The Kansas state football playoffs kick off on Thursday with eight-man action. The Telegram has several area teams competing. Here’s a brief look at the matchups:
Wichita County (6-2) at Victoria (6-2)
Thursday’s matchup is one of the rare occasions that two teams who could be considered for a top-five ranking in their classification meet in the first round of the state playoffs.
While the Indians and Knights are just outside of the top five in the Best of Kansas rankings by the Topeka Capital-Journal, Thursday’s game should provide more than enough fireworks.
Wichita County is averaging 46.3 points per game and is allowing just 15.5, while Victoria is racking up 40.3 points per game and giving up 23.6.
The Indians are sparked by sophomore quarterback Kayde Rietzke, who is throwing for 117.1 yards per game and rushing for another 86.4, while accounting for 33 combined touchdowns.
South Gray (3-5) at Central Plains (8-0)
The South Gray Rebels face an uphill battle in traveling to undefeated and top-ranked Central Plains Thursday in their state playoff opener.
The Rebels have struggled to keep up on offense, averaging just 174.7 rushing yards per game and 105 passing yards, while scoring 27.6 points per game. Their defense is allowing 37.1 per game.
Meanwhile, Central Plains has not given up a single point on defense since Sept. 7, and allowed just 22 points all year, while scoring 47.5 points per game, ending most of their games at halftime due to the mercy rule.
South Gray quarterback Austin Jantz has been the offensive engine, racking up 660 rushing yards and 699 passing yards.
Central Plains’ Alex Hickel has run the ball just 51 times this season, but has scored 10 touchdowns and is averaging 10.1 yards per carry.
Satanta (4-4) at South Barber (7-0)
South Barber is allowing just 19.3 points per game on defense as the undefeated and No. 2-ranked Chieftains are set to host Satanta in the first round of the state playoffs Thursday.
The Indians are led by Gabriel Salas’ 829 yards on the ground as Satanta is throwing for 107.4 yards per game and rushing for 204.5 yards per game. Meanwhile, Trevor Rooks is the engine for South Barber, completing 56.6 percent of his passes for 19 touchdowns, five picks and 113 yards per game. He’s also rushing for 68 yards per game with another 13 scores.
Thunder Ridge (5-3) at Dighton (6-2)
The Dighton Hornets have won five in a row after losing two of its first three games, and are now set to host the Thunder Ridge Longhorns on Thursday in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Hornets are scoring 44 points per game and allowing just 17.3. They’re led by quarterback Blair Hoffman’s 34 combined touchdowns (27 passing, 7 rushing), as he’s throwing for 133.9 yards per game and rushing for another 67.6.
The Longhorns, meanwhile, are scoring 32.5 points per game and allowing 27.6. Brandon Grauerholz is their primary ballcarrier, rushing for 101 yards per game and nine scores, while quarterback Jacob Barnes is throwing for 75.1 yards per game, but with five touchdowns and six picks.
Greeley County (4-4) at Northern Valley (6-2)
The Jackrabbits are coming into Friday’s playoff opener at Northern Valley on a two-game winning streak, with their largest margin of victory coming in last week’s 62-16 win over Quinter.
But they’ll have a big challenge in front of them in the Northern Valley Huskies, who are scoring 40.3 points per game and allowing 27.
Greeley County is averaging 31.8 points per game and allowing 30.
Ingalls (3-5) at Hutch-Central Christian (6-2)
Thursday’s state playoff opener in Hutchinson pits teams on different courses. The Ingalls Bulldogs have lost three of their last four games, while the Central-Christian Cougars have won five in a row coming into the game.
The Cougars are racking up 55.3 points per game, and allowing just 21. Ingalls is averaging 42 points per game, but is allowing 47.5.