Wildcats will face balanced Columbus
The Louisburg Wildcats are back in action again Saturday night, hosting the 2009 Regional playoff football game against the Columbus Titans. Columbus brings an 8-2 record into the game versus Louisburg's 9-1 record. On paper it looks to be an evenly matched football game. How it will play out on the field is yet to be seen, but the Frontier League has fared well against the Southeast Kansas League so far in this playoff season.
Louisburg's only defeat was against the Frontier League champion, an unusually powerful 5A Gardner-Edgerton team. It was early in the season and not a good measure of an improved present Wildcat football team. Columbus on the other hand lost to both 4A Chanute and Coffeyville-FC during the season. In a rematch for the District title, Columbus beat Coffeyville-FC, leaving Coffeyville with a 5-5 seson record and Chanute, 8-2 was soundly defeated by 7-3 Paola, a good football team that Louisburg had beaten the previous week.
Columbus will present a challenge to the Wildcats, as they come into the game with a very balanced offense, averaging nearly 450 yard per game in offense, 226 yards per game through the air and 209 yards per game on the ground.
Senior Damion Tinnin leads the Titan offense at Quarterback, hitting 128 of 221 of his passing attempts, a nearly 60% completion rate and 2139 yards through the air. Tinnin has thrown for 25 touchdowns and has just 10 interceptions on the season. Tinnin’s favorite receiver is senior Matt Crain who tops the team with 41 receptions for 808 yards and seven touchdowns; right behind Crain is senior Dale Benedict who has 39 catches for 629 yards and 10 T.D.’s and finally senior Lewis Kellogg who has 27 catches for 301 yards and four touchdowns.
On the ground, the Titans are lead by Kellogg who has 142 carries on the season for an even 1000 yards and 18 touchdowns, Benedict is the second option on the ground with 84 carries for 524 yards and five touchdowns. Tinnin would not be considered a dual threat quarterback, having carried the ball 52 times for just 91 yards, but senior Wade Robinson adds a third option on the ground, haveing racked up 41 carries for 353 yards. All totaled, the Titans have carried the ball 360 times for 2084 yards and 26 touchdowns on the season, they are averaging nearly six yards per carry on the ground.
Defensively, junior linebacker Chase Leonard has been an animal for the Titans registering 38 solo tackles and 69 assists for 107 tackles on the season, or an 10.7 tackle per game average. The Titans like to get after opposing quarterbacks too, registering 21 sacks on the season, with senior defensive lineman Tank Burns leading the way with five and a half sacks and Kellogg close behind with four and a half. The Titan defense has staked Columbus to a positive turnover margin, with 12 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries to 18 giveaways on the season.
Based on the teams records and opponents, it appears that Louisburg has the edge and they are playing at home. When the Titans’ statistics are factored in, the game would appear to be a very close match between two good football teams. The Wildcats will need to play a mistake free game to put Columbus away for the season.
Independence to visit Panther Stadium
The Paola Panther will again get to examine the state of football in Southeast Kansas, as they tackle their second straight Southeast Kansas League opponent when the Independence Bulldogs come to Panther Stadium on Saturday, November 7, 2009 for a Regional Playoff game.
The Panthers were too much for the SEK League champion Chanute Blue Comets on Tuesday night, Paola had no trouble winning 48-14 at Chanute. The Blue Comets were never really in the game, as they turned the ball over four or five times against the hard hitting Panthers. Those early turnovers allowed Paola to build a 28-0 halftime advantage, making it nearly impossible for Chanute to rally.
Even on the strong, and accurate arm of Senior Matt Bollig, the Comets were buried too deep after the strong first half by Paola, and could not catch up. Chanute did score two touchdowns in the second half, but the outstanding running tandem of Skylar Hawkins and Tyler Henness proved too much for the Blue Comets and the Panthers rolled into another regional game.
Looking at this game from a won-loss record standpoint, this game should again boil down to the Panthers strength, the strong, tough, hit ‘em hard defense, along with the one-two punch of Hawkins and Henness on offense. Mix in a portion of increasingly strong quarterback play from Seth Kern, and maybe a well timed pass or two to Brint Hastert or Daniel Mawby, and the Panthers should come out on top.
Independence finished third in the Southeast Kansas League with an 7-2 record, and picked up their eighth win of the season in a re-match of their opening game win over Labette County in the Bi-District game last Tuesday.
We have been wondering all season about the strength of SEK football, the league sported three teams with good records, league champion Chanute was taken out of the playoffs by the Panthers on Tuesday, runner-up Columbus get to visit Louisburg Saturday, and third place Independence comes to Paola. After those three, the records drop off quickly, as no other SEK League team earned more than five wins on the season. Traditional SEK powers Pittsburg and Ft. Scott struggled to 4-5 and 1-8 records on the season, while Parsons a traditional participant in the post season went winless on the season. Even Iola, who has advanced in the playoffs in recent memory limped to a 3-6 record. Coffeyville Field Kindley and Labette County were district runners-up and both were bounced from the Bi-District round of the post season.
On paper, the Bulldogs look like a good road team, going 4-0 in road games this season, but a closer examination shows Independence played the bottom three teams in the SEK League on consecutive Friday’s early in the season, winning at Ft. Scott, Parsons and Iola to close out the month of September. The Bulldogs only other road game came during the first game of districts when they played at Fredonia and won. The combined record of the Bulldogs four road opponents was 9-27.
The Bulldogs faced teams that were two games under .500 on the season, with a combined record of 39-41 on the year, if you remove the two teams Independence played with winning records (which were both home losses) in Chanute and Columbus, the records of the Bulldogs in games which they won was a whopping 23-37.
Offensively, Independence has shown an ability to put points on the board, scoring 302 points or just over 30 points per game, while their defense has exactly been stingy, giving up 216 points on the season or an average of nearly 22 points per game.
The Panthers have only allowed more than 14 points in a game twice on the season, both those coming early in game three and four losses at the hands of Gardner and Eudora. In the Panthers other eight games on the season, only Chanute and Louisburg have gotten into the end zone more than once, and twice the Panthers have not allowed a touchdown, giving up only a field goal against Ottawa and pitching a 63-0 shutout at Prairie View. The Panthers have given up 133 points on defense this season, a little more than 13 points per game.
Offensive the Panther have scored 295 points, or nearly 30 points per game, and that includes being held to 17 points by Ottawa, 14 points by Gardner and seven points by DeSoto, as well as the shut-out, slogfest in the mud at Louisburg for the district title.
The weather will be nice for the Saturday game, the field has had a chance to dry out from all the rain of a couple of weeks ago, so the track should be a fast one for the Panthers. Look for Paola to continue with it’s bread and butter, giving the Bulldogs a heavy dose of Hawkins and Henness, while hitting hard and getting after Independence on defense. It should be another good match up, but it appears the Frontier League is stronger top to bottom than the SEK League this season.
The winner of this game will face the winner of the Eudora vs. Jefferson West game next Friday. If the Panthers and Cardinals both prevail, it would give Paola the opportunity to avenge their game four loss, when Eudora came away with a somewhat surprising 35-27 victory.