Hesston is in. Smoky Valley and Little River hope to get in. Canton-Galva, Moundridge and Inman are playing out the string.
That pretty much sums it up for McPherson’s area football teams as the final week of the regular season plays out, with all playing on Thursday except for Smoky Valley.
• Hesston at Southeast of Saline (Thursday) — This is for a Class 3A district championship as both teams are 2-0, with the winner being home and the loser going on the road for the first round.
The Swathers are attempting to complete a 9-0 regular season.
“Southeast of Saline is a very good football team,” Hesston coach Clint Rider said. “They really don't have any weak position groups. Aidan Murray is a force for them at the center and defensive end positions. (Kayden) Besher is a good running back, but an even better outside linebacker. (Cody) Schlesener gives them a home-run threat and makes good decisions throwing the football. (Kyler) Sager is a threat at receiver. He runs really good routes and finds the holes in the defense well.
"This is a good measuring stick game for us and will get us ready to play good competition in the playoffs. I think both teams will be ready to play and will play with a lot of fire to try to secure home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.”
Hesston stomped Council Grove 59-2 last week. Grant Raleigh has his usual big game and now has 1,284 yards rushing and 1,366 passing. Daniel Fulghum adds 308 yards rushing, while the receiving has been balanced with Scott Duerksen (372), Tyler McCartney (370) and Zach Esau (315) all taking turns.
• Chapman at Smoky Valley (Friday) — This is a winner-take-all game as the victor moves on to join district champion Wamego.
The Vikings are 1-1 in the district and 4-4 overall.
“Chapman is a solid opponent,” Viking coach Chris Hattabaugh said. “We match up very well with them physically. Our players know what is at stake, so I anticipate us playing at a high level.”
The Vikings lost 35-14 last week to Wamego, but Hattbaugh saw some positives.
“Our players kept battling against a very good Wamego team on the road,” Hattabaugh said. “Our defense kept it close in the first half. We gave up one offensive touchdown, but we also gave up punt return TD. We gained some momentum in the second half and got it to 28-14, but Wamego put together a good drive and closed us out.”
Hattabaugh said Kaj Sjogren ran well in place of Aaron Taylor, who was lost early with a concussion. Greg Elvin had another solid game with 12 tackles and Stephen Klaassen was a force at defensive tackle.
Cole Norberg had another good game and now has 1,248 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. He has 496 yards through the air.
• Little River at Solomon (Thursday) — Same situation as Smoky Valley. A Little River win and it’s in, a loss and it’s out. Central Plains already has wrapped up a district championship.
The 5-3 Redskins rammed their way past Ellinwood 48-22 last week to set themselves up to qualify.
“We did not play well early against Ellinwood, but were able to get some things going in the second half,” Little River coach Paul Dold said. “We gave up some big plays on defense that kept giving them new life. Laramie Peters ran and blocked well at fullback during his second week back from injury and Chord Zeller continued his stellar defensive play adding a blocked punt to his accomplishments.”
Solomon is not the team it was last year, but still formidable.
“They are big and strong and have been getting better each week,” Dold said. “We will have a hard time covering a couple of their large receivers due to our short-statured secondary. We will have to block the (Zach) Neilson kid they play at defensive end, nose guard and linebacker. Kyler Cox has played tremendously well for us this year at center, linebacker and cornerback, but he suffered a hip flexor strain late in the Ellinwood game which will hurt us immensely if he can't play.”
• Canton-Galva at Ellinwood (Thursday) — A winning season is on the line for the Eagles, who can duplicate their 5-4 record of a year ago. They are, however, out of the district race.
C-G blew out Goessel 62-12 last week, scoring 40 first-quarter points.
“Looking at the film our kids played as hard and as well as they have all year last week,” Savage said. “Not many loafs or missed assignments.”
Travis Unruh had a pinpoint passing game and totaled 280 yards of offense. Ethan Loyd caught a half-dozen balls.
Ellinwood is coming off a lopsided loss to Little River.
“Ellinwood will be a challenge for us, they have good athletes and a quarterback that throws the ball very well,” Savage said. “Anyone who spreads us gives us problems with match-ups. We need another effort like last week.”
• Moundridge at Sedgwick (Thursday) — A nightmarish season in terms of injuries ends for the 2-6 Wildcats, who just hope to emerge from this game in one piece.
Sedgwick is far and away the best team in the district, so the Wildcats will have their hands full.
“It all starts with QB Brylie Ware,” Wildcat coach Courtney Moddelmog said. “He is a dual-threat QB who knows their offense inside and out. They put him in a lot of sprint-out situations where he can tuck and run or throw it 50 yards downfield. They are also really good up front and will play very aggressive football.”
Moddelmog said there’s so many injuries that they’re too numerous to list. He has had a merry-go-round at quarterback, which has led to its offensive woes.
• Medicine Lodge at Inman (Thursday) — The Teutons have a great chance to finally get off the schneid as Medicine Lodge has had as tough of year as Inman, though it does have one win.
“It’s been a long year. We have one more chance to get a win,” said Teuton coach Ed Ramsey, whose team lost 63-0 to Troy last week, a team he believes will go deep into the playoffs.
The Teutons hope for their best offensive game of the season as Medicine Lodge has given up points by the bushels.