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PHOTO COURTESY USD 308.

By Brad Hallier
hallier23@yahoo.com
@bhallier

The only things certain in this life are death, taxes, the Chiefs losing in the playoffs and my wife telling me to stop yelling when my favorite teams are on TV.

Yes, I know they can’t hear me. No, I can’t help myself when Liverpool is beating the bejesus out of Manchester City.

There is nothing certain when a school hires a coach. It might look like a great hire. Heck, what hire doesn’t look like a great hire?

OK, we knew Kim Anderson was going to be a colossal failure as Missouri basketball coach, but beyond that, all hires look great in some fashion.

Maybe Mike Vernon won’t work out as Hutchinson High football coach. My guess is he will.

Vernon – a former Hutchinson assistant who has been more popular at all his stops than The Joker was when he gave away free money in “Batman” – was announced as the new Salthawks football coach Friday by USD 308.

Perfect.

Vernon is the right coach in the right place at the right time. Salthawk football means a lot to him. He helped bring some hardware, as a Randy Dreiling assistant, to Hutchinson during its dynasty of seven state titles and 10 title-game appearances from 2003-2014.

People were sad when Vernon left to take over at Inman. In two years, Vernon went from curiosity in the small McPherson County community to more popular than Eric Hosmer was when he scored the game-tying run in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. In two years, Vernon led Inman to a 12-6 record. For a program with little to no history to speak of, this was almost unprecedented.

When Vernon left to be a Rose Hill assistant, Inman residents were sad. Even though Vernon was there two years, he left his mark.

Possibly the biggest win in his tenure was in 2013. After being manhandled by Hutchinson Trinity for three-and-a-half quarters, Inman was down 7-0. They hadn’t been close to scoring. Alas, the Teutons scored twice in the final five minutes for a thrilling 14-7 win.

Vernon’s reaction afterwards was priceless. His face read, “How did we just do that.”

I’ll tell you why. It was because of Mike Vernon and getting kids who knew nothing but losing to believe.

After one year at Rose Hill – word was people were upset to see him leave – Vernon returned to Reno County to take over at Nickerson.

A school that hasn’t had much history to speak of, some of it due to really bad luck and geography, Vernon led Nickerson to a 17-13 record in three years, three playoff appearances and this – a 48-14 win against Wichita Collegiate.

Who ever thought Nickerson could beat Wichita Collegiate? Who ever thought Nickerson could beat Collegiate by 34 points?

Nickerson did because they had Mike Vernon and kids who believed in him.

Nickerson will understandably be upset losing this coach. He’s a good one.

Vernon is ready for this. He’s going to keep Salthawk football steady. There may be a few lean years coming up, but look what one coach did to two schools not known for football? In five combined years at Inman and Nickerson, Vernon’s teams had four winning seasons and three playoff appearances.

At the same time, Salthawk fans should be fair to the man. He’s an outstanding person, better person than coach. He’s not a savior. He’s not Randy Dreiling. Let him build the program his way. If a few losses happen along the way, so be it. Remember, Randy Dreiling didn’t have instant success either. Ryan Cornelsen, Hutchinson’s most recent coach who is departing to Gardner-Edgerton, didn’t build Hays into respectability overnight. It took time.

Give Vernon some time. Because with a little patience, you might see eventually what Salthawk fans want to see annually – playing Thanksgiving weekend for a state title.

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By Brad Hallier
hallier23@yahoo.com
@bhallier

The AVCTL-City League Challenge was an outstanding idea. It still is.

The nine Wichita City League schools pair up their basketball teams every year in early January against nine AVCTL schools. The pairings are based on record and perceived team strength. Usually, the matchups are spot on and competitive. The event spreads out over three days, and is played at Wichita State’s Koch Arena.

It’s a wonderful event.

The one problem was with AVCTL being a 26-team league, obviously many teams were going to be left out. Even if you take just the top two divisions, that’s 14 schools, five more than the City League.

Thus, many schools were going to be left out.

Hutchinson has been a part of this since the beginning in 2012. But next year, Hutchinson won’t be.

Hutchinson was told the school does not bring in enough fans to warrant coming back. This is, of course, laughable. Hutchinson rarely had good time slots, which are often, understandably, reserved for the showcase games. The Hutchinson girls, have played at 8:15 a.m. Saturday before. I don’t care who you are. If you have the McPherson boys playing Wichita East at 8:15 a.m. Saturday, you won’t see an impressive crowd.

This year, the Hutchinson boys were asked to play Wichita West at 1:30 p.m. Friday. A time most people are working, so I can’t think that you can expect a gigantic crowd for that game too.

Besides, does Wichita West bring in good crowds? I know you can’t boot out a City League team, but to point out Hutchinson isn’t bringing in the crowds is a snide reason to kick the Salthawks out of the Challenge.

I would have appreciated something more honest, like the Challenge is trying to lure McPherson, or add Goddard-Eisenhower.

While filling one game isn’t going to be tough for Hutchinson athletic director Kevin Armstrong, there is an option and opportunity out there.

Hutchinson should spearhead a movement to start an AVCTL-WAC Challenge.

The Western Athletic Conference is small, with just Hays, Great Bend, Garden City, Dodge City and Liberal. Those five far-west schools can struggle filling a 20-game schedule, and this would be a good opportunity to knock one date out.

Hutchinson and Buhler could be two of the participating schools. Add Salina Central, Newton and Campus, and bada-bing. You’ve got five AVCTL schools matching against five WAC schools.

You could alternate this event’s location. Next January, play it over a Friday and Saturday at the Sports Arena. In 2020, move it United Wireless Arena in Dodge City.

Play four games Friday beginning at 3 p.m. and six on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.

It’s too bad Hutchinson won’t get to play at the AVCTL-City League Challenge any more, and it’s also too bad the reason given. But that’s OK. These other AVCTL schools can get another challenge started.

Next man up at Hutchinson High

Posted: January 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

By Brad Hallier
hallier23@yahoo.com
@bhallier

It was never going to be easy for Ryan Cornelsen. And he did about as well as, maybe better than, he should have.

Wednesday, USD 308 announced Cornelsen was resigning his positions at Hutchinson High, including football coach and track and field coach. In four years, the Salthawks went 8-5, 6-4, 9-2 and 5-4. His four-year tenure came on the heels of the incredible success of Randy Dreiling, who took a dead Hutchinson program in 1997 and won seven state titles from 2004-2011 (and reached the title game in 2003 and 2012).

The saying goes, “Don’t follow a legend.” Cornelsen did, after success at La Crosse and Hays. He gambled on his coaching career by following Dreiling, who left Hutchinson for St. Thomas Aquinas. While the expectations are to win state championships at Hutchinson, Cornelsen’s tenure wasn’t a failure. For one, Derby had clearly surpassed Hutchinson (and pretty much everyone) as the top 6A team, especially on the western side. For two, Cornelsen took his first Salthawks to the state championship game. And three, while few will appreciate it, you can’t discount what Cornelsen has done with the track teams. The boys easily won the 6A state title last year, winning just one event at state and without having their best athlete in his best event (Martavius Johnson didn’t qualify for state in the 110-meter hurdles). The girls finished third at state with a young team.

I plan to catch up with Cornelsen next week and write about his thoughts on his time in Hutchinson and why his new job was the correct one for him.

In the meantime, let’s look at some possibilities as to who might replace Cornelsen.

The solid bet: Mike Vernon, Nickerson head coach.

I have even money on this. It’s not a secret that I have something of a man crush on Mike Vernon, who has had successful stints as a head coach at Inman and Nickerson.

Vernon is also a former Hutchinson assistant under Randy Dreiling, and many people wanted to bring Vernon in after Dreiling left. Truthfully, Vernon wasn’t ready for that yet, even after going 12-6 from 2012-2013 at Inman, a program that has had little to no success before Vernon or since. But Vernon has since gotten more experience, as a one-year assistant at Rose Hill and three solid seasons at a Nickerson program that has had little success this century.

Vernon has been wildly popular everywhere he’s been. The guy could run for mayor in Nickerson, probably Inman still, and win by landslide. He’s ready to take over Salthawk football.

The long shot: Dustin Delaney, former Shawnee Mission East head coach.

Another former Dreiling assistant, Delaney abruptly resigned after a powerful run at a Shawnee Mission East program that was so bad 25 years ago, that students once stormed the field and tore down the goal posts after East scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter against Olathe North.

Yes, you read that right. East students were so delirious with a touchdown by their awful team that they stormed the field and tore down the goal posts DURING THE GAME.

Rumors are Shawnee Mission administration was unhappy with out-of-district students getting playing time for Delaney’s Lancers (oh the humanity). Delaney, assuming he wants to continue coaching, will be a man in demand across the Kansas City metro area. But it can’t hurt to call this outstanding coach and see if he would want to return to Hutchinson and see if he can work his magic here.

The why not?: Troy Morrell, former Butler Community College coach and Buhler graduate.

Few native Kansans have been better football coaches than Troy Morrell, who went to Buhler and is back living in Reno County.

Morrell won three national championships at Butler, and four times finished NJCAA runner-up. The guy is a freaking winner. Only once did Morrell’s Grizzlies lose more than two games in a season.

Morrell’s coaching days are probably over, but a simple phone call to the man would be a good idea.

The one who’s due for a bigger job. Jamie Cruce, Pratt head coach.

The job Cruce has done at Pratt is impressive. Pratt has often had solid football, but Pratt seemed to be on a downfall when Cruce’s first season ended 2-7 in 2013. Three years later, Pratt was Class 4A Division 2 state champion. The Greenbacks were then 7-2 this year.

The let’s have some fun choice. Marc Marinelli, Goddard-Eisenhower head coach.

While he was never a Hutchinson assistant, Marinelli became well acquainted with Salthawk football through the years because he wanted to learn the flexbone offense. Marinelli is also a riot on Twitter. He just seems like a guy who would be fun to play football for.

But he’s had success too. The only coach in Ike’s short history, Marinelli led the Tigers to the 5A state semifinals in 2015, only the third season in Ike football history. This year, after an 0-5 start, Marinelli led the Tigers to five straight wins and the 5A quarterfinals.

Others: Steve Warner, Buhler; Jace Pavlovich, McPherson head coach; Tyson Bauerle, Hesston head coach; Kent Teeter, Holcomb head coach; a Derby assistant coach.

By Brad Hallier
hallier23@yahoo.com
On Twitter: @bhallier

Disclaimer: I’m more interested in following the Hutchinson High girls basketball team this year than ever before. My daughter, Josie, is on the freshman team, so it’s natural that I’m following the Salthawks closer.

It’s not that I haven’t been paying attention or had any interest before this season. I covered many Salthawk basketball games the previous five seasons at my previous job. But with Josie a part of the program now, I’ve become more invested in the entire program, especially the varsity.

The future looks bright, as expected with a fairly young program still, but the present is looking as impressive as a Max Ontjes slam dunk. After Friday’s 50-41 win at Great Bend – which comfortably beat Hutchinson last year – the Salthawk girls are 4-0. They even moved into the Class 6A state rankings this week at No. 10.

I thought a 3-1 pre-Christmas record would have been a fine Christmas gift for coach Casey Stiggins*. But 4-0? Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Birthday.

* – Does anyone have better foot-stomps than Casey Stiggins? Trevor Rolfs, the current Barton Community College athletic director, was the best foot-stomper I ever saw when he coached at Pratt, but since he doesn’t coach now, I think Stiggins moves into the top spot.

The Salthawks were pretty good three years ago, going 14-8 and giving undefeated Maize a tussle in the substate championship game. They had two outstanding guards in Shayla DeGarmo and Jenna Higgins, a reliable point guard in Jordan Downing, and “The Human Red Bull”, guard Lyric Martin, coming off the bench. But the ensuing two years have been mediocre. While the Salthawks have won some games, and had some sniffs of success, they were under .500 both years and lost in substate play each year to Garden City at the Salthawk Activity Center.

It’s hard to know what was expected this year. The Salthawks returned two starters in sophomore point guard McKenzie Ontjes and senior forward Kasey Hazell. Also back were vastly improved junior forward Morgan Armbrust, don’t-mess-with-this-one junior forward Jayla Bynum, and “The Salthawk Spice Girl”, sophomore guard Gabbie Posch.

But there was a lot of unknowns. Who could score from the perimeter? Could the Salthawks help Hazell enough inside? Would they have much depth?

At the very least, under Stiggins, if you don’t play defense, you don’t play for the Salthawks. Defense was not going to be an issue.

Hutchinson started the season with an unimpressive win at Arkansas City. But three days later, the Salthawks upended a good Salina Central team. Then they allowed 10 points through three quarters in stomping Salina South before Friday’s win at Great Bend.

This team is still a work in progress, but let’s break down why this team could be dangerous come March.

Hazell is the Salthawks’ unquestioned leader. A player I would take with me in a street fight, Hazell is known to frighten teammates after an and-one, because her face turns red, she shouts in celebration, but scowls like someone just stole her lunch money (which I wouldn’t advise unless you want to have an arm ripped out and get beaten with said arm). Hazell brings reliable inside scoring and rebounding.

Bynum is a good athlete who likes to hike up her shorts and causes all kinds of mischief near the basket. She’s a good complement to Hazell.

Ontjes struggled with the speed of the game last season and  confidence. You’re starting to see the game slow down and you’re seeing her confidence climb each game. She played a solid floor game against Central, and she hit some big shots against Great Bend. If that confidence swells, watch out

Armbrust is an talented athlete who seems to do good things every time she touches the ball. She also defends well. You won’t find many smarter or reliable players than Morgan Armbrust.

Posch could end up being the Salthawks’ best player. She’s already their most reliable perimeter scorer, and she’s only going to get better. Her size also provides a mismatch as a guard, as she’s taller, lankier and pretty much better than anyone she goes up against at both ends of the floor.

The bench has been a pleasant surprise, with nobody providing more pies to the face than sophomore guard/forward Peyton Allen. The unofficial “freshman team mom,” Allen didn’t even play basketball last year. But she’s become the top reserve, bringing a similar game as Posch’s. While athletes named Peyton have brought me a lot of heartache through the years (a stupid quarterback mainly) this Peyton is easy to root for, and Allen is improving more then a typical first-year college teacher.

Senior guard Kaylee Buckaloo provides the senior leadership every young team needs. She is trustworthy with the ball, a gnat on defense, and can provide 3-pointers.

Abbey Hefley is the mountain at 6-feet, 2-inches, and her presence alone will force teams to reconsider their offense when Hefley is in the game.

The Salthawks will get more tests and harder tests than finals week coming up after the new year. They open with Newton on Jan. 2, and follow that with home tests against Maize and Derby. The Sathawks, based on their current record, could also get a stern test in the annual AVCTL-City League Challenge at Wichita State in a few weeks.

But regardless, this is a team that is going to get better and better. It’s a program you should likewise pay more attention to.

These girls are winners

Posted: December 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

By Brad Hallier
hallier23@yahoo.com

Last February, I was sitting at Bogey’s with my family and many players from the Hutchinson Middle School eighth-grade girls basketball team.

The season was nearly complete, and me and a couple other parents figured the girls needed some ice cream. What better place than Bogey’s, right?

As we sat there, I made a proclamation to my daughter Josie – one of the starting guards – and her teammates who were there.

“You guys will win at least four games next year.”

I got looks. They ranged from amusement (Oh Brad, that’s so nice of you to say!) to disdain (Brad, you surely can’t be this stupid!).

You see, the core of that HMS-8 ‘A’ team lost almost every game it played in middle school. Josie, Elyse Howard and Morgan Meier were two-year starters in middle school. Colleen Page joined in eighth grade (and probably wondered, ‘What the hell am I doing out here with this group?’), and Triana Harris spent time both years playing for both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams.

Josie, Elyse and Morgan played 28 middle school basketball games. They walked off the floor victorious once. That came in December of 2015, an early-season, seventh-grade, 18-9 win against a Derby team that supposedly had many girls suspended.

But the girls had their moments before that game. They were close with Goddard-Eisenhower well into the second half. They were within five points in the final minute against Valley Center. But they never won again, and frankly, weren’t really close. Many games ended with a fourth-quarter running clock. They lost 56-2 at McPherson (on Josie’s birthday, no less). They competed a couple more times, against Newton and Goddard namely. But they ended the regular season nearly getting shut out against a trash-talking Andover Central team, and then got smoked in the league tournament against Newton.

I saw tears a few times from some players. It’s hard losing all the time. It’s harder getting punked and embarrassed repeatedly.

For whatever reason, that class was a black hole when it came to girls basketball. Only Josie and Elyse played MAYB, and even Josie didn’t start that until fourth grade. But God bless those girls. They did the best they could.

As eighth graders, you could see progress. Many girls now had experience, and Colleen’s height, long arms and athleticism helped the team in the paint. But even she was pretty raw. And despite marked improvement, and having second-half leads against Newton, Goddard, Maize and Valley Center, the girls didn’t win a game. They went 0-14.

All told, the core lost its last 24 middle-school basketball games.

It’s hard enough going into every game knowing you’re probably going to lose. It’s disheartening when you play well early on and have a double-digit lead, but end up losing by double digits. It’s hard playing McPherson in your home gym and getting smoked in front of all your friends, your boyfriend, your family and your classmates. It’s hard when you’re playing against friends on opposing teams, and you drop your head in shame in the postgame handshake line.

But here’s what makes it more difficult. The girls couldn’t even walk the hallways at school without getting taunts, wisecracks and insults.

That’s right. Josie would sometimes come home upset because her own classmates – including a few from the boys basketball team – would mock her in the hallways and in class.

If you can’t at least get support from people in your own school, what do you have left? At least there was people like seventh-grade coach Melissa Evans and eighth-grade coach Aaron Deitchler, who didn’t quit on the girls and improved every single one of them.

Still, what fun are sports when you’re not winning? Like, at all? You can’t win them all, obviously, but who wants to go out and get their teeth kicked in game after game, year after year, and be subjected to taunts and insults?

Here’s a short list of things that might be considered as much fun as going 1-27 in middle-school basketball.

  1. Wisdom teeth extraction.
  2. Appendectomy.
  3. The NASA Channel.
  4. Listening to Lloyd Christmas’ “most annoying sound in the world for 10 hours.
  5. Swimming with a pair of cement shoes on.

But I honestly thought if those girls stuck with it, things might change when they got to high school. Josie and Elyse proved to be a solid backcourt, Morgan made the most improvement of anyone, and a year of experience was going to be huge for Colleen.

While the freshman girls basketball team struggled to get players – coach Robert Nixon had to do some recruiting to fill out a 10-player roster – I was eager to see the season opener Tuesday evening in Arkansas City. I had a good feeling about this one.

The game was a struggle in the first half . Elyse had all the points through the midway part of the second quarter, Morgan was in foul trouble and Josie had first-game nerves. But Colleen was swatting shots like Dikembe Mutombo, and the Salthawks were getting plenty of shot attempts.

Arkansas City had one post player who was good. She wasn’t even listed on the freshman roster, but rather the JV and varsity rosters. But the Salthawks were competing. Colleen was holding her own, and Josie’s 3-pointer gave the Salthawks a 10-8 halftime lead.

Confidence built. Colleen not only continued to rack up blocked shots, but she started to score some. Josie hit a couple shots. Morgan stayed out of foul trouble and collected rebounds like Dennis Rodman. She also gained some confidence with her shooting and hit a couple field goals.

Slowly, the Salthawks built an eight-point lead. A 10-point lead. Good grief … A 15-POINT LEAD?????

I said to my wife with four minutes left something along the lines of, “Holy Columbus Ohio, we’re going to win!”

Jennifer cooled my enthusiasm with something along the lines of, “Hold your horses,” but I knew it was over. The basketball version of The Bad News Bears was going to win!

The final: 33-18.

Josie and Elyse were on the bench when the game ended because that’s what you do when you’re far ahead. You empty the bench.

As the final buzzer sounded, Josie and Elyse embraced. Colleen waved her arms, a mix of excitement and disbelief in her body language.

Josie was so excited with the win that she didn’t want to sit and watch the varsity girls game and travel home with boring mom and dad. She wanted to go home with her teammates.

The ride home was probably loud with chatter, as the Salthawks relived the moments of glory and basked in being undefeated so far.

I know it won’t last. The girls know it won’t last. There’s no telling how many games they may win. But I stand by my prediction of four.

Actually, I want to make a small adjustment. They’ll win at least four. They’ll enjoy this season more than the last two. And who knows? Maybe in two or three years, they’ll be suiting up and/or playing for the varsity team at the state tournament. And they’ll look back at the middle-school days and realize that it was, indeed, worth it.

Bishop Miege football is doing something that everyone expected this year. So is St. Thomas Aquinas. So is Bishop Carroll, Topeka Hayden and Pittsburg Colgan.

All of those football teams were expected to be good this year. Really good. Great even. The fact that all those private high schools are still playing football headed to the state semifinals is as surprising as the Kansas Jayhawks winning the Big 12 in basketball.

If there’s anything less surprising about Miege and Aquinas and all their brethren still playing, it’s that the complaining is continuing. The griping. The accusations.

People are once again angry with these darn private schools because, well, they’re winning.

You see it on Facebook and Twitter. It will be worse after this week. The 5A championship game could be an all-private-school affair between Carroll and Aquinas. Miege is without peer in Kansas, let alone 4A Division 1. Hayden should have a great game with Frontenac in the 4A Division 2 semifinals, but nobody would be surprised should Hayden win. Colgan likewise has what should be a barnburner in a 2-1A semifinal against Olpe.

Even if just Miege and Aquinas reach the final day, people will complain. They’ll say words like “recruiting” and “advantage” and “unfair” and “recruiting” and “cheating” and “recruiting.”

Now, before I go on, you should know the Kansas State High School Activities Association has been looking into the matter of private schools. Some sort of reform is likely on the horizon. And I do think most people – including me – would be in favor of some sort of reform that caters to the strong private-school athletic programs while not touching the programs and schools that don’t dominate sports.

“Whoa, wait a minute. What private school doesn’t have an advantage and what private school doesn’t dominate?”

Nobody wants to talk about 3A football when it comes to private schools. Thirty-two teams made the playoffs in 3A. By the time the number was reduced to 16, there was not a single private school left. The three that did reach the playoffs were all blown out – Sabetha clocked Atchison’s Maur Hill Mount Academy 66-14, Hesston blitzed Hutchinson’s Trinity Catholic 47-6 and Conway Springs annihilated Wichita Independent 55-6.

Nobody wants to talk about how Salina Sacred Heart didn’t even make the playoffs in 2-1A. Nobody wants to talk about how Hutchinson Central Christian didn’t even have KSHSAA-sanctioned football two years ago, and that the club team Central Christian had once won two games in four years.

Nobody wants to talk about 4AD2 school Bishop Ward, which scored just 30 points this year and has lost 38 games in a row and has a 2-71 record since the end of the 2009 season. But when the conversation moves to baseball, then you can rock and rip and take apart Ward all you want.

Nobody wants to talk about Thomas More Prep in Hays, which hasn’t had a winning season in who knows how long?

Nobody wants to talk about Maranatha Academy in Shawnee, which has won six games since starting football in 2014. One of those wins came against Leavenworth-Immaculata, which has since closed.

Instead, it’s all about the private schools that do well.

A fellow former-journalist-turned-teacher, Joanna Chadwick, used to tell people who complained about the recruiting that private schools to email or call her with all the details, and she would go after the private schools. To the best of my knowledge, nobody ever had those details. No proof that former Bishop Carroll coach Alan Shuckman was flying on a private plane to Goddard to present a bag of cash to some hot shot prospect.

Look, I’m not naive enough to think that many private schools, especially those in metropolitan areas, don’t have advantages over bigger rural high schools. Of course they do. But before casting stones at private schools that are good in athletics, public schools should ask themselves this – have they ever taken an out-of-district student just for athletics?

Many, most assuredly, have.

During Hutchinson’s dynasty, many top players were not Hutchinson kids. They came in from the Buhler district, the Haven district, heck even the Sterling district, which is in neighboring Rice County.

Although I can’t say for sure, I doubt most of Blue Valley’s top football players through the years have been from the Blue Valley district. I would wager that Shawnee Mission East had some players from other districts. I wouldn’t doubt that Derby has players transferring in from the Wichita district (heck, who remembers the Buhler quarterback who transferred to Derby for his senior year?).

I recall back when I was a pup sports reporter in Garden City when one of Lakin’s best athletes was a Garden City kid.

For those scoring at home, Lakin is about 25 miles from Garden City.

I also recall a top Garden City girls basketball player threatening to transfer to nearby Deerfield if a coach didn’t leave.

It happens everywhere, folks. Star athletes go to a nearby district for various reasons. The transferring and incentives aren’t limited to private schools.

But again, I think we can all admit that private-school dominance is something that should be discussed. Private schools won four of the eight volleyball titles. Two others reached the state semifinals.

Taking a concept from Oklahoma, the best solution is this: when a private-school team finishes in the top four for three straight years and wins at least one title in that time, that team moves up a classification in that sport. Yes, that could make for a few awkward numbers in a classification, but it would balance out the playing field a bit.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to see Bishop Carroll football try its hand in 6A, or Bishop Miege move back to 5A and take on Aquinas in a semifinal? Or see Miege soccer take on Dodge City in the state semifinals, or Olathe Heritage volleyball move up a few classifications to play Rose Hill?

I’ve seen other concepts that are downright silly. Some people think moving private schools to their own classification would be good.

OK, so would Salina Sacred Heart have to play Aquinas in football?

“No, stupid! Have two classifications for private schools!”

So where does that classification cut off? Once you get past Aquinas, Miege, St. James Academy, Kapaun Mount Carmel and Bishop Carroll, the next smallest private school the next two years in football is Topeka Hayden at 329, or nearly 200 fewer than Miege.

After that, the seventh biggest football-playing private school in Kansas is Wichita Trinity at 245, or less than half of Miege, the fifth biggest.

Again, where’s the cutoff? With Miege? Have a five-team state tournament? Or let the Wichita Trinitys of the state just get their teeth kicked in?

Nothing is ever going to be fair when it comes to private schools and high school athletics. But it seems ridiculous to ostracize all private schools, including ones that don’t dominate athletics, just because a few do.

Final 2017 high school rankings

Posted: October 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

Here are the final rankings for the 2017 Kansas high school football season. Thanks so much for checking these out every week. I don’t know if I’ll do high school basketball rankings or not. I’m toying with it, but it’s hard to find comprehensive high school basketball scores in this state.

Regardless, keep checking back! I’ll have this blog updated with thoughts on the sports world!

Super 10

1. Bishop Miege (1), 9-0

2. Lawrence Free State (2), 9-0

3. Goddard (3), 9-0

4. SM East (4), 8-1

5. Derby (5), 8-1

6. Bishop Carroll (6), 8-1

7. St. Thomas Aquinas (7), 8-1

8. McPherson (8), 8-1

9. Wichita Northwest (9), 8-1

10. Manhattan (10), 8-1

Last week’s rankings in parentheses

CLASS 6A

1. Lawrence Free State (1), 9-0. Beat Wichita North 69-6. Next: vs. Junction City

2. SM East (2), 8-1. Beat Gardner-Edgerton 42-28. Next: vs. Olathe Northwest

3. Derby (3), 8-1. Beat Dodge City 49-13. Next: at Manhattan

4. Wichita Northwest (4), 8-1. Beat Wichita Southeast 68-22. Next: vs. Campus

5. Manhattan (5), 8-1. Beat Wichita East 21-0. Next: vs. Derby

CLASS 5A

1. Goddard (1), 9-0. Beat Salina Central 60-13. Next: vs. Andover

2. Bishop Carroll (2), 8-1. Beat Arkansas City 66-38. Next: vs. Kapaun Mount Carmel

3. St. Thomas Aquinas (3), 8-1. Beat KC Harmon 52-0. Next: vs. Bonner Springs

4. Maize (4), 8-1. Beat Topeka West 52-6. Next: vs. Wichita Heights

5. St. James Academy (5), 7-2. Beat Lansing 48-7. Next: vs. Shawnee Heights

CLASS 4A DIVISION 1

1. Bishop Miege (1), 9-0. Beat Spring Hill 62-14. Next: vs. Basehor-Linwood

2. McPherson (2), 8-1. Beat Abilene 49-6. Next: vs. Buhler

3. Maize South (3), 8-1. Beat Andover Central 23-13. Next: vs. Wellington

4. Andale (4), 9-0. Beat El Dorado 66-13. Next: vs. Wamego

5. DeSoto (4), 8-1. Beat Eudora 44-0. Next: at Tonganoxie

CLASS 4A DIVISION 2

1. Scott City (1), 9-0. Beat Concordia 28-12. Next: vs. Kingman

2. Holcomb (2), 8-1. Beat Hugoton 33-14. Next: vs. Colby

3. Smoky Valley (4), 8-1. Beat Clay Center 30-16

4. Nickerson (5), 7-2. Beat Clearwater 14-0

5. Topeka Hayden (NR), 5-4. Next: vs. Prairie View

Dropped out: Pratt (3), 7-2. Lost to Kingman 39-25

CLASS 3A

1. Silver Lake (1), 9-0. Beat Royal Valley 53-0. Next: vs. Mission Valley

2. Phillipsburg (2), 9-0. Beat Russell 56-6. Next: vs. Riley County

3. Nemaha Central (3), 9-0. Beat Hiawatha 56-0. Next: vs. Pleasant Ridge

4. Conway Springs (4), 9-0. Beat Chaparral 53-19. Next: vs. Wichita Independent

5. Galena (5), 9-0. Beat Riverton 59-7. Next: vs. Neodesha

CLASS 2-1A

1. Smith Center (2), 8-1. Beat Ell-Saline 54-0. Next: vs. Medicine Lodge

2. Centralia (4), 7-2. Beat Jackson Heights 32-14. Next: vs. Doniphan West

3. Pittsburg-Colgan (5), 7-2. Beat Uniontown 57-8. Next: vs. Lyndon

4. Olpe (NR), 7-2. Beat Olpe 41-33 5OT. Next: vs. Yates Center

5. Lyndon (1), 8-1. Lost to Olpe 41-33 5OT. Next: vs. Pittsburg-Colgan

Dropped out: Ell-Saline (3), 7-1. Lost to Smith Center 54-0

EIGHT-MAN DIVISION 1

1. Burlingame (1), 9-0. Beat Herington 68-0. Next: vs. Victoria

2. Hoxie (2), 8-1. Beat Oberlin 50-0. Next: vs. Ness City

3. Osborne (3), 8-1. Beat Lincoln 54-0. Next: vs. Clifton-Clyde

4. Spearville (4), 9-0. Beat Kinsley 46-0. Next: vs. St. Francis

5. St. Francis (5), 6-1. Beat WaKeeney 58-0. Next: at Spearville

EIGHT-MAN DIVISION 2

1. Hanover (1),9-0. Beat Axtell 54-8. Next: Rock Hills.

2. Pike Valley (2), 9-0. Beat Linn 56-6. Next: vs. Axtell

3. Central Christian (4), 9-0. Beat Caldwell 74-28. Next: Pleasanton

4. Otis-Bison (5), 8-1. Beat Hodgeman County 58-26. Next: vs. Sylvan-Lucas

5. Rock Hills (NR), 8-1. Beat Beloit-St. John’s 54-8. Next: at Hanover

Dropped out: Caldwell (3), 8-1. Lost to Central Christian 74-28

Super 10

1. Bishop Miege (1), 9-0

2. Lawrence Free State (2), 9-0

3. Goddard (3), 9-0

4. Derby (5), 8-1

5. SM East (4), 8-1

6. St. Thomas Aquinas (7), 8-1

7. Bishop Carroll (6), 8-1

8. McPherson (8), 8-1

9. Wichita Northwest (9), 8-1

10. Manhattan (10), 8-1

Last week’s rankings in parentheses

CLASS 6A

1. Lawrence Free State (1), 9-0. Beat Wichita North 69-6. Next: vs. Junction City

2. SM East (2), 8-1. Beat Gardner-Edgerton 42-28. Next: vs. Olathe Northwest

3. Derby (3), 8-1. Beat Dodge City 49-13. Next: at Manhattan

4. Wichita Northwest (4), 8-1. Beat Wichita Southeast 68-22. Next: vs. Campus

5. Manhattan (5), 8-1. Beat Wichita East 21-0. Next: vs. Derby

CLASS 5A

1. Goddard (1), 9-0. Beat Salina Central 60-13. Next: vs. Andover

2. Bishop Carroll (2), 8-1. Beat Arkansas City 66-38. Next: vs. Kapaun Mount Carmel

3. St. Thomas Aquinas (3), 8-1. Beat KC Harmon 52-0. Next: vs. Bonner Springs

4. Maize (4), 8-1. Beat Topeka West 52-6. Next: vs. Wichita Heights

5. St. James Academy (5), 7-2. Beat Lansing 48-7. Next: vs. Shawnee Heights

CLASS 4A DIVISION 1

1. Bishop Miege (1), 9-0. Beat Spring Hill 62-14. Next: vs. Basehor-Linwood

2. McPherson (2), 8-1. Beat Abilene 49-6. Next: vs. Buhler

3. Maize South (3), 8-1. Beat Andover Central 23-13. Next: vs. Wellington

4. Andale (4), 9-0. Beat El Dorado 66-13. Next: vs. Wamego

5. DeSoto (4), 8-1. Beat Eudora 44-0. Next: at Tonganoxie

CLASS 4A DIVISION 2

1. Scott City (1), 9-0. Beat Concordia 28-12. Next: vs. Kingman

2. Holcomb (2), 8-1. Beat Hugoton 33-14. Next: vs. Colby

3. Smoky Valley (4), 8-1. Beat Clay Center 30-16

4. Nickerson (5), 7-2. Beat Clearwater 14-0

5. Topeka Hayden (NR), 5-4. Next: vs. Prairie View

Dropped out: Pratt (3), 7-2. Lost to Kingman 39-25

CLASS 3A

1. Silver Lake (1), 9-0. Beat Royal Valley 53-0. Next: vs. Mission Valley

2. Phillipsburg (2), 9-0. Beat Russell 56-6. Next: vs. Riley County

3. Nemaha Central (3), 9-0. Beat Hiawatha 56-0. Next: vs. Pleasant Ridge

4. Conway Springs (4), 9-0. Beat Chaparral 53-19. Next: vs. Wichita Independent

5. Galena (5), 9-0. Beat Riverton 59-7. Next: vs. Neodesha

CLASS 2-1A

1. Smith Center (2), 8-1. Beat Ell-Saline 54-0. Next: vs. Medicine Lodge

2. Centralia (4), 7-2. Beat Jackson Heights 32-14. Next: vs. Doniphan West

3. Pittsburg-Colgan (5), 7-2. Beat Uniontown 57-8. Next: vs. Lyndon

4. Olpe (NR), 7-2. Beat Olpe 41-33 5OT. Next: vs. Yates Center

5. Lyndon (1), 8-1. Lost to Olpe 41-33 5OT. Next: vs. Pittsburg-Colgan

Dropped out: Ell-Saline (3), 7-1. Lost to Smith Center 54-0

EIGHT-MAN DIVISION 1

1. Burlingame (1), 9-0. Beat Herington 68-0. Next: vs. Victoria

2. Hoxie (2), 8-1. Beat Oberlin 50-0. Next: vs. Ness City

3. Osborne (3), 8-1. Beat Lincoln 54-0. Next: vs. Clifton-Clyde

4. Spearville (4), 9-0. Beat Kinsley 46-0. Next: vs. St. Francis

5. St. Francis (5), 6-1. Beat WaKeeney 58-0. Next: at Spearville

EIGHT-MAN DIVISION 2

1. Hanover (1),9-0. Beat Axtell 54-8. Next: Rock Hills.

2. Pike Valley (2), 9-0. Beat Linn 56-6. Next: vs. Axtell

3. Central Christian (4), 9-0. Beat Caldwell 74-28. Next: Pleasanton

4. Otis-Bison (5), 8-1. Beat Hodgeman County 58-26. Next: vs. Sylvan-Lucas

5. Rock Hills (NR), 8-1. Beat Beloit-St. John’s 54-8. Next: at Hanover

Dropped out: Caldwell (3), 8-1. Lost to Central Christian 74-28