WICHITA, Kan.—Kansas football state championships are finally upon us. The matches are set, the sites are getting prepped and hordes of people are about to converge on Topeka, Emporia, Salina, Hutchinson and Hays. Two teams are looking to repeat as champions in the Hutchinson Salthawks in 6A and the Centralia Panthers in 2-1A.
Two other teams are looking for redemption as Eudora and Silver Lake both made it to the game last season, but couldn’t finish the job.
Class 6A: Hutchinson (10-2) vs. Shawnee Mission West (11-1)
Hutchinson head coach Randy Dreiling said that this season has been like Groundhog Day. It’s been the same routine, same practice format and same winning formula.
More like groundhog year.
The Salthawks find themselves in the same position as in the past eight of nine seasons. Another state championship is on the line in Hutch and this time its Shawnee Mission West standing in the way.
Hutch has won the 6A title four times, from 2004-07, and the 5A championship three times in 2008, 2009 and 2011. The only time the team didn’t win a championship was in 2010 when it lost to Bishop Carroll in the state semifinals in Hutchinson.
“We have a system in place that people believe in,” said Dreiling. “It’s a system that works.”
Hutch has yet to lose a state championship game under Dreiling. SM West will provide test enough in this match as the Vikings’ lone loss of the season came at the hands of Lawrence Free State. However, SM West exacted its revenge last week in a 48-21 win over the Firebirds.
Dreiling said he always enjoys the final week of the season because his players get much attention in the community and they are able to soak it all in before heading to Topeka.
“This is such an enjoyable week,” he said. “We only have family and football to focus on. It’s business as usual around here.”
Class 5A: Bishop Carroll (12-0) vs. Shawnee Mission Bishop Miege (7-5)
When asked what it’s going to take to beat Bishop Miege on Saturday, Carroll head coach Alan Schuckman dryly said, “We have to score more points than them.”
That’s the way Schuckman is, quiet and confident. Against a team like Miege, though, it’s going to take more than confidence.
“Looking at Miege, they’re very similar to us,” said Schuckman. “They’re almost clones. Tough defense, tough offense, everything.”
Miege started the season 2-0, but a four-game losing streak before districts was a tough pill to swallow for the Stags. The team pulled it together to waltz into the playoffs with a 40-7 win over KC Turner and a 68-6 win over KC Harmon. The team finished the regular season 4-5. The Stags have won their last two games by a combined three points.
“We have to continue to do what we’ve done all year,” said Schuckman. “We have to play sound, fundamental football.”
Bishop Carroll is known as a state power, but has yet to win a title under Schuckman.
“We’re probably known as the best program without a title,” he said.
Despite state championships in other sports, the last time Carroll won a football championship was 1978, and don’t think this team doesn’t know that.
“These guys aren’t playing for themselves, they’re playing for a tradition,” said Schuckman. “I think Bishop Carroll (football) has a very strong tradition, and a championship this year would validate that.”
Class 4A: Holton (13-0) vs. Eudora (12-1)
This is the second-straight appearance for Eudora in the state championship game, and after last season’s 21-0 throttling at the hands of Rose Hill, the Cardinals are looking for some redemption.
Holton has been in the state championship conversation for nearly a decade. Holton is a team that always gets this close to the state championship game, but has broken through just one time in 2003 when the squad took home the championship trophy.
This game will showcase two teams looking to bring home hardware that has eluded them for at least some time.
Eudora showed up in Salina last season with a team that was just smaller than Rose Hill. The Rockets had rattled off 12-straight wins going into the game, so it had the momentum of a wrecking ball and Eudora just didn’t have an answer.
Holton is the most battled-tested team not only in 4A, but possibly the entire state. In the playoffs, Holton has beaten Hesston, Wichita Collegiate, McPherson and Mulvane. The combined record of these teams is 35-7. Holton’s last three games have featured teams with a combined 30-3 record. The Wildcats remain as the only unbeaten team in 4A.
The Cardinals have their hands full with this tough Holton squad.
Class 3A: Scott City (13-0) vs. Silver Lake (13-0)
Somebody is going home with their first loss of the season, and it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow.
People knew Scott City was good, but the Beavers burst into the state title conversation when it forced eight turnovers against a splendid Garden Plain team. Scott City won that game 49-0 to show everyone it was in the tournament to win it.
On the other side of the coin, Silver Lake seems to always be playing for a state championship. The Eagles were overmatched in last year’s state championship game against Conway Springs and lost 49-7.
But that was last year, and 2012 has seen some big wins for this east side power. The Eagles shut out a 10-1 Caney Valley team 40-0 and allowed just two scores against Rossville, a team that sat at 11-1 going into the game. Silver Lake won 35-14 to advance to the state championship.
In its most recent three games, Silver Lake opponents had just four losses. However, much like Holton, Scott City can be considered as one of the most battle-tested teams in the state of Kansas. The Beavers have won their last two games against teams that are a combined 23-0. In the playoffs, Scott City has beaten teams with a combined three losses on the season.
Class 2-1A: Meade (11-1) vs. Centralia (12-0)
Centralia is looking for its second-straight championship and 21st consecutive victory. Meade, however, is going to do everything it can to ensure that doesn’t happen. And Meade can do a lot.
The Buffaloes of Meade have face teams with records of 4-5, 4-6 and 11-0. So the one-loss Buffaloes aren’t the most battle-tested team in the class this year, but they have shown they can beat some of the best. Meade beat an undefeated LaCrosse team 34-12.
The Panthers have had quite the impressive run to get to the state championship. These playoffs, Centralia has beaten teams with records of 6-3, 8-2 and 11-0. To make it more impressive, the Panthers lost quarterback Shrine Bowl selection Michael Glatczak and the squad has just five seniors on the team.
Meade has allowed 26 points in the playoffs, whereas Centralia has allowed just 21. These two teams are very evenly matched and it should be a great state championship in Hays.