WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — For our Game of the Week for the first round of the high school football playoffs, we’re focusing on a great #7 vs. #10 matchup in the West Region between the Maize South Mavericks and the Valley Center Hornets.

“Valley Center has had a great season,” said Maize South Head Coach Brent Pfeifer. “We’ve had our highs and our lows, and with playoff season, some teams can get hot, and we feel like we can be one of those teams. Valley Center kind of has a different personality than anyone we’ve seen this year. It’s a change. It’d be nice to see someone who was very similar, but they kind of have their own identity compared to other teams we’ve seen this year.”

Maize South’s record is 4-4 this season but played in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League’s Division 1, one of if not the toughest leagues in the entire state. Their losses are to 6A Derby, 5A 1st-ranked Maize, 5A 5th-ranked Hutchinson, and 9th-ranked Goddard.

“I feel really good this year. I think we can really make a good drive into the playoffs this year,” added Maize South Senior Linebacker Conner Neill. “It’s going to take a lot of effort this week and a lot of focus, but I think we can make a really good run at it this year. We have to play it as any other game, at the end of the day, because that’s what it is. We’re going to give it our best shot, and win or lose, we’re going to leave everything on the field.”

The Mavericks know that every year one team is going to get hot at the right time and make a run in the state tournament, so why not it be them? That journey starts with Friday’s matchup against Valley Center.

“We’re going to have to play clean,” said Maize South Sophomore Quarterback Tate McNew. “No mistakes on offense or defense. We really need to focus in. Our offense needs to perform well, our defense needs to perform well, we need to play our best game.”

Speaking of Valley Center, the Hornets are on track for their best season since 2016.

They enter the playoffs with a 6-2 record that included a five-game win streak between weeks 3 and 7, but they know this week is setting up to be one of their toughest matchups yet.

“They’re a challenging team,” explained Valley Center Head Coach Scott L’Ecuyer. “Their quarterback is good, a young guy who can throw the ball around. They’ve got a really good receiver who can go up and grab the ball. Defensively, they’re pretty sound, can play flat down along the line of scrimmage, and just have a well-coached defense. We’re going to minimize mistakes, not turn the ball over, we’re going to control the time of possession, and we’re going to play solid defense.”

This matchup will be the first time these teams have played against each other since the 2019 season.

Speaking with coaches and players and it’s obvious how excited they are to get their playoff run started, and they’re ready for a rowdy atmosphere for the first home playoff game since 2017.

“I love this community,” said Hornet Senior Linebacker Cameron Bowyer. “It’s really special being a part of something so close-knit. This team has needed a really good football team, and we come out here at 6-2 in the regular season, and that hasn’t happened in a long time. They really are getting behind us in football this year.”