And just like that, it’s postseason time for Kansas high school football.
With the new-look playoff system setting in for every classification now, the regular season concluded last Friday night. And for the most part, it was a rather uneventful one in terms of upsets.
Ness City picked off Eight-Man Division I No. 3 Hodgeman County 28-26, handing the Longhorns their first loss of the season. Hodgeman drops out of the rankings with defending champion Hoxie moving back in at the No. 5 slot.
Class 2A No. 5 Chaparral fell 26-22 to Hutchinson Trinity on a final-minute touchdown pass by the Celtics, who replace the Roadrunners at the No. 5 position.
Only three other ranked teams lost, but only one of the three saw their ranking affected.
In a showdown for the Frontier League title and No. 1 seed in Class 4A east bracket, No. 5 Louisburg stymied No. 3 Paola 25-7. Paola drops to No. 5 with Pittsburg moving up to No. 3 and Louisburg to No. 4.
Class 5A No. 4 Maize suffered its first loss of the season, but it came to Class 6A No. 1 Derby and the Eagles were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter before falling 35-21.
In Class 1A, No. 4 Ell-Saline led No. 1 Smith Center 8-7 in the final minute before the Redmen pulled out a 15-8 win.
So now it’s on to the postseason. Many of the first-round matchups should be the mismatches they appear to be.
But there are some intriguing first-round games, particularly in Class 3A.
Hesston started the year ranked No. 3 in 3A, but early injuries to standouts Parker Roth and Cameron Cox hampered the Swathers. They’re both back and that makes Hesston a handful for first-round foe Wichita Collegiate.
Jefferson West didn’t see Big Seven League rival Sabetha during the regular season, but meets the defending 3A champion in the first round. Hayden takes on rival Holton, though this year’s meeting doesn’t pack the same punch with Holton enduring its worst season since Brooks Barta’s first year as head coach.
In Eight-Man Division I, the east bracket could be very interesting with Sedan taking on Argonia-Attica, Udall facing Oswego, Central-Burden hosting Caldwell and South Central facing Cedar Vale-Dexter. The were a lot of even games between the South Central Border League teams this year and most of those games could be a toss-up.
In the west, Hoxie-Hill City and Victoria-Leoti could provide some exciting games, as could Little River-Spearville.
1. Derby (1) 8-0
Panthers hand Maize its first loss, earn top seed in 6A west
2. Wichita Northwest (2) 8-0
Northwest blasts Southeast to claim No. 1 seed in 5A west
3. Aquinas (3) 7-0
Saints get bye week, are No. 1 seed in 5A east
4. Free State (4) 8-0
Firebirds handle rival Lawrence to earn share of Sunflower League title
5. Miege (5) 6-2
Stags bounce back from Aquinas loss to roll BV Northwest
6. Topeka High (6) 7-1
No drama this week6 for Trojans, who earn share of Centennial League title
7. Gardner-Edgerton (7) 8-0
Trailblazers cap undefeated regular season, claim share of Sunflower League title
8. SM East (8) 6-2
Lancers rebound from loss to Free State with easy win
9. Manhattan (9) 7-1
Indians rout Highland Park to earn share of Centennial League crown
10. Carroll (10) 6-2
Golden Eagles have no trouble with Wichita South
1. Derby (1) 8-0
2. Free State (2) 8-0
3. Topeka High (3) 7-1
4. Gardner-Edgerton (4) 8-0
5. SM East (5) 6-2
Others — Blue Valley North 5-3, Campus 5-3, Manhattan 7-1, Olathe North 6-2, SM South 6-2, Washburn Rural 6-2.
Notes — Don’t look now, but the defending state champions are hitting their stride as they enter the postseason. Blue Valley North started the season 0-3 with losses to Miege, Blue Valley and Pittsburg, none by more than 12 points. Since, the Mustangs are 5-0 and with All-State quarterback Graham Mertz healthy and a great draw in the 6A east bracket, North could find itself back in the state championship game.
1. Wichita Northwest (1) 8-0
2. Aquinas (2) 7-0
3. Carroll (3) 6-2
4. Maize (4) 7-1
5. Salina Central (5) 6-2
Others — DeSoto 6-2, Great Bend 6-2, Kapaun 6-2, Lansing 5-3, Maize South 5-3, Mill Valley 5-3.
Notes — Maize’s bid for an undefeated regular season fell one game short, but the Eagles have nothing to hang their heads about. After starting 7-0 behind a stout defense, Maize ran into Class 6A No. 1 Derby in the season finale. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter on a pair of long Derby TD runs, the Eagles played the Panthers even the rest of the way in a 35-21 loss, pulling with 28-21 in the fourth quarter on a 24-yard pass from Caleb Grill to Jordon Helm. Maize still earned the No. 1 seed in the west bracket.
1. Miege (1) 6-2
2. McPherson (2) 8-0
3. Pittsburg (4) 7-1
4. Louisburg (5) 8-0
5. Paola (3) 7-1
Others — Basehor-Linwood 7-1, Fort Scott 6-2, Goddard 6-2, Mulvane 6-2, Tonganoxie 6-2, Wellington 6-2.
Notes — In a battle for the Frontier League title and No. 1 seed in the 4A east bracket, Louisburg’s defense shut down Paola in a 25-7 win. Paola managed just eight first downs, turned it over four times and got its lone touchdown on a 79-yard pass from Seth Richmond to Corbin Grant. The 25 points Paola allowed matched the total the Panthers had given up in their first seven games. Louisburg quarterback Madden Rutherford threw two touchdown passes, ran in a score and also caught a TD pass on a reverse throwback.
1. Sabetha (1) 8-0
2. Andale (2) 8-0
3. Scott City (3) 8-0
4. Pratt (4) 8-0
5. Galena (5) 8-0
Others — Caney Valley 6-2, Chapman 6-2, Colby 7-1, Hayden 6-2, Marysville 6-2, Parsons 6-2, Perry-Lecompton 6-2, Prairie View 7-1, Smoky Valley 8-0, Wichita Collegiate 6-2.
Notes — After going 1-8 last year, Parsons has enjoyed a breakout season this year and took a 6-1 mark into its District 1 showdown with No. 5 and unbeaten Galena. The Bulldogs were just too much for Parsons, however, as Galena’s defense shut down the Viking offense in a 52-14 rout, denying them on three of four trips inside the 20. Chapman, which also won just once last year, also saw its breakthrough regular season end on a somewhat sour note as Halstead clipped the Irish 30-22 in overtime. Both team will get a chance to erase the bad taste from their mouths, each qualifying for the playoffs.
1. Conway Springs (1) 8-0
2. Silver Lake (2) 8-0
3. Phillipsburg (3) 8-0
4. Humboldt (4) 8-0
5. Hutchinson Trinity (NR) 7-1
Others — Chaparral 6-2, Cimarron 7-1, Douglass 7-1, Garden Plain 5-3, Hoisington 6-2, Lakin 7-1, Maur Hill 7-1, Nemaha Central 5-3, Osage City 7-1, Riley County 6-2, Rossville 6-2, Southeast-Saline 7-1.
Notes — When Hutchinson Trinity beat Ell-Saline 8-6 in Week 3, it opened some eyes. When the Celtics played No. 1 Conway Springs tight in a 22-8 loss it opened a few more. Trinity kept on surprising and validating itself, beating Garden Plain in Week 5 and finishing the regular season with a big 26-22 win over No. 5 Chaparral. Kaleb Hammeke hit Isaac Miller for a 30-yard TD pass with a minute left for the game-winner and the Celtics move into the poll, replacing Chaparral at No. 5.
1. Smith Center (1) 7-1
2. Elkhart (2) 7-0
3. Olpe (3) 8-0
4. Ell-Saline (4) 6-2
5. Jackson Heights (5) 7-1
Others — Centralia 6-2, Colgan 6-2, Hillsboro 6-2, Inman 5-3, Plainville 6-2, Pleasanton 7-1, Sedgwick 7-1, Troy 5-3, Valley Heights 5-3.
Notes — Ell-Saline was on the verge of a huge upset, leading No. 1 Smith Center 8-7 with less than a minute left in Friday night’s district title clash. But the Redmen responded, putting together a game-winning drive capped by Hesston Maxwell’s 1-yard TD plunge with 25 seconds left that gave Smith Center the 15-8 win. Ell-Saline’s defense had been stellar all night, stopping Smith Center three times in the red zone and blocking a field goal attempt
EIGHT-MAN DIVISION I
1. Central Plains (1) 8-0
2. Clifton-Clyde (2) 8-0
3. St. Francis (4) 8-0
4. South Central (5) 7-1
5. Hoxie (NR) 7-1
Others — Burlingame 7-1, Canton-Galva 7-1, Hodgeman County 7-1, Leoti 6-2, Little River 7-1, Madison 8-0, Maranatha 6-2, Ness City 6-2, Sedan 7-1, Solomon 7-1, Spearville 6-2, Victoria 6-2.
Notes — Hodgeman County was well on its way to finishing off an undefeated regular season, jumping out to a 20-0 lead on Ness City behind three touchdowns runs from Eli and Isaac Salmans. But the Eagles stormed back to take a 22-20 lead on two touchdown passes and TD run from John Pfannenstiel. After Eli Salmans gave the Longhorns back a 26-20 lead, Pfannenstiel hit Easton Seib on a 34-yard socring pass for the game-winner in a 28-26 Ness City win.
EIGHT-MAN DIVISION II
1. Hanover (1) 8-0
2. South Barber (2) 7-0-1
3. Axtell (3) 7-1
4. Osborne (4) 7-1
5. Rock Hills (5) 7-1
Others — Beloit-St. John’s 5-3, Centre 6-2, Dighton 6-2, Frankfort 6-2, Hutch Central Christian 6-2, Northern Valley 6-2, Otis-Bison 6-1-1, Stafford 6-2, St. Paul 7-1, Waverly 7-1.
Notes — Rock Hills figured to have the biggest challenge of the week among the ranked, taking on Beloit-St. John’s for the District 4 title. But Zane Colson ran for three first-quarter touchdowns and Rock Hills jumped out to a 22-0 lead on its way to a 34-12 victory. Hanover dominated its Twin Valley League showdown with one-loss Frankfort as Thomas Atkins, Carter Bruna and Daiken Stallbaumer had a hand in two touchdowns each in a 46-0 shutout.