QF Football Week Preview - Indians look to continue run
NOTE: We will be previewing all four playoff games involving teams in Southwestern Kansas this weekend, beginning with the 8-man Division I contest between Wichita County and Little River. The 6-man stories and a look at the Scott City Beavers and their next playoff step will come out later today.
Little River (9-1) at Wichita County (9-1)
Kickoff: 6 pm
Stream: Open Spaces Sports
It’s been nearly three decades since the Indians from Leoti have made this deep of a playoff run, and to go further, they are going to have to stop a team who has won nine straight after dropping its season opener.
Kayden Rietzke did the usual Kayden Rietzke things last weekend in the regional win over previous No. 5 Clifton-Clyde, throwing four TD passes and rushing for three more scores in the win. Sheldon Whalen was also a standout on both sides of the ball, hauling in two TD passes and making a number of key stops in the second half to keep C-C off the board.
Rietzke has put up a huge season in 2019, accounting for more than 3,000 combined yards (passing and rushing) with 51 total touchdowns. The “2” in the 1-2 backfield punch is Jesse Gardner, who has put up nearly 1,000 scrimmage yards. Whalen is the team’s top receiver, catching 50 passes for 846 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Little River lost its opener in September to No. 1 Canton-Galva and has not lost since, winning 44-42 last week over Ness City to move to the State Quarterfinals. The game was close throughout last week, with no lead larger than 14 points.
Little River, though, will have to continue to win without its starting quarterback. Graham Stephens, who also has played running back, injured his knee during a practice last week, according to Kpreps, and will be out of action this week. The offensive load will have to rest on backs Jayden Garrison (1,007 yards, 24 TDs) and freshman Braxton Lafferty.
The Indians have to keep their focus on what’s immediately ahead, however, and not look beyond this week. What could be waiting for them is a rematch with district foe St. Francis, if both teams advance to the semifinals.