 56.6 in a 4-1 mark.
Victoria, while playing Eight-Man I’s toughest schedule according to preppowerindex.com, has managed to put up 40 points per game, averaging 50.5 through its four wins.
Quarterback Cooper Windholz is coming off a three-TD passing day against Washington County, a game where he added a rushing score as all four of Victoria’s biggest offensive weapons found the end zone in the run game — including Windholz, Jayvon Pruitt, Walker Braun and Tyler Knoles.
Journigan and Born make Hill City go. Born has rushed for 808 yards, passed for 493 and has 25 total offensive scores. Journigan has 24 fewer touches out of the backfield, then Born, but has 514 rushing yards (10.9 per touch) with nine scores.
Colby (6-0, 3-0) at Scott City (6-0, 3-0)
Colby head coach Rees McKinney, a Scott City graduate, takes his Eagles to his hometown with a shot at the championship in Class 3A, District 8. Each team sits 3-0 in district play. They also are two of only seven unbeaten teams in Class 3A.
The two teams’ schedules have been nearly identical with their six wins coming against common opponents. Colby, behind senior quarterback Jordan Schippers, has outscored teams 248-82. Scott City recorded shutouts in the first four games of the season and has given up just 19 points the previous two contests. The Beavers haven’t scored any less than the 24-0 victory against Holcomb in Week 2 and average 46 points per contest.
Osborne (5-1, 3-0) at Northern Valley (5-1, 2-1)
Many would argue this contest would decide the championship in Eight-Man Division II, District 5, but upstart Thunder Ridge threw a wrench in those plans with a 24-14 victory against Northern Valley two weeks ago, providing the Huskies with their lone blemish. Meanwhile, Osborne — in Division II for the first time — hasn’t been touched since dropping a 52-20 decision to Eight-Man Division I defending champion Hoxie. The Bulldogs, led by Darnell and Darrien Holloway, along with Kade Miller and Mason Schurr, have posted at least 52 points the last four games and have rolled through the district slate.
Friday’s game in Almena could provide Northern Valley with a shot to get back in the district title hunt, but a win by Osborne would — at least on paper — seal it for the Bulldogs.
Osborne’s high-powered offense is highlighted by the run game, which has amassed 2,038 yards and 36 scores. Darrien Holloway leads the charge with 74 carries for 712 yards and 13 scores. He has four games of 100 or more yards.
His older brother, Darnell — the team’s QB — has 63 carries for 682 yards and 16 scores, to go along with 479 passing yards and seven scores.
Miller and Schurr have seven rushing scores combined. Northern Valley counters with a trio of senior playmakers in Aidan Baird, Nick Stutsman and Caden Bach. Quarterback Stutsman leads the way with 87 carries for 439 rushing yards to go along with 36 pass completions for 424 yards. The senior has 10 total touchdowns. Bach has found the zone the most, running for 429 yards on 60 carries with 12 scores. Baird has 66 touches for 396 yards and nine scores.
Oakley (3-3, 0-1) at La Crosse (2-4, 0-1)
All signs point to Plainville taking home the district championship in Class 1A, District 6. So Friday’s game between won’t have much appeal in terms of a district championship. However, it could go a long way in helping decide a second-place finisher. Oakley lost to Ellis last week, while La Crosse lost to Plainville. Ellis plays at Plainville this week and has yet to play La Crosse (in district play). A La Crosse win could set up a play-in game next week against Ellis (provided Ellis loses at Plainville Friday). An Oakley win, though, might end up meaning a three-way tie — depending on how things play out. Bottom line, the winner Friday will be in a much better position for a playoff berth.
Oakley enters Friday’s contest having lost back-to-back games after a 3-1 start. That includes last week’s 26-13 loss to Ellis, the only common opponent thus far for these two teams. In a non-district contest, La Crosse lost 44-34 at Ellis in Week 4.
The Leopards, who have dropped three straight, are coming off a 35-0 loss to Plainville last week in a game called with three minutes to play in the first half because of weather. The Leopards’ losing streak started with the 10-point loss to the Railers.
Quarterback Hunter Morgan is a catalyst for the Leopard offense. The junior has completed 43 of 80 passes for 635 yards with nine scores, but does have eight interceptions. He also has 231 rushing yards and three scores. Colby Stull, just a freshman, leads the Leopards’ run game with 94 carries for 386 yards and two scores.
Oakley has a multitude of weapons in its backfield with Kade Hemmert running the offense at QB. The senior has 700 passing yards, six passing TDs, and 101 rushing yards and a pair of scores. The team’s top back, Ethan Abell, has 54 carries for 354 yards and seven scores. The Plainsmen, under second-year head coach Jeff Hennick, have four backs with at least 100 yards rushing. Oakley is looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.