The VK Pod: McPherson radio’s Jim Joyner helps preview the state quarterfinals
Caleb Grill - Maize, Quarterback, Sr.
He has the Maize offense cooking.
For most of the 2018 season, the Eagles’ defense has been the reason heads have turned to the west side of Wichita. But heading into the state quarterfinals, Grill and the offense have turned it up.
While the defense is still as sharp as ever, Maize has scored 91 points in its first two playoff games.
Breece Hall - Wichita Northwest, Running Back, Sr.
After Northwest’s Week 1 win over Bishop Carroll, Hall said he had one of his worst games.
Since then, he has put up three 200-yard games, including in the Grizzlies’ first-round playoff game against Salina South.
Carroll always plays Northwest tight, and Hall will be needed big-time.
Gabe Hoover - McPherson, Receiver, Sr.
Some count McPherson lucky to get No. 13 Arkansas City with three weeks to go in the 2018 season.
The Bulldogs won two games in the regular season and are into the state quarterfinals. McPherson hasn’t lost.
Hoover is the Pups’ top receiving option, and quarterback Kyler Hoppes is likely to look his way a lot Friday at home.
Blake Mitchell - Goddard, Tight End, Jr.
With Carroll’s Clay Cundiff out for the rest of the 2018 season, Mitchell is the best remaining tight end type left in the Wichita area.
Goddard has one of the toughest matchups of the sectional round against a stout Wellington defense. But Mitchell might be the Lions’ top threat to breaking it down.
This will be Goddard’s first road game outside of the immediate Wichita area since last season.
Derby - Offensive Line
The Derby offensive line puts on a show week after week.
The Panthers are known for their defense, but behind their offensive line, they haven’t scored fewer than 30 since they played Carroll on the road in Week 4.
Topeka is prone to allow at least 20, and against Derby that could be more like 40.
Andale - Defensive Line
The Indians have their biggest test of 2018 against Scott City.
The Beavers have cruised into the final eight, as has Andale. The Indians are confident in their defense, but it will be challenged against a semifinalist from 2017.
Andale’s defensive line is headlined by senior Mason Fairchild, but its depth is why it’s considered one of the best in Class 3A.
Eric Kohncke - Sedgwick, Linebacker, Sr.
Kohncke is an unlikely pick with three weeks to play.
A German foreign-exchange student, Kohncke has been outstanding for Sedgwick. He has more than 120 tackles.
Sedgwick is looking to take the next step toward its first state championship in school history with a win over Smith Center, one of the top teams in Class 1A.
Jose Ledesma Jr. - Maize, Cornerback, Sr.
Great Bend likes to throw it, and Maize doesn’t like to give up a lot of points.
Panthers quarterback Koy Brack has 1,891 yards this season, but the Eagles’ defense has shown an ability to clamp down toward the red zone. Ledesma has come up big in the back end.
He and the rest of the Eagles’ secondary will be key in helping to contain one of Class 5A’s top offenses.
Hunter Igo - Derby, Safety, Sr.
If Topeka’s Ky Thomas gets to the second level of the Derby defense, Igo could be huge at stopping the bleeding.
Igo is one of the most versatile players in Kansas, and he will be needed against one of the state’s most dynamic offenses.
If the Derby front seven plays to its top potential, though, it’s possible Igo won’t need his name called on the defensive side of the ball.