Varsity Football

The Unbeatens: Wichita area’s most/least likely football teams to make a playoff run

Derby Panthers

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Derby football coach Brandon Clark and offensive lineman Alex Conn Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Derby hasn’t missed the semifinal round since 2014.

The Panthers appear bound for the state title game for the fourth straight season, looking to claim their fourth championship in five years.

Class 6A West has four undefeated teams left after Week 5, but none have the point differential that Derby boasts. The Panthers head into Week 6 against Hutchinson as the No. 1 seed, looking to start 6-0 for the third time in four years and sixth time since 2000.

They haven’t won by fewer than 21 points in any game.

Odds for a title game appearance: Most likely.

Andale Indians

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Andale coach Dylan Schmidt Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

After falling out in the semifinal round last year, Andale is poised for more in 2019.

The Indians are 2-0 in district play with a +42 margin of victory in those games. And Andale plays in one of the toughest districts in Class 3A. Only two teams have a losing record.

Andale has missed the state semifinals just once since 2014, the last time it won a state championship. Its biggest competition will likely come in undefeated Scott City, who Andale beat 35-14 in the sectional round last year.

Odds for a title game appearance: Highly likely.

Wichita Northwest Grizzlies

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Wichita Northwest’s Reagan Jones Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Wichita Northwest doesn’t have the top-end talent it had last year, when the Grizzlies reached the Class 5A championship game, but there is little reason the they can’t get back.

Northwest is the No. 2 seed in Class 5A West behind Maize, who was the Grizzlies’ biggest competition out of the Wichita area last year and seems to be again.

Northwest has reached at least the state semifinals each of the past two years, with only one loss outside of the postseason in that time.

Odds for a title game appearance: Highly likely.

Maize Eagles

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Maize’s Preven Christon Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Maize’s focus will always be on the next opponent, but in the back of the Eagles’ minds, Northwest is there.

Maize is the No. 1 seed in Class 5A West and is coming off its first semifinal appearance in school history. Last year, Northwest held Maize out of the title game with a 67-60 decision.

If Maize beats Northwest, a trip to Pittsburg will likely be in the cards.

Odds for a title game appearance: Likely.

McPherson Bullpups

McPherson has been gifted with Goddard’s blunders this season.

The Bullpups fell to Goddard in the semifinals last year, missing out on the Class 4A championship game. Goddard is 2-3 this season, the Bullpups 5-0.

Andover Central seems to be the strongest contender after McPherson beat rival Buhler 21-14 in Week 5.

Odds for a title game appearance: Likely

Garden Plain Owls

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Garden Plain’s John Nowak Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

A look at the Class 2A western districts favors Garden Plain.

The Owls haven’t reached the state championship game since 2007, the last time they won a title. Eureka and Belle Plaine are the best of District 5. Cimarron and Lakin represent District 7. The biggest competition comes out of District 8, with Hoisington and Norton.

Garden Plain needs some games to fall its way, but the Owls have a shot at a title game appearance.

Odds for a title game appearance: Less likely

Halstead Dragons

halstead high school football
Halstead football team Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Halstead throttled Hesston by 40 last week, sending a message that the Dragons belong in the title conversation.

Sabetha is the back-to-back Class 3A champion but sits on the other side of the bracket. Halstead’s biggest competition in the western half of Kansas comes from Scott City, Colby and Andale, which knocked out the Dragons last year.

Halstead came close to a title game appearance in 2015, falling in the semifinals.

Odds for a title game appearance: Less likely.

Maize South Mavericks

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Maize South improved to 5-0 on the season with a 24-17 victory over Andover Central on Friday behind a defense that forced five turnovers, including two returned for a touchdown. Taylor Eldridge The Wichita Eagle

Maize South has been one of the most consistent teams in the Wichita area since the school opened about a decade ago.

The Mavericks are 5-0 for the first time since 2012. They reached the regional round that year. This fall marks their second 5-0 start in school history.

But Maize South has a real shot at a run this season. Class 5A West is top-heavy with Wichita Northwest, Maize and Bishop Carroll. The Mavericks belong in that mix.

Odds for a title game appearance: Less likely.

Sedgwick Cardinals

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Sedgwick’s Lance Hoffsommer Kelley DeGraffenreid Courtesy of Sedgwick athletics

Sedgwick is on a roll, but Smith Center is on its side of the bracket.

Smith Center has won a state championship each of the past two years — and won those title games by a combined 95 points.

The Cardinals were Smith Center’s biggest postseason competition last year, but they would be the underdog in another postseason meeting.

Odds for a title game appearance: Less likely.

Belle Plaine Dragons

Belle Plaine is 5-0 for the first time since 1992 and has a real shot at going undefeated in the regular season.

That said, the Dragons have hadlimited postseason success. Belle Plaine hasn’t won a playoff game in more than a decade. Their opponents this season have a 6-19 combined record.

But last year, Gardner-Edgerton reached the Class 6A quarterfinals, and it hadn’t won a regional playoff game since 2011.

Odds for a title game appearance: Least likely.

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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.