Washburn Rural football coach Steve Buhler is confident his team has made progress since a 42-8 Centennial League road loss at Seaman in Week 1.
Friday’s 7 p.m. rematch at Bowen-Glaze Stadium will show just how much the Junior Blues have improved.
Seaman will take a 6-1 record into Friday’s regular-season finale after a 28-0 league win over Topeka High last Thursday, while Rural improved to 3-4 with a 47-28 Centennial win over Highland Park last Friday.
"We’ve talked over the last couple of weeks about Manhattan being a good test for us to see where we are, and see if we’ve gotten better since Week 1, and Junction City was a test to see if we have gotten better,’’ Buhler said. "You think you’ve gotten better, but this is like the ultimate test because it’s the same team you played Week 1.
"So the opportunity to really see how much we’ve grown over those seven weeks is important for us and it’s something I’m looking forward to seeing just where we are, because Seaman hasn’t slowed down a bit. They’re playing really good football still. They came out really hot at the beginning of the year and they’ve kept it going the whole season.’’
Seaman’s lone loss was a 34-27 road decision at Junction City, which is undefeated in the Centennial League, while Rural dropped a tight 34-30 home decision to the Blue Jays.
The Vikings have won four straight games since the loss to Junction City, while the Junior Blues have won two of their last three, with the lone loss a 32-31 overtime defeat to Manhattan at Rural. Seaman beat Manhattan 35-21 in Week 5.
Seaman was never threatened in its earlier win over Rural, jumping in front 42-0 before the Junior Blues scored a late TD, but Viking coach Glenn O’Neil is expecting a much tougher contest this time around.
"They’ve played two of the top three teams in the league, Manhattan and Junction, all the way down to the end,’’ O’Neil said of the Junior Blues. "They’re going to forget that first score. They’re playing at home and they’re going to want to finish (the regular season) up and get a victory underneath their belt.’’
Seaman could wrap up a first-round Class 5A playoff bye with a win Friday, while Washburn Rural still has a chance for a first-round home game in 6A.
Seaman senior quarterback Reid Cowan has completed 76 of 125 passes for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns, while Rural senior Cooper Carlgren has completed 64 of 108 attempts for 1,011 yards and nine TDs.
Seaman junior Casen Stallbaumer has caught 30 passes for 509 yards and six receiving touchdowns, while Rural junior Robby Bolin has 22 receptions for 494 yards and six TDs.
Viking senior Nathan Zeferjahn has rushed for 514 yards on 92 attempts and scored 11 touchdowns.
THURSDAY’S CITY GAME
JUNCTION CITY (6-1, 6-0) at HIGHLAND PARK (0-4, 0-4)
At Hummer Sports Park
Junction City will be looking to complete a perfect Centennial League season while Highland Park has shown signs of improvement but is still looking for its first victory. Junction City is coming off a 62-15 league win over Emporia last Friday while Highland Park dropped a 47-28 league decision to Washburn Rural. Senior quarterback Andrew Khoury and senior receiver Russell Wilkey are top players for the Blue Jays while Highland Park senior quarterback Tre’Vion Prosper compiled over 400 offensive yards against Rural and senior Jeremy Kendrick scored three touchdowns. Game time: 6:30 p.m.
FRIDAY’S OTHER CITY GAMES
TOPEKA HIGH (1-3, 1-3) at TOPEKA WEST (1-3, 1-3)
At Hummer Sports Park
Topeka High is coming off a 28-0 Centennial League loss to Seaman while West dropped a 49-0 league decision to Manhattan. High junior Tylan Alejos has rushed for 442 yards on 67 attempts, averaging a city-high 110.5 yards per game. West junior Javion Lee has rushed for 294 yards on 35 carries while sophomore quarterback Malachi Berg has compiled 479 total yards, including 408 passing yards. Game time: 7 p.m.
SHAWNEE HEIGHTS (1-6, 0-4) at KC-TURNER (0-4, 0-1)
Shawnee Heights will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak and pick up its first United Kansas Conference victory while Turner is looking for its first win overall. The T-Birds are coming off a 48-0 non-league loss to St. James Academy while Turner dropped a 77-6 UKC decision to Leavenworth in its most recent game. Heights senior quarterback Hunter Wohler has compiled 1,117 total yards, throwing for 949 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Brent Showalter has caught 33 passes for 458 yards and two TDs. Game time: 7 p.m.
LIFE PREP (1-4) at CAIR PARAVEL LATIN (4-3)
Cair Paravel snapped a three-game losing streak with a 26-8 win over Cornerstone Family last Friday while Life Prep is coming off a 92-46 loss to Wellston, Okla. Cair Paravel junior quarterback Carter Brian has completed 159 of 251 pass attempts for 1,735 yards and 22 touchdowns while junior Noah Hastert has caught 47 passes for 536 yards and seven TDs. Game time: 7 p.m.
HAYDEN AT KC-WARD, CANCELED
Hayden’s Class 3A District 3 game at KC-Ward has been canceled and Hayden was still attempting to line up a replacement game Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats, who are coming off a 10-0 district win over previously unbeaten Perry-Lecompton, is 6-1 overall and 3-0 in districts. Hayden will be at home for the first round of the 3A playoffs on Oct. 30.
Junction City 45, Highland Park 18
Seaman 28, Washburn Rural 24
Topeka High 34, Topeka West 20
Shawnee Heights 35, KC-Turner 6
Cair Paravel 36, Life Prep 20
Last week: 6-0 (1.000 pct.). Season: 33-7 (.825 pct.).