BY ANDY TAYLOR
CANEY — Caney Valley Bullpup football fans are clearing their schedules so that they can attend what arguably could be the biggest home football game in the history of Caney Valley sports.
On Friday night, Caney Valley will be host to the class 3A state playoff sectional game where the Bullpups, now 10-1 overall, will lock horns with the Silver Lake Eagles, a much-ballyhooed squad that has appeared in nine of the past 10 class 3A state championship games.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., at the CVHS Stadium. The game will be broadcast on KGGF (104.1 FM).
In the modern history of Bullpup football, Caney Valley has never hosted a state playoff game at the sectional level, which is the final eight of the state football tournament. That makes this Friday’s game a significant milestone for Caney Valley — a feat that isn’t being missed in the Bullpup lockerroom.
“This is bonus time,” said Criss Davis, Caney Valley head coach whose team defeated Wellsville, 26-8, in last Saturday’s class 3A regional game to advance to Friday night’s sectional contest. “Our guys are having a ball playing in the state playoffs. And, they want to be there. At this time of the year, some athletes tend to think about starting wrestling or basketball, but our guys have their chinstraps snapped and ready for practice at 3:30 every afternoon. They don’t want the season to end.”
Silver Lake joins Conway Springs as being the most storied programs in class 3A. Coached by C.J. Hamilton, who is the all-time winningest coach in the history of Kansas high school football, the Eagles will come to Caney Valley not only with a remarkable legacy on its shoulders but also a stellar 11-0 record. The Eagles have scored an average of 44.5 points per game this season while giving up an average of 8.0 points per game to the opposition.
But, then again, Caney Valley is mightily stellar, too.
In comparison to Silver Lake, Caney Valley has averaged 42.2 points per game while giving up an average of 9.0 points to the opponents.
Does that sound like the makings for a memorable game to be played on the Caney Valley turf Friday night?
Here’s another ingredient to throw into the mix: a common denominator between Caney Valley and Silver Lake is (drumroll please) Conway Springs. Caney Valley’s and Silver Lake’s last losses each came to Conway Springs. The Bullpups lost to Conway Springs, 33-8, on Sept. 7. Meanwhile, Silver Lake lost to Conway Springs, 49-7, in the class 3A state championship game last November.
Davis said the Bullpup players are hoping for a packed house on Friday night, where a trip to the state playoff sub-state game (the final four, if you will) is on the line. Should Caney Valley defeat Silver Lake, then the Bullpups will play the winner of the Rossville/Pittsburg-Colgan contest in the class 3A sub-state game on Friday, Nov. 16. A Caney Valley team has never advanced to a sub-state football game.
“Our guys really appreciate the Bullpup fans who drove to Wellsville last week to support us . . . because it looked like we had a bigger crowd than Wellsville,” said Davis. “But, now we’re hosting what is probably the most storied program in class 3A. Silver Lake will bring a big crowd too. But, our supportive fan base has proven beneficial throughout the season.”