LINDSBORG — There are eight teams left in the Class 3A football playoffs and six of them are undefeated.
Even more amazing, four of them are on the West side of the bracket.
Smoky Valley is one of those and the Vikings host Pratt at 7 p.m. Friday to renew their rivalry with the Greenbacks. The teams last met in 2016 with Pratt a 38-6 winner in the second round of the playoffs and the Greenbacks went on to win the state title.
At stake is a berth in the West finals against either Andale or Scott City, both 10-0. Andale has been the No. 1-ranked team all year.
“Tough, tough, tough,” is how Viking coach Tim Lambert described the West.
Smoky Valley advanced to the round of eight with a methodical 22-14 win over Hesston as it rushed the ball a staggering 73 times for 426 yards.
“The offensive line played well,” Lambert said. “Running game was solid and our fullback (Cort Elliott) was real tough.”
Elliott punished the Hesston defense for 231 yards on 32 carries, while Tim Lambert added 154 yards on 31 carries. Lane Schrag ran 8 keepers for 29 yards as the Vikings kept the ball away from the potent Hesston offense.
“Other than our turnovers I thought we played well,” said Lambert, whose team committed five. “Defensively we did a great job containing their offense.”
For Smoky Valley, it’s a real test as the Greenbacks are coached by former Bethany College head coach Jamie Cruce. When you talk Pratt, you talk Travis Theis, who is simply one of the best backs in the state. He was formerly a running back and is now a quarterback so he has his hands on the ball every play.
“We need to get people to the football defensively,” Lambert said. “Their quarterback is the real deal. We cannot rely on 1-on-1 tackles.”
The best way to keep Theis and the Greenbacks in check is ball control on offense.
“Our offense must be able to keep the ball away from them and limit their offensive snaps,” Lambert said.
On the other side of the bracket, undefeated Galena (10-0) is matched against Marysville (8-2), while undefeated Sabetha (10-0) goes to Parsons (8-2).