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Friday Football Preview: Central, South in Quarterfinals

Mike Hammett - November 15, 2013 7:53 am

The Kansas State high school football playoffs continue tonight with the quarterfinals in the 11-man classes and the semifinals in the 8-man divisions. We’ll have coverage of the western half of Class 5A tonight as Salina Central hosts Kapaun Mt. Carmel and Salina South travels to Bishop Carroll.

You can listen to tonight’s scene setters for Inside High School Football in the player at the bottom of the page.

Kapaun Mt. Carmel Crusaders (9-1) at Salina Central Mustangs (5-5), SportsRadio 1150 KSAL, 6:50pm pregame, 7:00 kickoff
Play-by-play: Todd Pittenger. Analyst: Justin Dean.

After starting the season 1-4, the Salina Central Mustangs have found their way, winning four of the last five games to reach the Class 5A quarterfinals.

Both the offense and the defense continue to improve for Salina Central. The Mustang offense has posted six straight 400-plus yard performances, going back to the 34-28 loss to Maize in week five. Lately, it’s been the rushing attack hitting high-gear. The up-tempo, power attack has recorded 400-plus rushing yards in the last three games, road wins over Great Bend, Hays and Andover. Another common denominator in those games is the role of Malik Veal. The senior running back has exploded over the last three weeks, rushing for well over 200 yards in each game. Veal has now rushed for 1,436 yards this year and 21 touchdowns. Last week’s performance against Andover pushed Veal over the 3,000 yard mark for his career.

Defensively, the Mustangs have shown significant improvement throughout the season. After giving up over 1,200 total yards in the first two weeks of the season, the Mustangs have improved significantly, giving up less than 300 yards to Andover last week. Quintavian Hill has made a big difference up front after missing the first two games. By far the biggest Central defensive starter at 5′ 11″ and 238 pounds, Hill has posted 67 tackles over eight games with 15 tackles for loss and three sacks. Tanner Robl leads the defense with 147 tackles on the year. JaVon Burse and Zane Heigele have burst onto the scene this year, with Heigele posting 96 tackles and 19 tackles for loss, while Burse has been a ball hawk, intercepting eight passes in 10 games.

Kapaun will challenge the Mustangs with size. The Crusaders feature an offensive line that includes 255 pound center Huy Ho and 325 pound guard Craig Lantz. Sophomore quarterback Brock Monty is a threat to run and throw the ball, and has several weapons, including backs Alexander Norris, Devin Dempsey and Ethan Harp. Jack McGrath has been one of the top targets in the passing game with 26 catches. Defensively, the Crusaders show a 3-man front, similar to what the Mustangs saw in Great Bend. It is a senior-laden Kapaun defense with eight senior starters.

Class 5A No. 4 Salina South Cougars (8-2) at Class 5A No. 1 Bishop Carroll Golden Eagles, Y93.7, 6:50pm pregame, 7:00 kickoff
Play-by-play: Mike Hammett. Analyst: Dan Flemming.

For the third straight year, the Salina South Cougars head to Wichita to face the Bishop Carroll Golden Eagles. The last two seasons have ended for the Cougars on the field at Bishop Carroll Family Stadium, but South wants this year to end differently.

Two years ago, South was a bit of a surprise to make the playoffs at 4-5. The Cougars hung tough against Carroll in a 24-7 loss to the Golden Eagles. Last year, the two met in the state semifinals, but the senior-laden Golden Eagles picked up another win, 45-21, and went on to win their first state championship since 1978.

This year, Salina South is the senior-laden team. The Cougars have hit their stride on offense over the last four games, posting at least 55 points in those contests. Senior quarterback Justin Stonebraker is completing 61 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns to four interceptions. Stonebraker has also rushed for 700 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior running back Mike Jones has also started posting the big numbers everyone has been looking for. Jones has pushed his season rushing total to 1,548 yards with 27 touchdowns. Jones is the second-best all-time rusher in South history, behind former teammate Cody Busby. Jones has racked up 3,645 yards over the last three seasons. Senior wide receiver Zach Nachbar has posted a solid season, catching 39 passes for 971 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Defensively, the Cougars seem to be gathering steam. The Cougars have given up just 13 and 15 points over the last two weeks. Seniors Kole Smith, Cade Calvert and Dalton Harman have helped anchor the defense, but they’ve been helped out by the emergence of junior linemen Alex Parker and Braden Burlew, as well as senior linebackers Richard Walters and John McNabb. The Cougars are giving up under 300 yards per game.

Bishop Carroll lost a lot from last year’s state championship squad, but the Golden Eagles have reloaded. Junior quarterback Colton Howell won a battle with senior Tyler Skilling for the starting spot, and has thrown 14 touchdowns to three interceptions, while rushing for nine more scores. Senior running back Tory Smith and junior running back/receiver Denzel Goolsby have accounted for another 25 touchdowns. Senior wide out Scott Linnebur has hauled in 13 scoring strikes. Defensively, the Eagles are giving up nearly 10 points per game. Seniors Patrick Dugan, Nick Nolting and Nate Stallbaumer anchor the line, while junior Mark Quaney is a ball hawk at safety, intercepting six passes.

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