KCAC football race to take shape this week

By Steve Sell
September 23, 2016

Friday’s favorites...

• KCAC STANDINGS TO BE JUMBLED – Of course after the first week of KCAC football conference play, five teams are tied at the top at 1-0.

But that number will be whittled by at least two this week.

1-0 teams McPherson College and Bethel clash Saturday at North Newton, while 1-0s Saint Mary and Tabor meet up in Leavenworth. The other 1-0 team, Sterling, is at Friends, which traditionally is a close game.

One team also will win for the first time this year when Bethany travels to Ottawa. Both teams are 0-1 in the KCAC and 0-3 overall. Ottawa has been among the KCAC’s elite for a long time and I’ll be shocked if it starts 0-4. Former Bethany College All-American Kent Kessinger has developed a strong program in Ottawa, much like his father did during his 28-year tenure in Lindsborg.

Southwestern plays at Kansas Wesleyan in Saturday's other game, which is homecoming for the Coyotes.

• CLEVELAND OWNS THE ROYALS AT HOME — When the Kansas City Royals look back at why they missed the postseason for the first time since 2013, injuries to players such as Mike Moustakas, Luke Hochevar, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain will be at the forefront.

But there are two other huge factors — the Royals’ failures against the American League West and their lack of success against Cleveland at Progressive Field.

The Royals have staggered against the AL West, punctuated by four straight recent losses to lowly Oakland at The K, which was the death blow to their hopes.

But the Royals’ woes in Cleveland also have played a major role. With Thursday night’s loss — which completed a three-game sweep by the Indians — Kansas City finished an ego-sapping 1-9 at Progressive Field.

And most of the games seemingly were decided by a run or two. The first two losses of this series were by a run and then Thursday it was a 2-2 game before Royals killer Carlos Santana crushed a three-run homer off Dillon Gee in the sixth inning.

Not only are the playoffs just about out of range, the Royals are still having to fight for a winning season. They are now just 77-76 with nine games left to play, six of them at home.

• SALINA TEAMS STRUGGLING — Salina Central and Salina South have been football powerhouses for decades.

But it seems almost unfathomable that these two longtime Class 5A playoff staples are still looking for their first win.

Salina South is staring 0-4 in the face. The Cougars are home tonight, but Maize comes in with a 2-1 record that includes wins over Newton and Goddard Eisenhower. Salina Central, meanwhile, is on the road to much-improved Campus, which is 2-1 after winning just two games all of last season.

The Salina schools being down in football is one of the more stunning stories so far during the early season.

• WHAT’S THE FUSS ABOUT? — Remember all the clamoring when it was announced that New England would be without future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady for four games for his starring role in “Deflate Gate?”

No worries. The Patriots improved to 3-0 on Thursday with a 27-0 battering of Houston as it just seems to be a next-man-up philosophy.

The Patriots plugged in somebody named Jacoby Bassett at quarterback and he was highly efficient, including a touchdown run on a well-executed bootleg, which is my favorite play in football. I just shake my head as to why more teams don’t use it in short-yardage situations.

The Patriots now have 10 days until their next game against struggling Buffalo. It appears the Pats are going to survive Brady's absence just nicely.