More than 30 percent of the teams left alive in Kansas are out of the Wichita area.
There are 15 teams heading into the state quarterfinals across the 11-man classifications. Here is a recap of the regional round:
Goddard at McPherson
In Week 6 against Augusta, McPherson star Cody Stufflebean felt his right knee collapse.
A strained MCL kept Stufflebean on the sideline for the rest of the game, the two that followed and most of McPherson’s first round playoff game, a 63-7 win over Abilene.
Stufflebean, a senior tight end and defensive lineman, was in for a handful of snaps in that game. One came on a punt. He broke through the line and swatted the kick from the sky. McPherson recovered and ran it back for a touchdown.
Through injury and blowouts, McPherson’s Kansas State pledge has missed a lot of football in his senior season. Coach Jace Pavlovich said he has only played 13 quarters in 2019.
But Stufflebean wasn’t coasting while he was out with the MCL injury.
Pavlovich said he has Stufflebean as a teacher’s aide. Pavlovich said Stufflebean used that time to go outside and run to get back into shape.
He was at his peak Friday night.
McPherson hosted Goddard in a rematch of last year’s Class 4A state semifinal, a game the Bullpups lost 15-14 in 2018. Leading into the game, the McPherson players said it was the rematch they were hoping for.
“You never want to make things personal,” Pavlovich said. “That’s something I learned a long time ago from my father, who was a football coach.
“But this one was personal.”
Stufflebean entered the game with five catches for 73 yards. He finished McPherson’s 14-8 regional championship win with six catches for more than 100 yards and the game’s two offensive touchdowns.
On defense, he forced Goddard into holding calls all night, and on the Lions’ final chance at a comeback victory, Stufflebean took the game by the neck.
On Goddard’s final four plays, Stufflebean had one sack, one tackle and two quarterback pressures, the second of which forced the game-clinching interception to defensive back Kaleb Hoppes.
McPherson has played eight one-score games over the past four years. The Bullpups are 21-1 over the past two seasons, outscoring opponents by an average of more than 36.5 points per game in that time.
Friday was different. Goddard went to the Class 4A state championship game last year. The Lions had reached the semifinals each of the past three seasons. They were 32-6 from 2016-18.
“There are some that questioned whether I was underrated just coming her at Mac where we don’t really play anybody,” Stufflebean said. “That will definitely send a statement to show that I’m meant to be there.”
Stufflebean’s recruitment caught fire in May when he received his first power 5 offer from Virginia Tech. Then came Air Force, Army, Wisconsin, K-State and Colorado.
At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, he has the frame of a Division I football player and the skill to match. He is the third D-I player out of McPherson since Pavlovich took over in 2015.
“Cody is pretty much everything you would ever want in a football player,” Pavlovich said. “Smart, talented, physical, aggressive, and he has the size as well.”
Stufflebean isn’t overly emotional. While players got caught up in after-the-whistle rifts, Stufflebean trotted away.
After he scored one of the most outstanding touchdowns of the season in Kansas - a 180-degree toe-tapping grab in the corner of the end zone - Stufflebean trotted away.
After he ended the game with five-play flurry that gave the ball back to the team in red to take a knee, Stufflebean trotted off the field.
In McPherson, radio play-by-play announcer Jim Joyner calls Stufflebean, “The big man.” It’s a simple nickname for one of Kansas’ most simply monstrous players.
As McPherson moves on through the Class 4A playoffs, the Bullpups will continue to face stronger competition. Stufflebean will have more opportunities to play past halftime.
McPherson hosts Arkansas City on Friday in the state quarterfinals, looking to get back to the semifinals for a third straight season.
Last year’s semifinal trip ended in heartbreak as Goddard’s Kaeden Hoefer tipped what would have been the game-winning touchdown into the hands of defensive back Gentry Cole for an interception that sent the Lions to state.
That play has haunted the McPherson football program for the past 12 months. Stufflebean, too.
So before he trades being a Pup for a Cat, Stufflebean is out to help capture McPherson’s first football state championship in school history.
“Every time we are together, it’s ‘One more rep,’ ” Stufflebean said. “We were only 3 yards away. That has definitely been the motivation all year.”
Arkansas City at Winfield
Aliyah Funschelle, Eagle correspondent
The Arkansas City Bulldogs defeated their rivals, the Winfield Vikings, 13-3. With the win, Ark City is a regional champion and heading to the Class 4A football quarterfinals.
It was the first time Ark City and Winfield met twice in one season. During their regular season meeting, Winfield defeated Ark City 20-18.
The Week 1 loss was the start of a 2-6 regular season for Ark City. The team’s two-win regular season made its odds of seeing the playoffs, let alone becoming regional champion, seem slim to none.
Despite Ark City’s losing record, Coach Jon Wiemers said that all it took were the players locking in and buying into their program to make the playoffs.
“I think (our season turned around with) the kids buying into our culture and what we’re trying to do,” Wiemers said. “It was just believing in that, and at some point that eventually took over.”
The Bulldogs had a chance to redeem themselves for a second-chance Cowley Cup matchup, but they let their nerves get the best of them at the beginning of the game.
Down by three at the half, Ark City was struggling to generate much offense. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that senior Braiden Mattocks ignited the offense and got the Bulldogs on the board.
“We were missing some big plays,” Wiemers said. “The second half I told them ‘Guys you have to calm down. Calm down and just play football.”
Going back to the basics and just playing football is exactly what the team did with the help of Mattocks. The senior ran in for a second touchdown the following drive, securing the playoff win for the Bulldogs.
Mattocks said that the game ultimately came down to who wanted it more. He said that the Bulldogs had the odds stacked against them and wanted to prove to the Cowley County community that they can take down the Vikings.
“We out-efforted them, that’s all there was to it,” Mattocks said. “We went out in the second half and believed we could win the game.”
Ark City will lay No. 1 McPherson in the quarterfinals. Ark City lost by 34 points to McPherson in the 2018 4A quarterfinals.
Buhler at Mulvane
In Week 4, Buhler beat Mulvane to push the visitors down to 0-4.
Since then and until Friday, Mulvane hadn’t suffered another loss. The Wildcats’ five-game win streak came to an end in the Class 4A regional round as they found themselves in deja vu.
Buhler beat Mulvane (5-5) for the second time this season, and this time, it was worse. The Crusaders advanced to the quarterfinal round with a 24-0 win.
It was Buhler’s first shutout of Mulvane since 1990. The Crusaders (8-2) will face 4A’s No. 2 seed Andover Central (9-1) for a spot in the semifinals.
Cheney at Collegiate
At this time last year, Cheney was looking forward to basketball season.
The Cardinals went 2-7 last year and missed the playoffs. It was a rarity. Cheney reached its second Class 3A quarterfinal in the past three years Friday with a 30-13 win over Collegiate.
The regional matchup was a rematch of the team’s Week 5 meeting, in which Cheney won 46-21 to end Collegiate’s undefeated start to the 2019 season. This time, the Cardinals ended the Spartans’ season.
Cheney (9-1) will host Scott City (8-2) in the 3A quarterfinals.
Wichita West at Derby
The Wichita area’s only two Class 6A teams left met in another Derby drubbing.
The Panthers beat Wichita West 49-13. Derby is 10-0 for the third straight season. The Panthers have clinched their ninth straight quarterfinal appearance.
Derby senior quarterback Grant Adler made his return to the starting lineup Friday after missing time with an ankle injury he suffered in practice. Adler split time with Lem Wash, who took over in his absence.
They combined for 221 passing yards and six total touchdowns.
Derby will face Manhattan (9-1) in a rematch of last year’s Class 6A semifinals, a game Derby won 24-6.