It’s been a wild week within Butler County for football teams. Three teams have either moved or had their games canceled. On a typical Friday night, the county schools can see nine games going at once. Tonight, there will only be six going.
There’s no El Dorado, Circle, Bluestem. The first two are canceled due to COVID-19. Bluestem is postponing their game at Belle Plaine until Monday night.
That said, there are some big games as Andover and Hutch will do battle. Kingman and Douglass in the smaller class should be a good one. There are some good games to be watched.
Andover Central (3-0) at Valley Center (2-2)
After a thrilling win last week, the Andover Central Jaguars are once again proving how real they are to the rest of the state.
After losing plenty of guys to graduation and an appearance in the Class 4A State Championship, many felt it was going to be a rebuilding season for the Jaguars. Instead, it has been a retooling. They loaded new players into the slots and are continuing like a fine engine. That is a credit to the Derek Tuttle and his coaching staff, by getting his players ready and bought into the program’s system.
Chase White’s play has been so dynamic, it begs the question: why wasn’t he starting last season? The Senior has thrown for 212.7 yards per game, with two of the three games over 250 yards. He’s been taking care of the ball, with only two turnovers in three games.
He has plenty of weapons around him, too. From Kyle Kohman to Davin Simms on the wings. To Ashton Barkdull and Jacob Rees in the backfield, the Jaguars can hit you any different way and they showed that in their win over Goddard. They only threw the ball eight times after throwing it almost 60 times in the first two games.
While their offense has done what they needed, their defense’s performances have been masked by a little higher scoring margins than you’re used to seeing at the high school level, as they are allowing 30.3 points per game.
The defense has become a bit of a bend, don’t break style of play. While they have given up points, they also have big stops. The defense has three interceptions returned for scores and have forced nine turnovers this season.
They’ll have to be good enough if they want to stop Valley Center tonight. The Hornets come in the game off a 14-12 win over Salina Central last week.
If the Hornets had it their way, they would run it down your throats. They would hand it off to senior Dom Phillips and let him run wild. Through the last two games, he’s averaging 165 yards per game on 27 carries per game.
They can throw the ball but it is nothing to be expected unless the Hornets get down and must, like they did against Hutchinson in Week 1. Valley Center was down 21-3 before they marched into a comeback late in the game, eventually falling 21-13.
Prediction: Andover Central 38, Valley Center 20
Hutchinson (4-0) at Andover (2-2)
This is the third different Week 5 opponent for Andover due to COVID-19. However, the opponent is here and Andover is not shying away from tough competition as they host unbeaten Hutchinson. The Salthawks had their game against Derby canceled due for the same reasoning.
Andover’s offense will the deciding factor in this one. It was tough fixings against Goddard Eisenhower in Week 4. It was an anomaly for what they have done all season. From the output to what they did offensively, throwing it 25 times to the rushing that wasn’t as productive as the season has been.
If the Trojans are to make the strides they want to make as they head into the playoffs, the consistency on offense will be imperative. Brady Strausz is still learning how to maneuver a varsity game as he went 10-of-24 passing for 147 yards in the loss to Goddard Eisenhower in Week 4. However, the Trojans ran for only nine yards of total rushing.
Much like what Andover does, Hutch has their power running game humming behind Alec McAuan, who is averaging 169.5 yards per game. He has been on fire as of late, with 499 yards and seven touchdowns over the last two games. During that span, Hutch is averaging 41 points per game.
As the season has evolved, the Salthawks have gone through from throwing it 20 times a game down to only three in their win over Newton last week.
Who will break tonight, the Andover defense or the Hutchinson offense? That is the big question.
Prediction: Hutchinson 17, Andover 14
Rose Hill (1-3) at Wellington (1-3)
The Rockets found their first taste of victory last week with the 28-26 win over Augusta. They almost saw their lead evaporate late but a big 2-point conversion stop helped them pick up the win.
They are starting to figure it out. They had a tough loss to Wichita Collegiate the week before, which many Rocket faithful would say it was the one who got away. No reason dwelling on the past as they travel to Wellington for a rivalry game.
Since 2004, Rose Hill is 5-7 against Wellington. They are coming off a 35-0 win last season against a Wellington squad that never lived up to the potential everyone expected. Rose Hill was also coming off a win against a county opponent (39-20 win over Circle). So, maybe it is in the stars for another Rose Hill win.
Wellington is led by Berkeley Wright. The senior quarterback literally does everything for the Crusaders. He has accounted for almost half of Wellington’s total offense.
The Crusaders are trying to get things going this season after they did pick up their first win last week. They beat Labette County handedly 41-12. Michael Cullens ran for 181 yards in the win and two touchdowns, both in the second half.
When talking about Rose Hill-Wellington, you’re told of an old rivalry where you hear of old school dislike from older generations. While the younger ones may not get it, this head-to-head meeting means a lot to others.
One of these teams are going to pick up back-to-back wins.
Prediction: Rose Hill 27, Wellington 21
Kingman (3-1) at Douglass (3-1)
The Douglass Bulldogs were brought down to earth a bit last week against Garden Plain. The Owls marched into Douglass and walked away with the 34-8 win. It is time for redemption for Douglass as they host Kingman.
The usually powerful running game was held to only 47 yards rushing and were scoreless until the fourth quarter.
Douglass has to take care of the ball if they are going to take down the Eagles. They had key turnovers in the loss to Garden Plain with two big turnovers that led to points last week.
The winner of this one will move one step closer to securing a playoff spot. With Kingman already 1-0 in the district, it would help them secure that home playoff game. A bulldog win would propel them up in the standings as they currently sit fourth in their district.
Prediction: Douglass 28, Kingman 26
Buhler (2-1) at Augusta (1-3)
This season has not gone how Augusta wanted. They were a pick to win the league or at least battle McPherson for the title this season. I had them going 7-0 heading into that McPherson match up. However, you take the cards your dealt and you still battle. They almost overcame a 14-point deficit on Friday night in Week 4 but a missed extra point and a questionable two-point conversion call has the Orioles at 1-3 on the year.
The Orioles are battling the injury bug, too. Duke Lichlyter is banged up and Hunter Anderson didn’t even play against Rose Hill. Ryan Andrews, the Augusta do everything player, is battling injuries himself that will need to be addressed in the offseason. For now, they are trying to salvage their season.
Andrews has put up over 500 yards of offense for the Orioles this season. What makes him so dangerous is his ability to catch the ball in the backfield. He has two touchdown receptions, to go along with his five rushing touchdowns.
Turning the season around can start tonight against Buhler. They do nothing special. They will run it at you and do it some more. They may throw it a couple of times but Steve Warner keeps it simple. Sam Elliott will carry it plenty and the Orioles will need to stop him to stop the Crusaders. He ran for 227 yards against El Dorado last week.
Elliott has run for 492 yards and eight touchdowns for Buhler. He’s ran for over 200 yards the last two games each.
El Dorado ran it plenty against Buhler, tallying over 300 yards of rushing. They just couldn’t finish. They had multiple opportunities in the Buhler red zone but since they lack any sense of the word kicker, they were left wanting more as no points would be scored offensively. If Augusta gets in the same situations and can at least get points out of the situation, the game will look drastically different than last year’s tough 29-18 Buhler win last year.
Prediction: Buhler 33, Augusta 20
Flinthills (0-4) at Chase County (3-1)
The Mustangs travel to Chase County and it may be a rough go of it. The Bulldogs are 3-1 and have won back-to-back games after Lebo handed them a 52-6 loss in Week 2.
Chase County is led by Sophomore Mitch Budke, who has 810 yards of total offense, including 151 yards last week in their win over Central Burden.
Flinthills is coming off a 32-28 loss to Oxford last week. They took a 28-24 lead with 2:57 remaining in the third quarter but Oxford returned the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown to put Oxford up for good.
Prediction: Chase County 56, Flinthills 8