Joco Sports

September 24, 2013

EKL/Sunflower League football: Five games to watch

Five football games to watch this week in the Eastern Kansas or Sunflower leagues.

It’s Week 4 of the Kansas high school football season. Within the Eastern Kansas League and Sunflower League, here are five must-see games.

1. Shawnee Mission West (3-0) at Lawrence Free State (3-0)

Lawrence Free State has been waiting for this game for quite some time — since Nov. 16 of last year, to be exact. Shawnee Mission West ended Lawrence Free State's promising 2012 season with a 48-21 playoff victory. Shawnee Mission West, of course, went on to win the Kansas 6A state championship. The Firebirds can earn some payback Friday, and they have certainly played like a motivated group thus far. Quarterback Joe Dineen has thrown for 424 yards and seven touchdowns. He might find it tough to replicate that aerial success against Shawnee Mission West, which has allowed only 10 completed passes in the first three weeks of the season. As for payback, that goes both ways. The Vikings lost once during the regular season last season — a 28-14 loss to Lawrence Free State.

2. Bishop Miege (3-0) at Gardner Edgerton (2-1)

The Eastern Kansas League's top passing attack meets one of its best running games. Behind quarterback Ryan Willis, Bishop Miege has amassed more than 300 yards per game, which is nearly double the yardage of any other team in the conference. McKinley Johnson has emerged as the top receiving threat — he leads the conference with 457 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Counter that with Gardner Edgerton, which prefers to move the ball on the ground. Given that theTrailblazers have Traevohn Wrench in the backfield, that's not a bad idea. Wrench has gained 553 yards and scored eight touchdowns with all eight scores coming in the last two weeks.

3. Shawnee Mission East (3-0) at Olathe North (2-1)

Enjoy power football? Here's a matchup right up your alley. Shawnee Mission East and Olathe North have combined for 1,750 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns while running behind well-trained offensive lines. Dustin Delaney's flexbone offense at SM East has been as advertised. Luke Taylor has run for 432 yards as the go-to guy. Olathe North has shown an ability to throw the football, but the Eagles would prefer to have tailback Venus Triplett and quarterback Cole Murphy move the chains with the ground game. They have totaled 11 touchdowns.

4. Shawnee Mission South (2-1) at Olathe South (2-1)

While its important to remember it's only the fourth week of high school football in Kansas, there will be a sense of urgency Friday between Shawnee Mission South and Olathe South. Both teams are battling to stay alive in the Sunflower League championship race. A second loss will likely end those hopes. No defensive unit in the Sunflower League is playing better than SM South, which has allowed only 421 yards in three games. Olathe South offers a formidable offensive challenge with tailback Thomas McCue and quarterback Jake Seurer, but the Falcons must do a better job of taking care of the ball.

5. Blue Valley Northwest (1-2) at Blue Valley West (3-0)

After a season-opening win over St. Thomas Aquinas, Blue Valley Northwest has dropped back-to-back games. It's no secret why. The Huskies haven't been able to stop much of anything — they've been bitten by both the pass and the run en route to allowing 94 points over the last two games. Simply put, the defense will have to be much better against Blue Valley West, which is leading the Eastern Kansas League with 842 team rushing yards. John Reams has run for a team-best 346 yards and five touchdowns. Grant Garcia has gained 206 yards on only 18 carries.

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