Previews for AV-CTL teams not listed here can be found elsewhere on VarsityKansas.com this week.
Coach: Ryan Cornelsen, first season
Top players: Turner Wintz, 5-10, 170, QB, sr.; Colby Turner, 6-0, 205, LB, sr.; Ryan Stoecklein, 5-10, 190, LB, sr.; Nathan Hale, 6-2, 265, DL, sr.; Jacob Hardenburger, 5-9, 165, RB, sr.; Josh Patterson, 5-10, 160, WR-DB, sr.
Notes: Cornelsen accepted the challenge of following the legacy of the departed Randy Dreiling, who led Hutchinson to seven state titles from 2004-11 before missing the playoffs last season. Along with Cornelsen comes a new offense, one that will feature the pass more prominently with a capable quarterback in Wintz. A challenging schedule looms, but Cornelsen is confident his system can keep the Salthawks chasing championships.
Schedule: Sept. 5, Olathe South; Sept. 12, at Newton; Sept. 19, Salina South; Sept. 26, Derby; Oct. 3, at Maize; Oct. 10, at Salina Central; Oct. 17, Garden City; Oct. 24, at Dodge City; Oct. 31, Wichita Northwest.
Coach: Michael Hall, ninth season, 44-37
Top players: Cort Enriquez, 5-10, 225, OL, jr.; JaVon Burse, 5-10, 160, DB, sr.; Brandon Huynh, 5-9, 185, DL, sr.; Zane Heigele, 6-1, 180, LB, sr.; Vance Johnson, 5-9, 160, DB, sr.; Dalton Peters, 5-8, 165, RB, jr.
Notes: An undersized, but speedy defense that returns seven starters will be relied upon heavily this season for the Mustangs. The entire secondary is back, anchored by Burse at safety, with Heigele roaming the middle of the field and Huynh as the motor up front. Central must replace nearly 90 percent of its offensive production from last season, but does have Enriquez as a skilled lineman.
Schedule: Sept. 5, Lawton (Okla.); Sept. 12, at Derby; Sept. 19, Maize; Sept. 26, at Eisenhower; Oct. 3, Campus; Oct. 10, Hutchinson; Oct. 17, at Salina South; Oct. 24, Great Bend; Oct. 31, Newton.
Coach: Sam Sellers, fifth season, 32-20
Top players: Alex Parker, 5-10, 225, DT, sr.; Braden Burlew, 5-11, 215, DE, sr.; Dalton Wassenberg, 6-5, 175, QB, sr.; Eric McCullough, 5-8, 160, RB, sr.; Seth Allen, 6-1, 245, OL, sr.; Trey Turner, 6-1, 205, OL, sr.
Notes: The Cougars lose 89 percent of production from an offense that came two points from a Class 5A championship. Sixteen starters are gone, but Sellers expects to reload, not rebuild, with an experienced line and talent waiting to break out in McCullough, the new featured back, and Wassenberg, a 6-foot-5 bruiser with a strong arm. Parker, the anchor of the defense at tackle, has the ability to alter games by disrupting the middle of the field.
Schedule: Sept. 4, McPherson; Sept. 12, Campus; Sept. 19, at Hutchinson; Sept. 26, Goddard; Oct. 3, at Andover; Oct. 10, at Derby; Oct. 17, Salina Central; Oct. 24, at Newton; Oct. 31, at Great Bend.
Coach: Braden Smith, second season, 3-6
Top players: Tanner Spencer, 5-10, 160, RB-DB, jr.; Blake Haley, 6-0, 205, OL-LB, sr.; Cameron Smith, 6-3, 220, OL-DL, sr.; Alex Breckenridge, 6-1, 180, OL-DL, sr.; Mitch Rowe, 5-10, 175, RB-DB, sr.; Mace Metcalf, 6-5, 220, TE-DL, sr.
Notes: After missing out on the playoffs last season, Smith believes he has the recipe for returning with 23 lettermen back and 16 starters. Ark City allowed an average of 45 points in losing all three district games last season. Slotted in an all-new pod, the Bulldogs have faith they can compete with dynamic athletes such as Spencer, Haley, and Smith on both sides of the ball.
Schedule: Sept. 5, at Winfield; Sept. 12, Valley Center; Sept. 19, at Andover; Sept. 26, Newton; Oct. 3, at Maize South; Oct. 10, Pittsburg; Oct. 17, Eisenhower; Oct. 24, at Goddard; Oct. 31, Liberal.
Coach: Steve Warner, ninth season, 92-21
Top players: Jace Williams, 6-4, 205, QB-DB, jr.; Chase Shantz, 6-2, 200, TE-DL, sr.; Davey Dukart, 6-0, 210, OL-DL, sr.; Jaden Abernathy, 6-2, 265, OL-DL, jr.; Dillon Engelland, 5-10, 165, jr.; Dillon Wolf, 5-10, 195, RB-LB
Notes: Buhler must replace the majority of its production on both sides from its 4A championship team last season. But Williams returns as the team’s top playmaker, and both lines should be strong with Shantz, Dukart, and Abernathy anchoring them. Warner will be tasked with reloading again, a job he has been up for, as evidenced by Buhler’s 55 wins the last five years.
Schedule: Sept. 5, at Andale; Sept. 12, Mulvane; Sept. 19, at Winfield; Sept. 26, Augusta; Oct. 3, Rose Hill; Oct. 10, at El Dorado; Oct. 17, Hays; Oct. 24, at McPherson; Oct. 31, at Abilene.
Coach: Tom Young, ninth season, 65-22
Top players: Kyler Kinnamon, 6-1, 180, QB-DB, sr.; Ty Hart, 6-3, 215, LB, sr.; Cole Hanken, 6-0, 205, DL, sr.; Nathan Nutter, 6-1, 205, RB-LB, sr.; Jason Anderson, 5-11, 185, WR-DB, sr.; Spenser Wine, 6-2, 180, WR-DB, jr.
Notes: McPherson faces a challenging schedule with its hope set on the talent of Kinnamon, who rushed for 1,662 yards and more than 10 yards per carry last season. The senior is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the state that will be working with an improved receiving corps. McPherson’s defense, anchored by Hart in the middle, returns eight starters with what Young considers the fastest defense in his tenure.
Schedule: Sept. 4, at Salina South; Sept. 12, Andale; Sept. 19, at Augusta; Sept. 26, at Rose Hill; Oct. 3, El Dorado; Oct. 10, Winfield; Oct. 17, at Abilene; Oct. 24, Buhler; Oct. 31, Hays.
Coach: Justin Price, ninth season, 32-44
Top players: Samson Sawyer, 6-4, 220, OL-DL, sr.; Will Adler, 6-5, 190, QB-DB, sr.; Isaiah Amezcua, 5-5, 190, RB-LB, sr.; Garrett Suttles, 6-0, 195, TE-LB, sr.; Alex Murphy, 6-2, 185, WR-DB, sr.; Kerry Ransom, 5-8, 225, OL-DL, sr.
Notes: Since moving down to Class 4A, Winfield has made it to the playoffs two straight seasons. The Vikings, now in 4A-I, will put that streak to the test with eight returning starters. The defense should remain strong with Sawyer back as a nuisance on the line and Amezcua and Suttles roaming in the middle of the field. The offense must replace nearly its entire production from last season with the burden falling on Adler and Amezcua.
Schedule: Sept. 5, Arkansas City; Sept. 12, at Rose Hill; Sept. 19, Buhler; Sept. 26, El Dorado; Oct. 3, at Silver Lake; Oct. 10, at McPherson; Oct. 17, Augusta; Oct. 24, Independence; Oct. 31, at Coffeyville.
Coach: Tyler Ryan, third season, 7-11
Top players: Trevor Nance, 6-5, 210, QB-DB, sr.; Colin Reichenberger, 6-1, 160, WR-DB, sr.; Austin Dunn, 6-0, 210, RB-LB, jr.; Skylar Brand, 6-0, 215, OL-DL, sr.; Adam Condit, 6-1, 205, TE-DE, sr.
Notes: Nineteen straight years of playoff football ended in 2011, as Wellington has been sent home early the last three seasons. The Crusaders believe change is coming with their most experienced roster under Ryan, as 19 of 22 starters return. Nance, Dunn (1,078 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns), and Reichenberger (1,001 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns) compose a potent offense.
Schedule: Sept. 5, Augusta; Sept. 12, at Eisenhower; Sept. 19, at Circle; Sept. 26, Clearwater; Oct. 3, Andale; Oct. 10, at Collegiate; Oct. 17, Rose Hill; Oct. 24, at Mulvane; Oct. 31, at Ulysses.