Varsity Football

‘We want Derby’: Could we soon see Andale take on the Wichita area’s bests?

Over the past five years, only five teams in all classifications of Kansas high school football have a better win percentage than the Andale Indians.

Six teams have won two state championships since 2014 but have a worse record than Andale in that time. One team, Rossville, has won three titles in five years and still hasn’t won as many games as the Indians.

Since Andale’s last title in 2014, it went 53-7 through the 2018 season. Here is who has been better:

  • Bishop Miege, Class 4A (5 state championships) 62-4
  • Derby, Class 6A (3 state championships) 58-5
  • Phillipsburg, Class 2A (2 state championships) 57-6
  • Central Plains, Class 1A (2 state championships) 54-5
  • Spearville, 8-man division I (1 state championship) 52-6

So if Andale has won only one championship over the past five full seasons, how can it have a better record than a team with three?

The Indians have lost three regular season games since 2014. They have outscored opponents 2,041-551. That is a margin of more than 33 points a game.

So why don’t they schedule tougher opponents?

They can’t.

Class 3A is the highest classification in Kansas that does not use the 16-team seeding method. In 6-4A, 32 teams are split between east and west. All 16 teams play a Week 9 playoff game based on their records and margins of victory through the regular season.

Class 3A still uses district play to determine who reaches the postseason. The six teams in each district are determined geographically. Each team plays five district games.

On top of that, Andale competes in AVCTL IV and must fill its remaining schedule with league games.

At schools like Derby and Bishop Carroll, teams that aren’t forced into district games, programs can negotiate home-and-home series with whoever they choose.

Derby high school football: Hunter Igo
Derby senior Hunter Igo runs into the end zone in the Panthers’ 24-6 win at Bishop Carroll on Friday. (Sept. 21, 2018) Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

In the Wichita area, Wichita Northwest visits Great Bend in Week 3, Carroll goes to Derby in Week 4, Maize hosts Goddard in Week 5. That’s just to name a few.

But just because Andale can’t schedule the Wichita area’s best teams doesn’t mean the Indians don’t want to.

“We want Derby,” senior defensive back Scotti Easter said. “I think we would have a great competition with them. They would definitely give us a game, and that’s why they’re 6A and we’re 3A. They have about 300 kids in their football program, but I think we could hold our own.”

Andale coach Dylan Schmidt said until either district play is removed from Class 3A or leagues are dissolved, there is only one way for his program to meet up with the likes of Derby or Bishop Carroll.

Some of the teams Andale plays during the regular season cannot field sub-varsity teams. Andale can. If opponents can’t give the junior varsity a game, Schmidt can work to schedule any team in Kansas.

For the past two years, Andale has met Derby in sub-varsity play. Two years ago, Derby beat Andale 8-7. Last year, it was 8-7 with four minutes left before Derby pulled away late, Schmidt said.

“Everybody likes to be challenged,” Schmidt said. “I feel like we are on a yearly basis. ... Our goal has always been to win every game, and we are yet to do that. I hope the guys feel challenged in that sense.

“When you see what Hutch and Derby have done through the years, that’s really special. I hope we can get to that level.”

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

As for the varsity team, Collegiate, Mulvane and Wellington are typically the best teams Andale plays throughout the regular season. Over the past five years, Andale is 14-1 against those teams, and its only loss came in overtime to Collegiate on the road.

So far this season, Andale is 2-0 against those three teams after beating Wellington 35-7 with a backup quarterback on Friday night. Last year, Wellington reached the Class 4A quarterfinals. Andale led 14-0 through four snaps and 7-0 after one play from scrimmage.

Indians senior Mac Brand took a game-opening handoff up the middle, broke a tackle and took home a 67-yard touchdown with an ankle injury.

Easter said when Brand scored on the first play, it took the wind out of the sails. He wanted a game and said he realized it wouldn’t be.

Schmidt said he isn’t too worried about the schedule.

“For us, this never gets old,” he said. “So much goes into this, so when you come out and you’re successful, it validates all the hard work. Over the past couple years, I’ve been happy with how we’ve played, but with that said, we’ve never got it done, gone to the end and won it.

“I hope coming out here and getting the chance to fly around is never taken for granted because I know I don’t.”

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Schmidt said he and his staff take great pride in their preparation, and it shows on Friday nights. But that often leaves the starters playing until halftime or sometimes the end of the first quarter.

Last year, Andale didn’t play to a two-score finish until its Class 3A state semifinal against Pratt. The Indians lost 21-19. A year earlier, they played a one-score game in Week 1 and didn’t have another until the state semifinals against McPherson.

Senior defensive lineman Carson Fair said the coaches do a good job at keeping everyone engaged physically and mentally throughout the pending blowouts of the regular season, but it’s hard to flip a switch a couple of times every 12 months.

“It’s no fun going the whole regular season beating the crap out of everybody,” Fair said. “Then you hit the playoffs, and sometimes you’re not prepared to play those good teams.”

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Friday night, Andale junior running back Eli Rowland scored a 35-yard touchdown. When the offensive line trotted off the field, its o-line coach was livid. Fair missed a reach block. It didn’t matter Friday, but it might at the end of the season, Schmidt said.

Ideally, the Indians could see the risks of their missed assignments throughout the regular season, Schmidt said. Until the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) changes anything to the Class 3A format or league games are removed, all signs point toward more undefeated regular seasons.

But that doesn’t mean the Indians aren’t dreaming about a chance to play the best of Classes 5 and 6A.

“I would definitely pay to see that,” Easter said.

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle
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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.