It's never too early to start thinking about potential Simone Award candidates. The Missouri schedule has reached its midseason point, and Kansas high schools will hit that mark next week.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Several players have thrown their names in the mix for early consideration for the Simone Award, but a couple have emerged as leaders.
And that's a fine place to start for this week's takeaways.
• As I wrote last week, Dalvin Warmack has found his groove once again. Blue Springs' senior tailback followed up his memorable night at Lee's Summit West with a four-touchdown performance in a 38-21 against Liberty. Might he make a run at the first player ever to win the Simone Award twice?
• Well, Gardner Edgerton senior Traevohn Wrench is probably going to have something to say about that. Wrench and Warmack are set to be Big 12 rivals for the foreseeable future — Wrench at Kansas, Warmack at Kansas State — and they may be the top two midseason candidates for the Simone. In a wild 56-51 against Bishop Miege, Wrench topped 300 yards and matched Warmack's four touchdowns.
• Don't look now, but Rockhurst has won two straight games in convincing fashion against quality programs. The Hawklets have allowed only 13 points in wins against Hutchinson (Kan.) and Blue Springs South after holding Blue Springs to 22 — its lowest output of the fall. Rockhurst is finding its stride after an 0-3 start.
• Lawrence Free State established itself as the team to beat in the Sunflower League with a dominating performance against Shawnee Mission West, the conference defending champion. But don't sleep on Shawnee Mission East. Behind arguably the league's most dynamic rushing attack, the Lancers improved to 4-0 with a 23-22 win against Olathe North.
• Lee's Summit does it again. A week after kicking a game-winning field goal against Liberty as time expired, the Tigers scored in the final minute — a touchdown run from senior tailback Casey Slaughter — to defeat Raymore-Peculiar 44-38. Lee's Summit remained undefeated at 5-0.
• Van Horn improved to an unlikely 5-0 with a 49-6 win against African Centered last night. But the real story came during halftime, when a cheerleading coach was surprised with a marriage proposal.
• Blue Valley Northwest pulled off perhaps the week's biggest upset Thursday, a 28-21 overtime win against Eastern Kansas League favorite Blue Valley West. Coupled with the Bishop Miege loss, every team in the conference has lost at least one game in the first four weeks. That should make for a fun stretch run in the EKL.
• In what qualifies as a bit of a surprise, Pleasant Hill is still undefeated. The Roosters, 5-0, not only own one of the best nicknames around, they topped 40 points for the fourth straight week in a 52-21 win against Grain Valley. A showdown with unbeaten Oak Grove looms Friday.
• Could the Fort Osage defense actually be better than it was a year ago? You be the judge. The Indians posted their first shutout of the season in a 35-0 victory against Raytown, and they are now limiting opponents to an average of six points per game. Not one team has reached double digits against the Indians this season. Fort Osage can take a big step toward winning the conference with a win Friday at Staley.
To reach Sam McDowell, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.