FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAMES TO WATCH
Class 5: Fort Osage (12-0) at Park Hill (12-0)
While all the talk has centered around Park Hill and Fort Osage owning two of the most complete offenses in the state, the defenses can take responsibility for extending their undefeated seasons another week.
And that’s usually the true makeup of state-championship teams, right?
Park Hill was held to its worst offensive output of the season in a 17-7 win against Liberty North — after scoring at least 35 points in each of the first 11 weeks —but Carter Anchors and the Trojans’ defense paved the way for a victory.
The Fort Osage defense not only held Winnetonka scoreless in the second half of a 36-26 win, it iced the victory when linebacker Josh Tuimaseve scored on an 80-yard fumble return.
The emergence of such quality defensive performances could shift the balance of a long-anticipated matchup that once looked like a potential classic shootout.
Park Hill and Fort Osage are the only remaining undefeated teams in Class 5.
Class 6: Francis Howell (11-0) at Rockhurst (11-1)
Rockhurst didn’t have much time to celebrate its 34-29 come-from-behind win against rival Blue Springs last week. After all, the reward for knocking off the two-time defending state champions is a date with undefeated Francis Howell.
Rockhurst tailback A.J. Taylor had five touchdowns in the win — four on the ground and one from quarterback T.J. Green, who has thrown 28 touchdowns and only three interceptions this season.
Francis Howell has produced nothing short of dominant results. Its average margin of victory is 36.5 points. But there have been questions about its strength of schedule.
The teams share two common opponents. Francis Howell defeated Blue Springs South 41-7 and Jefferson City 14-10 over the last two weeks of the playoffs. Rockhurst notched regular season wins against Blue Springs South, 42-0, and Jefferson City, 34-17.
Class 4: Helias (11-1) at Kearney (11-1)
The last time Kearney hoisted a Missouri state-championship trophy, it came after a 27-15 victory against Helias in the 2009 Class 4 title game.
The players from that game have graduated, of course, but a winning tradition has carried on at both schools. Helias is searching for its third consecutive trip to the Class 4 championship game. Kearney played in the Class 5 semifinals last season.
Kearney has allowed only 15 points in three playoff victories, a defensive production led by junior linebacker Cale Garrett, who has recorded 126 tackles this season.
Bulldogs tailback Reagan Frakes has rushed for six touchdowns in the postseason, and he has 25 touchdowns for the season.
| Sam McDowell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Class 6A: Blue Valley (9-1) at Olathe North (10-0)
Blue Valley finished second in the Eastern Kansas League, due in large part to the success of its ground game. The Tigers relied on a balanced attack from William Evans and AJ Totta, who combined for 22 touchdowns. Quarterback Colton McCumber added eight more rushing touchdowns in the regular season.
Olathe North has its own rushing threat in running back Venus Triplett, who finished the regular season ranked third in the Sunflower League with 996 yards and 16 touchdowns on 207 carries.
Class 6A: SM West (6-4) at SM East (10-0)
The Vikings are in upset mode and that could mean bad news for undefeated Shawnee Mission East.
SM West last week avenged a midseason loss to Olathe South with a six-point victory. SM West backup quarterback Jonathan Shull had two rushing touchdowns in the game and Isreal Watson caught a touchdown pass from Adam Rellihan. It was the Vikings’ fifth straight victory after starting the season 1-4.
SM West will try to work its magic again this week against SM East, which won the first matchup between the teams, 42-19, earlier this season. The Lancers had the Sunflower League’s most prolific offense with 4,219 total yards and 63 offensive touchdowns during the regular season.
Class 5A: St. Thomas Aquinas (7-3) at Leavenworth (6-4)
The Saints will be tested this week as they line up again without explosive running back James Cosentino, who was injured against Pittsburg in the final game of the regular season. He tore up the Eastern Kansas League with 1,194 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns on 156 carries.
However, they still have quarterback Karter Odermann added to the rushing attack with 553 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season.
Their rushing success could bode well against Leavenworth, which gave up just more than 200 yards on the ground each game during the regular season. The Pioneers have some momentum having won four consecutive games.
| Kathleen Gier, email@example.com