BY JIM MISUNAS
SALINA — Central Kansas League rivals Larned and Hoisington will both attempt to qualify for the 3A playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Next year, the teams will cross paths Sept. 14 when 2A Hoisington visits 3A Larned. The Indians will meet CKL teams Smoky Valley and Hesston in non-district games. Larned will face CKL teams Pratt, Nickerson and Kingman in 3A district play.
Larned coach A.B. Stokes and Hoisington coach Zach Baird agree the Central Kansas League is a great measuring stick for their football teams. The CKL was 14-6 in the playoffs with three losses against other CKL foes.
Larned owns seven playoff appearances. The Indians were 0-6, but beat Ellsworth, Lyons and Cimarron before nearly upsetting Phillipsburg in the 3A playoffs last year.
“Anywhere you go in the Central Kansas League, it’s competitive,” Stokes said. “We face quality opponents every week. It lets us know the level of physicality and effort you need to bring to be competitive. We have to play football at a high level to have a chance to win football games.”
Larned will play six CKL teams in eight games next season.
“Our schedule gets us ready for district play,” Stokes said. “Last year, we understood as a coaching staff that we were getting better. The players didn’t see that on Friday night until districts. We’re\more comfortable in playing in tough situations because we’ve seen them.”
HOISINGTON — Hoisington owns 17 playoff appearances, including a semifinal loss 35-19 to 3A runner-up Hesston last year.
The Cardinals start the 2018 season with Pratt and Nickerson and will face those teams in back-to-back weeks in three consecutive years.
“I wish we played more CKL teams in the next two-year cycle because it helps us,” Baird said. “But I imagine by the time we get to district play in week four, we’ll see good football teams and get tested. We see good football players. We’re not shocked by teams in other leagues.”
Baird said the Cardinals’ first three games will help when they play district foes Hays-Thomas More Prep, Ellsworth, Minneapolis, Phillipsburg and Norton.
“Every football team in our league is well coached. It makes you better. You either compete and get better, or people will beat you.”
GREAT BEND — Great Bend High School will get challenged by City League powers Wichita Carroll and Wichita Northwest on the 2018-2019 football schedules.
The Panthers are 1-3 against Wichita Carroll in the 5A playoffs. Great Bend upset Carroll 21-14 in 2006 when the Panthers lost 34-3 to Stilwell-Blue Valley in tha 5A title game. The Panthers have split games against Wichita Northwest the past two seasons.
GREAT BEND 2018 FOOTBALL
9-14—at Wichita Northwest
LARNED 2018 FOOTBALL
8-31—at Smoky Valley
HOISINGTON 2018 FOOTBALL
PAWNEE HEIGHTS 2018
8-31—at Ness City
9-21—at Little River
9-14—at Ness City
9-28—at Central Plains
10-12—at Little River
10-12—at SW Heights