Archive for Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wristen: KVL quiet in football playoffs

November 12, 2009

It’s hard to believe, but just 10 days ago we were immersed in football district action and the Kaw Valley League was in the spotlight.

Competition for state playoff berths was intense, and a handful of teams were considered candidates to make deep runs toward a state championship.

Now, all is quiet in football stadiums across the league. No KVL football team advanced past the first round.

Four teams made the playoffs. None stayed long.

It was a surprising late-season slump for a league that was red-hot since games kicked off Sept. 4.

What happened, exactly?

Chalk it up to two factors: unlucky matchups, and untimely mistakes.

For Mill Valley in Class 5A and Piper in Class 4A, the outcomes were related to the first factor.

Mill Valley squared off against reigning state runner-up St. Thomas Aquinas. The Jaguars thoroughly held their own for a half, but the Saints pulled away for a 47-21 victory.

Piper was in a similar situation against 2008 state semifinalist Holton. The Pirates fell behind early against the Wildcats’ high-powered offense. Two Holton running backs rumbled for more than 150 yards in a 37-21 victory that ended Piper’s season.

Meanwhile, Turner and Basehor-Linwood’s playoff stints ended because of the latter factor.

Turner turned the ball over twice in the red zone and gave up a late score in a 14-10 loss to Shawnee Heights.

Basehor, on the other hand, turned the ball over four times and dug a 28-point hole before rallying late in a 41-27 loss to Jefferson County West.

The Bobcats made mistakes that were uncharacteristic of the way they played while rolling through the regular season and winning the Kaw Valley League championship.

For Turner and Basehor — which both went 8-1 during the regular season and won district championships — the first-round losses were unexpected. Both had realistic expectations of making deep playoff runs.

At this time last year, Mill Valley and Turner were preparing for Class 5A state quarterfinal appearances. Perry-Lecompton was marching its way toward an appearance in the Class 4A state title game. This year, uniforms and pads have been turned in at schools throughout the KVL and the football stadiums will be quiet while the playoffs roll on in other communities.

The early exits are cause for disappointment, but they shouldn’t take away from what proved to be one of the wildest seasons in league history where the usual suspects became bystanders and fresh faces rose to the top.

It was a fun ride, but it ended too soon.

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