By Jim Fryar
Competition in the rugged CNC league should be adequate preparation for the Kansas prep football playoffs.
That’s the belief of Beau Sarwinski, who leads Galena into the Class 3A playoffs tonight at undefeated Cherryvale.
“The CNC is tougher than it’s ever been,” Sarwinski said. “We’ve played a lot of good teams in our conference. We’ve played in a lot of big football games this season and it prepares us for this (playoffs). It’s a physical league.”
Cory White, at Riverton, and Southeast’s Bryan Burdette are quick to second Sarwinski’s belief about the CNC.
“That’s the way we do things (physical nature of play),” White said.
Echoed Burdette: “Our style of play is pretty physical.”
Either Riverton or Southeast won’t get past tonight’s opener between conference rivals at Riverton.
First-round games in Class 4A tonight include a pair of rematches between Southeast Kansas League members: Independence at Columbus and Labette County at Coffeyville.
Two more SEK teams qualified for the playoffs. Chanute entertains Louisburg and Iola visits Paola.
In Class 2-1A, St. Mary’s-Colgan begins the playoffs with a home game against Sedan.
Galena at Cherryvale
Galena’s Bulldogs had a playoff-like challenge just to qualify second in a District 3A-1 game. Galena had a showdown of 6-2 teams with a final-week visit to Caney Valley. The Bulldogs romped to a 42-8 victory.
“We’ve kind of developed a tradition,” Sarwinski said of Galena’s sixth straight postseason trip. “Our kids expect to be in the playoffs come the end of October. We put a lot of pressure on the coaches and kids to get there. And we don’t expect to come into the playoffs and just show up.”
Galena’s opening task is a big one. Cherryvale (9-0) has outscored its opponents by an average margin of 39-9.
“They’re very explosive,” Sarwinski said. “They like to spread you out and then run the ball. They have a nice quarterback (Brandon Blackburn) and one very solid receiver (Chance Baker).”
Chase Keyser, Troy Albright and Cody Clark lead an effectively balanced Galena ground game. Quarterback Jacoby Martin has thrown for 1,306 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Tyler Morton is the defensive leader with 120 tackles, including 48 solo stops. Cody Leet is the top receiver and also has five interceptions.
In a district game last year, Galena beat Cherryvale 28-7.
Riverton at Southeast
White won’t dismiss the Lancers’ playoff chances based on their 5-4 record. Southeast was tied with Cherryvale at halftime in an eventual 28-14 district loss last Thursday.
“Offensively, they’re very solid,” White said of Southeast. “They run the football well and they have the ability to throw it. They have good size up front. In the big games they’ve been in this year, they’ve moved the ball effectively on every opponent.”
Of course, none of those big games have been against Riverton. The Rams have allowed just 41 points all season and have posted five shutouts.
“We’re not doing bad,” Burdette said of the Lancers’ offense. “But there are still some things mistake-wise. It seems like in every game, there are two or three or four plays we wish we could have back.”
Southeast senior Toby Ulery is a veteran at quarterback, starting since he was a freshman. The Lancers’ leaders on the ground are Daniel Rank (about 900 yards) and Zach Daniel (600 yards).
The Cherryvale game was a good tuneup for the playoffs, Burdette said. “It was good for us to see that level.”
The Chargers scored on the final play of the half, a fourth-down screen pass, to forge a 14-14 tie.
“We really owned the first half,” Burdette said.
Brenton Cates and Kaleb Clark have sparked a Riverton offense, which has averaged 49 points per game.
Independence at Columbus
Coach Dan Grundy isn’t thrilled with the prospect of a quick rematch. Columbus beat Independence 34-7 just 31/2 weeks ago.
“It’s tough to beat a team twice,” Grundy said. “They’ve improved a ton, too.”
Grundy isn’t too concerned about a potential letdown. That happened last week in the final district game at Girard.
“One of our assistants said it best. Girard was playing to get into the playoffs and we were just playing flat,” Grundy said.
The Titans trailed 21-0 before rallying for a 26-21 win.
“Had we lost that game and still won the district championship, it would have been very difficult to celebrate,” the Columbus coach said. “But coming all the way back to win has put our kids in a very good frame of mind.”
A “Hail Mary” pass cost Independence an outright district title. The Bulldogs lost 42-41 to Coffeyville on a game-ending touchdown.
“They’re like a lot of SEK teams,” Grundy said. “They’re going to run the ball at you.
“We’ve got a couple of banged-ups,” Grundy said of the Titans’ health. “You want to keep some kids off the field but this time of year everybody is going to play and everybody is going to get after it.”
Junior quarterback Damion Tinnin has sparked the Columbus offense, with top targets in Justin Pillar and Matt Crain, plus running back Lewis Kellogg.
By Jim Fryar
- High School Sports
- Missouri Southern Sports
- Pittsburg State Sports
Second-quarter surge fuels Carl Junction to district title
A 16-4 surge to close out the first half provided the impetus for the Carl Junction boys to beat McDonald County 69-48 in the championship game of the Class 4 District 12 Tournament on Saturday.Continued ...
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