Class 2A preseason football rankings breakdown (2024)

  • Class 2A preseason football rankings breakdown (1)

    Nemaha Central celebrated a 33-17 state championship win over Kingman last November but graduated significant key pieces of that squad. (Submitted)

Preseason rankings are a guessing game, perhaps now more than ever given the increased frequency of student-athlete transfers in the offseason, but it's fun to try and predict who is going to finish the season on top.

As a former coach, I'm a little conflicted about producing preseason rankings. I can tell you definitively that players can be impacted by what's written and reported about them. Different teams have differing abilities to meet or exceed expectations.

Coaching history, returning experience, standout players at key positions, and schedule are a few key considerations that go into the rankings, but this year feels like the most wide-open for all classifications in recent memory. Heading into last season I was confident that Mill Valley would win 5A, one of the Big 3 private school powers (Aquinas, Miege, St. James) would win 4A, Andale would win 3A, St. Marys would be at least a semifinalist, Little River would at least make the 8-Man I final, Axtell would win 8-Man II with their toughest game against Canton-Galva at some point, and Cunningham would win 6-Man. Of course I also didn't think Manhattan, Gardner-Edgerton, or Wichita County would finish in the Top 5 – guess they showed me, huh?

Most of the most experienced teams are likely just a couple players away from being at the top or the bottom of the rankings, and there are many factors which are uncontrollable including injuries, weather, depth, officiating (not a criticism of officials but it's a fact that a couple of missed calls here or there can impact a season), and the most significant factor in the overall success or failure of an athletic program, socioeconomic status of the region around the school system, a seldom referenced, but ultra-important factor, and a topic for another time.

Regardless of where your team lands in the predictions that follow, the former coach in me wants to implore each player to be coachable, do their absolute best on and off the field, and embrace their role on the team and let the chips fall where they may.

NOW, let's take a look at the Kansas Pregame preseason rankings and see if we can guess who will end up on top.

This year, the classifications from top-to-bottom just feel deeper than in the past. While 4A still appears as though it will be dominated by the private schools, graduation losses at Mill Valley, Andale, and Axtell don't leave them as the sure-bet repeat champions of the past, though we think they're still the favorites.

Class 2A

1. Kingman
2. Sabetha
3. Nemaha Central
4. Silver Lake
5. Ellsworth

For the second time in program history, NEMAHA CENTRAL captured a state championship in football. The Thunder took down Kingman 33-17 in the championship game to capture the 2022 Class 2A title. The Thunder's other title came in 2019. By claiming the championship, Nemaha Central capped off a perfect 13-0 campaign. Now the Thunder, under third-year coach Michael Glatczak (20-3) will be seeking their third crown in the past five years. Six starters return this season, led by sophom*ore Carter Hajek on offense. Hajek, a running back, had 54 carries for 451 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. Defensively, the Thunder will be led by senior Holden Bass on the line. Bass is the top returning tackler with 66 stops last season, including five sacks. The Thunder have won 17 of their last 18 games overall heading into the 2023 season and should once again be a factor in the 2A title hunt.

Last year’s runner-up, KINGMAN, went 12-1 last season, suffering its only loss in the championship game against Nemaha Central. The Eagles have posted back-to-back double-digit win totals and have won 22 of their last 24 games overall heading into the new season. Tanner Hageman returns for his fifth season as head coach, compiling a 31-12 record to date. Kingman has seven starters back in the lineup this season, including seniors Tristen Davidson (TE/DE), Carter Helm (WR/DB), Chase Webster (WR/DB), Dalton Barber (DL) and Bo Watkins (WR/LB). Helm had 324 yards rushing on offense and also recorded a team-high 10 interceptions on defense. Davidson and junior Brody Bell combined for 16 sacks on defense. Hageman has high expectations for new quarterback Ben Bradshaw who has big shoes to fill in graduated standout Nolan Freund. He also looks for good things from Helm, who will replace speedster Avrey Albright. The Eagles will face a tough early-season schedule that includes a Week 1 matchup against Class 3A quarterfinalist Cheney and 1A semifinalist Conway Springs.

SABETHA reached the sub-state round of the playoffs before falling to eventual champion Nemaha Central (31-14). The Bluejays, members of the Big 7 League, wrapped up the season at 9-3 overall. Under the direction of head coach Garrett Michael, who enters his 15th season, SHS has a solid group of players returning, including 12 players with starting experience. Senior running back Colin Menold is the top returning rusher with 860 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Marcus Bauman is back at wide receiver after catching 14 passes for 264 yards and three scores. Defensively, the Bluejays are led by senior end Christian McAfee, who had 86 tackles a year ago.

Logan Pegram returns for his second season in charge at his alma mater, SILVER LAKE. The Eagles — members of the soon to be disbanded Mid-East League — wrapped up last season with a 6-3 record that included a hard-fought week-nine loss to Riley County (23-21). Pegram had big shoes to fill replacing legendary coach CJ Hamilton, who finished as the state’s all-time winningest coach (447-98) following a 47-year career. This year’s Silver Lake squad has 11 players back with starting experience, including seniors Tanner Martin (QB), Blake Redmond (RB/LB), Eli Barnes (WR/S), Jack Seele (OL) and Chase Root (OL/LB). Martin is the top returning rusher with 542 yards and eight touchdowns. Barnes finished with 670 receiving yards and five scores. Defensively, Root finished with 65 tackles a year ago.

After back-to-back losing seasons, ELLSWORTH enjoyed a historically successful 8-2 record last fall. Josh hom*olka’s squad advanced to the regional round of the playoffs before suffering a 33-6 loss to eventual state runner-up Kingman. hom*olka, a former college defensive coordinator, returns for his seventh season with the Bearcats (25-29). Will Cravens returns this season after completing 75 of 133 passes for 1,068 yards and 15 touchdowns. Other key returnees on offense include Wyatt Bohnen (89 car., 532 yds.) on the ground and Cole Webber (29 rec., 541 yds.) receiving. On defense, leading the way will be linebacker Loden West, who had 62 tackles.

Advancing to the state semifinals, SOUTHEAST OF SALINE closed out last season with an 11-1 record following a heartbreaking 28-22 double-overtime loss to Kingman in the sub-state round. The Trojans are once again led by Mitch Gebhardt, who enters his 14th season as head coach (93-38). Eight starters return this year, led by 1,000-yard rusher Nathan Friesen. The senior running back accounted for 17 touchdowns. Defensively, the top returning player is senior safety Daniel Kejr, who finished with 64 tackles and two interceptions.

BELOIT concluded the 2023 season with a second straight winning record, finishing at 8-3 overall. That included a trip to the sectional round of the playoffs, where the Trojans suffered a 35-6 loss to eventual state runner-up Kingman. Brad Gober returns for his seventh season in the program (41-25) and has a solid group of returning players back in the lineup. Overall, Gober welcomes back a total of 12 players with starting experience, including seniors Brody Wildrig (OL/DL), Maddox Waters (TE/LB), Quinn Eilert (QB/DB), Parker Isbell (OL/LB), Brodie Schroeder (RB) and Christian Mears (OLB). Eilert will lead the defensive unit after recording 81 tackles and two interceptions last season.

Despite the losses of two-time All-State selections Trey Sommer and Maddox Johnson, HUMBOLDT is looking for another big season with the return of seven players with starting experience. Under the direction of ninth-year head coach Logan Wyrick (54-27), the Cubs are coming off an 8-3 campaign a year ago that included a trip to the sectional round of the playoffs. Humboldt suffered a 44-20 loss to eventual state champion Nemaha Central. Junior Cole Mathes is a top returning player on both sides of the ball, finishing with 554 rushing yards and 57 tackles. Senior wide receiver Sam Hull also returns after recording 564 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

After back-to-back state championships in 2020 and 2021, ROSSVILLE had a bumpy season a year ago, closing things out at 5-5 overall. Despite those struggles, the Bulldawgs were able to win a postseason game before falling to eventual state champion Nemaha Central (36-13) in the regional round of the playoffs. Derick Hammes enters his 11th season as Rossville’s head coach and will have six players back this season with starting experience. Camden Horak, a senior quarterback, completed 91 of 164 passes for 1,260 yards and 14 touchdowns last season while also rushing for 844 yards and 10 more scores.

Zach Baird returns for his 10th season at HOISINGTON. During his tenure in the program, the Cardinals have compiled an overall record of 87-18, including last year’s 8-3 mark. Hoisington reached the sectional round in the postseason but suffered a 44-20 loss to Southeast of Saline. Eight players return this season for the Cardinals, led by Tony Moore. The senior racked up more than 1,600 yards of offense last season (992 rushing, 656 passing) with 23 combined touchdowns.

Returning a total of 12 players with starting experience, RUSSELL is looking to build off last year’s 6-4 mark that included a loss to Hoisington in the regional round of the playoffs. Back for his second season as head coach is Christien Ozores. The Cardinals won five straight games after opening the season 2-3 overall. Russell doesn’t have much offensive production back but should be able to fill in some key holes. Defensively, the top returners are junior Brayden Suchy with 68 tackles and senior Roman Hernandez with 12 sacks.

Dropping down to 2A a year ago, CANEY VALLEY continued its winning tradition by winning the District 1 championship and reaching the postseason for a 13th consecutive season. COUNCIL GROVE returns several key pieces from a surprise 7-3 squad for Butch Hayes, though graduated speed merchant Ethan Burton leaves a glaring hole. OSAGE CITY has the tall task of replacing graduated All-State quarterback and linebacker Landon Boss from a team that finished 8-2. HALSTEAD returns an experienced team for second-year coach Derek Racette and could be ready to make some noise behind senior Owen Farmer.

Brian Thomas contributed significantly to this preview compiling large portions of it utilizing the preview capsules in our annual football preview.

For more reading, check out our 2023 Kansas Pregame Fall Edition at this link:Kansas Pregame Football Preview 2023

Class 2A preseason football rankings breakdown (2024)


How are preseason college football rankings determined? ›

Starting with the preseason poll, the Associated Press Poll will rank the Top 25 teams each week during the season and after the bowl games and the College Football Playoff. The 61 sportswriters and broadcasters from throughout the country vote individually. Teams are given points on a scale: No. 1 gets you 25, No.

How are college football teams ranked at the beginning of the season? ›

Each voter provides their own ranking of the top 25 teams, and the individual rankings are then combined to produce the national ranking by giving a team 25 points for a first place vote, 24 for a second place vote, and so on down to 1 point for a twenty-fifth place vote.

How are preseason matchups determined? ›

Since 2002, individual teams have been allowed to negotiate their own deals to play each other during the preseason: the league allows individual teams to provide input into desired matchups and determines the matchups for any games that were not individually negotiated, while the league sets all game dates and times.

What are college football rankings based on? ›

In 2014, a selection committee was formed to choose the top four teams to compete in a playoff format, ultimately leading to the crowning of a national champion. The CFP rankings consider various factors, including win-loss records, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and conference championships.

How do college football teams move up in rankings? ›

A team's strength of schedule will be one of the most important considerations for the committee in making its selections as well as conference championships, team records, head-to-head results, plus other points such as injuries and weather.

How do college rankings work? ›

College rankings evaluate an institution's program offerings, admission rates, graduation rates, affordability, and reputation. Different rankings weigh these factors differently, so students can benefit from researching the ranking's methodology and comparing several different rankings.

How did BCS rankings work? ›

The BCS formula calculated the top 25 teams in poll format. After combining a number of factors, a final point total was created and the teams that received the 25 lowest scores were ranked in descending order.

What is the difference between AP poll and Coaches Poll? ›

The Coaches Poll is, if anything, a little kinder to mid-majors and a little less likely to get caught up in the hype than the AP Poll. Each coach who agrees to be on the panel submits their top 25. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, second place gets 24 points, and so on down to one point for 25th.

Does preseason points count? ›

While the NBA will track stats in the pre season, they do not count toward a player's regular-season total. They can not be used to determine standings or playoffs, and are generally ignored as an irrelevance.


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