By BRETT MARSHALL
At this stage of the football season, with the first full week of playoffs completed, there simply are no slouches remaining on the schedule.
Ulysses' Tigers (10-1) will play host to Rose Hill (10-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. in Class 4A quarterfinal action, Stanton County (9-1) has a Class 2-1A quarterfinal home game at 6 p.m. Friday with Plainville (9-1), and South Gray (9-1) travels to Osborne (9-1) for a 7 p.m. semifinal game in 8-Man Division I. Scott City (11-0) will wait until 5 p.m. Saturday for its Class 3A quarterfinal matchup at Conway Springs (10-1).
When Ulysses hits the turf for Friday's game with Rose Hill, it will be the second straight quarterfinal appearance for the Tigers. Last year, their season ended with a 42-20 loss in Holton. This time around, they will be facing a Rose Hill team that eliminated Holton, 28-12, in the first round and blasted Andale in the second-round, 41-14.
The Tigers, though, have been on a roll themselves, routing Pratt, 60-14, and then holding off Hesston, 26-19, last Saturday.
In Rose Hill, however, the Tigers will face a team that has lost only to top-ranked Buhler.
"They're extremely talented, big and physical," Kenny said. "Their athleticism showed in their win against Holton where they simply had players running away from the Holton defenders."
Kenny said the Rockets utilize a spread formation offense but rely more on the running game than on passing.
Kenny is happy to return home for the quarterfinals this season after traveling nearly 400 miles a year ago to play Holton.
A Friday night victory would send the Tigers into the semifinals against the winner of the Buhler-Topeka Hayden game on Nov. 18. The No. 1-ranked Buhler is 11-0 handed Rose Hill its lone loss, 18-10, in the season opener.
Scott City Beavers
Postseason appearances have become the norm in recent years for the Beavers under the guidance of Glenn O'Neil. This is the fourth time in five years for the Beavers to reach the quarters.
Conway Springs is another 3A traditional powerhouse, having played in the 2010 state championship game, falling to Silver Lake, 27-21. It's lone setback this season was to Garden Plain (19-13).
"They're big up front, fast in the backfield, and we know that we'll have to be at our best," O'Neil said. "While everyone talks about their single-wing (offense), you don't realize how good they are on defense, and punt and kickoff returns."
The Beavers will try to utilize a ball control offense as well, much as they did in their 39-20 win over Smith Center last Saturday in which Colborn Couchman and Dalton Buehler rushed for 180 and 164 yards to pace the victory.
A win Saturday by the Beavers puts them into the Nov. 18 semifinals against the winner of the Garden Plain-Beloit contest on Nov. 18.
Stanton Co. Trojans
For Stanton County, the quarterfinal round is an accomplishment for the second straight season. In 2010, the Trojans reached the semifinals before falling to eventual state champion, Meade.
On Friday, the Trojans will face off with Plainville for a shot at the semifinals.
"They're real good, a solid team that tackles well and are aggressive on defense," Kendrick said. "Offensively, they run the ball a lot and that will be one of our biggest concerns."
Plainville's lone setback this year was to another 2-1A powerhouse in LaCrosse, who faces Meade on Friday night.
"LaCrosse shut down their run, but they will pass," Kendrick said. "Their bread and butter is the run."
The Trojans are coming off a memorable 35-34 last-second victory over Ellis in their playoff opener last Friday at Ellis. Junior quarterback Quinn Kendrick scored on a 3-yard sneak on a fourth-and-one situation with just 16 seconds left in the game.
A victory by the Trojans on Friday sends them back to the semifinals, facing the LaCrosse-Meade winner on Nov. 18.
So. Gray Rebels
Blattner's Rebels have rolled through their first two playoff opponents — 60-12 over Pretty Prairie and 52-6 over Claflin/Central Plains. In Osborne, Blattner said he almost feels as though he's looking in a mirror.
"They remind me of us and that's the reason to be concerned," Blattner said. "They run the ball particularly well and have three backs who are really good."
The Rebels are not without their own offensive weapons, as they utilize the 1-2 power punch of tailback Coulter Croft, who has rushed for more than 2,000 yards, and quarterback Wyatt Slaven, who has more than 1,200 yards rushing.
"They'll be the first to tell you that it is because of our offensive line blocking and the lead blocking of our fullback," Blattner said.
A victory over the Bulldogs will send the Rebels to their first state championship game in 8-Man Division I competition on Nov. 19. They would face the winner of Friday's Madison-Lakeside/Downs contest.