Fearless Forecaster may be older than dirt, but his mind is still that of a frisky colt.
Fearless has put together several seasons where he’s picked nearly 80 percent of his football games correctly, even one year where he picked 82 percent.
But as any veteran prognosticator such as Fearless will tell you, picking the first week’s games is always the toughest and it can take a wrecking ball to the early season percentage. There are simply too many unknown factors.
Once again this year, Fearless will be picking the AVCTL Division III, area and KCAC games.
• AVCTL Division III •
• McPherson 28, Salina South 21 — Before cries of “homer” fill the air, look at the numbers. Tom Young is 4-0 against the Cougars while at McPherson. The Bullpups have a bevy of starters returning from a playoff team, the Cougars only three on both sides of the ball. If this game would have been played in Week 3 or 4, South would have been the pick. But there’s no substitute for experience. The more and more I watch this team, the more I like it. MHS, however, has to at least hold its own in the trenches if it wants to pull the upset.
• Andale 42, Buhler 35 — The marquee matchup of the weekend. Buhler is the defending 4A champion, but lost some very good linemen as well as All-State running back Riley Allen, though I believe it will replace him accordingly. Andale has a lot of studs back, with Hunter Knoblauch one of the best backs in Kansas. Andale also is at home and it has a tremendous following.
• Winfield 20, Arkansas City 14 — Nothing like bitter county rivals squaring off in Week 1. Arkansas City has gotten better the last couple of years, but there’s a lot of excitement in Winfield as quarterback Will Adler is one of the best in 4A.
• Mulvane 28, El Dorado 7 — Both teams have numerous holes to fill. Tradition says to take Mulvane.
• Wellington 26, Augusta 6 — Division III newbie Augusta has struggled mightily in recent years. Wellington, which once upon a time won a state championship under now-McPherson coach Tom Young, has a strong tradition.
• Wichita Collegiate 27, Rose Hill 20 — Rose Hill is kind of a mystery team. But Collegiate very seldom has a bad team.
• AREA •
• Hesston 21, Smoky Valley 14 — Look for this to be a slugfest. The ability of the Swathers to replace Ryan Schadler and Wyatt McKinney is the key in their bid for a 3A state championship because everything else is in place.
• Canton-Galva 35, Central Christian 6 — Kind of unsure of what to expect from the Eagles. Coach Jeff Savage has a retooled offensive and defensive line. Central Christian is the perfect opponent to work out the kinks.
• Ell-Saline 27, Inman 6 — Tough opener for the Teutons. Lots of speed for the Cardinals.
• Marion 33, Moundridge 7 — Ditto for the Wildcats. Almost no seniors on the team.
• Rural Vista 28, Little River 27 — Rural Vista combines the best of Hope and White City and both schools have been strong. Hope was 8-2 last year and many key players return.
• KCAC •
Bacone 38, McPherson College 20 — The Bulldogs picked on a tough opponent for a season opener.
Bethany 33, Southwestern Assemblies 21 — The mystery that is Bethany College football will be unraveled Saturday. Nobody really knows what Manny Matsakis has for sure in Little Sweden since he brought in about 85 or 90 new players.
Oklahoma Baptist 45, Saint Mary 35 — Oklahoma Baptist dropped a 30-point bomb on Southwestern and the Builders were picked ahead of Saint Mary in the preseason.
Baker 31, Ottawa 28 — Game of the day. Both teams are ranked, but Baker is at No. 5.
Hastings 27, Kansas Wesleyan 13 — It’s a rebuilding year for the Coyotes.
Friends 31, Doane 24 — The physical Falcons should wear Doane down.
Sterling 28, Concordia 14 — The Warriors are the defending KCAC champions and return the best set of skill-position players in the conference.
Tabor 35, Nebraska Wesleyan 21 — The Bluejays are ranked No. 8 in the country and at home. A pretty good combination.
Bethel and Southwestern are off as they opened last week.