Varsity Football

Hayden Barber’s 10 takeaways from the opening week of high school football

Heights hosts Maize South in Week 1 shootout

Wichita Heights beat Maize South 35-21 on Friday night as senior quarterback K'Vonte Baker tore up the Mavericks' defense.
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Wichita Heights beat Maize South 35-21 on Friday night as senior quarterback K'Vonte Baker tore up the Mavericks' defense.

1. Box office material

Bishop Carroll and Wichita Northwest were cast to be two of the best programs in Kansas, and they looked the part Friday night.

The Grizzlies traveled to Carroll and won 23-22 on a last-second field goal by sophomore Carson Arndt, a kicker who had never attempted a field goal in his life. This came after three Big 12-bound players swarmed the field.

Although neither coach — Northwest’s Steve Martin or Carroll’s Dusty Trail — said the Week 1 matchup would decide the City League, it certainly has the potential to. And maybe even more important, it could be a preview to the Class 5A west semifinal.

Several Grizzlies stood out beyond the obvious in Northwest defensive end Marcus Hicks and running back Breece Hall and Carroll tight end Clay Cundiff, who were all must-see entertainment.

Bishop Carroll hosted Wichita Northwest on Friday night in a game that went down to the final seconds as the Grizzlies kicked a game-winning field goal for the 23-22 win over the Golden Eagles.

Carroll’s Mason Baalman had a touchdowns and was smooth out of his breaks all night. He was first-year quarterback Cade Becker’s No. 1 option on many plays.

Northwest senior running back Roy Johnson showed several spurts of excellence, pairing perfectly with Hall and making defenders look silly doing so.

And Grizzlies junior quarterback Reagan Jones showed the heart of a champion, scoring two rushing touchdowns and leading Northwest down the field for the game-winning field goal. It was his first game after transferring from Andover Central.

2. Looking North

They hadn’t won since Oct. 15, 2015.

The Wichita North Redskins had the longest active losing streak in Kansas - 21 games - coming into their Thursday night tilt with Wichita South. No more. North won 29-22, and the students caught one of the most heart-felt videos you will see all season.

The Redskins went up by the final score on a 10-yard rushing touchdown late in the third quarter. This came about five minutes after South scored and converted the two-point conversion to go up 22-21.

With the win, North is tied atop the City League standings. And with the Carroll loss, it is the first time the Redskins have had a better record than the Golden Eagles in more than 20 years.

3. Baking the bulls

Opposing coaches must be wondering when he is going to graduate.

K’Vonte Baker has been a thorn in the side of the rest of the City League since he became the starter at Heights. Friday, he added another team to the list.

Baker cooked Maize South for more than 200 rushing yards, including a 99-yard nail that put the Falcons up 28-14 with 4:05 to play. He needed to score points, and he did.

Wichita Heights senior quarterback K’Vonte Baker scored a 99-yard touchdown run Friday night in the Falcons’ 35-21 victor against Maize South.

“That run was just crazy,” Baker said. “Once I hit that outside I was just like ‘I’m going, I’m pretty much gone.’”

Now he gets a crack at Bishop Carroll in Week 2.

4. Mustangs buck the banter

Salina Central’s losing streak was only two weeks shorter than North’s.

If the Mustangs are on the list, that means they broke theirs, too. But Salina Central’s win came with gusto. It was against Eisenhower — a perceived favorite in AVCTL II — and the Mustangs won 44-7.

It was coach Mark Sandbo’s first game.

“I’ve been telling them all summer and all fall there’s a lot of guys in this group that any team in the state would like to have,” Sandbo told the Salina Journal. “It wasn’t coaching, it was the players and they were terrific.”

Quarterback Jackson Kavanaugh went for 201 yards and a pair of passing touchdowns. And senior running back Taylon Peters ran for 188 yards and three scores.

For Eisenhower, it’s a crushing, eye-opening loss. For Salina Central, it’s history, but that euphoria might be short-lived with a trip to Derby coming Friday.

5. Railroading history

Chris Jaax took time to tell his players how important what they had just done was.

Newton beat Buhler 34-26 on Friday. Senior quarterback Colton Davis scored four rushing touchdowns. The Crusaders went 7-3 last season. Making this Newton’s best win since before 2004.

Jaax is in his third year at Newton. He has gone through 1-8 and 3-6 seasons. With a trip to Buhler on the cards, it seemed another loss was headed the Railers’ way. Jaax said Buhler is a “championship-type program,” and was proud with how his players came out with a fire.

Newton led 27-7 and was knocking on the door for another score but threw a pick-six to make it a two-score game. Jaax never worried.

“I told the kids, ‘Hey, this is fun,’ ” he said. “We’re playing a great team, and they’re fighting back. That’s nothing to be disappointed about.’ “

6. Garden Party

Cheney-Garden Plain was built to be a good game.

With the small schools separated by about 10 minutes and a lot of rolling hills west of Wichita, of course the game ended 15-12. That’s the makeup of the rivalry.

This year’s Grind Bowl went to the Owls on the road. Cheney went up 12-6 after Riley Petz returned an interception 85 yards with less than five minutes to play.

Garden Plain drove the ball to the Cardinals’ 1-yard line and pounded through with a left-sided off tackle run from John Nowak.

Coach Ken Dusenbury said it was a typical well-fought game between the two. His guys were just fortunate the ball bounced their way late. Garden Plain clinched the win with an interception with four seconds left to give them a foothold in the Central Plains League.

“I was proud of them,” he said. “We didn’t have success early. We didn’t score in the first half. After throwing that pick-six, our kids’ resiliency to come back and drive, I was really proud of our seniors to keep everybody together.”

7. Welling up

With so much history made Friday night, the Crusaders just couldn’t help themselves.

Wellington beat Collegiate for the first time in school history with an astounding 32-0 win. Coach Zane Aguilar has been building his program for this.

Now in his third year, Aguilar went 0-9 then 5-5 last year. With the Collegiate win, he has the Crusaders trending up in AVCTL IV after a fourth-place league finish last season.

The quality of Wellington’s historic win will be tested in Week 2 as the Crusaders host state power Andale.

8. Lighting the ‘wick

Hooper Schroeder was already going to go down in Sedgwick history. Friday only made it sweeter.

Schroeder threw for 502 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Cardinals’ 46-6 win over Remington. His coach, Jeff Werner, said his quarterback will finish this season as the leading passer in school history.

Friday was a good start. Last season, Schroeder threw for 2,601 yards - more than most 6A quarterbacks. But Werner said the Class 1A thrower is just taking what the defense gives him.

“QUTOE walls,” Werner said.

9. Pioneering a new path

West beat Hutchinson by 41 on Friday.

Just two years ago, the Salthawks entered their Class 6A quarterfinal against Derby with a 9-1 record. Hutchinson has fallen off, but West looked like a real problem for the rest of the City League.

The Pioneers pitched a second-half shutout.

Friday was West’s first 40-point season-opening victory in more than 20 years, and with that momentum, the Pioneers should have a great shot at taking down Kapaun in Week 2. It would be their first win over the Crusaders since before 2004.

10. The Wichita train system

Several Wichita area schools proved it’s not about that you win, it’s how you win.

Andale, Campus, Conway Springs, Derby and Maize won by a combined 197 points Friday. That’s an average of 39.4.

Campus’ Tyler Kahnman had one of the most impressive outings, finishing the night with four total touchdowns, including one off a fumble recovery that he ran back for six.

Coach Greg Slade said it was just a special night and one that helped him visualize the talent his team is bringing to the table in 2018.

“Tonight was Tyler’s night, but we have so many guys offensively, and they all celebrated with him,” Slade said. “That’s really important to me.”

Honorable Mention

  • Andover Central tops Augusta in a 13-3 slug fest. Senior linebacker Sam Thomas had more than 10 tackles, an interception returned for a touchdown and a forced fumble.
  • Andover’s David Kemp hit field goals of 54 and 43 yards Friday in the Trojans’ 35-12 loss to Great Bend.
  • Southeast’s Landon White split the uprights from 49 yards out for the Golden Buffaloes’ only three points of their 26-3 loss to Kapaun on Thursday night.
  • Maize’s Noah Stanton finished with three sacks in the Eagles’ 49-0 win against Valley Center.
  • McPherson gets 2018 started flawlessly with a 21-0 win against Salina South.
  • Medicine Lodge gets a 60-14 win over St. John in its first 8-man game. Senior Garrett Burden finished with six total touchdowns with four going through the air to senior receiver Dakota Bayliff.
  • Goddard smashes Wichita East 32-8, giving up a garbage time touchdown and conversion, in a rare meeting between Class 6A and 4A.
  • Eureka wins first game of the 2018 season 10-0 over Bluestem after an EF-4 tornado tore through the city this summer and forced the football team to play all of its games on the road because of damages to the stadium.

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