1. Gardner Edgerton (3-1) at Blue Valley West (3-1)
When Blue Valley Northwest upset Blue Valley West in overtime last week, it opened the door to an must-watch race for the Eastern Kansas League crown. It's not even the halfway point of the season, but every team in the conference has lost at least once. How’s that for parity? Few teams benefited from the Jaguars’ loss more than Gardner Edgerton, though, which now sits tied for the conference lead with some momentum. Traevohn Wrench is nearing the 1,000-yard rushing mark, but he’s far from Gardner Edgerton’s lone option offensively. The Trailblazers have scored at least 48 points each of the last three games, and the passing game is developing into a weapon. Quarterback Jared Hobby has thrown for eight touchdowns, including four to Josh Lang. Meanwhile, if Blue Valley West expects to prevent its loss last week from becoming a lingering slide, it needs to improve its running game. The Jaguars were held under 100 yards last week.
2. Fort Osage (5-0) at Staley (3-2)
Although Fort Osage reached the Missouri Class 5 state title game last season, it was actually Staley that won the Suburban Conference White Division regular-season crown. Fast forward to this fall, and the two teams are unbeaten in league play and once again ready to meet with first place in the conference on the line. The matchup could take on a defensive flow tonight, considering Fort Osage has held all five of its opponents this season under 10 points. The Indians haven’t played a game within 30 points in the past month. A multi-faceted running game should help Staley stay well within that margin, but the Falcons need more from the passing game to pull off an upset.
3. Oak Grove (5-0) at Pleasant Hill (5-0)
Few teams, regardless of class, have been as impressive over the first half of the season as Oak Grove. The Panthers have earned their spot atop The Star’s small-class rankings, winning by an average margin of 38.4 points. The running back duo of junior Aaron Graham and senior Ethan Fugitt has totaled 13 touchdowns this season. That’s no surprise, but the play of their opponent this week certainly has been. A year after winning only three games, Pleasant Hill is clicking on all cylinders. That’s especially true for senior quarterback Josh Shewmaker, who has thrown for 711 yards and rushed for 354 more. He has 11 total touchdowns.
4. Bonner Springs (4-0) at Mill Valley (4-0)
The two remaining unbeaten teams in the Kaw Valley League meet in a game that may eventually determine the conference champion. It’s no surprise Mill Valley is in a game of this magnitude, considering the Jaguars won the league last season. As for this season, the defense is shouldering the load, having allowed only 14 points over the past three weeks. In that case, something must give. Bonner Springs has scored at least 40 points in every game this season. The Braves won only three games all of last year.
5. Blue Valley Northwest (2-2) at Blue Valley (3-1)
Blue Valley Northwest played the role of giant killer last Thursday, taking down Blue Valley West in overtime. The role could stick around awhile. The Huskies travel to face Blue Valley, the top-ranked Eastern Kansas League team in The Star’s big-class poll. Is that where Blue Valley belongs? Perhaps, but the Tigers need to beat some of the league’s top-tier teams to prove it. A rushing attack led by Chance Nelson gives them a chance against just about anybody and makes them a favorite tonight at home.
| Sam McDowell, email@example.com