Class 6A: Derby (12-0) vs. Olathe North (10-2) at Emporia State University's Welch Stadium
Derby has captured 25 straight wins and is the defending state champion. The Panthers are 5-5 in state championship games, notably with recent titles in '13, '15, '16, '18 and a runner-up in '17. Olathe North is one of the state's all-time traditional programs with eight championships, tied for fifth all-time in state history. However, ON last two title trips were an '09 championship and '10 runner-up, according to Prep Power Index archives. This is the second all-time meeting between the schools, according to Kansas Football History. In 2002, Olathe North defeated Derby, 41-12, to win the Class 6A state championship.
Derby has an average margin of 53-11, while ON is at 42-22. Olathe North features running back/quarterback Arland Bruce IV with 2,359 rushing yards and 45 scores accounted for. Senior linebacker A.J. Patillo has 146 tackles. Derby's elite talent includes quarterback Lem Wash, running back Tre Washington, offensive linemen Kevin Washington and Alex Conn, linebacker Jack Hileman, defensive lineman Tyler Dorsey and safety Tanner Knox.
Class 5A: Mill Valley (9-3) vs. Wichita Northwest (12-0) at Pittsburg State University's Carnie Smith Stadium
Mill Valley had lost to Eastern Kansas League rival St. Thomas Aquinas by a score in the regular season and won in overtime last Friday. It marked the fifth straight year the teams met up in the 5A East playoffs. The Jaguars ended Aquinas' 22-game winning streak. MV captured state titles in '15 and '16. Northwest is into the state championship game for the second straight year, and is 0-2 all-time in finals with losses in '96 and '18. This is the first ever matchup between the schools. Mill Valley has won eight straight.
Mill Valley coach Joel Applebee and Derby coach Brandon Clark are cousins and best friends.
MV has junior quarterback Cooper Marsh with 1,912 passing yards and a 20/13 TD/INT ratio. Senior Tyler Green has 1,246 rushing yards with 14 scores. Junior defensive lineman Ethan Kremer (48 tackles, team-high 15 TFLs, nine sacks) against Wichita Northwest's offensive line that includes Jacob Amy and Tristin Reasoner will be a key matchup to watch.
Grizzlies senior quarterback Reagan Jones has 1,510 passing yards with an 18/4 TD/INT ratio, along with 1,556 rushing yards and 18 scores. Junior Julius Bolden has 152 carries for 1,526 yards and 29 TDs. NW has made massive defensive strides under first-year coordinator Marc Marinelli, the former Goddard-Eisenhower head coach. Northwest has permitted just 10.8 points per game after 29.3 last season. Notably, Northwest has forced 40 turnovers, including eight interceptions from junior Wetu Kalomo.
Class 4A: Bishop Miege (10-2) vs. Andover Central (11-1) at Topeka Hummer Sports Complex
Bishop Miege, which is again a substantial favorite in the 4A final, has a chance for its sixth straight state championship. That would tie Hutchinson from '04-09 for the state mark, according to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Miege has routinely dominated in state finals with a 42-35 win versus Topeka Hayden in '14, 68-12 against Andover Central in '15, 53-21 versus Buhler in '16, 47-7 against Andale in '17 and 69-31 versus Goddard last year. AC is into the finals for the second time in school history and has a six-win improvement from last year.
Miege wide receiver Daniel Jackson has 25 receiving touchdowns, a new state mark. AC averages 29.8 points per contest, nearly double from '18. Jag senior quarterback Shomari Parnell has thrown for 2,117 yards with a 22/12 TD/INT ratio. Xavier Bell has 64 catches for 862 yards and 11 TDs, and Matt Macy is at 35 catches for 832 yards and 10 scores. Senior Trey Degarmo has 147 tackles, 13 for loss, both team-highs.
Class 3A: Andale (12-0) vs. Perry-Lecompton (9-3) at Hutchinson Community College
While Class 3A consistently had rankings upheaval on a weekly basis, Andale has stayed No. 1 most of the year. Perry-Lecompton was outside of the top-10 for some of the fall, though worked its way in with two wins versus Topeka Hayden, including last week in the semifinals. As well, P-L defeated district champion Holton earlier in the playoffs after losing to them earlier in the season.
Andale is 3-1 all-time in finals with titles in '06, '07 and '14. Perry-Lecompton's only other trip to at least the semifinals was a runner-up in '08. The Kaws have done well replacing all-state dual threat quarterback Dalton Kellum. Junior Billy Welch has thrown for 2,214 yards with a 26/6 TD/INT ratio. Junior Thad Metcalfe has rushed for 1,328 yards and 14 scores.
Andale has an average margin of 51-7, while P-L is at 33-16. Eli Rowland leads Andale with 1,137 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. Easton Hunter has 923 passing yards and 18 scores accounted for. Scotti Easter has 24 catches for 413 yards and seven TDs, and 86 tackles, all team-highs.
Class 2A: Norton (9-3) vs. Nemaha Central (10-2) at Salina District Stadium
Norton delivered the stunner of the semifinal round with a 10-8 home win versus top-ranked and undefeated Hoisington. Norton had lost 38-7 to the Cardinals in district play. This time, some defensive adjustments up front, a superb performance from senior quarterback Kade Melvin and a last-second 32-yard field goal by Luke Wahlmeier put Norton into a state final for the first time in 30 years.
Nemaha Central, the consolidation of Nemaha Valley and Baileyville B&B, is into the state finals for the first time. While B&B was an historic eight-man power, NV's only finals showing was a runner-up showing in '73. Nemaha Central coach Warren Seitz and Norton coach Lucas Melvin have combined for more than 30 years at their respective schools and are synonymous with success.
One of them with capture their first state crown. Norton is 2-2 all-time in finals with all appearances between '83 and '89. Norton is 9-1 after starting 0-2 and a 4-5 season last year. Nemaha Central has also doubled its win title from last year.
Kade Melvin has delivered another excellent fall with 1,846 passing yards, 1,193 rushing and 31 scores accounted for. Wahlmeier has 1,012 rushing yards with eight rushing scores. Senior Judson Wiltfong has delivered a massive year with 139 tackles, 23 for loss. NC senior quarterback Dylan Schultejans has passed for 1,572 yards and accounted for 26 scores (21 passing). Thunder senior Bryce Uphaus is an exceptional two-way player with 122 tackles and four INTs, along with 17 catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns.
Class 1A: Smith Center (12-0) vs. Centralia (11-1) at Fort Hays State University's Lewis Field Stadium
Smith Center has won 25 straight games and back-to-back state championships. The Redmen are looking for state title No. 11, which would be the most by a single program in state annals. Centralia, with longtime coach Larry Glatczak, is 3-3 all-time in state finals, including titles in ' 09, '11, and '13. The first crown is one of the most memorable games in state history, a 20-12 Panther overtime win versus Smith Center at Fort Hays. The game ended Smith Center's state record 79-game winning streak. Both teams had a close playoff win. Centralia defeated Olpe, 22-20, in the quarterfinals, and Smith Center held off rival Plainville, 20-19, last week.
Centralia single wing quarterback Kamble Haverkamp has more than 2,400 rushing yards and has led the Panthers to 11 straight victories. Smith Center senior Jaden Atwood has 181 carries for 1,635 yards and 15 touchdowns, though was banged up in the semifinals. Senior quarterback Trenton Colby has delivered a great year with a 14/2 TD/INT ratio, along with 595 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior Joel Montgomery has 105 tackles, 15 for loss in a standout career that has yielded 270 stops, 39 for loss.
Eight-Man, Division I: St. Francis (12-0) vs. Canton-Galva (12-0) at Newton's Fischer Field
Both eight-man games are expected to very competitive matchups, including a Division I contest where a team will win its first-ever football title. Canton-Galva has five straight years of win improvements, the last three under coach Shelby Hoppes. C-G has been ranked No. 1 all year, while St. Francis has stood second the bulk of the fall. SF's only state trip was a runner-up in '16, and the Eagles were runner-up in '79 and '91. Canton-Galva standout quarterback Landon Everett is expected to play, but is questionable to be the signal caller after he hurt his shoulder in the semifinal win versus Madison.
As well, sophomore standout wide receiver Tyson Struber has come back from injury. He missed three games, though returned for the last two and combined for 19 tackles, picked off two passes and recorded nine offensive touches for 182 yards and two scores. Everett has passed for 1,336 yards and rushed for 1,162 with 52 combined touchdowns accounted for. SF has its single wing attack with Brady Dinkel and Shadyron Blanka, each with more than 1,400 rushing yards this year. Blanka tallied seven touchdowns in the semifinal win. Each team has averaged at least 50 points per game. Both squads have permitted just five points a contest.
Eight-Man, Division II: Osborne (12-0) vs. Axtell (11-1) at Newton's Fischer Field
Osborne is 3-1 all-time in state games, the majority since it switched to eight-man football in '10 and has quickly become a state power. The Bulldogs were titlists in '83, '13, '16 and runner-up to Hanover last fall. Coach Steve Tiernan won titles at Baileyville B&B and the '13 crown with Osborne. He left for Solomon, and then led the Gorillas to a Division I runner-up finish last fall.
Then, Tiernan returned to Osborne and has the Bulldogs as the lone Division II undefeated team. Since the summer, 2019 was considered the fall where Axtell could possibly beat Twin Valley League rival Hanover, the three-time undefeated state champion. Axtell did, with a 28-26 regular season victory versus the Wildcats that ended Hanover's eight-man KSHSAA record 43-game winning streak. In the state semifinals, Axtell beat Hanover, 26-12. Axtell is 1-1 all-time in state games with a championship in '93 and a runner-up in '85. Both teams have made significant defensive strides this year. Last year, Axtell has an average margin of 57-21, Osborne 56-21. This year, Axtell is at 51-11, and Osborne 48-12.
Each team has one of the state's seminal players with Eagle quarterback Quinn Buessing and Osborne running back Darrien Holloway. Buessing is a four-year starter and statistically one of the top eight-man signal callers in state history. Buessing missed a little time in midseason. Overall, Buessing has completed 68 percent of his passes with 2,263 yards with a 39/2 TD/INT ratio. Kolby Talbot has paced the defense with 19 tackles for loss.
For Osborne, Holloway was expected to miss the rest of the fall with a foot injury after he was hurt earlier in the playoffs. However, Holloway healed quickly and was cleared last Tuesday before Saturday's state semifinal versus Hutchinson Central Christian. He rushed 29 times for 195 yards and three scores. Holloway has 1,165 rushing yards in 2019. Quarterback/safety Steele Wolters (29 TDs accounted for, 123 tackles) has also delivered an impressive year.