Long Shots

We’re about half way through the fall sports season already and one thing is for sure: A lot of great things are happening in area schools.

— The Peabody-Burns high school football team was undefeated until losing Friday to a tough Ell-Saline.

Benefiting from one of the state’s leading rushers in Tommy Phillips and a talented quarterback in Steven Morgan, I look for the Warriors to surprise some people around playoff time.

— The Goessel High School volleyball team surprised a lot of folks last year by making a run to the state tournament in Hays.

This year, Sandy Banman and her Bluebirds are hanging tough despite dropping a couple of games along the way.

At the start of the season, Banman told me she thought it would be tough to replace the girls who graduated from last year’s state-qualifying team.

With a 19-3 record overall and a 6-3 record in the Heart of America League going into yesterday’s matches at Goessel, I’d say Banman has dealt with the exodus pretty well.

We may hear those Bluebirds singing all the way to the state tourney again this year.

— One of the deals I made with my editor this year was that I would cover the Marion Warriors and he would cover the Hillsboro Trojans.

I think the deal worked.

I’ve been impressed with the Warrior football program this year.

Grant Thierolf runs a tough and disciplined squad that at times looks like some of the great Marion teams of old.

Marion is 4-1 and will host undefeated Sacred Heart this week for what may be the championship game of the Cottonwood Valley League.

If the Warriors can continue their second-half performance last Friday against Chase County, this team may not only win Friday’s game, they could surprise a couple of teams in district play.

— Once again, the Hillsboro Trojan football team, one of the teams in the same district with Marion, looks tough to beat.

Coach Dustin McEwen has taken a team that some thought might be down a bit this year and catapulted it past Wichita Collegiate, which was ranked No. 1 in Class 3A and the defending state champs.

The Trojans held on to beat the Spartans for a 28-22 win in overtime to keep the Hillsboro record unblemished.

Hillsboro is undefeated and will face a tough Lyons team before heading into district play.

Since coaching in the 2001 Shrine Bowl, McEwen has looked less like a high school football coach and more like a coach primed for the college ranks.

With the help of a great coaching staff and maybe some of the best players to ever wear the maroon and gold, I think Hillsboro is capable of breaking out of district play in a big way.

— The Tabor College volleyball team continues to shine this season.

Amy Ratzlaff and her Bluejays have found a niche in the new rally-point format in college. The Bluejays are challenging for the KCAC lead and have a shot at competing among the NAIA elite in late November.

— The Tabor College football team appears to be on track this season despite their current two-game losing streak.

With a tough game this week against Southwestern, Tabor will need a big game and eliminate costly mistakes to knock off the Moundbuilders.

I wouldn’t be surprised if head coach Tim McCarty and his Bluejays pull off an upset in Winfield on Saturday.

— How about those cross country teams in the area?

Hillsboro has a legitimate shot at winning a Class 3A state championship. Aaron Yoder, only a sophomore, is among the best in the state and the Trojans may just chase him to the title.

The Marion High School boys’ team, meanwhile, continues to turn in impressive times and places.

Leading the Warrior running attack are Zac Ewert, Brian Bina, Jared Hett and James Davis.

I wouldn’t count out the Warriors when the regionals races take place later this month.

— First-year head coach Lonnie Isaac and his Tabor women’s tennis team are battling teams throughout the KCAC and coming up big.

The team remains undefeated in conference play and will face a strong Bethany College squad Thursday for KCAC bragging rights.

Can anybody say, “KCAC champions”?

— With all the good things happening, make the effort to congratulate your athletes. It’s times like these that make following sports really exciting.

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