5-minute guide to Week 8 Friday Night

Charles Chaney
Senior Zach Wittenberg's 770 yards in only five games places him among the state's top rushers. He had 207 yards in their win over Circle

It’s the final week of the regular season. I don’t care what you call week 9, but I call it the first round of the playoffs. There are a lot of playoff opportunity for almost every team in the county. So, they have to win their games to put themselves in the right position and cause scheduling situations for me. Which, I welcome.

Here is the guide to Week 8 in Butler County:

Augusta (3-4) at McPherson (6-1)

Two teams that have escaped the COVID scheduling bug will duel it out on Mac. This game in the preseason had so much potential. It was built to be a league title bout but McPherson has won that and injuries have derailed Augusta’s season.

Despite all of that, Augusta is turning their season around. They’ve won back-to-back games, including a 47-0 shutout last week at Abilene where they allowed only 32 yards of total offense. So, maybe the fighting Filbeck’s are turning it on at the right time.

For Augusta, their playoff positioning is in flux. A win secures a home playoff games and a loss most likely sends them on the road for the first round.

McPherson, playoff-wise, needs a win to secure the top seed in the West. A loss and an Andover Central win over Arkansas City would vault the Jaguars over McPherson and changes the entire complexion of how the playoffs could look.

The pairing of Augusta rushing game, which ranks 11th in Class 4A and McPherson’s second ranked rush defense will be the decider in this one.

Prediction: McPherson 28, Augusta 14

Andover Central (5-1) at Arkansas City (2-5)

The game between these two last year was one of the ages, with Matthew Macy intercepting three passes, including a 99-yard interception return that won the game. This season, while the teams are on the same trajectory as last year, probably won’t be as entertaining.

Arkansas City will try to throw the ball on the Jaguars and probably will get the yards to make their passing look decent. However, despite being last in Class 4A in passing yards allowed, the Jaguars love forcing turnovers. They’ve forced plenty when it matters and probably will do so again against Ark City.

Their quarterback sophomore Gabe Welch has thrown seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the year, with his 1,625 passing yards. His yardage is good enough for third in the Class 4A alone.

The one thing you can count on is Ark City turning the ball over. They averaging almost two per game.

This game, despite being 5-1 on the year, has tons of implications for Central. A win with a McPherson loss pushes them to the No. 1 seed in the West and home field all throughout the West playoffs. Especially with a huge, brand new stadium in Andover, that would be huge for the Jags.

Prediction: Andover Central 31, Arkansas City 7

El dorado (3-2) at Winfield (1-6)

No, you didn’t have El Dorado sitting at No. 3 in the West heading into the final week of the season.

That’s where they are, though. They have one more game to finish out the regular season and eyes are on the prize and with a win, they may be playing Winfield in back-to-back wins.

After two weeks off, the Wildcats blitzed rival Circle to set up one of the bigger regular season games in years for El Dorado. If El Dorado beats Winfield, they’ll host the Vikings again in the first round of the playoffs. They haven’t hosted a playoff game since 1997 and a win secures that.

It’s likely El Dorado could still host a playoff game with a loss but it because murky on what place they would drop and who they could potentially place.

Winfield is facing issues with injuries as Ar’mon Acosta, their leading rusher is questionable with an ankle injury he sustained against Augusta. He didn’t play last week against Rose Hill. The Rockets boat raced them back to Cowley County after the 48-7 loss last week.

Their defense has been absent, too. They’ve given up 46.5 points per game over the last four games. They have only scored 68 total points over those four (17.0 per game).

While Winfield’s rush defense is formidable, but they will have their hands full with the best rushing offense in Class 4A. Zach Wittenberg is averaging 177.0 yards per game or 770 total through five games.

Prediction: El Dorado 26, Winfield 14

Rose Hill (4-3) at Independence (1-2)

Rose Hill is trying to get back to their state championship winning ways. They’re getting one part right as they’ve won four straight games for the first time since they won a ring in 2011. They get a chance to make it five straight as they travel to Independence, who is coming off quarantine.

If the Rockets win that game, they’ll secure no worse than fourth in the West. Which is a huge reward for coming down from 0-3 to winning their final five games.

What Independence team are we going to get? The team who beat El Dorado or the team who allowed 99 points over their next two games?

Spencer Nolan will be huge as Independence is one of the worst rushing defenses in Class 4A, ranking second to last (Abilene is last).

If the Rose Hill defense steps up and shows what they’ve been doing over the last four games, they’re going to win this game easily. They’ve been abusive and downright dominant. They’ve allowed only 33 points over their last three games, compared to the 134 they allowed their first three games.

Prediction: Rose Hill 34, Independence 7

Goddard (6-1) at Andover (4-3)

Much like the other games, this one has a lot of playoff implications. Goddard, trying to secure the third seed in the 5A West and potentially a top seed with a couple of losses (Wichita Northwest and Maize are not losing). So, Kyler Semard and the Lions will bring their A-game.

Andover is in the same boat. They’re trying to push up for a home playoff game but the cards are stacked against them. They need everything to fall right and they still could miss out on the eighth seed by tiebreaker points. It’s really just trying to see if they’re going to play Maize South or if they’re going to play Bishop Carroll at this point.

There are less than 10 seniors suiting up for the last time on Trojan Field. This season has been transformative and that is largely in part due to the defense. Led by Chandler Goodnight and Isaiah Maikori, the Trojan defense has been one of the elites in the state, regardless of class.

They rank No. 1 in rush defense and No. 12 in pass defense. They’re third overall behind Wichita Northwest and Topeka Seaman. We’ve seen time and time again how they are able to shut down the best the opponent has to offer. Even in their 7-0 loss to rival Andover Central last week, they were a juggernaut, only allowing seven points. It was just not enough this time.

The Lions are 5A’s No. 1 passing offense, led by senior Semrad. The duo of Semrad and Jake Shope is overwhelming for opponents as they’ve connected 62 times for 1,054 yards and 15 touchdowns. Not to leave out junior Bo Bantz, who has 60 receptions himself.

Goddard’s rush defense is only allowing 128.4 yards per game and that could be the difference. If Max Middleton and Co. have a big day, it could be a big day for the Trojans. If the rushing games is held in check, it may be a long day.

Prediction: Goddard 17, Andover 14

Belle Plaine (3-4) at Douglass (3-2)

The Bulldogs are coming off a two-week quarantine and are on the edge of the playoffs looking in. They need a big win against Belle Plaine to slip into the final playoff spot in District 6 and get their shot. You only need an opportunity they say.

Belle Plaine after back-to-back shutouts dropped a big time game to Garden Plain 55-24, setting up the crucial game with Douglass.

Had Douglass never went to quarantine, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation. Douglass would have beaten both Chaparral and Bluestem and would have been in the thick of the playoff hunt. However, now they are fighting for their playoff lives.

It appears the Bulldogs go as Dalton Hilyard goes. He is averaging 125.6 yards per game. When the Bulldogs win, that average shoots up to 177.0 yards per game.

Douglass still needs some help. They have to beat Belle Plaine and hopes Chaparral doesn’t upset Kingman. If that happens, they slip into the playoffs. A Chaparral win or a Douglass loss eliminates the Bulldogs from postseason contention.

Prediction: Belle Plaine 21, Douglass 14