One down, one to go

The new volleyball season began for Russell and Beloit high schools a little under two hours ago. The Trojans defeated the Broncos 25-13, 25-20, spoiling the debut of new Russell coach Don Fenwick.

I’m now waiting for the second varsity match to begin. In the North Central Activities Association, teams play two varsity matches at the same site on the same day, rather than home-and-home, which is common in leagues where the schools do not have far to travel.

The Mid-Continent League, the league I cover in volleyball for the most part, does not have a mandatory round robin schedule. With the membership of the league in flux in recent years, that hasn’t been possible. The MCL determines its champion by a league tournament in mid-October. Smith Center has won the past two tournaments and 14 overall. Phillipsburg won it six straight between 2006 and 2011.

I just checked the weather for my football game Friday. Does not look good. There’s a chance of rain, and if that happens, the field at Kensington will turn muddy.

I agreed with Jack and Frank this afternoon that I should cover Osborne and Thunder Ridge of Kensington this Friday. Kensington is a tiny hamlet located on US 36 in western Smith County, halfway between Phillipsburg and Smith Center. Thunder Ridge was formed in 2008 after the merger of the school districts of Kensington and Agra, another tiny town in eastern Phillips County.

Thunder Ridge won the 8-man Division II state championship in 2011, finished second in 2012, and went 8-2 a year ago, although the Longhorns were bounced from the playoffs in the first round by Sharon Springs.

Osborne won the 8-man Division I state title last year. The Bulldogs played 11-man from 1966 through 2009, winning a state title in 1983, but mostly falling on hard times since, as their enrollment could not keep up with powerhouses like Smith Center, Norton and Plainville, and later Phillipsburg. Schools in Kansas are allowed to play 8-man if their enrollment in grades 9, 10 and 11 is 100 or fewer in years when the Kansas State High School Activities Association draws up new football districts, which are odd-numbered years for the cycle to begin the following year.

I’ve got a lot of stuff between now and Friday. The second match at Beloit, the drive back to Russell, writing and laying out pages for Russell, volleyball Thursday at Smith Center…it will get interesting.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on September 2, 2014, in Football, KSHSAA, Sports, Volleyball and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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