Saturdays state football finals (with webcast links)
Derby (11-1) vs. SM East (11-1)
1 p.m. at Yager Stadium, Topeka
Derbys defense gave up 41 points in a season-opening loss to AV-CTL Division I foe Salina South, which is playing for a 5A title. But since that game, Derbys defensive starters have allowed two touchdowns. Derbys defense is led by DL Jordan Hill, who was a two-year starter on the OL until he was moved this season, LB Jose Delgado and DB Travis Young. Offensively, Derby has a variety of options, including RB Tyler West (1,018 rushing yards), QB Jeremy Dunham (846 rushing, 1,305 passing), RB-QB-WR Caleb Arnold (164 receiving, 517 rushing) and TE DeAndre Goolsby (573 receiving). Derby last played in a Class 6A championship game in 2002, winning in 1994.
SM Easts defense, which starts five juniors and two sophomores, has been stout, leading the Sunflower League in rushing defense, passing defense and scoring defense. DE Kyle Ball has a team-high 101 tackles, with 27 for loss and eight sacks. LB Dominique Atkinson adds 72 tackles, 20 for loss, and LB Ryan Carter has 83 and 21. Offensively, SM East, which starts nine juniors on offense, runs the flexbone, just like coach Dustin Delaney ran while as an assistant at Hutchinson. RB Luke Taylor has 1,260 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. QB Christian Blessen has 851 passing yards. SM East is playing in its first 6A title game.
Salina South (10-2) vs. Blue Valley (9-3)
1 p.m. at Welch Stadium, Emporia
Salina South, which ended Carrolls 23-game winning streak in the quarterfinals and beat Kapaun in the semifinals, has won seven straight games. The Cougars are led by QB Justin Stonebraker (834 rushing, 1,683 passing), whose dad, Ken, was the coach in 2000 and 2004 for Salina Souths two 5A titles, and in the 2003 runner-up season, a loss to Blue Valley. WR Zach Nachbar (1,114 receiving yards) owns every receiving record at Salina South. RB Mike Jones (219 carries, 1,797 rushing yards) is a brute. He can speed past defenders or run right over them. Salina South is led defensively by FS Cade Calvert (101 tackles, four interceptions) and DE Kole Smith (76 tackles, 11 for loss).
Blue Valley, which beat Salina South 35-28 on Sept. 20, has lost three games by a combined 13 points, including 18-17 to Blue Valley West in the regular-season finale. Blue Valley avenged that loss in the 5A semifinals with a 38-33 win over BV West. Blue Valley, which has won five titles (2010, 2006, 2003, 1998, 1991), is led by LB Henry McGrew (143 tackles), DB Brandon Lee (75 tackles, 4 of Blue Valleys 15 interceptions) and DL Jalen Cooks (70 tackles, 10 for loss, 6 1/2 sacks). Blue Valley, which has scored 118 points in the playoffs, is led by QB Logan Brettell (1,598 passing and 19 touchdowns, 655 rushing), RB Chance Nelson (1,628 rushing, 18 touchdowns) and OL AJ Harris.
Buhler (12-1) vs. Coffeyville (12-1)
1 p.m. at Salina District Stadium
Buhler, making its first appearance in a championship game since 1990, upset defending champion Holton in the semifinals. RB Riley Allen (1,777 rushing yards, 23 touchdowns) missed 2 1/2 games with an ankle injury, but had two touchdowns and 209 rushing yards against Holton. RB Denton Branscom (977 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns) and QB-DB Jace Williams (1,025 passing yards, 328 rushing, also seven defensive interceptions) give Buhler a balanced attack. While Buhler has given up 61 points in the playoffs, the defense has held some dangerous offenses (Ulysses, Hayden, Holton) in check. That defense is led by DL Henry Hickert, DL Brendan Martens and LB Jake Mullins.
Coffeyvilles offense has put up the points, 160 in the playoffs and 592 on the season. The Tornadoes have scored at least 27 points in every game, except in a 42-14 loss to Pittsburg. Coffeyville has athletic, quick skill players in Ladarius Johnson (1,550 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns), WR James Newton (828 receiving), WR Darron Deffebaugh (836 receiving) and QB Nathan Finley (2,201 passing). Only two Coffeyville wins have been close a 27-21 win over Parsons and a 35-27 quarterfinal win over undefeated Baldwin. Elijah Jones, a powerful LB, has 154 tackles, 15 for loss and seven sacks, and DL Hunter Wright has 48 tackles. Coffeyville is playing in its first title game.
Beloit (13-0) vs. Silver Lake (12-1)
1 p.m. at Gowans Stadium, Hutchinson
Beloit, which is playing in its fifth title game, has outscored opponents 693-225, an average margin of 53.3-17.3. Beloit has a triple threat in its offense,which has 5,488 rushing yards, averaging 422.2 per game and holding opponents to 148.8. OL Bryce Black leads a line that blocks for Bowe Behmyer (2,033 rushing yards, 29 touchdowns; 442 receiving, 8 TDs), Payton Vetter (1,090 rushing, 15 touchdowns; 1,105 passing, 16 touchdowns) and Tanner Niemczyk (1,064 rushing, 11 touchdowns). Beloit, which trailed Sedgwick in its quarterfinal game, also has a strong defense led by Vetter (75 tackles) and Black (37 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks). Beloit last won a title in 3A in 1996, but won three straight titles in 2A from 1975-77.
Silver Lake is making its 18th trip to the championship game, having won seven times 1981, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1997, 2006 and 2010. In Silver Lakes 12 wins, it has outscored its opponents 541-84, including 27-13 over Rossville in the semifinals. It shut out four teams and allowed 14 or fewer points in 11 games. Rossville beat Silver Lake 27-21 on Oct. 11. Senior QB Dailin Kruger (136-for-245 passing for 2,151, 26 touchdowns, 5 interceptions) has played most of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and leads a pass-first offense. His top two receivers are Jace Freeman (942 receiving yards) and Isaac Pridey (636). Silver Lakes leading rusher is Cody Renfro (770 rushing yards). The defense is led by Johnathan Dallman (120 tackles, 27 for loss), Tate Schenkel (83 tackles, 16 for loss, six sacks), Jace Freeman (83 tackles, seven interceptions) and D.J. Redmon (11 sacks).
La Crosse (12-0) vs. Centralia (12-0)
1 p.m. at Lewis Field, Hays
La Crosse is playing in its second title game since 2011, when it lost in overtime to Centralia. The Leopards have given up 13 points in the first quarter, but went scoreless themselves through the first three periods in a 12-7 win over Oakley in the quarterfinals. The offense relies mainly on its passing game with QB Jack Garcia (2,041 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, seven interceptions and 643 rushing). The Leopards top running back is Lucas Moeder (860 rushing yards). La Crosses top receivers are Taylor Yohe (810 yards) and Andrew Jay (762). Defensively, La Crosse has balance with RB-LB Marshall Jay (96 tackles, 16 for loss), OL-DL Cody Lee (80 tackles, 22 for loss, six sacks), Moeder (66 tackles) and Yohe (seven interceptions).
Centralia, which is playing for its third title since 2009, lost by three points to Meade in 2012. Centralia has given up 29 points in the playoffs, including 21 to Lyndon in a 48-point win. The Panthers have dominated opponents, holding teams to no points in the first quarter and outscoring them 446-6 in the first half. TB-LB Sam Steinlage is critical on the offense and defense with 22 touchdowns and 1,226 rushing yards, averaging 10.8 per carry, while also leading the defense with 173 tackles. Other key players include QB JT Rosine (1,057 rushing yards, 10.3 yards per carry, 16 touchdowns), RB Darrian Turner (628 rushing yards, 12.8 yards per carry, 10 touchdowns), FB Trevor Mars (511 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns), LB Brett Burdiek (144 tackles) and DE Joey Ferron (80 tackles, five sacks).