The Parsons Vikings’ playoff bid, earned with last week’s drubbing of Cherryvale, will see the Vikings travel north to face the Burlington Wildcats in the first round of the KSHSAA 3A postseason on Friday night.

Last week’s blowout of Cherryvale — Parsons’ defense had eight takeaways and held the Chargers to 37 rushing yards — was the most complete game of the season for the Vikings.

“We’ve been turning the corner a little bit each week,” Parsons head coach Jeff Schibi said. “We finally put a full football game together on both offense and defense. Our special teams played pretty solid as well. It was nice to reap the benefits of a lot of hard work. They showed they wanted to keep playing football.” 

Burlington, which is 7-1 on the season, will present Parsons with another challenge on the ground. Braden Sloyer leads the Wildcats with 1,050 yards rushing on 171 carries with 18 touchdowns.

As a team, Burlington has rushed for 1,964 yards while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.

“Burlington is a great football team that is well-coached,” Schibi said. “Their kids fire off the football. They’re not huge or monsters, but they’re so fundamentally sound. They go to the right spots every play. So we’ll have to play our best game to win Friday night.” 

The eight takeaways for Parsons against Cherryvale were pivotal in turning a matchup that determined who advanced to the postseason into a runaway.

“We have some ballhawks on defense,” Schibi said. “Cherryvale obviously put the ball in the air more than any team we faced this year. Burlington will pass a little bit. We need to respect that. But first and foremost, we have to stop the run.” 

Schibi knows he’s got a potent enough offense — headlined by quarterback Ethan Houk and wideouts Tanner Barcus and Dion Sylvester — to match.

“We’ve got a 2,000-yard passer so they have to scheme against us as well,” Schibi said. “Last week, we sputtered a little bit offensively. Our defense picked us up a lot. We didn’t get a chance to run much offense in the second half. We’ve got to do a better job of starting quick. If we get the ball, we have to sustain drives.” 

Burlington will be the unquestioned favorite to advance to the next round of the playoffs. But Parsons is playing its best ball heading into its ninth game and has no problem playing the role of spoiler.

“Our kids are locked in,” Schibi said. “They know the task at hand. I think they’re up for the challenge.” 

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