Picking up a late game with No. 1 Mill Valley when the Jaguars lost Week 4 opponent Lawrence might have seemed like a risky venture for Gardner-Edgerton last Friday.


Despite falling the previous week to Bentonville, Ark., Mill Valley had put together an impressive start to the season, dismantling two-time reigning Class 6A state champion Derby.


But the decision might not have been as big of a gamble as one might think, with the Trailblazers having to make the quick adjustment from having a bye to playing, as well as a short prep for the Jaguars.


"We were a little bit lucky in the regard that we were scheduled to play them in game one," Gardner coach Ryan Cornelsen said of the original season-opener with Mill Valley that was canceled when Gardner shut down the start of its season for COVID-19 gating criteria. "This summer, we already had broken them down and knew what we were going to do on our end. We didn’t find out about the game until Sunday and we had just played Saturday so we were a little behind. But we kind of felt like we were ahead of the game because we had prepped for what we were going to do."


Then again, that original prep was made with quite a different roster in mind for the Trailblazers. Coming off an 8-2 season in 2019 and returning several key players, Gardner was expected to be one of the top teams in 6A this season.


But when the season was suspended, Cornelsen’s team took on a different look. Six senior starters transferred, including two-way standout and leading returning tackler Adam Callahan.


"We lost him on both sides, a corner, our center, a defensive end," Cornelsen said. "In all honesty I couldn’t blame them. It looked like we weren’t going to play."


So there was a little bit of the unknown when Gardner opened last Saturday against Olathe South. The Trailblazers pulled out a hard-fought 31-24 overtime win.


"I looked out there and we had three kids on defense and two on offense that had never seen the field on Friday night," Cornselsen said. "For those kids, that win was uplifting. For the other guys and us coaches, it was kind of frustrating. We were not clicking anywhere close to what we normally do. ... After that first game there was a slight doubt as to whether we were going to get back to form and play at the high level we’re used to playing at."


Friday against Mill Valley went a long way to easing those doubts. After a scoreless first quarter, Gardner took a 21-19 halftime lead, extended it to 28-19 going into the fourth quarter and made a late defensive stand to hold on for a 28-26 win.


The victory moved Gardner-Edgerton into the Class 6A rankings as No. 4. Mill Valley fell from No. 1 to 3 in Class 5A.


"To be able to beat a team like that will help our guys’ confidence and know that we can play at that level," Cornelsen said. "We had a couple big defensive stands late in the game and defensively I felt we played really, really well. We gave up some big plays, but we played well defensively.


"I hope this is our springboard. If nothing else, we come out of it removing the doubt and play with confidence like we always do."


The Trailblazers don’t get much time to savor the win. Up next this Friday is a clash with 6A No. 3 Olathe North.


Wichita Northwest takes over as the No. 1 team in 5A for Mill Valley, while Aquinas moves up to No. 2.


Class 4A No. 1 Miege suffered its second straight loss to start the season, but remains No. 1 despite being 0-2.


BEST OF KANSAS PREPS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RANKINGS


SUPER 10


Team ... record


1. Wichita Northwest (2)... 2-0


Grizzlies return from off week against North


2. Aquinas (3) ... 3-0


Saints go out of state, handle Raytown, Mo.


3. Lawrence (4) ... 3-0


Quarantine denies Lions showdown with Mill Valley


4. Mill Valley (1) ... 2-2


Minus QB Marsh, Jaguars drop second straight


5. Derby (6) ... 2-1


Panthers see game called off due to COVID-19


6. Carroll (7) ... 3-1


Golden Eagles finally get a blowout after three tight games


7. Olathe North (8) ... 3-0


Eagles survive tough test with Olathe West


8. Gardner-Edgerton (NR) ... 2-0


Trailblazers stun No. 1 Mill Valley 28-26


9. Miege (5) ... 0-2


Stags can’t hang with Rockhurst, Mo., in 49-28 loss


10. Blue Valley Northwest (10) ... 2-0


Northwest back up after upset of Blue Valley


CLASS 6A


Team ... record


1. Lawrence (1) ... 3-0


2. Derby (2) ... 2-1


3. Olathe North (3) ... 3-0


4. Gardner-Edgerton (NR) ... 2-0


5. Blue Valley Northwest (5) ... 2-0


Others — Blue Valley 1-1, Blue Valley North 1-1, Junction City 3-1, Olathe East 2-0, Olathe West 1-2, SM Northwest 2-0, Wichita East 2-0.


Notes — Despite being in the same school district, Olathe North and Olathe West had never met in football. That changed Friday and the first meeting was a doozy. West led 10-7 going into the fourth quarter before things got wild. North scored on Aquantez Love’s 27-yard run to go up early in the period, but West came back and took a 17-14 lead with 7:35 left. The Eagles had the final answer, scoring on a 7-yard Noah Palmer run with 4:42 left and then got a late interception to seal a 21-17 victory.


CLASS 5A


Team ... record


1. Wichita Northwest (2) ... 2-0


2. Aquinas (3) ... 3-0


3. Mill Valley (1) ... 2-2


4. Carroll (4) ... 3-1


5. Maize (5) ... 4-0


Others — DeSoto 3-1, Goddard 3-1, Hays 4-0, Hutchinson 4-0, Kapaun 2-1, Maize South 2-1, Seaman 3-1, Wichita Heights 3-0.


Notes — Hutchinson’s turnaround season continues as the Salthawks won a wild 54-42 shootout with Newton. Led by Alec McCuan’s second straight 200-yard game, Hutchinson ran for 352 yards as a team and pulled free from a 21-21 halftime tie. The Salthawks are 4-0 for the first time in a decade.


CLASS 4A


Team ... record


1. Miege (1) ... 0-2


2. Paola (2) ... 4-0


3. McPherson (3) ... 4-0


4. Tonganoxie (4) ... 3-1


5. Andover Central (5) ... 3-0


Others — Buhler 2-1, Fort Scott 2-0, KC Piper 3-1, Lansing 3-1, St. James Academy 2-1, Wamego 3-1.


Notes — Andover Central-Goddard did not disappoint in a battle of unbeatens. Tied 13-13 after three quarters, the teams combined for 34 fourth-quarter points with Central using big plays to pull out a 34-26 win. Bronx Wood started the fourth with an interception return for a touchdown. After Goddard answered, Jacob Rees busted a 70-yard TD run. Goddard answered but missed the extra point before Ashton Barkdull’s 64-yard TD run clinched the win for the Jaguars.


CLASS 3A


Team ... record


1. Andale (1) ... 4-0


2. Perry-Lecompton (2) ... 4-0


3. Southeast-Saline (3) ... 4-0


4. Cheney (4) ... 4-0


5. Wichita Collegiate (5) ... 4-0


Others — Burlington 4-0, Caney Valley 4-0, Clearwater 4-0, Colby 4-0, Columbus 4-0, Galena 3-0, Hayden 3-1, Hesston 3-1, Holcomb 4-0, Holton 3-1, Prairie View 3-1, Riley County 3-1.


Notes — With two high-powered offenses, the Wichita Collegiate-Hesston clash figured to be a shootout. Go figure. At halftime, Collegiate led 3-0. The Spartans finally got rolling, but Hesston never did, and Collegiate rolled to a 31-10 victory.


CLASS 2A


Team ... record


1. Rossville (1) ...4-0


2. Silver Lake (2) ... 2-0


3. Hoisington (3) ... 4-0


4. Garden Plain (5) ... 3-1


5. Eureka (NR) ... 4-0


Others — Douglass 3-1, Haven 3-1, Humboldt 3-1, Hutchinson Trinity 4-0, Kingman 3-1, Maur Hill 4-0, Nemaha Central 2-2, Norton 3-1, Osage City 3-1, Riverside 3-1, TMP-Marian 3-1.


Notes — Humboldt has reigned in the Tri-Valley League of late and was once again undefeated going into Friday’s game with Eureka. But a changing of the guard took place as Eureka got down 6-3 early but scored 35 straight points for the 35-6 victory. The Tornadoes are 4-0 for the first time since 2013.


CLASS 1A


Team ... record


1. Olpe (1) ... 4-0


2. Smith Center (2) ... 3-1


3. Centralia (3) ... 3-1


4. Sedgwick (4) ... 4-0


5. Conway Springs (5) ... 3-1


Others — Inman 3-1, Jackson Heights 2-1, Jefferson North 3-1, Lyndon 3-1, Oakley 3-1, Plainville 2-2, Valley Heights 3-1.


Notes — The Twin Valley League title still belongs in Centralia. The Panthers have won 27 overall and 20 of the last 22 but figured to have a huge challenge traveling to undefeated Valley Heights on Friday. But Centralia’s defense was up to the test against Heights’ vaunted rushing offense, which was averaging well over 300 yards per game. Centralia held the Mustangs to 70 yards on the ground and took a 28-0 victory to wrap up another league crown.


EIGHT-MAN I


Team ... record


1. Canton-Galva (1) ... 4-0


2. Madison (2) ... 4-0


3. Leoti (3) ... 4-0


4. Clifton-Clyde (4) ... 4-0


5. Little River (5) ... 3-1


Others — Argonia-Attica 4-0, Hill City 2-1, Hodgeman County 3-1, Hoxie 2-1, Meade 2-0, Oswego 3-0, Pratt-Skyline 4-0, Sedan 4-0, Solomon 4-0, South Gray 4-0, Spearville 4-0, Washington County 3-1.


Notes — Hodgeman County and quarterback Isaac Salmans were racking up big numbers offensively going into their showdown with No. 3 Leoti. Leoti wasn’t too shabby offensively either, setting up a potential shootout. Leoti came out on all cylinders, while Hodgeman sputtered. Kayde Rietzke threw for 232 yards and five touchdowns and Jesse Gardner ran for two scores as Leoti rolled 58-8 in a game that ended at halftime.


EIGHT-MAN II


Team ... record


1. St. Francis (1) ... 3-0


2. Hanover (2) ... 3-0


3. Lebo (3) ... 4-0


4. Victoria (5) ... 4-0


5. Axtell (4) ... 3-1


Others — Caldwell 4-0, Central Plains 2-0, Colony-Crest 4-0, Frankfort 3-1, Logan-Palco 3-0, Quinter 2-1, Sylvan-Lucas 3-1, Wheatland-Grinnell 3-1, Wilson 3-1.


Notes — No. 5 Victoria had its hands full with fellow unbeaten Sylvan-Lucas, trailing 14-12 early in the second quarter. But the Knights scored three straight touchdowns to end the half and kept on rolling, taking a 52-22 victory. Carson Werth ran for two touchdowns and also took back the opening kickoff for a score, and Victoria also got a fumble return for a touchdown from Lucas Klein.