High School Sports

Joanna Chadwick: Games we'd like to see . . .

A common complaint made during football season is that the City League football teams don't play more Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail schools.

How can fans possibly judge the better league if the schools don't play consistently?

Not that there should be much discussion about the better football league — the AV-CTL clearly wins that battle and is arguably the state's best football league.

It's been more than two decades since a City League school won a football title. The AV-CTL, which formed in 2004-05, has six titles from Hutchinson and two from Andale.

The AV-CTL and City League do play each other — in district play.

Bishop Carroll and West play Hutchinson; East, Heights and Southeast play Derby; Kapaun Mount Carmel plays Andover and Andover Central; North, Northwest and South play Campus.

But those are games mandated by the state through the district system, which decides who advances to the playoffs.

Wouldn't it be nice to see Northwest and Derby play in the regular season? Heights and Hutchinson? Carroll and Derby? Carroll and Kapaun against McPherson?

"We have tried to make those hookups in the past," said Bill Faflick, City League athletic director."... No one is knocking down our door. But we would love to."

The AV-CTL is about playing within its own league.

"The whole reason we developed the AV-CTL was to take care of scheduling for ourselves," Campus athletic director Richard Elliott said. "That's the first thing we take care of, so all 26 schools don't have to travel long distances to play."

There are a few exceptions, such as Hutchinson playing Rockhurst (Mo.) and McPherson playing Gardner-Edgerton. But those are two of the league's — and state's — premier teams, and they're playing top-caliber teams.

Outside of Hutchinson, the only other Division I team playing a non-district, non-league team is Salina South, which lost to Junction City on Friday.

The City League tries to help out the far western 6A and 5A schools that struggle to fill their schedules. Garden City plays East, while Dodge City has wins over Southeast, Northwest and North. South plays Hays. Heights plays Great Bend.

"We feel strongly that Dodge City, Garden City, Great Bend and Hays, they need opponents, too," Faflick said."... Are we taking care of them? Sure. But clearly there are no other options."

The AV-CTL and the City League do play in other sports, but football has a limited schedule and both leagues are large. Besides, the AV-CTL always will take care of its own first.

So if a Division I team in the AV-CTL isn't playing another league team, it will play a Division II team.

"With such a large conference," Elliott said, "we don't have anything to do but schedule who's home and who's away."

Still, I'd love to see those matchups.

Win No. 1 — Several area teams earned their first victories Friday night.

Rose Hill had the biggest first win, upsetting host Andale, Class 4A's top-ranked team. Rose Hill had lost five straight times to Andale since 2006.

Northwest got its first win of the season over East, while Derby beat Maize.

Basketball? Football? —McPherson's Christian Ulsaker has often been mentioned as a Division I basketball player. Rightfully so. The All-Class 5A player averaged nearly 20 points per game.

But now he's considering playing football in college. He just hasn't decided.

He would make a heck of a wide receiver, though. He is so athletic and he makes his catches look effortless.

It helps that he's got junior quarterback Tyler Matthews throwing to him, but Ulsaker's size (6-foot-5, 185 pounds) and his leaping ability and speed give him an edge over an opponent's secondary.