It’s Week 8 of the Kansas high school football season. Within the Eastern Kansas League and Sunflower League, here are five must-see games.
By KATHLEEN GIER
The Kansas City Star
1. Olathe North (5-2) at Gardner Edgerton (6-1)
With the district title at stake, Gardner Edgerton will host Olathe North in what could very well be a preview of the playoffs. It's a matchup of two high-powered rushing offenses with Gardner Edgerton averaging 272.57 yards a game with a total of 21 touchdowns, while Olathe North is second in the Sunflower League with 235.71 yards per game and 23 total touchdowns. A week ago, Gardner Edgerton pummeled Olathe South 52-7 for its first district win. The Trailblazers are led by senior running back Traevohn Wrench who tops the Eastern Kansas League with 1,420 yards on 156 rushes, an average of 9.1 yards per play. He also has scored 18 touchdowns. Olathe North also brings a 1-0 district record to the table after defeating Olathe Northwest 33-7. Venus Triplett leads the Sunflower League with 16 touchdowns and ranks second in the Sunflower League with 981 yards on 136 carries.
2. Blue Valley (5-2) at Pittsburg (6-1)
It will be another matchup of the district leaders in 5A when Blue Valley travels to Pittsburg. Blue Valley brings a highly efficient ground game that is averaging 269.14 yards a game and leads the EKL with 26 touchdowns. A big factor there is Chance Nelson who is averaging seven yards a carry with 933 yards in 133 rushes. Behind him, Montana Brady ranks fifth with 450 yards on 68 carries with seven touchdowns. The Tigers will have their hands full with a Pittsburg offense that is averaging 41.8 points a game and looking to bounce back from a 56-35 loss to Blue Valley West last week.
3. Blue Valley Northwest (5-2) at Olathe East (5-2)
Former Olathe East assistant Mike Zegunis is set to lead Blue Valley Northwest into what could also become a district title game. Both teams enter with identical records, and each has a win in the district as well. After losing back-to-back games to Gardner Edgerton and Bishop Miege, the Huskies have won four in a row including a district win against Shawnee Mission South last week. Olathe East is sure to bring a challenge, having averaged 36.57 points a game and 363 yards of total offense. Jordan Brown in leading the Hawks with 663 yards and nine touchdowns on 131 carries.
4. Shawnee Mission West (4-3) at Shawnee Mission East (6-1)
After losing three in a row, Shawnee Mission West got back on track with a win against Shawnee Mission North last week. This next game could really put some pep in the Vikings' step if they were to beat rival Shawnee Mission East. Both teams enter the game with one win in district play, and if the Vikings were to win, they could make up some serious ground in the standings. They currently sit two games behind SM East. The Lancers are no easy task, however, leading the Sunflower League with 386.14 yards of total offense per game. Shawnee Mission West, however, does bring in the third most prolific offense in the league with an average of 352.86 yards per game.
5. Olathe Northwest (3-4) at Olathe South (4-3)
Although the playoffs are a longshot, Olathe South has a chance to move up in the rankings with a win on Friday and the top two teams facing off in Gardner. Olathe South is significantly stronger on the ground averaging 210.71 yards per game compared to only 128.14 by Olathe Northwest. However, Olathe Northwest has been getting it done through the air with six touchdowns and 142.14 passing yards, which has been a weakness for Olathe South with only 84.86 passing yards.