The Inman-Moundridge showdown is always intense and this time it could be the game that determines a representative for the Class 2-1A football playoffs.
The teams meet on Friday in Inman with the winner taking a huge step toward securing a 10th game.
Both schools opened district play last week with narrow victories, the Teutons 10-7 over Medicine Lodge and the Wildcats rallied for a 34-30 decision over Remington. It was the first wins of the season for both schools.
Sedgwick is still regarded as the team to beat in the district, but the Teuton-Wildcat winner many believe will advance as the other qualifier.
“We are excited for the game,” said Inman coach Lance Sawyer, who played in his fair share of IHS-MHS games during his Teuton days. “Moundridge and Inman always will lead to a physical and competitive game regardless of the records.”
There are no secrets when the teams get together since they know each other so well.
“Moundridge has played a tough schedule,” said Sawyer, whose team has played many of the same schools. “They opened up the field and played well versus Remington. We are going to need to be able to stop (Moundridge quarterback Anthony) Otte. He has a good arm and really runs the ball well. They are big up front. We are going to need to be able to run the ball if we want to compete.”
The Teutons have moved on from losing quarterback Keaton Case in Week 4, out for the season with a broken leg. But Payton Froese has stepped in and done a good job.
Sawyer said his team is the healthiest it’s been since Week 1 as only a couple of players are out after the list had been quite long.
For Moundridge coach Jeremiah Meeks, it didn't take long for him to be aware of the importance of this rivalry.
"This is a big game for our kids and their's as well, anytime you talk about a rivalry it makes the game that much better, especially when it’s a district rivalry game," Meeks said. "Both teams are trying to get to 2-0 in districts and have a shot at the playoffs. This will be a fun tough game with a great atmosphere."
Meeks has great respect for the Teutons.
"They will be tough, they throw the ball around and put points up on the board," Meeks said. "They are a scrappy defense that lives on turnovers and we will have to protect the ball."
Meeks is hoping his team can feed off of last week's performance.
"It’s the best we have played as a team all year, defense played really well and the offense stepped up and put points on the board when we needed them," he said. "I was really happy with how we played on both sides of the ball. Noah (Eichelberger) and Parker (Lange) had huge games at wide receiver for us. Parker also had a couple huge picks on defense for us and set up scoring opportunities. They both made big catches to keep drives alive and also had a couple long TD catches."
Like Inman, Moundridge will come into the game healthier than it's been in a long time.
• St. John at Canton-Galva — The Eagles have been pointing to this game all season as it’s one they believe they have a great shot at winning.
C-G is still looking for its first win, but the hardest part of the schedule is behind it after a 50-0 loss to Central Plains last week.
“Our play was up and down, we had great run defense and pass blocking,” C-G coach Dustin Patee said of last week even though the score was lopsided. “Yet, our pass defense and run blocking struggled. The boys are giving great effort on both sides of the ball and we are only inches away from breaking into the win column.”
St. John has improved as it’s 3-2. The Tigers pulled off a bit of a stunner last week with a 22-20 win over Ellinwood.
“They are senior-junior heavy, but run a very simple scheme,” Patee said. “I'm hoping we can get some plays on offense to break early and gain confidence because they run 110-16 pass. So, we must be strong against the run.”
Patee said freshman Nick Pearson and junior Jonah Sargent have been recent bright spots.
“To be a freshman against a program such as Central Plains and do what he did is nothing short of remarkable and offensively he made some plays,” Patee said as Pearson had nearly 100 yards in receiving. Jonah Sargent, our junior captain is starting to get into the swing of things and really play like a leader.”
Patee said the Eagles will be as injury-free going into this game as they have been all season.
• Little River at Central Plains — Which Little River team is going to show up?
The Redskins played their best game of the season last week with a 64-30 rout of Goessel as they are battling with the teams not named Central Plains for the second playoff spot.
“Last week versus a very tough Goessel team we finally got over the hump so to speak and played a second half with emotion and execution,” Little River coach Paul Dold said. “Peyton Harvey was big for us with interceptions, big hits on defense and great blocking from the fullback spot which allowed sophomore Hunter Thomas to rack up some impressive yardage. Our offensive line, led by senior Dusty Page at center, improved considerably at blocking with a purpose until the whistle. Clay Zeller played a solid game despite a bruised thigh and Josh Dold returned from injury to play a solid game at end opposite Jake Wright at the other end.”
Central Plains, of course, is a huge obstacle as many believe it’s the best team in the state.
“They have had an impressive year and coach Steiner will have them ready to play,” Dold said. “We will have to be almost flawless and lucky if we are to stay in the game.”
The Oilers are 5-0 and have won their last two games by a combined score of 126-0. They actually have been pushed twice, defeating fellow state powerhouses Victoria (48-22) and Otis-Bison (40-28).
• Lyons at Smoky Valley — The Vikings are hoping a start another winning streak.
Their three-game winning streak was snapped last week as they got behind early against Hesston and never got anything going in a 35-0 loss.
"We did not play as well as we hoped this past week," Smoky Valley coach Tim Lambert said. "We need to get back on track for district play. We have a great opportunity in district play, but we need to regain some confidence."
This is a game the Vikings should dominate. The Lions are 0-5 and have scored more than 13 points only once, that coming last week in a 55-21 loss to Haven, a team the Vikings blew out.
It’s the Vikes’ last game before starting district play next week.
• Kingman at Hesston — You just get the sense it’s starting to come together for the Swathers.
After an unexpected 1-3 start, the Swathers were sharp in all facets last week with a 35-0 rout of Smoky Valley.
Kingman comes in 3-2, with wins over Hillsboro, Haven and Wichita Independent. The Eagles simply haven’t played the caliber of competition as the Swathers.
Hesston had it going both on the ground and through the air last week, while the defense blanked a Smoky Valley team that ha accounted for nearly 500 yards the week before.