1. Favorites roll – Many of the top teams had big wins in the first round of bracket play. Class 5A Wichita Northwest defeated Salina South, 58-24. Class Derby beat Lawrence, 41-7. Class 3A Smoky Valley defeated Cheney, 43-6. Pratt defeated Concordia, 52-27, behind 367 rushing yards from quarterback Travis Theis. All four teams are undefeated.
2. Upsets and near-upsets – Arkansas City defeated Mulvane, 29-26, in arguably the state’s biggest upset of this weekend. AC trailed 26-21 with four minutes left in the third quarter and scored a touchdown with three minutes remaining in the game. Mulvane finished 6-3, and Arkansas City moved to 3-6. Hutchinson nearly pulled off a huge upset, but Topeka High had a late field goal to win 45-43. Hesston, now healthy, played the underdog role again and beat Collegiate, 42-28, behind a huge game from quarterback Cameron Cox with four scores.
3. Individual standouts/Marinelli resigns – Several teams had huge individual performances. Kapaun trailed Hays High, 28-27, entering the fourth quarter but won 48-28. Running back Scott Valentas, a Columbia University commit, rushed for 182 yards and three scores. Maize quarterback Caleb Grill had 473 passing yards and four TDs in a 56-15 win versus Liberal. Salina Central defeated Goddard-Eisenhower, 20-7, and then Eisenhower coach Marc Marinelli announced his resignation via Twitter after the game.
4. Cimarron/Lakin big wins – Hi-Plains League rivals Cimarron and Lakin have consistently been seven-win teams but have had trouble getting over the hump in playoff games. Cimarron defeated Ellsworth, 52-14. Sophomore Tate Seabolt had 36 carries for 183 yards and two scores. Cimarron churned out 480 yards of total offense. Lakin beat Norton, 44-14, for its first playoff win since 1999. Quarterback Juan Banuelos rushed for 187 yards and passed for 89 in the victory.
5. Backup quarterbacks – On Thursday night, Victoria freshman backup quarterback Grant Schoenrock played admirably in a late 34-28 win versus Wichita County in Eight-Man, Division I. On Friday, Sacred Heart quarterback Mac Hemmer, who took over three weeks ago, had a big game in a 34-7 win versus Ellis. Schoenrock had 15 rushes for 134 yards and three TDs. Hemmer completed 12 of 20 passes for 215 yards and three scores, two to Trace Leners and one to Charlie Skidmore. Sacred Heart is 4-5 with a two-win improvement off last season, while Victoria (7-2) will play at least 10 games in all but one season since 2002.