Preps notebook: Area football teams to start 2018 campaigns

Eudora head coach Sean Hayden snaps the ball during a football camp at Eudora High School on June 26, 2018. Hayden, who spent four seasons as a defensive coordinator at Augusta, became Eudora's newest coach in January.

The high school football season is officially here.

Lawrence High started the year off with a Thursday game, while Veritas actually began its regular season last week. The rest of the area football teams are slated to begin the 2018 campaign at 7 p.m. Friday.

Free State, Baldwin, Eudora, Tonganoxie and Perry-Lecompton will all start the year with a road opener, while Veritas (0-1) will play its second consecutive game away from home. Here is a look at all the area teams ahead of Friday’s action:

About this feature

Preps Notebook is a new feature from Journal-World high school sports reporter Shane Jackson that will run several times a week and highlight results and other information about local teams. For more on this new coverage plan, please read Shane’s introduction here.

Free State at Olathe West

Free State gets a unique season opener, taking on Olathe West at Olathe District Activity Center.

This will be the first varsity football season for Olathe West, as the program competed in all other sports during the 2017-18 school year. T.J. O’Neill is the team’s head coach after spending seven seasons as an assistant coach at Mill Valley, winning state titles in 2015 and 2016.

Last season, Free State went 10-1 before suffering an overtime loss to Derby in the 6A quarterfinals. FSHS has been eliminated by Derby in each of the last three postseasons. Entering 2018, the Firebirds are ranked No. 2 in Class 6A in the Kpreps preseason poll.

“It’s going to be their first varsity game,” head coach Bob Lisher said. “They are going to be sky-high and their student section is going to be sky-high. We are going to have to come out and execute early to try and ruin that atmosphere.”

Prediction: Free State over Olathe West

Baldwin at Ottawa

In Doug Kerr’s first year at the helm, Baldwin went 6-4 and ultimately dropped a 9-8 decision to Holton in the postseason.

This season, the Bulldogs will be forced to replace a bulk of their offensive firepower after quarterback Luke Laskoski graduated. Laskoski combined for over 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. Senior Quinn Nichols is expected to lead a strong group on the offensive line.

Baldwin claimed a 20-12 win over Ottawa in the season opener last year.

Prediction: Baldwin over Ottawa

Eudora at Piper

Head coach Sean Hayden, who spent the last four seasons as defensive coordinator at Augusta, is set to make his debut with Eudora.

The Cardinals, who went 2-7 last fall, bring back plenty of talent for the rookie head coach. Senior quarterback and defensive back Gavin Elston is back after missing his entire junior campaign with a knee injury. Senior running back and defensive back Carter Neis will team up with Elston to lead the offense.

Sawyer Tomlinson, Kaden Hartwell and Nate Boucher will play on the offensive and defensive line. Griffin Oxley is expected to play on the offensive line and as a linebacker, while Jake Haney should play tight end and on the defensive line. Kaden Horting (receiver/defensive line), Camdon Willits (running back/linebacker) and Lonnie Ford (receiver/defensive back) will also play both sides of the ball.

“The key for this season is for us to continue to get better every single day,” Hayden said. “We must continue to approach every day with excellent effort, a great attitude and complete trust in our teammates and coaches.”

Prediction: Piper over Eudora

Tonganoxie at Basehor-Linwood

Basehor-Linwood was the last team to beat Tonganoxie in the regular season, notching a 27-12 win on Oct. 27, 2016.

The Chieftains stormed through a perfect 9-0 regular season before falling in a 42-7 loss to De Soto during the first round of the postseason last year. Tonganoxie now moves from the Kaw Valley League, which doesn’t exist anymore, to the Frontier League.

On offense, Tonganoxie will have to replace running back Dalton Bock and quarterback Mason Beach from graduation. The Chieftains averaged 34 points a game last season, while allowing just 10.8 points a contest. Junior linebacker Connor Searcy, who led the team with 73 tackles, is back to lead the defense again.

In the last meeting between these two teams, Tonganoxie claimed a 10-3 victory.

Prediction: Basehor-Linwood over Tonganoxie

Perry-Lecompton at Royal Valley

Perry-Lecompton has 13 starters back from last year’s team, which went 7-4 before falling to eventual champion Sabetha in the second round of the 3A playoffs.

The Kaws have six returning starters on offense after averaging 42.4 points per game in 2017. Senior quarterback Dalton Kellum is ready to roll in his second season under center after recording 1,555 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground last year. He also threw for 1,295 yards and 12 scores.

Senior running back Blaine Pattin should be featured more after missing last fall with an injury. Senior Shane Quinlan, who recorded 361 rushing yards as a junior, will also chip in on the ground game. Senior receiver Colton Mallonee tallied 437 receiving yards and six touchdowns in his junior campaign. Linebacker Scott Urban is expected to lead the defense after recording 67 solo tackles last season.

“The thing that we always talk about that will allow us to be successful is to take care of what we do,” said head coach Michael Paramore, who is set to enter his 18th season. “I am looking forward to seeing how well we can come together as a team and stay focused on what we want to accomplish.”

Prediction: Perry-Lecompton over Royal Valley

Veritas at WAHAA

After tonight’s game, the Veritas varsity football team will have to wait two weeks before its next contest.

Last week, Veritas was handed a 64-6 loss to Albany (Mo.) in the season opener. Will Eagleman led the Eagles with 71 rushing yards and a touchdown. Andrew Windheuser, who had 51 rushing yards, paced the defense with 16 tackles.

Wichita Homeschool is coming off a 68-34 win over Destiny Christian (Oklahoma) in the season opener.

Prediction: WAHAA over Veritas


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