Five Kansas City-area teams will play in Kansas football substates: Olathe North, SM East, St. Thomas Aquinas, Piper and Bishop Miege. Here are previews of their games.
Class 6A: Olathe North (11-0) at SM East (11-0), 7 p.m Friday
Keys for Olathe North: The Eagles will need all their star power in this matchup. In their victory last week against Blue Valley, Venus Triplett and Marcel Spears rushed for touchdowns and Triplett caught an 83-yard scoring pass from quarterback Cole Murphy, who threw two touchdowns in the game. Josh Moore, meanwhile, recovered a fumble that sealed the victory.
Keys for Shawnee Mission East: The Lancers will have to hold strong on defense, which has not been a problem thus far. They have held every opponent this season to 19 points or fewer points. They’ve also only allowed seven points in the playoffs.
Never miss a local story.
Bottom Line: There’s plenty of offense in this game, so it will come down to which team can make big stops. The game will likley be decided in the final few possessions and give fans the definitive Sunflower League title game they have wanted. The winner of this game will play the Hutchinson-Lawrence Free State winner for the state championship.
Class 5A: St. Thomas Aquinas (8-3) at Shawnee Heights (7-4), 7 p.m. Friday
Keys for St. Thomas Aquinas: The Saints have proven that they have a lot of playmakers. That versatility will be important. Kyle Bollig, Ben Ewing and Karter Odermann rushed for touchdowns last week and Odermann connected with Nathan Burditt for another.
Keys for Shawnee Heights: The T-Birds need to keep the ball in the capable hands of Tony Barksdale Jr. He rushed for all five of their touchdowns last week and has 27 touchdowns this season with 1,640 rushing yards in 156 carries.
Bottom Line: Shawnee Heights is making its first state semifinals appearance. Although St. Thomas Aquinas has not been there since 2008, new coach Randy Dreiling will have them prepared for this spotlight after his seven state titles with Hutchinson.
Class 4A Division I: Piper (10-1) at Bishop Miege (11-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Keys for Piper: Colton Beebe has been wildly successful for the Pirates, but they will need a little more variety if they hope to keep moving forward. Beebe had 104 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 21 carries against Paola last week. Travon Jones and Ty Banes have provided some balance with eight and six rushing touchdowns, respectively.
Keys for Bishop Miege: The Stags are steamrolling right along through their season, which includes victories over Blue Valley and St. Thomas Aquinas. They have looked extremely dominant, outscoring their playoff opponents 110-0.
Bottom Line: Quarterback Ryan Willis leads a Bishop Miege attack that is high-powered enough to win a state championship. The Stags present a stiff challenge to Piper. It just might take a perfectly executed game plan for Piper to pull off a victory.