Some of the best football teams of all time also featured some of the best defenses of all time. Championships are won and lost with defense and can also be extremely underrated. We ranked the top 10 defenses in the state.
1. Conway Springs
Conway Springs is consistently one of the hardest-hitting teams in the state. The Cardinals punished allowed double-digit points totals in just two regular season games. It allowed eight points or less in seven of their 11 games in 2013 and allowed 7.9 points per game. Expect much of the same from Conway Springs, who is looking to get back to the state title in 2014. The Cardinals return Central Plains League Defensive Player of the Year Luke Fisher at linebacker. Travis Wood will line up at safety behind a stout line. Logan Creek and Drake Kreifels will set up on the line with ends J.J. Fisher and Michael Ramirez.
Out of Andale’s 12 games in 2013, the Indians allowed seven or less points eight times. Andale turned in three shut outs, each won by at least 60 points. They opened the playoffs with a 60-0 win over Larned, a team that held teams to single digits in four of 10 games. Andale is a team that always has a solid defense, so you can count on almost identical numbers in 2014. Jeff Ast will be one of the most sought after players in 2016 when he's a senior. Pair him with nothing-but-hard-hitter Jason Hermreck and Andale will look good.
3. Bishop Carroll
Bishop Carroll is a team that is always in the conversation for best team in 5A. The Golden Eagles do nothing but put guys on their backs. In 2013, it allowed 11.5 points per game and 10 or less points five different times in 11 games. Mark Quaney and Josh Hornback was one of the toughest duos in the state last year and they're back with even more experience. This unit returns eight guys from an already outstanding group including Nick Nolting on the line and Hank Honas at end. Brendan Hallacy will also help anchor the line.
The Panthers are looking to repeat as state champions in 2014. If their defense steps up like it did in 2013, they have a solid shot. Derby allowed teams to score just 13.2 points per game and held teams in single digits six times. They did lose a lot of seniors, so expect this squad to get better as the year goes. Darreon Jackson, a transfer from Texas, will give this unit a huge boost.
5. Scott City
Scott City is ready for another state championship. The Beavers turned in a fantastic 2013 season as it held teams to single digits five times and turned in four shut outs. Teams scored just twice nine times. Scott City allowed 12.5 points per game in 2013, so if this defense can do just as well in 2014, it’s in the conversation for a title.
6. Wichita Heights
Heights will return a lot of talent in 2014 from a 7-4 team in 2013. The Falcons held teams to single digits four times and turned in three shut outs. It will have to improve on its 19 points per game allowed, but another year with head coach Terry Harrison will do nothing but help this unit. Carlos Taylor, Trayon Hays and Deonte Spires will be up front while Tyas Turner, Garrison Freeman and Creighton Sanders will be patrolling the secondary.
7. Kapaun Mt. Carmel
The Crusaders surprised nearly everyone in 2013 when it went all the way to state semifinal. Much of last year’s success can be credited to the defense, who held teams in single digits four times and allowed 14 or less points in seven of 12 games. Kapaun will need to improve on its 17.8 points per game if it wants to get back. Linemen Colton Ocker and Michael Lickteig will shore up the front while Matt Roberts and Luke Singer will help patrol the secondary.
The Vikings have hovered around .500 for the past few years, but took a step in the right direction when it finished 7-4 in 2013. Winfield held teams to single digits three times and 14 or less points five times, including the powerful rushing attack of Mulvane.
Beloit is looking for some redemption in 2014. It turned in an undefeated regular season and was riding a 13-game win streak when it came to a screeching halt. The Trojans lost the state championship game 82-38 to Silver Lake, a record for points scored in a title game. Other than that debacle, the Beloit defense was tremendous. It held teams to single digits five times and 14 or less points seven times. This team has gotten gradually better each year so don’t expect that trend to stop.
10. La Crosse
The Leopards are always one of the top teams in 2-1A. However, much like Beloit, it’s title game did not go as planned as Centralia won it 61-0. Without the state title, La Crosse allowed 13 points per game. Even with the championship in the equation, it allowed 16.7 points per game. The Leopards held teams to single digits four times and 14 points or less nine different times.