High schools

Friday night high school football: Five games to watch

Updated: 2013-10-25T00:17:09Z

1. Olathe North (5-2) at Gardner Edgerton (6-1)

With the district title at stake, Gardner Edgerton hosts Olathe North in what could very well be a preview of a state playoff matchup. This is a matchup of two high-powered rushing offenses. Gardner Edgerton averages 272.57 yards per game with a total of 21 touchdowns, while Olathe North is second in the Sunflower League with 235.71 yards per game and 23 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 TDs. 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. Winnetonka (7-1) at Kearney (7-1)

Two teams who were embarrassed early in the season certainly figured out fashionable ways to rebound. And now they meet with the Suburban Blue Conference championship on the line. It's easy to forget that Winnetonka was shut out by Liberty in the season opener. The Griffins haven’t lost a game since, reeling off seven straight victories and scoring at least four touchdowns in each game. Kearney has seen its turnaround on the other side of the ball. The Bulldogs allowed 77 points in a loss to Lee’s Summit, a wake-up call that has provided plenty of motivation for the defense. In the ensuing six games — all victories — Kearney has allowed only 68 points total.

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 per game and 363 yards of total offense. Jordan Brown leads the Hawks with 663 yards and nine touchdowns on 131 carries.

4. Pleasant Hill (8-0) at Harrisonville (6-2)

Perhaps the area’s most pleasant surprise in 2013, Pleasant Hill is one victory away from completing its improbable regular season without a loss. That victory would clinch the Missouri River Valley Conference West championship. Led by dual-threat quarterback Josh Shewmaker, the Roosters have put last season’s 3-7 finish in the rear-view mirror while emerging as a legitimate threat to make a run at the Missouri Class 4 championship — something the Harrisonville Wildcats know a little bit about. Harrisonville has won four state titles in the last 10 seasons and made the state semifinals last fall. If it stands its ground at home Friday, Harrisonville would tie Pleasant Hill for the conference championship. That scenario would allow Oak Grove to also claim a share with a win against Excelsior Springs.

5. Blue Valley (5-2) at Pittsburg (6-1)

This marks another matchup of district leaders in 5A. Blue Valley brings a highly efficient ground game that is averaging 269.14 yards per game and leads the EKL with 26 touchdowns. Blue Valley’s Chance Nelson is averaging 7 yards a carry with 933 yards in 133 rushes. Behind him, Montana Brady has 450 yards on 68 carries with seven touchdowns. But the Tigers will have their hands full with a Pittsburg offense that is averaging 41.8 points per game and looking to bounce back from a 56-35 loss to Blue Valley West last week.

| Sam McDowell and Kathleen Gier of The Star contributed to this report. 

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