By Jim Fryar
Globe Sports Editor
There's one thing Leon Miller doesn't understand about the hype for Friday night's prep football showdown between Frontenac and St. Mary's-Colgan.
"I'm not sure how they became the underdog," said Miller, the Frontenac coach. "And they're riding a 40-some game win streak?"
"I can tell you how we're the underdog," said Colgan coach Chuck Smith. "Leon has a senior club. He has 20 starting position players coming back and we've got six. We are definitely the underdog."
But the position of favorite hasn't always been a good one in this bitter CNC Conference rivalry. And once 7 p.m. kickoff arrives at the Frontenac field, the debate will be meaningless.
The game will be far from meaningless.
The winner will be the top-heavy favorite to win the CNC and likely finish the regular season undefeated. Also at stake are a pair of Colgan streaks: 42 straight victories, the second-longest total in recent Kansas prep history, and five wins in a row over Frontenac.
The matchup is pretty basic.
"There's nothing magic about it," said Miller.
It's Frontenac's power football against Colgan's speed and finesse.
"The difference, the last couple of times, probably has been their ability to capitalize on turnovers," said Miller. "We had opportunities last year and we didn't do it."
Said Smith: "The big play has been good to us. I understand the importance of it, and I also understand the importance of stopping it. It's hard to have a 10- to 12-play drive and score.
"We can't give them the ball in four-down territory and expect to stop them. ... Leon's a physical guy and the team takes on his disposition. They're very physical."
Said Miller: "There are no secrets. I don't know what those would be. We don't hide the fact that we like to run the football."
Colgan has been able to make the game-turning play the past two meetings. The Panthers scored just before halftime last year to break a scoreless tie. The last time the teams met at Frontenac, Colgan overcame a 12-0 halftime deficit.
"We made good progress from Game 1 to Game 2 (victories over Girard and Baxter Springs)," said Smith. "But we're going to have to make even better progress, because Frontenac isn't going to give up some of the runs we've had early."
The Raiders' defense has allowed approximately 80 yards per game in victories over Baxter Springs and Southeast.
Baxter Springs coach Scott Madden was diplomatic in comparing his team's first two opponents: "I think Colgan has a little bit more speed than Frontenac," he said. "But I think Frontenac is a little bit more physical."
By Jim Fryar