We have reached the half way point of the regular season, which is hard to believe when there was legitimate fear we may not have a season at all. However, we are here and there are some really big games on the docket for Week 4. So, let’s jump right into them.
Who: Goddard (3-0) at Andover Central (2-0)
Where: Jaguar Stadium - Andover, Kansas
This is one of the top games in the state, if not the class as the two undefeated teams are set up to throw down at Jaguar Stadium.
Same thing happened last season, as Goddard rolled into Andover with the 2-0 record but lost a handful of players in the previous game to injuries, including quarter back Kyler Semrad and the Lions never could within stand the fire power of last year’s offense.
This year Semrad is healthy and so are the Lions, which has made them scary good on the offensive side of the ball, as they are averaging 37.0 points per game.
The Semrad to Jake Shope connection has become the dynamic duo that started the season off with 242 yards receiving and four touchdowns during Week 1. Shope has 29 catches for 496 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
Semrad, the four year starter, is about to go under center for the 30th time in his career.
Then, there is the Andover Central defense. They are allowing 32.5 points through their first two games. Albeit, both teams scored late touchdowns to skew the final scores but it still is an honest question: Can they stop the Lions when they need to?
They did allow Goddard Ike to climb back from a 31-10 hole to make it a 7-point game late. The did get the stops when they mattered to help seal the game.
They are also allowing 320 yards per game through the air but they have made quarterbacks pay, intercepting five balls. There is some youth on this team but they are starting to figure it out.
No one is really worried about the Central offense. With Chase White at quarterback, the Jaguars should be able to keep up if the defense can get the necessary stops. White is a machine at quarterback. The senior is averaging 258.5 yards passing per game on 26.5 attempts per game. He has thrown five touchdowns with no interceptions.
This game will be about who breaks first: The Goddard offense or the Jaguar defense.
Prediction: Andover Central 35, Goddard 28
Who: Augusta (1-2) at Rose Hill (0-3)
Where: Rose Hill High School - Rose Hill, Kansas
Man, Rose Hill suffered heart break last week in their overtime loss to Wichita Collegiate. They led for a majority of the game before falling in overtime.
The Rockets are a lot better than their 3-0 record. They have faced three of the top teams in Class 3A. A lot of teams would be sitting where they are.
The season is not over, though.
Rose Hill’s schedule gets considerably easier after this week’s game but to get a win against county opponent Augusta would be momentum building heading into the easier part of the schedule.
If they are going to get off their losing streak, the defense has to do their part. They are allowing 317 yards rushing per game and that just has Augusta licking their chops with their flex bone offense. Even if you were to take away the Andale’s 504 yards rushing, they are still allowing 225 yards per game.
Head coach Lee Weber has this team bought in. You saw it in early practices where players were engaged. Friday night could be the time to right the ship.
Augusta did that last week against Circle in dramatic fashion. They will need more of that this week as Rose Hill will be trying to secure that win.
Here is the thing about Augusta: they have a lot of talent. Coaches have picked them to fight with McPherson for the top of the AVCTL-III and they are here at 1-1 in the league. It is not over for them but they have to win out to win the league.
The Orioles found the winning column against Circle and sometimes that is all you need, that sweet taste of victory to get things figured out. Losing games you should have won can play mind tricks on you.
Augusta runs Jett Hand at quarterback this season, after making the switch midway through Week 1 against Coffeyville. While Hand is not the capable runner Hunter Anderson is, he can throw the ball and did so well last week, going 9-of-12 for 155 yards.
Then, there is Ryan Andrews, the senior do-it-all running back. He’s is a bruising back that makes defenses pay. He had 82 yards last week and is a consistent score or two each week. He has five touchdowns through the first three weeks.
Prediction: Augusta 24, Rose Hill 21
Who: Buhler (1-1) at El Dorado (2-1)
Where: BG Products Veteran Sports Complex - El Dorado, Kansas
The Wildcats are 20 seconds away from being undefeated. Friday night’s game against Buhler will be a real test to how far El Dorado has really come.
It is about getting that imaginary monkey off their back, too. Buhler’s head coach Steve Warner has never lost to El Dorado, going 14-0. The Wildcats have lost 14 consecutive games to Buhler, dating back to their 21-14 win in 2005.
Friday night is going to resemble a lot of what El Dorado has seen this season, some smash mouth football with some passing sprinkled in. Buhler likes to run it and run it some more as they are averaging 206.5 yards on the ground per game.
They are led in rushing by Sam Elliott, the junior. He had 199 yards rushing in their win over Winfield last week.
The Wildcats have a power rushing game that is turning into a multiple headed monster. While teams know about Zach Wittenberg’s monstrous start to the season, averaging 177 yards over his last two games, there are others to worry about, such as Gannon White, Jaydon Sundgren, Jalen Rice and Drew Veatch. With the offense, it is tough to know who is going to be hitting you in the mouth.
El Dorado’s defense has to stand tall.
If they can limit what Buhler does on the ground, they will find themselves in a game. Mistakes cost them the loss against Independence. We saw what taking care of the ball can do in wins, such as their no turnover games the last two weeks.
Taking care of the ball can win you a lot of games.
There are kids on this team who were barely born the last time El Dorado beat Buhler. Will Friday night change that?
Prediction: Buhler 21, El Dorado 18
Who: Garden Plain (2-1) at Douglass (3-0)
Where: Douglass High School - Douglass, Kansas
1993 serves for a lot of points within the Douglass football history. It was the last time they went undefeated in the regular season. It was also the last time they beat Garden Plain.
The Douglass Bulldogs are off to a 3-0 start, with wins over Remington-Whitewater, Marion, and Wichita Trinity. While it is not world beaters, you cannot win all your games unless you beat the teams in front of you and that is what Douglass is doing.
They are doing it by being spry on both sides of the ball. They showed last week against Trinity if you load the box, we’re going to hit you over the top as they threw for 180 yards and a couple of touchdowns.
Then, there is junior Dalton Hilyard. He is averaging a billion yards per game. Well, not quite that but if feels that way. Hilyard is averaging 177.0 yards per game and it feels as if he is only getting better. He has scored nine touchdowns, which may be the most in 11-man this season.
Douglass knows there is still work to do if they are going to beat the CPL powerhouse, Garden Plain. Their defense has been suspect, despite the defensive touchdowns. They are giving up 272.7 yards per game, including 270 last week to Trinity.
However, the defense has picked off seven passes and taken two back for touchdowns already this season. A bend, but do not break type of defense.
The defense has been stout on the running game and will have to be as Garden Plain likes to run the ball are averaging 166.3 yards per game on the ground. They don’t throw it worth anything, either. They have only 31 attempts and 16 of those came in their loss to Cheney last week as they were behind and threw to get back into the game. It does not help the Owls they have thrown eight interceptions in those 31 attempts.
This will come down to whether or not Douglass’ defense can slow down what Garden Plain has done to them in the past with their rushing game. If they can keep the Owls rushing to a minimum and let Hilyard run, the Bulldogs may just steal this one.
Prediction: Garden Plain 28, Douglass 26
Who: Andover at Goddard Eisenhower
Where: Goddard District Stadium - Goddard, Kansas.
It is obvious to say playing at home gives you a boost. So, when Andover went 2-0 at their friendly confines, it is not that surprising. It is time to win on the road.
Not to say Andover cannot do it. They gave 6A Maize everything they wanted to handle and more. This team is capable and as we saw against Salina Central, they can score on offense, too.
The 35 points against the Mustangs was the most Andover has scored in a game since they scored 42 against Arkansas City in 2018.
The Trojans defense, which has been raved about is coming off allowing only one touchdown in their last nine quarters of play. They are giving up 8.7 points per game this season and only 189 yards of total offense per game. They have also forced eight turnovers through their first three games.
This will be won on the defensive side once again, as Goddard Ike can move the ball and has shown the ability to make barn-storming come backs. They were down 21-0 to Salina Central and won in overtime. They also pushed Andover Central within a single score after being down by 21 in the fourth.
They show resiliency, which if you have ever talked to Ike’s head coach Darrin Fisher, you would understand why.
Senior quarterback Nick Hogan has thrown for 786 yards this season while Mason Turney is his go-to. He has 22 receptions for over 300 yards and he’s also ran for another 60 on the ground.
Prediction: Andover 21, Goddard Eisenhower 10