Varsity Football

Wichita playoff recap: See the biggest high school football upsets of the first round

The first round of the postseason saw an undefeated team lose while three teams with a double-digit seed moved on in the Wichita area.

Here is a recap of Week 9:

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Aliyah Funschelle, Eagle correspondent

The Clearwater Indians defeated the Hesston Swathers 35-28 on Friday night in Hesston to advance in the high school football Class 3A playoffs. The Indians hadn’t won a playoff game in five years.

“It just means so much to our school and community as a whole,” Clearwater junior Tanner Cash said. “I’m just so happy I can’t put it into words right now, I’m just so happy for everybody.”

Although it was the first round of the playoffs, the win did not come easily for the Indians.

Hesston answered almost every time Clearwater scored, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Clearwater had some wiggle room with a two-touchdown lead.

“Our guys want to play another week, and their guys wanted to play another week,” Coach Jeremy Scheufler said. “That’s the type of game you get when that kind of stuff happens.”

With Hesston’s 7-1 record, Clearwater knew it had work to do. Scheufler said he had been preparing the team all week for the game to come down to one-possession.

“We talked to the guys all week long that this game could be a one possession game. … It could be one or two plays that could really make a difference,” Scheufler said. “Tonight, we had a couple kids make some really big plays.”

Cash was one of those players. He had four touchdowns. After suffering from an MCL tear earlier in the season, the Indians had to accept the fact that they might not get their starting quarterback healthy enough to play.

Cash still found a way to lead and influence the team despite his injury and not being able to physically be out on the field with his team. Cash kept a positive mindset throughout his recovery that he would be able to play again this season.

“(Cash) showed up to practice every single day and his arm wasn’t hurt so he kept throwing passes with the intent that he would come back,” Scheufler said. “The injury he came back from, to only miss three games, I kept thinking that’s crazy but he’s a big, strong, healthy kid that just loves the game.”

Scheufler said that it isn’t often that a player like Cash comes around. He said that he’s happy Cash is healthy again not only for the team’s sake, but for the community to be able to watch a player of Cash’s caliber.

“Every once in a while, you get to coach a player like him. I’ve said it time and time again, he is one of the best players in Kansas, one of the best players in the area, and one of the best players in 3A,” Scheufler said. “I’m happy that people get the opportunity to see a kid like that play because his competitive drive is second to none.”

Scheufler, Cash, and the rest of the Indians get the opportunity to play undefeated Andale next week.

Despite having to face the 3A powerhouse that is Andale, Clearwater feels as if they have enough momentum to carry through to the second week of playoffs.

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For the second straight week and the second straight year, West beat East.

Last year, West topped its City League rival in back-to-back weeks to end the Aces’ regular and postseasons. The Pioneers did it again Friday with a 9-6 win in Week 9 after a 28-14 victory the week before.

After trailing 6-2 at halftime in a defensive slugger, the Pioneers found one score in the second half. That was all they needed.

No. 8 West moves on to face top-seeded Derby, the defending Class 6A champion. The Panthers haven’t lost to West since 1997. East finishes its season 5-4.

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It was one of the biggest shocks in all of Kansas.

Halstead entered Friday 8-0, looking to at least replicate its run in 2015 when it finished undefeated in the regular season and reached the Class 3A semifinals. That didn’t happen.

Collegiate went on the road and secured a 35-14 win to set up a rematch with district foe Cheney in the regional round.

It was a one-point game at halftime, but Collegiate scored on a 99-yard run midway through the third quarter, and that stole all the momentum.

Halstead entered Friday without a win over Collegiate since 1996.

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It is happening again.

Last year, Arkansas City entered the postseason as the No. 13 seed in Class 5A West. The Bulldogs went on to win a regional championship and reach the state quarterfinals. Friday, No. 12 Ark City beat No. 5 Ulysses 55-17.

The Bulldogs’ win sets up a massive Game of the Week contender against long-time rival Winfield, the No. 4 seed.

If Ark City can earn another road win, it would face the winner of Goddard and McPherson in the same round it lost to McPherson last season.

Ark City won just two games in the regular season, but they came in the final three weeks. The Bulldogs lost to Winfield 20-18 in Week 1.

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Andover hadn’t scored 28 points against a team with at least five wins since Oct. 20, 2017.

The Trojans have relied on their defense throughout the 2019 season, and they did Friday at Salina Central. But the offense came to life, too. No. 12 Andover pulled the 28-7 road upset over the No. 5 Mustangs.

Andover’s win sets up a monster matchup against No. 4 Bishop Carroll, who has won five straight after beating Valley Center in its first round matchup.

Senior linebacker Ashton Ngo scored the final two touchdowns for Andover in the win.

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Inconsistent play plagued Eisenhower the entire 2019 season, and it struck again Friday against a hot Hays team.

Eisenhower lost 31-6 as the No. 7 seed to No. 10 Hays. The Tigers lost three of their final four games, including to a pair of three-win teams.

Eisenhower started the 2019 season on fire, winning four of its first five under first-year coach Darrin Fisher coming off a disappointing 3-6 season.

Hays moves on to play No. 2 Maize South, who beat Salina South in the first round. Hays has now beaten Buhler and Eisenhower in three weeks.

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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.
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