It’s Kansas high school football regional playoff time. Among the contests featuring Eastern Kansas League and Sunflower League squads, here are five must-see games:
1. Olathe North (6-3) at Blue Valley Northwest (7-2)
Two high-powered and statistically similar offenses will battle it out for a spot in the section Friday. Blue Valley Northwest is the No. 4 seed out of the east averaging 393 yards and 29 points per game. Olathe North is averaging fewer yards per game with 351 but holds a slight edge in scoring with 30 per game. The Huskies appear to favor the run, having recorded 230 yards and 20 touchdowns per game on the ground compared to 163 yards and 16 touchdowns per game through the air. North has relied much more on its rushing attack by averaging 229 yards and 28 touchdowns per game compared to 122 passing yards and nine touchdowns.
Traevohn Wrench needs only 49 more yards to reach the 2,000 mark for the season, and the Trailblazers are chugging along right behind him with eight straight after a first week loss. On paper, Gardner Edgerton looks to have the advantage with averages of 473 yards and 40 points per game. They will take on one of the top teams in the Sunflower League in Olathe East, which is averaging 320 yards and leading the league with 34 points a game. The Hawks are led by quarterback Connor Leach, who ranks second in the league with 15 passing touchdowns on 1,057 yards.
3. St. Thomas Aquinas (3-6) at Mill Valley (9-0)
Mill Valley looks to remain undefeated as it faces St. Thomas Aquinas in the first round of the Kansas 5A playoffs. Aquinas won only one league game in a 48-0 rout of Blue Valley North. Mill Valley has won all but two of its games by more than one possession, and other than those two games the Jaguars have held each of their opponents to fewer than 10 points. Aquinas’s three wins were all blowouts against non-playoff teams, and only two of the Saints' losses were decided by one possession. They are coming off a 50-16 senior night rivalry loss to Bishop Miege.
It's a rematch of the first game of the season for Shawnee Mission East and Leavenworth in their Kansas 6A regional. The Lancers won the first game 34-0 and have lost only one game since then. SM East is leading the Sunflower League with 382 yards a game and other than their Lawrence game, the Lancers have scored 20 or more points in each game. Leavenworth is coming off two straight losses, each of which was decided by 10 points or less, including a 25-23 defeat by Lawrence Free State. Leavenworth is led by running back Jason Randall, who leads the Sunflower League with 1,285 yards and 13 touchdowns on 188 carries.
5. Lansing (4-5) at Bishop Miege (8-1)
Bishop Miege is the top team in the EKL, and the Stags are headed into the playoffs with a staggering 29-point average spread. They have dropped only one game, and that came in a 56-51 loss to Gardner-Edgerton in Week 4. Besides that, they had only one other game decided by one possession, and their last three wins have been blowouts. The Stags are led by McKinley Johnson, who ranks second among receivers in the EKL with 718 yards and eight touchdown on 50 receptions. Lansing lost back-to-back games to end the regular season, including a 68-8 senior night loss to undefeated Mill Valley.