Pat’s Chats – Reflection & Preseason HS Rankings
Pat Strathman - August 28, 2017 8:13 am
On August 28, 2016, I was sweating bullets.
No, not because of nerves from starting a new job in a location I called “western” Kansas, but because I moved into a place I found four days prior with no electricity or water.
The next day, I walked into the building to begin this new chapter of my life. And I did it without taking a shower following a long day of lifting various items. Bless the hearts of my wonderful coworkers.
Plenty has changed since then. Rocking M Media is now our home. We have a talented stable of sports broadcasters. Chad from the Y93.7 wake up show isn’t injured. And, most importantly, I showered this morning.
Change happens in life. People mostly hate it. But, it leads to important life lessons, wonderful (some bad) memories and new friendships.
That’s why I’m extremely grateful for the warm embrace in my first year in Salina. This truly is a special community. I’ve appreciated the heckling when I’m roaming the streets in the “wrong” shirt. Green, maroon, navy, purple; you name it. I can’t seem to wear the right color. In all seriousness, I’ve enjoyed every second of interaction.
It’s very easy to shun the new guy, especially a tall goofball like myself. General manager Bob Protzman still laughs at (not with) me. Clarke Sanders drives me nuts with his golf thoughts (IT’S A SPORT). News director Todd Pittenger pulls pranks. Those are just snippets of what goes on during the week in my world, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Then there is Kansas Wesleyan University. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget. The entire athletic department is amazing. I could spend an entire day chatting with the coaches, athletes and students. The conversation would deal with hotdogs not being sandwiches (*cough* Matt Drinkall *cough*), but it would be time well spent.
This is an exceptional place to call home, and I sincerely thank you all for making my life awesome.
With that said…TIME FOR FOOTBALL!
High school starts this Friday. As always, I send my rankings to Tim McGonagle of Kansas Prep Football. Enjoy the preseason notes.
2. St. Thomas Aquinas
3. Blue Valley
4. Shawnee Mission East
5. Mill Valley
6. Bishop Miege
8. Blue Valley North
9. Wichita Heights
10. Bishop Carroll
2. Blue Valley
3. Shawnee Mission East
4. Blue Valley North
5. Wichita Northwest
Quick hits: I don’t ask for much. I really don’t. But, I want to drink the water that Derby head coach Brandon Clark drinks. There has to be something special in the water because the Panthers continue to build an impressive program. Derby has a good chunk to replace, but I won’t count out coach Clark. Tragedy struck in February for Blue Valley with the passing of head coach Eric Driskell. Allen Terrell takes over the program with high hopes of an excellent season. SME has a shot at the title with its defense alone, much like WNW with its offense. BVN is a team to keep a close eye on with QB Graham Mertz.
1. St. Thomas Aquinas
2. Mill Valley
4. Wichita Heights
5. Bishop Carroll
Quick hits: This class seems to be wide open again this year. Aquinas lost to Mill Valley in the sub-state semifinal, but 18 starters are back from that 8-4 squad. Mill Valley is talented offensively, much like Goddard, a Lions squad that has dual-threat quarterback Blake Sullivan. Heights has one of the most exciting players in QB K’Vonta Baker and Bishop Carroll is, well, Carroll.
1. Bishop Miege
4. Maize South
Quick hits: I’ll be shocked if Miege moves from the top spot this year. This brings up a minor story, though. While traveling to Olivet Nazarene in Bourbannais, Illinois, the bus stopped at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School. The Cyclones have great facilities, but they told me that they have two multipliers for classification purposes. One is the private school factor and the other is based on success. Sacred Heart-Griffin is one of the few schools to have a multiplier just based on winning. I almost wonder what Kansas would be like if KSHSAA followed those rules. Not saying they should, but it’s just a thought.
1. Wichita Collegiate
Quick hits: This division is a bit tricky. All five of these teams are awfully good, but Collegiate, with quarterback Cody McNerney back, takes the cake. Holcomb has a stud QB in Trey Gilbert as well. Hayden features a studly defense with linebackers Brent Peavler and Brandon VanBecelaere. Columbus has 15 starters back. Should be a fun year in 4A-II.
1. Silver Lake
2. Nemaha Central
Quick hits: Plenty to digest here. First, no Rossville? Well, graduation isn’t always fun in the sporting world. The Dawgs have a ton to replace if they want four-straight titles. Silver Lake was the lone team to beat Rossville last year and that gives an edge to the Eagles for the top spot. I wanted to be a homer and pick my Nemaha Central Thunder, but that might be for another week. NC took down SL in the second round of the 2016 playoffs.
1. Smith Center
3. St. Mary’s Colgan
Quick hits: I can hear the voice of the Chiefs Mitch Holthus right now. He’s awfully proud of his Redmen, and rightfully so as Smith Center returns a bulk of talent. Lyndon sneaks into the top five with a squad led by athlete Dex Swinehart. Defending champion Troy has to replace 20 starters, leaving the Trojans outside looking in.
1. Central Plains
3. St. Francis
Quick hits: This is a very balanced division. An argument for top dog can be made for every team in the poll, but the Oilers jump the Bulldogs to open the season. Thirteen starters are back for CP. Burlingame had one loss last year to Osborne in the state semis. The Bearcats look impressive for 2017.
2. Pike Valley
3. Wallace County
4. Hodgeman County
5. Hutchinson Central Christian
Quick hits: Gee, how shocking to see the Hanover Wildcats at the top. Hanover wasn’t touched, rolling to the state championship in 2016. Keep a close eye out on Pike Valley, though. Tailback Lane Peters is a speedster, racking up close to 1,500 yards on the ground.