CIK Football Rankings: Preseason

Nov 28, 2020; Hutchinson, Kansas, USA; during the Class 3A State Championship game between...
Nov 28, 2020; Hutchinson, Kansas, USA; during the Class 3A State Championship game between Perry Lecompton and Andale at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson, Kansas ©KellyRoss(©KellyRoss | Kelly Ross)
Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 10:15 PM CDT
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Catch It Kansas presents its 2021 Preseason Football Rankings. Here are some poll notes.

-Similar to past years, Rankings are top-10 for each of the KSHSAA eight classes and top-5 for 6-Man.

-Rankings will run every week of the regular season and then after the state title games

-In 2019, of the 80 teams ranked in the preseason, 53 finished the season ranked. In 2020, of the 80 preseason ranked squads, 54 finished the season ranked. Class 2A Nemaha Central in 2019 is the only team to be unranked in the preseason and then win a title in the last two years.

-Last year, the eight KSHSAA titlists had an average preseason poll rank of 2.3. The eight final No. 2 teams had an average preseason poll rank of 3.0.

Class 6A

1. Derby (9-2)

2. Olathe North (8-2)

3. Blue Valley North (7-3)

4. Blue Valley (6-2)

5. Blue Valley Northwest (5-2)

6. Wichita East (7-2)

7. Manhattan (6-4)

8. Olathe West (5-4)

9. Olathe Northwest (3-4)

10. Dodge City (4-6)

Derby has CIK’s top-ranked positional groups at RB, OL and DL. Derby needs to find a new quarterback, though longtime coach Brandon Clark and his staff have consistently delivered outstanding signal callers. The Panthers have won three consecutive state titles and appeared in six straight title games. Derby remains the favorite, but Olathe North and the trio of Blue Valley schools are loaded, too. Olathe North has QB Noah Palmer and RBs Jacob Parrish and Aquantez Love, all who ranked high on CIK’s preseason lists. Palmer, also a first team all-state safety, is probably Kansas’ best two-way player. Olathe North returns more than 2,600 rushing yards.

A lot of intrigue also exists in the back half of the top-10. Can Wichita East continue its success? East is at Hays High in Week 1 and gets a full City League slate. East had its best season since the ‘80s and had the No. 1 scoring defense in Class 6A. Dodge City has enjoyed back-to-back top-10 6A defenses and has new coach Glenn O’Neil, a legendary coach in football and basketball. O’Neil enjoyed a quick turnaround at Topeka Seaman after a highly successful run with Scott City. Olathe Northwest also went through a sizable defensive improvement and could surprise on the East side.

Class 5A

1. Wichita Northwest (10-1)

2. St. Thomas Aquinas (6-4)

3. Mill Valley (9-2)

4. Maize (9-2)

5. Bishop Carroll (8-3)

6. Hays High (5-3)

7. Goddard (7-3)

8. Kapaun Mt. Carmel (8-2)

9. Wichita Heights (5-3)

10. Andover (5-4)

Hutchinson and Topeka Seaman were just outside the preseason top-10.

First, Class 5A has significant talent and a lot of elite players, including Hays High’s Jaren Kanak, Jordan Dale and Gavin Meyers, Wichita Heights’ John Randle, Andover’s Chandler Goodnight, Goddard’s defensive line duo, and Kapaun’s Nathan Fury and Will Doolittle. Those teams, are outside of the top-five – and are still very talented squads.

Class 5A has its ruling class of Wichita Northwest in the West and Mill Valley/Aquinas in the East. Plus, Maize has its standout junior class, including QB Avery Johnson, and Bishop Carroll returns plenty of depth.

While it would be a slight surprise that if neither MV/Aquinas doesn’t come out of the East, the West has plenty more depth. Mill Valley and Aquinas have five championships in the last six years. Northwest has three straight state runner-ups.

A big reason for the difference between the top-5 teams and the rest is with offensive production. In ‘19, Northwest, Aquinas, Maize, Mill Valley and Bishop Carroll were all in the top-seven in 5A offense. In ‘20, NW, MV, Maize and BC ranked in the top-eight in 5A offense.

Class 4A

1. Bishop Miege (5-5)

2. St. James Academy (8-4)

3. Paola (9-1)

4. Andover Central (7-2)

5. Buhler (6-4)

6. McPherson (10-2)

7. Arkansas City (6-7)

8. Basehor-Linwood (7-4)

9. K.C. Piper (5-4)

10. El Dorado (5-3)

In 2020. St. James Academy upset rival Bishop Miege in the 4A semifinals. Miege had won six straight state championships. SJA then bested Arkansas City in the final. AC finished 6-7 with an incredible playoff run. Miege and SJA continue to lead 4A, though KC Piper, Basehor-Linwood, Paola and Eudora are among those in East contention.

In comparison to the last several years, Miege has more holes to fill and newer players in key roles. Piper and Eudora both have at least one player with a FBS offer. Piper led 4A in scoring defense last season. Paola is 20-2 in the last two years.

The 4A West was balanced in 2020, and McPherson, Andover Central, Arkansas City and Buhler are among the contenders. McPherson has played in four straight state semifinals. Ark City returns quarterback Gabe Welch and its top-two wide receivers.

McPherson, Buhler and Andover Central were second, third and fourth respectively in 4A scoring defense.

AC, 7-2 last year, has a lot of factors pointing up. The Jaguars had among CIK’s top positional groups at RB, OL, DL and LB, including linemen Drew Daniels and Isaac Sheeran. Last year, the Jaguars had their best yards per carry since ‘10 and highest yards per play since ‘15 – and could have another jump this fall. Andover Central, perhaps more than any other large school, has a history of outperforming its preseason ranking.

Here are three recent examples:

2015 – Not ranked top-10 preseason to state runner-up/final No. 2 ranking

2019 – Not ranked top-10 preseason to state runner-up/final No. 4 ranking

2020 – Not ranked top-10 preseason to No. 9 final ranking

This year, CIK positions the Jaguars squarely in the 4A West race from August.

Class 3A

1. Andale (12-0)

2. Frontenac (6-5)

3. Cheney (9-1)

4. Wichita Collegiate (10-2)

5. Holton (9-2)

6. Topeka Hayden (7-2)

7. Columbus (8-1)

8. Galena (6-2)

9. Holcomb (7-2)

10. Riley County (8-2)

Rock Creek, Perry-Lecompton and Prairie View are just outside the top-10.

Two years ago, Class 3A was considered the state’s most balanced class. However, Andale has simply dominated the past two falls with 25 straight victories. Andale has still never lost a regular season game with coach Dylan Schmidt. The big question is whether anyone can defeat the Indians. Frontenac, Galena and Columbus, all in the CNC, have elite talent, especially among the defensive line.

Wichita Collegiate features standouts QB Wesley Fair and LB Drew Charbonneau, who has played multiple offensive positions. Andale led 3A in scoring offense and defense with an average score of 51-7. Cheney was fourth in offense with 41 points a contest and brings back standout quarterback Harrison Voth. Holcomb is a darkhorse candidate with QB Kaden Johnson and WR Levi Knoll.

Class 2A

1. Rossville (13-0)

2. Silver Lake (6-2)

3. Beloit (5-7)

4. Hoisington (12-1)

5. Nemaha Central (8-3)

6. Garden Plain (9-2)

7. TMP-Marian (7-2)

8. Osage City (9-2)

9. Pittsburg Colgan (7-3)

10. Kingman (6-3)

By far, War on 24 Rivals Rossville and Silver Lake paced 2A in scoring offense. Rossville led with 52.2 points per game, and Silver Lake was second at 51.1. Outside of those two, only Maur Hill (42.7) scored more than 36.6 points a contest. Rossville and Silver Lake each return elite quarterbacks with Torrey Horak and Daigan Kruger, respectively. Horak is the defending 2A Offensive Player of the Year. Beloit has among CIK’s top OL units paced by junior Grady Seyfert. Hoisington has been highly consistent under coach Zach Baird and has not lost a regular season game since Oct. 10, 2018. Legend Robinson is expected to step into the leading RB role, and Cole Gilliland should be among 2A’s top OL/DLs. Osage City paced 2A in scoring defense at nine points a game. While Rossville/SL is the definite East favorite, the West is significantly more wide-open. Kingman was No. 5 in scoring offense and sixth in defense and is a darkhorse contender.

Class 1A

1. Olpe (12-0)

2. Smith Center (8-2)

3. Inman (9-3)

4. Centralia (8-2)

5. Plainville (5-5)

6. Conway Springs (8-2)

7. Sedgwick (8-2)

8. Jackson Heights (4-5)

9. Oakley (10-3)

10. Wabaunsee (4-6)

Last year, Oakley fell to Mid-Continent League rival Smith Center in district play. At that point, Oakley was 0-13 against Smith Center since 2003. Then, Oakley defeated Smith Center on the road in the state quarterfinals. Oakley, one of 2020′s biggest surprises, eventually reached the first state championship game in school history. Olpe beat Oakley, 14-0, and finished with just 2.9 points permitted a contest.

This year, Olpe is the clear-cut No. 1 team. Class 1A has strong competitive balance throughout the rest of the top-10. Like Oakley entering 2020, multiple 1A teams have significant streaks against other 1A squads. Ending/continuing those streaks is expected to shape the classification.

Sedgwick is 12-0 against Inman since ‘04, including a 42-7 win in the last meeting (2019). Sedgwick is 1-7 against MCL schools/Conway Springs. Jackson Heights is 1-4 against Centralia and has tallied 11.8 points a game in those five contests. JH is 0-5 versus Olpe. Plainville has lost seven straight to SC, with the majority of those close games. Plainville, JH and Wabaunsee are all teams that could enjoy sizable jumps.

Eight-Man, Division I

1. Canton-Galva (10-1)

2. Hoxie (9-2)

3. Madison (11-1)

4. Burlingame (7-3)

5. Little River (11-2)

6. Hill City (4-4)

7. Meade (4-3)

8. Argonia-Attica (9-2)

9. Pratt-Skyline (8-2)

10. La Crosse (5-4)

This is likely the closest classification. At least six teams could make a strong case for the No. 1 team in the preseason. Canton-Galva, Hoxie and Madison all return exceptional quarterbacks with Garrett Maltbie, Ashton Dowell and Casey Helm. Burlingame and Little River have likely the classification’s top DL and OLs. Hill City and Meade look to bounce back from ‘20 seasons derailed by COVID-19/injuries. Both squads return nearly all of its key players.

Eight-Man, Division II

1. Hanover (11-0)

2. Victoria (11-1)

3. Thunder Ridge (5-4)

4. Axtell (7-3)

5. Wheatland-Grinnell (8-3)

6. Coldwater-South Central (7-3)

7. Osborne (4-5)

8. Central Plains (6-2)

9. Norwich (4-5)

10. Downs-Lakeside (5-4)

Frankfort, Caldwell and Lebo also considered in a deep class.

The big nexus of this classification comes down to the overall depth of Hanover/Victoria against teams with smaller rosters, although those squads generally have an elite quarterbacks and skill players including TR, Axtell, W-G, Osborne, Norwich and Lakeside. Hanover coach Matt Heuer has six state titles, tied with former Hanston coach Jerry Slaton for the most among eight-man coaches in state history. Victoria coach Doug Oberle is 3-1 all-time in state championships as a head coach. Victoria is 12-1, 12-0 and 11-1 in its last three years in Division II.


1. Bird City-Cheylin (9-0)

2. Ashland (4-1)

3. Cunningham (6-2)

4. Natoma (3-2)

5. Moscow (6-2)

Cheylin went wire-to-wire en route to the 2020 six-man championship, its first athletic crown in any sport. This year, Cheylin, Ashland and Cunningham are primarily headed by sophomores and juniors. Natoma has its great duo of Kayden Martinez and Derek George. Moscow is first and second in six-man scoring defense the last two falls. Six-man should be highly competitive in 2021.

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