Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

Rice County Football Preview


By Brad Hallier


Ad Astra Radio will preview area high school football teams, based on county, before the season opener Sept. 1. Here is the preview for Kingman County.

Previous previews:

Harvey County

Kingman County

Marion County

McPherson County

Reno County

Sedgwick County

Stafford County

Chase Kats

Coach: Anthony Broder, first season

Classification: Six player

District: 2

2022: 0-8

Postseason: Lost to Peabody-Burns 66-21

Best postseason finish: Runner-up 1986

Key game: Sept. 8 at Pawnee Heights. Chase has a bye its first week, so the Kats get an extra week to prepare. This was their closest game last season, and it’s a chance to start a new era with a win.

Outlook: It wasn’t long ago when Chase had a strong program. The 2016 team went 6-5 and advanced in the playoffs. The 2014 and 2015 teams didn’t lose a single regular season game. But the Kats have fallen on hard times, having lost 19 in a row. Chase had some success offensively last year but will have to improve its defense to compete, as Chase gave up at least 52 points in every game.

Little River Redskins

Coach: Kevin Ayers, fifth season (43-7)

Classification: Eight-player Division 1

District: 4

2022: 11-2

Postseason: Beat Attica/Argonia 60-12; beat Madison 60-14; beat Chase County 48-40; beat Burlingame 48-0; lost to Wichita County 54-36

Best postseason finish: State champions, 1970, 1971, 1981, 1996, 1999, 2020

Key game: Sept. 2 vs. Canton-Galva. Both teams appear to be in rebuild mode, but both have been so strong these last few years that it’s fair to assume they’ll still be strong. A great measuring stick for both of these teams to start the season.

Top returning players: Andrew Smith, sr., TE/DB; Carter Stansbury, sr., OL/DL; Ruxton Birdsong, jr., O; Kyler Bergkamp, jr., RB/DB; Hayden Eck, jr., OL/LB; Hunter Sneath, jr., OL/DL.

Key game: Sept. 2 at Canton-Galva. Ah yes, what a way to start the season. Each team has recent state titles, and they often have to go through the other to get there. Canton-Galva, however, has dropped to Division 2, so we’ll just have to settle for this anticipated matchup to start the season. 

Outlook: Little River has had a remarkable run lately. Its worst record since 2016 is 7-3. Little River reached the state quarterfinals in 2019, won the title in 2020, and lost in the state championship game each of the last two seasons. This season, Little River will have a younger team and won’t be quite as big in the trenches. But there are good numbers in the freshmen and sophomore classes, and while expecting another run to the championship game might not be in the cards this season, Little River should still win its share of games and build a bridge to another strong run.

Lyons Lions

Coach: Carl Nolan, third season (3-14)

Classification: 2A

District: 5

2022: 0-9

Postseason: Did not qualify

Best postseason finish: Quarterfinals 1985, 1995, 1996

Top returning players: Solomon Goforth, sr., QB/DB; Jorge Cereceres, jr., OL/DL; Seth Laymon, sr., OL/D; Deacon Showalter, jr., WR/DB; Elijah Martinez, sr., OL/LB

Key game: Sept. 1 at Nickerson. After a solid 2021 season, when Lyons went 3-5, the Lions struggled. Getting this season off to a positive start is vital, and this provides both teams with a good chance at just that.

Outlook: Lyons had a young, inexperienced squad last season, and it showed, as the Lions scored just five touchdowns and were shut out five times. Lyons returns much and should be vastly improved. Cereceres was one of the top tacklers in 2A and excels on both sides of the ball. There is no doubt Lyons will be better than last year, but the Lions also play a rugged schedule. Still, there will be chances for a few wins, especially early.

Sterling Black Bears

Coach: Brent Schneider, fifth year (11-25)

Classification: 1A

District 7

2022: 4-5

Postseason: Did not qualify

Best postseason finish: State champion, 1982

Top returning players: Gabe Riffel, sr.; Carson Gray, sr.; Colby Beagley, sr.; Isaac Briar, sr.; Adam Schweizer, sr.; Zeke Johnson, sr.; Jaiden Diasio, sr.; Zane Farney, so.; Boston Ekart, so.; Logan Isaac, so.; Wyatt Newberry, so.; Cale Thomas, so.

Key game: Sept. 29  vs. Medicine Lodge. The margin for error is almost zero for Sterling in district play, given this might be the deepest 1A district. The Black Bears should be vastly improved, so this is one they can’t let slip away if they hope to make the playoffs.

Outlook: Sterling was a victim of geography last season, as the Black Bears went 1-4 in a brutal district. But they also went 3-1 outside of district play, which included a win over a strong Sedgwick team. With a good, experienced senior class, led by Riffel, who could play pretty much every position if asked to. Farney leads a good sophomore class, which was asked to contribute more than most freshmen around the state. Farney threw for more than 1,200 yards, plus 12 touchdowns and also collected 62 tackles. Four players on defense return who amassed at least 48 tackles, and four starters back combined for more than 20 tackles for loss. Sterling will be better, and more important, deeper as more than 40 players are expected out after struggling to get 25 the last few years. This team could surprise.