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Friday Football Preview: District Play Heats Up

Mike Hammett - October 25, 2013 5:00 am

Week eight of the high school football season is here. Read up on tonight’s match-ups, and listen to the scene setters for our broadcast games at the bottom of the page.

Our on-air coverage begins with Inside High School Football at 6pm on SportsRadio 1150 KSAL and online at ksal.com. We’ll break down all five Saline County games plus our Area Game of the Week and Abilene facing McPherson.

Salina Central Mustangs (2-5, 0-1 5A District 7) at Great Bend Panthers (4-3, 0-1 5A District 7), 6:50pm pregame, 7:00 kickoff, SportsRadio 1150 KSAL

Play-by-play: Todd Pittenger. Analyst: Justin Dean.

The Salina Central Mustangs are in a familiar spot as they face the Great Bend Panthers. For the third straight year, the Mustangs are coming off a loss to the Salina South Cougars, and are in a must-win situation.

Over the past two seasons, the Central and Great Bend have met after a loss to their rival. Great Bend rebounded from a loss to Hays in 2011, but Central picked up the win last year. Both times, it set the winner up with an early playoff game. In 2011, Great Bend met South with the winner advancing to the playoffs. In 2012, Central met Hays with the winner advancing to the playoffs. Neither Great Bend nor Central won those games.

The Mustangs will take their high-octane offense into tonight’s game. Central has racked up over 400 yards in each of the last three games. However, five turnovers doomed the Mustangs in the loss to South. Great Bend will bring a run-heavy attack against Salina Central, as running back Jonathan Allende has rushed for 680 yards and nine touchdowns. 20 of Great Bend’s 26 touchdowns have come on the ground this year.


Hays Indians (6-1, 1-0 5A District 7) at Class 5A No. 4 Salina South Cougars (5-2, 1-0 5A District 7), 6:50pm pregame, 7:00 kickoff, Y93.7

Play-by-play: Mike Hammett. Analyst: Dan Flemming.

For the third straight year, Hays and Salina South meet in a game that almost assures the winner a spot in the Class 5A playoffs.

In 2011, Hays erased a 10-point deficit in the final eight minutes at Salina Stadium to pick up a victory and advanced to the playoffs as a district champion. In 2012, Salina South gave up an early touchdown, but then rattled off 35 straight points in a 35-6 rout of the Indians at Lewis Field. South went on to win the district.

Tonight, the Cougars enter with a head of steam, picking up blowout wins in four straight games since a 1-2 start. The Cougars are averaging 49.8 points per game over the last four games, while the defense is giving up 19.5 points in the same span. Mike Jones put up big numbers last week, rushing for 295 yards and six touchdowns against Salina Central. Tonight, Jones can pass both Quinn Cunningham and De’Andre McGrew on the all-time rushing list at South and move into second place, behind former teammate Cody Busby.

Hays has its own high-powered offense, putting up at least 27 points in six of seven games. The one blemish was a 35-0 loss to Garden City in a game that was called at halftime due to weather. The Indians have battled through injuries, missing junior quarterback Alex Delton for a few games in the middle of the season. The Indians have leaned on running back Preston Weigel lately. Weigel has 396 yards rushing and five touchdowns over the last two games, wins over Dodge City and Great Bend.


Ellsworth Bearcats (3-4, 0-1 3A District 13) at Sacred Heart Knights (6-1, 1-0 3A District 13), 6:50pm pregame, 7:00 kickoff, Classic Hits 104.9

Play-by-play: Clarke Sanders. Analyst: Pat Martin.

The Sacred Heart offense was finally slowed last week, as both Southeast of Saline and the snow resting on the field held the high-powered Knight attack in check. However, the Sacred Heart defense rose to the occasion, limiting rival Southeast to just eight points in the 21-8 victory.

The win puts the Knights in the driver’s seat of the district. Sacred Heart is looking for a fourth district crown under head coach Bruce Graber.

Tonight, Ellsworth visits Glen Martin Stadium in what could potentially be the final game in the stadium’s storied history. The Knight offense will try to get rolling once again. Last week, the Knights rushed for 214 yards on 54 carries and had just 236 yards of offense. Nick Wuthnow struggled throwing the ball, going two-for-nine for 22 yards. Meanwhile, the defense limited Southeast to just 141 yards, and came up with two interceptions.

Ellsworth just missed out on a 1-0 start to district, falling 40-33 to Lyons. The Bearcats have their third coach in three years. This year, Ellsworth runs a spread offense, and tries to run option to get to the edge and turn up field. The Knight defense will be challenged by facing their first true option attack of the season.


Lyons Lions (5-2, 1-0 3A District 13) at Southeast of Saline Trojans (5-2, 1-0 3A District 13), 7:00pm kickoff

The Southeast of Saline Trojans are trying to regroup from back-to-back losses as they entertain the Lyons Lions.

Southeast opened the year 5-0, but the once high-powered offense has struggled to score the last two games, coming up with just eight total points against Beloit and Sacred Heart.

The defense has faced a variety of attacks as well. Against Beloit, Southeast saw a tight, double-wing ground attack. Last week, the Trojans went against Sacred Heart’s balanced offense. This week, the Trojans must now adjust to the aerial assault of Lyons.

The Trojans will try to be just the third team to knock off Lyons this year. The Lions have lost to 3-4 Halstead and 6-1 Smoky Valley while playing in the Central Kansas League.


Washington County Tigers (4-3, 2-1 2-1A District 6) at Ell-Saline Cardinals (3-4, 1-2 2-1A District 6), 7:00pm kickoff

The Ell-Saline Cardinals still have a slight shot at making the playoffs, but the window will close completely if the Cardinals can’t beat the Washington County Tigers tonight.

First, Ell-Saline must win its final two games of the season, starting tonight with Washington County and next week at Bennington. Second, Ell-Saline would need Washington County to knock off Plainville next week and force a three-way tie for the runner-up spot in the district. Ell-Saline would then need to win the points tiebreaker.

It’s far from controlling their own destiny, but it is a shot.

Tonight is senior night for Ell-Saline, and the Cardinals hope for more of the same after last week’s 40-8 win over Republic County. The Cardinals ran for 398 yards against the Buffaloes.

Washington County lost its district opener to Smith Center, but has rebounded with wins over Republic County and Bennington over the last two weeks.

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