Here’s a look at key area matchups for Week 3 of the high school football season.
SMITH CENTER (2-0) AT PHILLIPSBURG (1-1)
Smith Center (1A) and Phillipsburg (2A) brought home state championships to the Mid-Continent League last year and began this season ranked No. 1 in their respective classes. Phillipsburg lost its top ranking after falling 21-14 to MCL foe Plainville last week, giving up a fourth-quarter TD run to Jordan Finnesy to see a 14-game winning streak come to an end. Smith Center has rolled past TMP-Marian (34-0) and Norton (41-18) in a 2-0 start. Phillipsburg destroyed the Redmen 42-14 last year, Smith Center's only loss. Smith Center is averaging 444.5 yards per game on the ground, led by Jaden Atwood's 390 yards and three scores.
HAYS HIGH (0-2) At LIBERAL (2-0)
The Indians dropped back-to-back home games to start the season, falling 48-30 to Junction City and 46-30 to Great Bend. Liberal started with a pair of blowout wins over Guymon, Okla. (69-0) and Wichita North (55-18). The Redskins have compiled 682 yards on the ground while throwing for 205 in its first two games. Liberal's Syris Dunlap leads the Western Athletic Conference in rushing with 338 yards, while Hays High's Hayden Brown ranks third in the WAC with 184 rushing yards. Hays' Jaren Kanak is third in the conference in receiving yards with 169, while the Indians' Gaven Haselhorst ranks second in the WAC in tackles with 23.
Plainville (2-0) at TMP-Marian (1-1) at Lewis Field Stadium
The Monarchs have a tough Homecoming test against the Cardinals, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 1A. Last week, Plainville handed defending Phillipsburg its first regular-season loss since the 2015 season. The Cardinals are led by seniors Jared Casey and Jordan Finnesy. Running back Casey has rushed for 301 yards, while quarterback Finnesy has thrown for 196 and rushed for 134. Finnesy scored the game-winning touchdown against Phillipsburg on a 15-yard run with 1:08 left. The Monarchs are coming off their first win under coach Jay Harris, edging Ellis 19-16 last week. Freshman Kade Harris rushed for 129 yards for the Monarchs and Bryce Seib scored the game-deciding touchdown on a 3-yard run with 1:56 left.
Thunder Ridge (2-0) at Hill City (1-1)
Thunder Ridge is looking for their first 3-0 start since the 2013 season. The Longhorns have opened with back-to-back shutouts against Lakeside (50-0) and Washington County (54-0). Senior Reece Struckhoff has amassed 372 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns for Thunder Ridge. Hill City fell 58-20 to Osborne in its opener before rebounding with a 33-18 win over Trego last week. Hill City junior Jayce Hamel has rushed for 370 yards and six scores while throwing for 186 yards.
The Topeka Capital-Journal's Brent Maycock contributed to this article.