Regular season rematches dominate the Class 6A, 5A and 4A-Division I matchups in this week’s Kansas high school football semifinals.
The sub-state (semifinals) games feature five Eastern Kansas League teams, and the EKL is guaranteed at least two spots in state championship games.
Blue Valley (8-3) vs. Blue Valley North (7-4)
Regular season: Blue Valley defeated BV North 34-33, scoring five times in the second half to overcome a 19-3 halftime deficit. Senior Jackson Likens’ 26-yard field goal in the final 20 seconds sealed Blue Valley’s victory.
History: Blue Valley beat BV North in sectionals last year.
Who to watch: In his first year as a varsity starter, BV North junior quarterback Graham Mertz hasn’t crumpled under pressure playing varsity football in the Eastern Kansas League. He leads the state in yards passing with 2,919, averages 13 yards per completion and has thrown 38 touchdowns — Dylan Freburg, Grant Hamel and Nigel Roberts have each hauled in 10. A Wisconsin commit, Mertz is also a semifinalist for the top Simone Award.
Although senior wide receiver Benjamin DeZube has been the main target on Blue Valley’s offense this season (831 yards, four touchdowns), teammate Blake Brown (474 yards receiving) has been the more prolific scorer with 10 touchdowns.
27: The number of sacks Blue Valley North has recorded this year. Ander Johnson (9), Miles Emery (6) and Mason Alvarez (5) lead the group.
128: The number of tackles (77 solo) recorded by junior Alex Totta, who has also rushed for 638 yards and eight touchdowns.
Next up: The winner will play for the Class 6A title at Emporia State against the winner of Derby-Wichita Northwest.
St. Thomas Aquinas (10-1) vs. Mill Valley (7-4)
Regular season: St. Thomas Aquinas limited Mill Valley to 156 yards and one touchdown in the first three quarters of a 42-21 win on the road. Aquinas gave way to two Mill Valley touchdowns in the fourth quarter .
History: Mill Valley and Aquinas will meet in the Class 5A semifinals for the third straight season. Mill Valley won the matchup and went on to secure the state title the last two years. Aquinas played for the state title in 2014, so this game marks its fourth consecutive appearance in the sub-state round.
Who to watch: Mill Valley wide receivers Logan Talley and Evan Rice have combined for 750 yards and scored four touchdowns apiece during the team’s current five-game winning streak. Talley, an Otis Taylor Award semifinalist, leads the top two classes in Kansas with 1,108 yards receiving this season.
Aquinas junior running back Cameron Jackson’s 1,272 yards rushing leads the team. He averages 111.5 yards per game and has rushed for 16 touchdowns — one less rushing TD than quarterback Will Swanson.
181: The number of points Mill Valley has scored in its last five games. It has outscored opponents 181-84 in that span, starting with a 41-30 win over Blue Valley North.
746: The number of all-purpose yards credited to Aquinas senior running back Tristan Davis, four rushing touchdowns and a pair of touchdown catches.
Next: The winner will play for the Class 5A title at Pittsburg State against the winner of Goddard-Bishop Carroll.
Bishop Miege (11-0) vs. De Soto (10-1)
Regular season: A 73-yard touchdown run by quarterback Carter Putz led Miege to a 17-0 halftime advantage in what became a 31-0 win over De Soto in Week 8.
Who to watch: De Soto linebacker Jack Barger has tallied 67 tackles, 62 of them solo. He leads the team with 23 tackles-for-loss and four sacks.
Miege has kept its high-octane offense alive this year with the help of sophomores Brison Cobbins and Daniel Jackson. Cobbins is averaging 10.8 yards per carry and has scored 12 touchdowns. In 44 receptions, Jackson has 1,040 yards and 13 touchdowns.
0: The number of sacks allowed by De Soto offensive tackle Marshall Kelner, who has also made 87 pancake blocks.
469: Led by Cornell commit Jack Burns, the offensive line has allowed Miege to average 469 yards and 50 points per game.
Next: The winner will play for the Class 4A-Division I title at Topeka-Hummer Sports Complex against the winner of McPherson-Andale.