The Maize seniors still remember coming to Eagles games in the old days Friday nights.
Although the team typically finished the season with about five wins, Maize receiver Preven Christon said it was the best part of his week — every week.
“We’ve all been around each other since middle school,” he said. “That bonding and the experiences we’ve had together, we’re trying to create a legacy.”
Players like Christon have the city of Maize reveling in newfound glory days of high school football.
Both teams, Maize High and Maize South, are off to 5-0 starts for the first time in the city’s history. Maize has captured back-to-back 5-0 starts for the first time ever, and Maize South has won 11 of its past 12 games.
If the regular season ended after Week 5, Maize would be the No. 1 seed in Class 5A West. Maize South would be No. 3.
Neither team’s schedule has been breezy to start the season, either.
Maize beat longtime rival Goddard 42-0 on Friday. The Eagles were up 28-0 at halftime and have outscored Goddard 69-2 over the past two years.
Goddard went to the Class 4A state championship game fewer than 12 months ago.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have some very good athletes,” Maize coach Gary Guzman said. “But it takes everybody. The student body has been amazing. I certainly don’t take credit for what’s happened here.”
Down the street Friday night, Maize South beat AVCTL II rival Andover Central 24-17. The Mavericks have never lost to Andover Central, but Andover Central entered Week 5 with a 4-0 record and was one of the favorites to reach the Class 4A title game this season.
The Mavericks forced five turnovers and had two defensive touchdowns.
“We build our team around defense, and this is why,” Maize South coach Brent Pfeifer said. “When you play a really talented offense and you have skill guys like Andover Central has, you’ve got to have guys that can stop them or it’s going to get away from you real fast.”
Maize and Maize South met in a Class 5A regional playoff game last season in an event that drew the biggest crowd of any regional postseason game in Kansas.
Maize won 35-0 and went on to the Class 5A semifinals.
Over the past 10 seasons, the programs are fairly similar. Maize had a 53-45 record in that time. Maize has gone 69-35.
In 2017, both programs finished 9-2, but neither team captured a sectional title. It’s possible both will in 2019.
Throughout the Maize game Friday, assistant coaches and players asked what the score was down the street between Maize South and Andover Central.
Maize senior quarterback Camden Jurgensen said there is a mutual respect among the neighboring schools. Many of these players are friends outside of football. But Maize senior defensive end Keaton Robertson said that isn’t the case once the pads come on.
“When we get inside the white lines, it’s war,” Robertson said.
The rivalry is about to take another turn.
Announced last week, Maize South is moving into AVCTL I starting next school year. That’s the same league as its crosstown rival.
Soon, Maize vs. Maize South will take on even more meaning — in every sport, every year.
“It’s going to be a crazy game, but obviously it’s way down the road,” Guzman said. “Everybody in Maize is all in. It’s a great place to be.”
In just 10 years of existence, Maize South has become one of the mainstays in the Wichita area under Pfeifer. And in eight seasons, Guzman has taken the Eagles from 3-6 to 5-0 for the second straight year, and Maize is considered one of the best teams in Kansas.
Neither team has ever enjoyed an undefeated regular season, but even if they don’t go unbeaten in 2019 the city of Maize seems to be turning into a bit of a football mecca.
“The people before us, they set this up,” Christon said. “Without them, this doesn’t exist. I would never think both of us would be 5-0.”