EMPORIA, Kan. - It's a Friday night in Kansas, district play is starting (look back here for a class by class breakdown next week) and it's an amazing night to be a sports fan. If you're setting their thinking about what it is you should watch tonight, allow your liberal sportsman to let you know where you should go.
Great Bend at Hays
This game is a Lewis Field on the campus of Fort Hays State University and will be in front of a large crowd. This is a rivalry game and Hays will take the field looking to prove their legitimacy. If one of these two teams is going to compete in the toughest district in the state of Kansas (others: Hutch and McPherson) they are going to have to start by making a statement tonight. I think Hays will take the game, but it will not be easy.
Hutchinson at McPherson
Seriously if you live within 50 miles of McPherson this game is well worth the drive. At the field, which is turf, behind McPherson High School. The Salthawks truly have been the greatest show on turf this season, putting up video game like numbers and rolling to easy victories....BUT last week against Goddard, the Lions were able to hold HHS to only seven points in the first quarter. Coach Randy Dreiling said in an interview this week that they were caught off guard. The Bulldogs must take advantage and blitz early and often and keep the Salthawk offense on their toes and they must put the football in the endzone early and build a lead, otherwise HHS has been the best second half team in the state. I still think Hutch will be playing in Emporia come Thanksgiving weekend, but if there is one team that could upset them before that Championship game, McPherson is that team.
Garden Plain at Conway Springs
All of the city league games are rubbish this week, and by taking a short jog down the highway you can see what is probably the second best game on the field this weekend. Conway Springs has felt the taste of prominence, but after a few down years are looking to make their way back to the top. Garden Plain is the returning state champion and looking to stay on top. These two Central Plains league teams have been battling it out over the last five years and I think this game will be no different. Give the slight nod to Garden Plain, but don't let the Cardinals surprise you.
#8 Emporia State Volleyball vs. #7 Washburn
Their isn't really a good football game on the schedule in the East until the second and third week's of district. This is the game to see in Eastern Kansas, #7 vs. #8, Rival vs. Rival, Arica Shepard vs. Ashley Shepard (both Rossville High grads), Bing Xu's quiet approach to coaching vs. Chris Herron's loud approach to coaching. Over the last three years this series is tied at 3-3, with each team winning one match on the others floor. Tonight is to break that 3-3 tie, and likely for a shot at hosting a regional. It's Gold Rush night in Emporia so expect a big crowd, for what could the be the match up of the year in volleyball.
Coffeyville at Independence
Talk about a rivalry, this game was rumored to have been for the county seat when it was first played. And this county still plays out it's politics on the football field (where they should be of course) and this year's game should be another exciting one. The last two years this game has come down to a last second play for the win, and this year could be no different as both teams look fairly evenly matched. If your in the Southeast (and can't make the drive to Emporia) this is the game to go to.
Look for this to become a weekly sports column, I'll help you find something to attend