Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: A history lesson for the 28 teams still playing high school football

Bishop Carroll, which has won three state championships, takes on Goddard Eisenhower Friday night in the Class 5A semifinals.
Bishop Carroll, which has won three state championships, takes on Goddard Eisenhower Friday night in the Class 5A semifinals. The Wichita Eagle

Thirteen teams in the history of the Kansas high school football playoffs, which started in 1969, have won six or more championships.

Four are still in the 2015 field, including two that will meet in a Class 6A semifinal on Friday night.

Olathe North, with eight championships, takes on Blue Valley, which has won six titles. It’s the marquee matchup of the weekend. Smith Center, with eight championships, is still alive in Class 2-1A and Victoria, which has six titles, will take on Attica-Argonia on Saturday for the Eight-Man II championship.

Fifteen of the remaining 28 playoff teams have produced 55 championships, but 13 are searching for their first championship. They include: Lawrence Free State in 6A; Mill Valley, St. Thomas Aquinas and Goddard Eisenhower in 5A; Eudora and Andover Central in 4A-I; Columbus and Holcomb in 4A-II; Wellsville, and Halstead in 3A; Troy and Phillipsburg in 2-1A; and Spearville in Eight-Man I.

The other nine schools with six or more titles include: Lawrence, 10; Kapaun Mount Carmel, 9; Pittsburg Colgan, 9; Silver Lake, 8; Midway-Denton, 8; Hutchinson, 7; Conway Springs, 7; Hanston, 6; and Salina Central, 6.

Because high school football is such a tradition-driven sport, it’s interesting that there are so many teams left that haven’t won championships. How many have a legitimate shot to win their first?

No one should discount Lawrence Free State in 6A after the Firebirds blitzed Wichita West and Wichita Northwest in the playoffs. Then again, how strong is City League football? Free State plays at Derby on Friday night and the Panthers will be a difficult test.

In 5A, Mill Valley and St. Thomas Aquinas are legitimate threats to win their first championships, although Bishop Carroll, injured as the Eagles are, likely are the team to beat.

Rossville, which has played in the shadow of Silver Lake in 3A for many years, has a good shot to repeat as state champion. Wichita Collegiate, which has three championships, is the likely 3A favorite, however.

Collegiate, Carroll and Heights have done a nice job holding up Wichita’s football heritage in recent years. The City League, though, has produced only three state-championship teams since 1987 — Heights in 2010 and Bishop Carroll in 2012 and 2014.

That’s a far cry from the City League’s glory years. Yes, there were City League football glory years.

During an 18-year span from 1970-87, City League teams accounted for 16 titles. Kapaun won all nine of its championships during that stretch and Southeast and East won four and two, respectively. Carroll added a championship under Chuck Porter, who later led East to its two titles.

The 28 remaining playoff teams have accounted for 55 of the 325 state championships during the playoff-era.