District football championships will be on the line for Hesston and Smoky Valley as both try to earn first-round home games for next week.
The Swathers head to Marion tonight to take on the Warriors, while Smoky Valley journeys Friday to Clay Center.
Both teams, however, already have earned playoff berths.
• Hesston at Marion (Thursday) — The high-scoring Swathers are winning games behind a tremendous offense.
Hesston, 5-3 overall, prevailed 59-42 last week over Southeast of Saline to clinch a playoff spot, now it wants a home game.
"Friday night's game turned into a track meet with a lot of points scored," Hesston coach Tyson Bauerle said. "Fortunately we were able to make them punt three times while we did not punt at all. Other than those three stops on defense, neither defense could do much to stop the opposing offense. We responded extremely well after losing the lead from an early Southeast touchdown in the third quarter. Five of our eight TDs were against the stiff 25-30 mph wind, which played a factor in the game."
Cameron Cox rushed for more than 300 yards and Parker Roth added more than 200.
"We ran the ball extremely well," Bauerle said. "I thought we did a nice job of sustaining drives when we weren't getting explosive plays. But we also had a number of explosive plays. We finished with 555 yards of just rushing yards. That's pretty impressive."
Marion is 7-1 on the year.
"Marion has been a very explosive offense as of late, too," Bauerle said. "They run their system very well and their team speed will be tough to prepare for."
The Swathers won last year's game, 57-24.
• Smoky Valley at Clay Center (Friday) — The Vikings and Tigers have steamrolled their way through the district and Friday decides the best team.
Smoky Valley, 7-1, hasn't lost since Week 2 and blew out Rock Creek and Chapman.
"We played pretty well," Viking coach Tim Lambert said of his team's rout of Chapman as Kyle Anderson rushed for 200 yards. "The offensive and defensive lines played real well."
Clay Center has averaged 46 points in destroying those same teams.
"Clay Center is very tough running the ball," said Lambert, whose team relies almost totally on the run.
The Vikings and Tigers played a memorable game last year with the Vikings prevailing 30-28.
Clay Center's two losses are to Phillipsburg and Marysville.
• Inman at Sedgwick (Thursday) — It’s been a tough, injury-plagued year for the Teutons, who will try to avoid a winless season against the district champion.
Inman was on the road last Saturday, losing 48-8 to Christ Prep Academy.
“I thought we came out of the gate well,” Inman coach Lance Sawyer said. “We were out- sized up front, but our D-Line played well to begin the game. Turnovers cost us. We continue to struggle to value the ball. Offensively, we played at times. We moved the ball but again struggled to score in the red zone. Defensively, we wore down.”
Sedgwick has the district wrapped up and will be trying to repeat last year’s 49-13 win over the Teutons.
“Sedgwick has some very skilled athletes,” Sawyer said. “Up front they got some good-sized kids that do a good job establishing the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”
• Prue, Okla. at Moundridge (Friday) — The season will come to an end for the Wildcats, who have lost their last two games after winning two in a row.
A victory over Medicine Lodge last week would have clinched a playoff berth for the Wildcats, but the loss eliminated them. They will be trying to finish with a 3-6 record.
“The defense played well to keep us in the game and Noah (Eichelberger) had a good game for us on offense,” MHS coach Jeremiah Meeks said.
Prue, which lost 41-0 to Moundridge last year, has had a turnaround season.
“They are 8-1 right now and have a ton of team speed,” Meeks said.
• St. John at Little River (Thursday) — This figures to be a point-rule formality as the Redskins should be able to close this game out early.
St. John has had to forfeit a game this year for lack of numbers and is coming off a point-rule loss to Central Plains.
Little River will be seeking to put the finishing touches on a 7-2 regular season and is the district runner-up to Central Plains.
The Redskins thumped Ellinwood last week.
"We played OK defensively, but offensively we had way too many missed assignments and missed blocks," Little River coach Chad Lafferty said. "We definitely have some things we can improve upon heading into this week. I thought at times we gang tackled very well and flew to the football, but we still have work to do."
Lafferty is taking nothing for granted.
"St. John is a very good team with a record that is very deceiving," he said. "They have played many good teams and had one forfeit because of injuries, so they are better than what shows on paper. We will have to stop their two backs who run hard and can score once they get in the open field."
Little River point-ruled the Tigers 52-6 last season.
• Ellinwood at Canton-Galva (Thursday) — There's no playoff berth on the line, but Canton-Galva can finish with a winning season with a victory.
C-G is 4-4 on the year and coming of a 46-0 rout of Goessel.
"We played really well last Friday night," C-G coach Shelby Hoppes said. "We finally put together a complete game executing, having energy and playing with physicality. Jonah Sargent, who is one of our three seniors and a great on the field leader, was out with a concussion. My staff and I were worried at the beginning of the game about how we'd react emotionally without him on the field and also how we would make up for his production on both sides of the ball. We had some freshmen who haven't had much varsity time step up and play well. I'm very proud of how our guys have continued to work hard and get better."
Ellinwood was routed last week by Little River, but Hoppes says it's still a dangerous team.
"They have athletes that can make plays on both sides of the ball," he said. "Their record isn't great, but they have been able to put up points on everyone they've played. It's always worrisome playing a team with big-play ability like that."
If C-G plays defense the way it did last week, it can clinch that much-desired winning season.
"Defensively we played very well," Hoppes said. "I believe we only gave up 18 yards of offense to them for the game. That side of the ball has gotten better and better every week. We're really starting to play with emotion, fly around and make plays. Offensively, our run game was pretty good Friday. We rushed for 290 and only had to throw the ball four times in the game. Up front our big boys played very well, creating holes to run through all night. Dylan Wood led our team offensively with five touchdowns, all on the ground."