1. Derby Panthers
Nickname: “The Den”
They have the No. 1 team in Kansas to cheer for, so what’s not to like about The Den’s season-opening performance in Goddard? Their team won 48-14, Noah Johnson called it, they executed the white-out, the student section was insane the entire game and they pulled off a very impressive rollercoaster. Props to the front row for painting up, but there’s room for improvement here. How about some clever signs? But still, Derby blew me away Week 1 and I’m giving The Den the top spot for bringing the ruckus on the road to start the season.
2. Goddard Lions
Nickname: “The Den”
It was an impressive showing for the Goddard student section, as more than 100 students made the 3-hour drive to Olathe to watch the Lions kick off their 2017 season with a 49-20 victory over Olathe Northwest. There was a blue man crew sighting and The Den brought some solid signs to the game. But my absolute favorite part was the Lion-style Pac-man game they played, even complete with the Olathe Northwest Raven hunt. That’s an A+ for creativity. I’m looking forward to seeing first-hand the battle between The Den’s for next week’s No. 1 ranking.
3. Kapaun Mt. Carmel Crusaders
Kapaun is another student section that gets extra credit for bringing the numbers out more than just on Friday night. The Crusaders actually packed the stands for an away game on Thursday night for their football team, as Kapaun rolled over Southeast with a clever “Let us prey” theme for the Buffaloes. The next night the Kapaunites were out in full force for the Holy War: boys soccer edition, as they featured a “Let’s glow” theme. Two really strong efforts on back-to-back days plus some really quality themes leads to a high ranking.
4. Bishop Carroll Golden Eagles
Give Carroll credit: it had three big showings in a week, as its student section came out in droves for boys soccer games on Tuesday and Friday, then packed the away-side stands for their season-opening 40-35 win at Northwest. Carroll went with the Hawaiian theme for the opening week and some nice signs, including “Your mom called and left your game at home.” Carroll gets credit here for some really impressive showings at the soccer games on top of bringing it for some Thursday night football.
5. Eisenhower Tigers
Nickname: “The Zoo”
The Zoo hosted a “tiki bar” for their Friday night season-opening theme, as Eisenhower’s student section brought the noise despite their team losing 48-14 to the two-time defending Class 6A champions. I was there on Friday and I was impressed by the noise level in the rain, so there is a lot of potential here. Since its inception, Eisenhower has established itself as one of the top student sections around for football and basketball. It has a big rivalry game at Maize this Friday and we’ll see what Eisenhower has cooked up for its next showing.
6. Northwest Grizzlies
Northwest decided to go with the classic white-out for its season-opening game against west-side rival Bishop Carroll. I was impressed by the sheer amount of signs of signs in the student section and also how dedicated the students were in preserving the white out. Sometimes you have a different colored shirt that throws everything off, but not with Northwest. The Grizzlies brought it for their first-week rivals, but can they make it a weekly event?
7. Campus Colts
Nickname: “The Screamin’ Stampede”
I think it’s safe to say after the first week of the season that The Screamin’ Stampede is here to stay. I first caught wind that Campus was bringing a powerful student section early last week when I saw they had what looked like a raucous crowd for a boys soccer game. Well, Campus one-upped itself on Friday night with an impressive black-out for its football team’s romp over Arkansas City. And if you were wondering if it was as lit as the picture, then here’s video evidence it certainly was.
8. Andover Central Jaguars
Nickname: “The Jungle”
Andover Central had a big season-opening home game against Andale and it didn’t let the opportunity go to waste to impress, as The Jungle delivered an impressive “USA” theme night. But what I liked most was the sign work, as the banner stated “Red, White, and Better Than You” and one sign read “Searched google and still couldn’t find competition.” Not a bad start to the season for the Andover Central student section.
9. Newton Railers
Nickname: “The Tron”
Newton has rebranded its student section as “The Tron” and it brought a very solid season-opening effort on Friday night in its narrow loss at home to Maize. It was neon night for Newton and the student body didn’t disappoint, as it went all out for this theme. A strong opening effort, but can Newton build on it?
10. Valley Center Hornets
Nickname: “The Hornet’s Nest”
Loved the opening-week theme for Valley Center, as I thought the “Cook the Cougars” campaign was a success. The students brought cooking pots and pans, as well as those awesome top hats, which made for a pretty awesome picture for kick-off. We’ll see if the Hornet’s Nest can build off this strong debut.
11. Maize South Mavericks
It looked like the opening week theme was something country, but it’s hard to tell. I do like the amount of numbers that the Maize South crowd brought to a road game in Towanda that the Mavericks won in a blowout, though. The rest of the schedule is packed with big games, so I have a feeling we’ll see the Mavericks’ student section move up in the rankings soon.
12. Andover Trojans
Nickname: “The Blue Crew”
The Blue Crew had a solid showing in the opening week, considering it was a 90-minute drive away from Andover in Salina. The Trojans picked up the opening-week win on the road and the Blue Crew will be near home this week against a rival in Kapaun. I’m expecting a big crowd and for Andover to shoot up the rankings next week with a big showing at Cessna.
13. Augusta Orioles
Nickname: “The O’s Zone”
Augusta has rebranded its student section as “The O’s Zone” and even bought shirts for it. I like the name change and they’re promising to grow bigger and better every week, so keep an eye on Augusta’s student section this year after a solid debut.
14. Maize Eagles
Nickname: “The Red Rage”
Maize had a nice crowd for its season-opening road game in Newton, but we had some stiff competition in the first week of the season. If Maize’s student section wants to move up, then it’s going to need a creative theme and a big showing this Friday with rival Eisenhower coming to town.
15. Trinity Academy Knights
It was a solid showing for Trinity in a road game all away across the other side of Wichita in Cheney, as the students designed a white-out. I’m excited to see what the TA spirit section has in store for its first home game.
16. Douglass Bulldogs
Nickname: “The Kennel”