Varsity Football

Picking Wichita’s top quarterfinal matchups + the Varsity Kansas Game of the Week

Northwest and Carroll meet for an instant classic in Week 1

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.
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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.

It called for a rematch.

Like a world championship boxing bout, Bishop Carroll and Wichita Northwest first meeting could have gone either way. The Grizzlies won it in Week 1, 23-22, on a last-second field goal from sophomore Carson Arndt.

That was one of Northwest’s ugliest performances. Since then, the Grizzlies haven’t lost by fewer than 22 points. Carroll has gone through more injuries than almost any other team in the Wichita area.

Northwest coach Steve Martin didn’t like his team’s performance in its regional championship win over Emporia. He said they will feel challenged to tighten it up going forward.

On paper, Northwest is the more talented team. But Carroll has only missed the state semifinals once since 2014. The Grizzlies have made it just once in that span — last year.

Prediction: Wichita Northwest 31, Bishop Carroll 28

No. 4 Topeka at No. 1 Derby

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Derby is playing like a No. 1 seed.

The Panthers had the largest margin of victory in Class 6A last week, beating Dodge City by 47.

Derby will likely get one of its top two opponents of the 2018 season in Topeka in the quarterfinal round. The Trojans don’t have that signature win, but they lost to No. 3 Manhattan 21-20 in Week 2.

The Panthers are looking for their fourth straight state semifinal appearance. In fact, Derby has only missed out on the final four once since 2011.

Derby will come in as the deeper and more talented team. The Panthers must find a way to contain one of the most elusive players in Kansas: junior running back Ky Thomas.

Prediction: Derby 35, Topeka 24

No. 3 Great Bend at No. 2 Maize

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Maize put in one of its most impressive performances of 2018 last week.

The Eagles shut out crosstown rival Maize South 35-0 to clinch their second straight regional championship. It was a massive step for the program.

Friday, Maize has a chance to make history with its first state semifinal appearance in recent history.

Senior quarterback Caleb Grill has hit his stride with one of the deepest receiving corps in the Wichita area.

The Great Bend offense hasn’t scored under 30 since Week 2 against Hays. But the Panthers haven’t seen an offense like the one they will see Friday since they lost 56-34 to Wichita Northwest.

Prediction: Maize 45, Great Bend 35

No. 3 Goddard at No. 2 Wellington

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Points are not coming.

Goddard and Wellington have produced two of the best defenses in Class 4A this season. Their offenses have been streaky.

The Lions have held six opponents under 10 points, and they are starting to hit their peak. Facing Andover, Circle and Andover Central in the past three weeks, Goddard has allowed just 16 points combined.

Wellington is right there, too. Against Winfield, Mulvane, Rose Hill and Buhler in the past four weeks, the Crusaders are 3-1 and have allowed 41 total points.

Prediction: Goddard 17, Wellington 14

Scott City at Andale

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These could be the top two teams in a loaded Class 3A.

Six of the remaining eight teams are undefeated, but Andale and Scott City have proven to be in another tier.

The Indians are likely the most complete team in 3A with a powerful defense and an offense that continues to chug through injuries. The Beavers have the second-best defense in the class.

Together, Andale and Scott City have allowed just 113 points in 2018. But neither has been held under 30 since Week 2.

Prediction: Andale 28, Scott City 26

Phillipsburg at Conway Springs

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Conway Springs has drawn the short stick.

The Cardinals will face undefeated Phillipsburg, a team some believe is the best in Class 2A. On the other side of the bracket, Hutchinson-Trinity and Hoisington have a combined three losses.

Phillipsburg is seeking its fourth state semifinal appearance in the past five years.

Conway Springs is after its first. But the Cardinals have proven their quality this season after sweeping arguably the deepest district in Kansas. And they get this one at home.

Prediction: Conway Springs 31, Phillipsburg 28

No. 13 Arkansas City at No. 1 McPherson

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Arkansas City is one of the best feel-good stories of the Kansas state playoffs, but, as the Bulldogs have been all season, they are underdogs.

Ark City is the highest-seeded team left among all classes at No. 13 in Class 4A West. Their perseverance has been rewarded with arguably the best team in McPherson football history.

The Bullpups have set countless records in 2018 and are seeking more history with their first state championship in school history.

Ark City might not be the strongest team the Pups have faced this season, but it will undeniably be the most motivated.

Prediction: McPherson 42, Arkansas City 21

Pratt at Smoky Valley

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Pratt and Smoky Valley haven’t lost in 2018 and for good reason. They boast two of the top running backs in Kansas.

Pratt’s Travis Theis is one of the best small-class athletes in the state. He has the third-most rushing yards with 1,955, averaging almost 200 a game.

Smoky Valley’s Tim Lambert is one of the fastest high schoolers in Kansas, and that has been reflected on the field with 1,395 yards in 2018.

Whichever defense can contain the other team’s top weapon will likely move on to the final four.

Prediction: Pratt 28, Smoky Valley 21

Smith Center at Sedgwick

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Sedgwick’s offense has been the talk of Kansas in 2018, but the Cardinals showed reason to believe they are more than a gimmick last week.

The Cardinals’ defense shut out Meade to capture a regional championship. It was their first defensive shutout of 2018.

Smith Center will be a different animal.

Some believe the Redmen to be the top team in Class 1A. They have the second-best defense in the class, having allowed just 75 points in 10 weeks.

Sedgwick gets this quarterfinal at home, where the Cardinals will try to take that next step — into the state semifinals — for the first time.

Prediction: Smith Center 28, Sedgwick 21

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