Starting next football season, The Kansas State High School Athletic Association’s (KSHSAA) 12 high school football teams will split up into two divisions. This is due to the Sunflower League making an attempt to branch out and play new teams outside of the league. Previously, Sunflower League teams played almost all of their games strictly inside the league.
The Sunflower League will not be adding any new teams to the league, only making it so there are two divisions. Next season the teams on East’s schedule are Gardner Edgerton, SM South, SM Northwest, SM West, Lawrence Free State, Leavenworth, J.C. Harmon, Wyandotte and SM North.
Next season, the teams in East’s district will include SM North, who hasn’t won a game since 2011, Wyandotte, who is 3-5 this season and J.C. Harmon (Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools) was 0-9 last season.
“They kind of do a league championship in football by percentages or whatever,” athletic director Kelli Kurle said. “Since there wasn’t really like a true league champion, and it’s hard to schedule, they decided to make it kind of two divisions, and so they took the 12 teams and split them up on two sides.”
Next season, most teams in KSHSAA will have an open week one, where teams can play any team they want. For instance, Olathe North is planning to play a team in Arkansas next season. Olathe South is playing Hutchinson High School, giving them a chance to prove which team has the better double wing style offense. This now gives Sunflower League teams a chance to become more recognized outside of the league.
“This kind of gives kids an opportunity,” Kurle said. “To kind of get out, and a lot of the western side of Kansas is kind of viewing us as like ‘you don’t play anyone, Sunflower League is sort of ‘blah blah blah’’ so this way we can get out and about.”
The boys’ basketball team always plays Rockhurst, who’s not in their league, and the girls’ basketball team plays Blue Valley North, also not in their league. However, the football team previously hasn’t gotten the chance to play schools outside of the Sunflower League.
East has a two year contract with Gardner Edgerton High School starting next season, so the team will be playing them in our open week one for the next two years.
“Gardner is a really good team so it will be a good game to get pumped up for,” junior outside linebacker Sam Pottenger said.
After two seasons, the football team’s open game is free, so there will be the possibility of playing Rockhurst in the future. This is something that players are looking forward to.
“I have always wanted to play them,” Pottenger said. “It would be awesome if we did eventually. Football is the one sport Rockhurst holds on to where they think they’re better than us so it would be awesome to beat them.”