Varsity Football

High school football: Our preseason picks for champions, MVPs for Wichita-area leagues

Goddard’s Kyler Semrad
Goddard’s Kyler Semrad The Wichita Eagle

Every year, new league champions rise to the surface, and 2019 figures to be no different.

Here are the order-of-finish and MVP predictions for every league across the Wichita area ahead of the 2019 Kansas high school football season, which starts Friday, Sept. 6.

City League

Wichita Northwest high school football
Wichita Northwest junior receiver Zion Jones (15) celebrates with senior receiver Jamir Cupps after scoring his game-winning touchdown in the Grizzlies’ 67-60 state semifinal win over Maize on Friday night. (Nov. 16, 2018) Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

1. Wichita Northwest

2. Bishop Carroll

3. Wichita West

4. Kapaun Mt. Carmel

4. Wichita Heights

5. Wichita Southeast

6. Wichita East

6. Wichita North

9. Wichita South

Although Carroll entered last season with a talented roster, Northwest was considered one of the most skilled teams not only in Kansas but the region. Some skill is gone for both teams, but Carroll returns more depth. The City League will likely be decided in Week 1, when Carroll goes to Northwest. The road team has won five straight times in the series.

The battle for third will likely come a week later between Kapaun and West. Although the Crusaders have owned the series lately, 2019 could bring a change for West, a team that has more returning starters than most.

Offensive MVP: Reagan Jones - Wichita Northwest, QB, Sr.

Defensive MVP: Jack Wiens - Wichita Northwest, LB, Sr.

Coach of the Year: Weston Schartz - Wichita West

AVCTL I

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Derby running back Tre Washington is expected to shine in the Panthers’ first round matchup against Lawrence. Bo Rader The Wichita Eagle

1. Derby

2. Maize

3. Salina Central

4. Salina South

5. Campus

5. Hutchinson

5. Newton

Last season felt like Maize’s chance. Derby and Maize entered the final week of the season undefeated and top seeds of their respective classifications. Their game was one of the best of the season, as Derby won 35-21 with late drama.

On paper, Derby has the most talented roster in the Wichita area this year and should rip through a league that is likely to see a dip after its teams won 10 playoff games last year.

The Salina schools seem to be on a collision course for third. Maize brings back enough talent to finish ahead of both. Newton, Campus and Hutchinson are either entering a rebuild or nearing the end of one.

Offensive MVP: Tre Washington - Derby, RB, Sr.

Defensive MVP: Tyler Dorsey - Derby, DL, Sr.

Coach of the Year: Brandon Clark - Derby

AVCTL II

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

1. Goddard

2. Maize South

3. Andover Central

4. Andover

5. Eisenhower

6. Valley Center

7. Arkansas City

Behind Derby, Goddard might have the best roster in the Wichita area. The Lions were not seen as state championship contenders last season, but their young roster made it to the Class 4A title game.

That said, AVCTL II is the most unpredictable league in the Wichita area, with the other six teams hovering around the same talent level. Last year, Arkansas City finished last in the league but won a regional championship. Maize South came second and didn’t win a regional.

Offensive MVP: Cody Fayette - Maize South, OL, Sr.

Defensive MVP: Dhimani Butler - Goddard, LB, Sr.

Coach of the Year: Tommy Beason - Goddard

AVCTL III

1. McPherson

2. Buhler

3. Winfield

4. Augusta

4. Circle

4. El Dorado

Top to bottom, AVCTL III is the weakest league in the Wichita area. Last year, its teams combined for four playoff wins, and three of them came from McPherson on its way to the Class 4A semifinals. This year could be better, but the Bullpups will enter as heavy favorites after finishing last season undefeated in league play and 11-1 overall.

Behind McPherson, Buhler could be a dark horse for the league title, but even the Crusaders lost to the Pups 46-7 at home last year. They finished second in the league.

Offensive MVP: Cody Stufflebean - McPherson, TE, Sr.

Defensive MVP: Jakob Feil - McPherson, DB, Sr.

Coach of the Year: Steve Warner - Buhler

AVCTL IV

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

1. Andale

2. Wellington

3. Mulvane

4. Clearwater

5. Collegiate

6. Rose Hill

Wellington’s emergence made AVCTL IV a much stronger league last year, but Andale still handled the field like a hot knife through butter. Andale went to the Class 3A semifinals last year after an undefeated regular season. The Indians will be favored to do the same thing again this year.

Each of the other five teams in the league has a shot at second. Mulvane probably gave Andale its strongest league test last year but still lost 42-14 in Week 1.

Offensive MVP: Cole Diffenbaugh - Mulvane, RB, Sr.

Defensive MVP: Scotti Easter - Andale, DB, Sr.

Coach of the Year: Dylan Schmidt - Andale

Central Plains League

  1. Conway Springs

  2. Garden Plain

  3. Cheney

  4. Chaparral

  5. Kingman

  6. Trinity

  7. Douglass

  8. Belle Plaine

  9. Independent

Conway Springs hasn’t lost a league game since 2016. The Cardinals finished their second straight undefeated regular season in 2018 and should vie for a third straight this year. But the CPL should be stronger overall. Garden Plain finished fourth last year, Cheney seventh. Although the CPL doesn’t technically name a league champion because of district play, those two, and potentially Chaparral (in spite of losing a lot of skills guys) could contend, too.

Offensive MVP: Collin Koester - Conway Springs, RB, Sr.

Defensive MVP: Riley Petz - Cheney, DB, Sr.

Coach of the Year: Shelby Wehrman - Cheney

Central Kansas League

  1. Pratt

  2. Hoisington

  3. Hesston

  4. Halstead

  5. Smoky Valley

  6. Hillsboro

  7. Haven

  8. Nickerson

  9. Larned

  10. Lyons

Pratt lost its best player and coach, but the Greenbacks are faced with what seems to be a weaker league this year. Hoisington and Division I running back prospect Wyatt Pedigo will be their biggest hurdle, but the game is in Pratt. Although, Hoisington is the last team to beat Pratt on its home turf, in 2016.

Offensive MVP: Wyatt Pedigo - Hoisington, RB, Sr.

Defensive MVP: Scott Grider - Halstead, DB, Sr.

Coach of the Year: Brent Hoelting - Pratt

Heart of America

  1. Hutch Trinity

  2. Ell-Saline

  3. Sedgwick

  4. Marion

  5. Inman

  6. Remington

  7. Sterling

Last year, Ell-Saline and Sedgwick battled at the top of the Heart of America through the first two weeks. Hutch Trinity threw its hat in the ring with a Week 3 win over Ell-Saline. The Celtics went undefeated in league play.

All three teams lost their quarterbacks from last season, so whichever can replace and react most quickly this fall has the best shot.

Offensive MVP: Kale Schroeder - Sedgwick, WR, Sr.

Defensive MVP: Andrew Bergmeier - Hutch Trinity, LB, Jr.

Coach of the Year: Jordan Bell - Hutch Trinity

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

The selection process

Preps reporter Hayden Barber selected these players based on questionnaires sent to coaches, last year’s performances and his own personal evaluation and knowledge of Wichita area high school athletics.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle

Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.
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