Even though the football season is over for all the teams in The Mercury’s coverage area, it’s never too early to look ahead.
Here is a look at the 2022 football schedules of the eight area schools.
Manhattan High will open next season with a huge test, traveling to Derby on Sept. 2. The Panthers have won the last three Class 6A state championships and entered this weekend just two wins away from capturing their fourth.
The game will be the first time in series history the two teams play in the regular season, according to the Kansas High School Football History website. The previous 11 times all were in the playoffs, and the Indians are 2-9 in those matchups.
They then will host Topeka High on Sept. 9 before traveling to Hays — a team Manhattan has played 10 times previously, but hasn’t faced since 1976 — on Sept. 16.
The Indians then are back home versus Washburn Rural on Sept. 23 and travel to Emporia (Sept. 30) and Junction City (Oct. 7).
Manhattan then will host Lansing on Oct. 14.
The Indians and the Lions have never played before.
MHS will end the regular season by hosting Wichita-Northwest on Oct. 21. Manhattan has played the Grizzlies seven times; the Indians have won three of those meetings.
The Red Raiders open the 2022 season with three straight NCKL opponents.
They host Clay Center on Sept. 2 before traveling to Marysville and Concordia on Sept. 9 and Sept. 16, respectively.
Wamego then will make a return trip to KC Washington on Sept. 23. It hosted the Wildcats this season and won 45-6.
The Red Raiders then will host Coffeyville, a team they’ve never played, on Sept. 30, before hosting a Shawnee Heights on Oct. 7 — a school they haven’t played since 1975.
Wamego travels to Clearwater on Oct. 14 before ending the regular season at home versus Abilene on Oct. 21.
For the second consecutive season, the Mustangs open the year with quite a tall task. This season, they played Class 2A powers Silver Lake and Rossville in their first two games. Next year, they open with a murder’s row of opponents who have combined for a 34-7 record in the 2021 season.
The Mustangs start off at Southeast of Saline on Sept. 2, a team which still is in the hunt for a 3A state title. The meeting will be the first between the two schools.
They then will face back-to-back-to-back Mid-East League foes, starting with a road trip to a much-improved St. Marys team on Sept. 9 before hosting Riley County (Sept. 16 )and Silver Lake (Sept. 23).
The Mustangs then will host Marysville on Sept. 30 before traveling to Hiawatha on Oct. 7.
Rock Creek ends the regular season with two future fellow-NCKL foes. It hosts Concordia on Oct. 14 before traveling to Clay Center on Oct. 21.
After playing just two Mid-East League foes in the 2021 season, the Falcons will kick off 2022 with three league opponents.
Riley County opens the season with games versus 2A powerhouses Silver Lake and Rossville on Sept. 2 and Sept. 9, respectively, before making the trip to rival Rock Creek on Sept. 16.
The Falcons then will travel to Royal Valley on Sept. 23 before returning home to face Sabetha on Sept. 30.
On Oct. 7, Riley County then will travel to Horton, a team the Falcons have not played since 1966, before returning home to play Nemaha Central on Oct. 14.
They will wrap up the regular season at Minneapolis on Oct. 21.
After a historic 2021 season, Wabaunsee opens the 2022 season at Troy on Sept. 2.
The Chargers return home for back-to-back games: Northern Heights on Sept. 9 and Jefferson County North on Sept. 16.
They then will face traditional power Smith Center on Sept. 23 before traveling to Republic County on Sept. 30. The Chargers haven’t faced either team in their history, according to available records on the Kansas High School Sports History website. Wabaunsee then will host Salina-Sacred Heart on Oct. 7 before traveling to Valley Heights on Oct. 14 and hosting Horton on Oct. 21.
The Mustangs open up Sept. 2 by hosting Twin Valley League power and 1A sub-state participant Centralia.
Valley Heights then will travel to Onaga on Sept. 9 before hosting Troy on Sept. 16 and Republic County on Sept. 23.
They then will travel to Salina-Sacred Heart on Sept. 30 and Marysville on Oct. 7 before hosting Wabaunsee on Oct. 14.
Valley Heights will cap the regular season Oct. 21 by traveling to state power Smith Center.
After another solid season in 2021, Frankfort will start the 2022 season by hosting a solid Chase County team on Sept. 2.
Then, on Sept. 9, the Wildcats will travel to Washington County before traveling to Lyndon on Sept. 16.
Frankfort will return home Sept. 23 to face Doniphan West before traveling to Linn on Sept. 30.
Frankfort returns home to host Twin Valley League rival Blue Valley-Randolph on Oct. 7.
The Wildcats will have their toughest stretch of the season in the final two games, when they travel to Axtell on Oct. 14 and host Hanover on Oct. 21. Hanover is a traditional power in the classification and Axtell is just two wins away from winning the state title in 8-Player Division II.
The Rams have not finalized their 2022 schedule as of press time.
The Mercury will print Blue Valley-Randolph’s schedule separately when it finally is released.