Derby defense comes through in road win over defending 5A champions
Some teams have already circled their key games on the schedule: that one team the players want just a little bit more.
Here is a preview of our top 25 high school football games in the Wichita area ahead of the 2019 season.
4. Carroll @ Northwest
Last year, the City League’s top two teams kicked off the 2018 season with perhaps the game of the season as Northwest topped Carroll 23-22 with a last-second 20-yard field goal. It was the first-field goal attempt of then-sophomore Carson Arndt’s life.
The foes’ paths crossed again in the Class 5A Sectional round, and it went down as the most high-scoring game of the year in the Wichita area as the Grizzlies won again by a staggering 84-67 final.
8. Mulvane @ Andale
Mulvane coach Daniel Myears got a nice taste of Andale football last year with a 42-14 home loss. Now the Wildcats have a year under Myears’ system and have to go to the Indians’ house and pull the upset.
Mulvane brings have a strong offensive line and a star running back in senior Cole Diffenbaugh. Andale lost a lot of its bulk from the offensive and defensive lines. If Mulvane can complete the stunner, it will be up to the run game and run defense.
19. Salina Central @ Eisenhower
Eisenhower will be one of the most motivated teams in Kansas heading into Week 1. Last year, the Tigers had high expectations, got off the bus at Salina Central and lost 44-7 to a team that hadn’t won since 2015. Eisenhower needs its swagger back, and redemption is its best shot.
25. Cheney @ Garden Plain
In one of the best small-school rivalries in the area, last year’s game was season-defining. Garden Plain won 15-12 in 2018, and Cheney didn’t win a game until five weeks later. Only a couple of miles separate the schools. There is a lot of familiarity and a lot of animosity.
24. Kapaun @ West
Last year was the first time West played Kapaun since 2015, and the game ended almost as it started. Playing in a rainy Cessna Stadium, Kapaun won 6-0 and allowed just two yards of offense.
If West is to compete for a City League title, a win over Kapaun is a virtual must.
12. Wellington @ Andale
This could be Andale’s biggest regular-season game in recent history. Wellington has been building toward a program-defining win since coach Zane Aguilar took over. The Crusaders won a Class 4A regional championship last year, but in their meeting with Andale in Week 2, they lost 28-0 at home. Andale respects Wellington as a legitimate AVCTL IV opponent and will prepare accordingly.
20. Maize South @ Andover
The AVCTL II gauntlet gets fired up in Week 2. Last year, Ark City finished last in the league and won a regional title. Last year’s meeting was a pivotal 20-3 road win for Andover that launched into another win the following week — and another loss for Maize South.
18. Derby @ Salina Central
Salina Central drove to Derby with all the confidence in the world after beating Eisenhower 44-7 in Week 1. The Panthers brought Central back to earth with a 63-0 decision that proved Derby was still the team to beat in AVCTL I and the Wichita area. This year, Central will believe a change of venue will flip its fortune.
21. Northwest @ Great Bend
Northwest and Great Bend had two of the top offenses in Class 5A last year, and that carried them to the state quarterfinals. Last year, Northwest put 56 on the board at home in a 22-point win. Now the Grizzlies must go on the road.
Great Bend will be without graduate quarterback Koy Brack, one of the top throwers in Kansas last year.
16. Goddard @ Andover Central
It was one of the games of the year in 2018. Andover Central traveled across town coming off a tough 21-14 home loss to Eisenhower. The Jaguars had little shot on paper but sent the game to overtime before losing 17-16 to the eventual Class 4A runner-up. The teams met again in the regional round, and Goddard won again 21-7.
1. Carroll @ Derby
One of the only games in the Wichita area that attracts fans from other schools, Derby and Carroll could put on a classic in 2019.
Last year, Derby beat the defending 5A champions 24-6 on the road en route to an undefeated 6A title-winning season. The Panthers’ defense showed it was the best in Kansas. Although Derby’s defense will be strong again, both offenses are likely to shine, with some of the top play-makers in the Wichita area looking to light up the scoreboard.
Carroll has not beaten Derby since the series was reintroduced in 2015.
15. Andover @ Kapaun
There might not a stronger annual inter-league rivalry game in the Wichita area. City League vs. AVCTL II, with bragging rights on the East side of town, are on the line. Kapaun has won three of the past four meetings, including last year with a 33-26 victory in which Kapaun senior Scott Valentas scored three touchdowns.
With a lot of familiarity between the teams, it is guaranteed to be an emotional battle.
6. Eisenhower @ Goddard
There is a friendly twist to this year’s Goddard rivalry. Last year, Darrin Fisher was the defensive coordinator behind one of Kansas’ top units. Under Goddard coach Tommy Beason, Fisher’s defenses gave up fewer than 20 points nine times. After the season, Eisenhower coach Marc Marinelli stepped down, and Fisher took the job. Beason and Fisher consider each other best friends, but they made it clear upon Fisher’s hiring they have already circled their Week 4 matchup.
Goddard won an ugly 12-3 game last year.
17. Northwest @ Kapaun
Last year it was a matchup of undefeated City League powers. This year could be the same. Part of Northwest’s undefeated regular season, the Grizzlies beat Kapaun 55-26 at home. Senior running back Breece Hall scored five times against one of Wichita’s strongest defenses.
For the Crusaders, a win over Northwest would be year-changing, as they haven’t won in this series since 2013.
9. Great Bend @ Carroll
Few out-of-town teams come through Wichita each football season, and even fewer good ones do. Great Bend, a 5A quarterfinalist last year, visitd Carroll this season in what should be a riot of a game.
Last year’s contest in Great Bend finished with a 36-33 Golden Eagles victory in which sophomore quarterback Aiden Niedens came in for injured senior Cade Becker. Senior Brady Bockover scored his first touchdown with about two minutes left to secure the win.
11. Andover Central @ Maize South
It was a Maize South dagger last year. Junior receiver Braden Pfeifer, the coach’s son, caught a late-game touchdown for the first of his career to give Maize South a 21-20 win at Andover Central. It catapulted the Mavericks’ season; they went on to win four more. This year’s contest will go a long way in shaping up the top third of the AVCTL II standings.
3. Goddard @ Maize
Last year, this matchup put a stamp on Maize’s bid for a state championship. The Eagles hit the road riding a five-game shutout streak to start the season and beat Goddard 27-2 to make it six straight games without giving up a touchdown. It was Goddard’s first loss of the season and outlined the Lions’ offensive deficiencies.
This year, Goddard will be out to repay the favor. The Lions will go on the road in 2019 against one of the top returning teams in the Wichita area.
23. Garden Plain @ Conway Springs
Conway Springs hasn’t lost a regular-season game since 2016, but this year, Garden Plain might be the most likely candidate to change that. The Owls lost 28-7 at home last year and will be motivated heading into the growing rivalry.
5. Kapaun @ Carroll
For 20 years, Carroll football has been able to say it has beaten Kapaun. Last year, the Golden Eagles won 28-14 in a game that featured a fourth-string quarterback. The Holy War is regarded as the longest-living rivalry in the Wichita area, and the 2019 episode shoud be as good as ever.
Last season was considered Kapaun’s best shot in years to take Carroll down. This year’s group could be even more motivated.
13. St. James @ Kapaun
The Crusaders are going for a three-year sweep over the Kansas City area. Kapaun added St. James Academy to its schedule in 2016. Two years ago, the game went to overtime, but Kapaun prevailed. Last season, the Crusaders cracked the Thunder 25-0 on the road.
Now St. James has to come to Wichita and show the city what the Northeast part of Kansas has to offer.
10. Andover @ Andover Central
It’s about painting the city blue or gold. Last year, Andover Central beat its crosstown rival 16-14 in one of the more ugly games of 2018. Andover was seemingly losing players to injury every other play, and the Jaguars couldn’t find a rhythm either, ending with a game-winning safety.
If both teams can make it to Week 7 relatively healthy, it could be one of the premier games of 2019 and have major AVCTL II and postseason implications, along with bragging rights.
7. Maize South @ Goddard
When Maize South swarmed the field after a 23-22 overtime home win over Goddard last year, it sent a message to the rest of Kansas that the Mavericks were back ... and that maybe Goddard had a crack in the armor.
That win was the pinnacle of Maize South’s six-game win streak to finish the regular season and one of the more electric finishes around the area last year. This season, both teams have their eye on the AVCTL II title and an undefeated regular season. This will likely be each other’s biggest league roadblock.
22. Maize @ Salina Central
The Salina Central defense couldn’t hold Maize’s three-headed monster last year. Quarterback Caleb Grill, receiver Preven Christon and running back Caden Cox led the Maize offense to a 48-26 win in an AVCTL I-defining contest that set up the massive Derby-Maize game in Week 8 with two undefeated teams.
2. Maize @ Derby
Down two scores midway through the fourth quarter, Maize coach Gary Guzman stood up to Derby and went for it on fourth-and-22 from the Derby 24. Quarterback Caleb Grill lofted a flawless ball to the corner to fellow senior Jordon Helm.
Maize went on to lose last year’s AVCTL I title game, a meeting between division leaders in 6A and 5A, but it was one of the best games of the season. Now it’s time for round 2 between Wichita’s best program and one that has gone from good to great in a couple of years.
14. Wellington @ Mulvane
After Week 2, Wellington and Mulvane will know whether an AVCTL IV title is legitimately on the line or not. If both lose to Andale, this Week 8 fixture becomes the best game of the league year.
Although there has been some friendly history between the programs, Wellington and Mulvane are evenly matched and don’t like it. Last year, Mulvane pulled out a 14-13 road win.