Page 1

Farm FarmCredit Credit Credit Farm Credit Associations of of Kansas Associations Kansas Associations of Kansas Associations of Kansas

WITH CAN-DO SPIRIT Our financial supportmeans meansrural ruralAmerica America WITH CAN-DO SPIRIT Our financial support WITH CAN-DO SPIRIT WITH CAN-DO SPIRIT never stops COMES NO-QUIT RESOLVE. stops growing. COMES NO-QUIT RESOLVE. COMES NO-QUIT RESOLVE. never COMES NO-QUIT RESOLVE. American AgCredit American AgCredit American AgCredit American AgCredit (800) 466-1146 (800)(800) 466-1146 466-1146 (800) 466-1146 Farm Credit of Ness FarmFarm Credit of Ness CityCity Credit ofNess Ness City Farm(800) Credit of 950-3522 City (800)(800) 950-3522 950-3522 (800) 950-3522 Farm Credit of Western Kansas FarmFarm Credit of Western Kansas Credit ofWestern Western Kansas Farm Credit of657-6048 Kansas (800) (800)(800) 657-6048 657-6048 (800) 657-6048 Frontier Farm Credit Frontier Farm Credit Frontier Farm Frontier Farm Credit (800) 397-3191Credit (800) 397-3191 (800) 397-3191 (800) 397-3191 High Plains Farm Credit High Plains Farm Credit High Plains Farm Credit High Plains Farm Credit (800) 864-4458 (800) 864-4458 (800)864-4458 864-4458 (800)

Lending Support to Rural America Lending Lending Support to Rural America LendingSupport Supportto toRural RuralAmerica America

Attention Attention Kansas Kansas High School School High Football Football Players: Players:

Apply online today at Apply online today at

Concordia University University wants wants you! you! Concordia Be our guest at an upcoming game. Be guest an upcoming game. Contact assistant football coachour Weston Coomes at at 402-643-7199 or for more details.

Contact assistant football coach Weston Coomes at 402-643-7199 or for more details.

Coaches, looking for Coaches, for a unique,, looking affordable, a unique,, affordable, full contact full contact TEAM CAMP? TEAM CAMP?

Concordia University offers a variety of Concordia University offers variety of team camp options for aeither team camp for either overnight or options commuting teams. overnight or commuting teams. For more information contact Concordia University assistant football coach

Weston Coomes at 402.643.7199 or or headcoach coach For more information contact Concordia University assistant football Patrick Daberkow at 402.643.7217 or Weston Coomes at 402.643.7199 or or head coach Patrick Daberkow at 402.643.7217 or

“Building Men through Accountability, Toughness, & Authenticity” “Building Men Learn through Accountability, Toughness, more about Bulldog football at& Authenticity” Learn more about Bulldog football at

Official Tailgate Partner of Kansas High School Football 877.360.Cater 877.360.Cater or or

$25 $25 off off any any catering catering order order of of $100 $100 or or more more Please allow 24 hours’ notice for Giant Sub orders. Limited time only at participating Wichita- Hutchinson Plus area locations for in-restaurant orders only, excluding kiosk orders. Additional charge for Extras. Plus applicable tax. No cash value. Not for sale. Coupon must be surrendered with purchase. Please allow 24 hours’ notice for Giant Sub orders. Limited time only at participating Wichita- Hutchinson Plus area locations for in-restaurant orders One time use. One coupon per qualifying item(s). Cannot be combined with promotional offers. Void if transferred, sold, auctioned, reproduced, only, excluding kiosk orders. Additional charge for Extras. Plus applicable tax. No cash value. Not for sale. Coupon must be surrendered with purchase. purchased or altered, & where prohibited. Subway® is a Registered Trademark of Subway IP Inc. ©2017 Subway IP Inc. Expires December 31, 2017 One time use. One coupon per qualifying item(s). Cannot be combined with promotional offers. Void if transferred, sold, auctioned, reproduced, purchased or altered, & where prohibited. Subway® is a Registered Trademark of Subway IP Inc. ©2017 Subway IP Inc. Expires December 31, 2017

Please allow 24 hours’ notice for Giant Sub orders. Subway® is a Registered Trademark of Subway IP Inc. ©2017 Subway IP Inc. Please allow 24 hours’ notice for Giant Sub orders. Subway® is a Registered Trademark of Subway IP Inc. ©2017 Subway IP Inc.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 3


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines history as “a chronological record of significant events (such as those affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes.” To the 13 players and coaches who gathered at the Crawford County Historical Museum for our annual cover shoot earlier this year, making history could mean breaking statistical records, winning games, or earning media recognition, but for all of these top players and coaches their history will surely be defined by personal improvement. For Mark Smith - son of legendary St. Mary’s Colgan coach Chuck Smith, who retired this offseason - it might be the restoration of a once dominant Frontenac program to previous glory. If history is to judge him fondly, Smith will need a historical performance this fall by top player Broc Ginavan, who also joins him on this year’s cover. For Pike Valley’s Lane Peters and Cole Strickler it could be leading long-time coach Don Melby’s Panthers to the program’s best season ever. Blue Valley Northwest’s new head coach Clint Rider will be remembered for his rapid ascent to the leadership role of a team in the ultra-tough Eastern Kansas League, but will the 30 year old ball coach be remembered for rebuilding that program? Time will tell. Columbus senior running back Keenan Stanley’s history could be that of a freshman starter on a state runner-up team in 2014, or will it be as the senior leader of a title winner this fall? Logan-Palco senior running back David Thompson could go down as one of the program’s most statistically successful players in school history, while Ottawa running back Devion Bethea’s history may be that of a two-sport star who got the most out of his undersized body. Regardless of the season the Lyndon Tigers have this fall, senior Dexton Swinehart will be remember as one of the most versatile athletes in program history, but will he be remembered as a state champion? For Dalyn Johnson, history will reflect upon a prolific career as a running back for Maize High School, and perhaps his history will also include a collegiate football career. Grant Hamel is making history as one of the key components of a football boom at Blue Valley North. Will coach Andy Sims and his Mustangs ride Hamel to a historic 6A state title? Kirk Coomes could go down in Phillipsburg Panther history as the best in a line of players that presided over the best years the program has seen. In addition to these cover features you’ll also find a look at the historical origins and growth of the spread offense among Kansas high school football programs who are now “Spreading the Field.” Our “Family Business” feature takes a look at the personal connection and family history between one group of the state’s most successful coaches. And our “On the Front Lines” feature will examine one of the top classes of linemen in the history of the state while examining the military history of one of our state’s greatest leaders, Dwight D. Eisenhower. And of course, we’ll take the usual look at the recent history of programs from across the Sunflower State, while also keeping an eye on the future of a 2017 football season filled with so much promise. A big “Thank You” to the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau for sponsoring our annual cover shoot, and to the Crawford County Historical Museum for hosting the special event. For all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to the CCCVB website: Thanks for joining us as we preview the annual high school football season in Kansas, and thanks to the advertisers, coaches, athletic directors, parents and players who make this publication possible. Sincerely, John Baetz, Publisher


6 13 19 37 58 67 75 83 95 109 119 130 142 143 Spreading The Field Class 5A

8-Man I

Family Business

Weighting Game

On The Front Lines

Class 4A-I

Class 4A-II

Class 3A

8-Man II


Class 6A Class 2-1A



Pregame Welcome to Kansas Pregame 2017! For the past 12 years Kansas Pregame has provided the most complete preview of high school football in the Sunflower State. We are proud to provide this coverage, and proud to continue to partner with to provide comprehensive coverage of Kansas high school football on the Web. Find digital editions of back issues of Kansas Pregame online at, or, find a list of free Kansas Pregame print distribution locations and links to the current digital edition at Find us on Facebook and Twitter

John Baetz & Bree Mcreynolds-Baetz PuBlishers

Co-owners of Sixteen 60 Publishing Co., publishers of the Lincoln Sentinel and Chapman News-Times weekly newspapers, and Kansas Pregame Football Magazine. Layout and Design: Becky Rathbun, Sixteen 60 Publishing Ad Design: Kayla Kvacik, Kvacik Graphics Sponsorship Sales: John Baetz, Tyler Gier Business Manager: Abby Gerleman Contributing writers: Tyler Gier, Sixteen 60 Publishing; Alan Dale; Brad Hallier; Jennifer McDaniel; Brent Maycock, Topeka Capital-Journal; Kyle McCaskey; Melanie McGee; Conor Nicholl; Jason Peake, Joplin Globe; Mark Schremmer Contributing photographers: Joey Bahr, Joey Bahr Photography,; Derek Livingston,; Everett Royer, KS Sports Images, Acknowledgments: With a project of this size and scope we can’t possibly thank all the people that have contributed, but a special “Thank You!” goes out to the school secretaries, athletic directors, coaches and parents who helped us secure team information. Thank you to the advertisers who made this possible - without your support this publication would not be a reality. To all those involved with the completion of this publication in any way, Thank You!

Mail inquiries to or Kansas Pregame, PO Box 186, Lincoln, KS 67455 Publication date: Volume 12, August 18, 2017 Kansas Pregame Football Magazine was founded by John and Bree Baetz and Tim McGonagle in 2005.

The 2017 Kansas Pregame cover was photographed at the Crawford County Historical Museum in Pittsburg, Kansas. Just off the 69 Bypass, the historical museum is a must stop for anyone wanting to learn more about Crawford County and its past. Indoor displays feature vintage clothing, photos, coal mining and farming artifacts, printing exhibits and horse-drawn vehicles. Outdoor exhibits include a one-room school house, an authentic neighborhood grocery store, and coal mining steam shovel. The museum offers a variety of educational programs for both adults and children. To find out more about the museum visit their website, The cover shoot and corresponding features are sponsored by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County, Kansas, go to their website,


From here you can...


We’ll guide you every step of the way!



16:1 20+

Scholarships available

620-276-7611 •

Be a part of #BusterNation! !


Online Campus

more info:

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Gridiron Tech

Page 5

seeks to make the game safer which, in turn, makes that athlete more susceptible to concussion.” Horton said Gridiron Tech is also a distributor of SportStar brand chinstraps, which are used by K-State, and is also the choice of the vast majority of NFL Wichita Northwest coach Steve Martin has joined the athletes. “They are chosen not only for comfort, but also Gridiron Tech team as a consultant and sales associate. (Courtesy Photo) because they have been shown to absorb 40 to 50 percent more impact than standard chinstraps and offer greater protection,” he said. By Jennifer McDaniel Recently, Gridiron Tech partnered with ATAVUS For Kansas Pregame Football to offer a training system for safer tackling. To say football has been a big part of Troy Horton’s Based in Seattle, Washington, the company is rooted life would be an understatement. in Rugby. The system is designed to reduce injury by Horton played the game for 13 years - from his time focusing on proper form by using the shoulder instead growing up on a farm outside Burrton to his days of of the head. varsity ball at Kansas State University. Eventually, he “ATAVUS trains coaches on the proper ways to teach became a member of one of the country’s top semi-pro the shoulder-led ‘hawk tackling’ that has been proven teams before the days of arena football. to not only be a safer way to tackle, but is also a more But too many hits began taking their toll. effective way of tackling,” Horton said. “Teams working Horton began experiencing random, unexplained with ATAVUS last year realized an average 21 percent headaches along with depression - symptoms decrease in total yards allowed and a 28 percent commonly associated with Chronic Traumatic decrease in points allowed. Encephalopathy, a degenerative disease affecting the Other products include Gridiron Tech tackle rings brain. used for teaching the rugby-inspired tackling taught by But the onset wasn’t sudden. Instead, the indicators the ATAVUS system, and Douglas Pads. manifested themselves nearly a decade after he “We will be working with Helmet Tracker this fall stopped playing ball. to introduce their revolutionary equipment inventory A combination of life events and prayerful thought, management software,” he said. “This software will Horton said, led him to open Gridiron Tech, a football enable coaches and athletic directors to better manage equipment distributor offering products proven to be technologically superior in injury prevention and impact their equipment and helmet re-conditioning budgets on a year-to-year basis, while having a better view into exdetection. actly what brands, models and ages of protective gear With his help, Horton hopes to see football live on is in their current inventory, and when it may be coming indefinitely while making it a safer game through due for replacement.” technology. At the heart of Gridiron Tech is keeping athletes safe, “We pride ourselves on offering products that are scientifically proven to out-perform competing products especially those just getting introduced to the sport. in independent lab tests,” he said. “There are currently But through education, the right techniques and equipment, Horton believes the game can be made safer. three major helmet manufacturers, Schutt, Xenith and Riddell. The most well-respected helmet safety study is At Gridiron Tech, the company takes a three-fold done by Virgina Tech University, and they rate helmets approach to concussion prevention. “Our three-fold approach to the prevention of head from one to five stars, with five stars being the best. Of the 13 five-star-rated helmets, 10 of the 13 come from injury starts with strengthening the athlete’s neck and upper back,” he said. “Studies have shown that the either Schutt or Xenith, with Schutt helmets being No. stronger one’s neck, core and upper back are, the 1 and No. 2, and holding four of the top five spots. “We have chosen to align ourselves with both Schutt less likely that athlete is to be concussed during any activity whether it be in football, on a basketball court, and Xenith because their helmets not only perform better in independent lab tests, but they also are lighter a baseball or soccer field, or in a minor fender bender. Secondly, we hope coaches will do all they can to weight. In fact, the Schutt Z10 weighs just over 3 pounds and the F7 weighs under 4 pounds - easily the help eliminate head-first contact in both tackling and blocking during practices and games. We reinforce this lightest helmets on the market. portion with the ATAVUS tackling training. “Weight is a significant factor that few coaches con“And, last, but not least, athletes need to have a sider when choosing a helmet for their athletes, but not good, quality, lightweight five-star helmet as a last only does it affect athletic performance, but a heavier line of defense. As previously mentioned, we are both helmet also causes more fatigue to the athlete’s neck

Schutt and Xenith helmet distributors. We not only recommend Schutt and Xenith helmets, but these are also the helmets that both Coach (Steve) Martin and I use to protect our own children.” Martin is the head football coach at Wichita Northwest High School and the president of the Kansas High School Football Coaches Association. He also recently joined Gridiron Tech as a consultant and sales associate. “We chose to bring Coach Martin on in a consultant and sales role because of his passion for the game and belief in our mission,” he said. “Coach Martin became a customer of Gridiron Tech last year, and after researching our approach to athlete safety, became a believer in our methodology. When we had an opening in south-central Kansas, he reached out to express interest, and we considered it an honor and a blessing to have him join the Gridiron Tech Family.” Horton knows education is key in preventing concussions, and so the company attends trade shows, coaching clinics, concussion symposiums and looks for other opportunities to educate coaches about the newest and most relevant studies related to head safety. “Oftentimes, it’s the coaches and the players’ parents that are most concerned with concussion prevention, so we also work with as many coaches as we can to host a lot of parent meetings to help educate Mom and Dad about not only improvements in game safety, but also what they can do to be active participants in their son’s safety.” For Horton, preventing concussions, and the long-term problems they can cause, has become his mission. Besides his company’s efforts, he is taking part in a medical study through Boston University in association with the Mayo Clinic. Horton is one of 60 continued on page 32

Gridiron Technologies is an official reseller for both Schutt (above, top) and Xenith (page 32) helmets in Kansas.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 6

Spreading the Field

By Conor Nicholl For Kansas Pregame The majority of the time, Class 6A Wichita Northwest is ready to snap the ball before the umpire can even set it down. The Grizzles’ high-octane tempo in the spread offense has yielded gigantic offensive numbers with sixth-year coach Steve Martin. Northwest averaged 47.9 points and 539 yards a game in 2015. Last season, the Grizzlies upped the numbers to 50.1 points and 547 yards a contest. Northwest has broken the state mark for yards per game each of the last two seasons. The Grizzlies have averaged no fewer than 59 plays a game in the last four years, including 72.4 two falls ago. “People don’t really believe me how fast we are going until you play us, and what it does for us is it makes teams stay very vanilla,” Martin said. “So coaches are not able to get into their check defense or signal stuff from the sidelines, and anytime that 15, 16, 17-yearold kids have to stay in the game plan and make their own checks out there, and go play us fast and handle our speed in space, I think that gives us a big advantage.” In 2015, Northwest posted a 10-1 record, the best mark in school history, before a 6-4 finish last season. That includes two wins over Bishop Carroll, the first for the program since ’05, and back-to-back City League crowns. The Grizzlies have used a series of standout playmakers and linemen, including dual-threat quarterbacks Kevin Folsom and senior Austin Anderson, who enters his second year as the starter this fall. Wichita Northwest is one of several teams, along with 6A Derby, 4A-I Mulvane, 3A Chaparral and 2-1A Sedgwick that feature an electrifying spread offense and dual-threat quarterbacking. The spread influx has revamped several classifications, especially Class 6A, and multiple conferences, including the City League, Central Plains League, Heart of America and GWAC. Entering 2009, 287 teams listed a primary base offense in Kansas Pregame magazine. Thirty percent had some version of “spread” as its base look. Last

year, 264 teams reported a base offense. Thirty-seven percent had “spread” as its base. By far, the biggest change has come in Class 6A. In ’09, 10 of 31 (32 percent) Class 6A teams that reported an offense listed its base as spread in some form. Last season, that number was 17 of 28 (61 percent). Overall, Classes 4-6A have collectively seen a jump from 34 percent of teams using spread in 2009 to 46 percent last year. In 2009, Class 6A squads averaged 23.2 points a contest. The last two seasons, as more teams have gone to the spread, 6A squads have averaged 29.1 and 29.3 points a game, respectively. The scoring jump has yielded more wins for the class. Not only has Northwest and Derby (three state titles in the last four years) made school history, but Class 6A is 54-40 and 60-49 against non-Class 6A squads the last two years, according to Max Preps Freeman Ratings. From ’09-14, Class 6A was 248-257 against non-Class 6A teams. “No. 1, the reason why we went to this offense, it’s fun, it’s fun to coach,” Martin said. “My coaches have a great time coaching it. My players love to play in it, and that’s the thing is if we can get our kids to enjoy it and work hard and play fast and have a great time, that’s what it’s about, because this game is getting too hard.” This season features a large number of returning dual-threat quarterbacks, including Norton’s Jace Ruder, Mulvane’s Jayden Price, Wichita Collegiate’s Cody McNerney, Bishop Carroll’s Braden Howell, Holcomb’s Trey Gilbert, Goddard’s Blake Sullivan, Central Plains’ Devin Ryan, West Elk’s Cade Miller, and Burlingame’s Dalton Sporing. Those six quarterbacks each delivered at least one playoff win last season and their teams collectively averaged 45 points a game. The K.C.-area, primarily made up of 6A squads, has multiple returning dual threat signal-callers, specifically Blue Valley North’s Graham Mertz, who has picked up an offer from KU. Ruder has committed to North Carolina, while Price has received multiple FCS offers. A three-star recruit who first committed to Tulsa,

Jayden Price

Photo by Greg Proctor,

Ruder is state’s most sought after quarterback in recent memory. Ruder re-opened his commitment in late spring after major Division I teams continued to show interest. The Bluejays have averaged at least 30 points a game each year with Ruder. A dynamic three-sport athlete who has led Norton to back-to-back state basketball appearances and first and second the last two springs at the Class 3A state track meet, Ruder has thrown for 3,585 yards with a 32/18 TD/INT ratio, and rushed for 1,126 yards and 22 TDs. “More offense” While certain successful teams, specifically Aquinas, Holton, Shawnee Mission East, Phillipsburg and Smith Center run a variation of the flexbone or wishbone, and another grouping have enjoyed great seasons with the single wing (Spearville, Meade, Centralia, Conway Springs), the spread is now the most common offense in Kansas high school football. This follows the trend of college football programs, which transitioned to the spread in the early 2000s after seeing Rich Rodriguez and Urban Meyer produce big offensive numbers. Many high school coaches, including Sedgwick’s Jeff Werner, were influenced from one of the spread’s original gurus, Gus Malzahn, now the head coach at Auburn. Malzahn was a long-time successful Arkansas high school coach before he had stints as offensive coordinator at Arkansas, Tulsa and Auburn. In the HOA, Sedgwick averaged 19 points a game and went 4-5 in 2006, Werner’s first season as head coach. Werner previously had learned the Wing-T at Newton but believed the offense didn’t fit the Cardinals. Werner labeled Malzahn on the “cutting edge” of tempo, and bought the coach’s book on the hurry-up, no-huddle. Sedgwick used well-known spread/Air Raid coach Tony Franklin’s concepts for the passing game. Sedgwick had a solid basketball program, and Werner watched those teams practice with tempo. In 2007, the Cardinals ran the spread for the first time and went 6-4 averaging 19 points a contest. It marked the first playoff berth since ’93. The following year, Sedgwick started to throw the ball with Jake Napper, a quality basketball player. Sedgwick averaged 34.1 points a game, now the lowest output in the last nine seasons. In the last nine years, eight Kansas 11-man teams have averaged at least 30 points a game each fall: Junction City, Bishop Carroll, Buhler, Wichita Collegiate, Conway Springs, Beloit, Meade and Sedgwick, according to Prep Power Index archives. Carroll, Collegiate and Sedgwick run the spread. The Cardinals have made the playoffs in seven of the past eight years and have six consecutive undefeated district crowns. Werner has consistently taken the best athlete in each class, made him the quarterback and then built the offense. “We have found in the spread, if your quarterback is a legitimate run threat, then No. 1 it opens up the passing game, but it equalizes the defense,” Werner said. Since Napper in ‘08, Trent Stucky, Logan Thompson,

Brylie Ware and Grant Hilliard have enjoyed standout careers. This fall, junior Hooper Schroeder is back under center. He completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,779 yards with a 20/13 TD/INT ratio and rushed 95 times (second-most on the squad) for 232 yards and five scores last year as a sophomore starter. Because of the spread utilizing many players, especially at receiver, Sedgwick has consistently had strong football participation. The Cardinals spend 70 percent of their offensive practice on passing and has often used more than three-foot splits with the offensive line. The offense is relatively simple with around three running plays and a lot of quick passes in space. Sedgwick has no concepts where the quarterback has to read the whole field. The Cardinals’ goal is 60 plays a game. “If you watch Auburn, they really window-dress a bunch of simple plays,” Werner said. “They have two or three line schemes, and that’s what we do.” The Cardinals will chant “more offense” and don’t put anybody back on punt return. From ’08 to ’13, Sedgwick was the lone HOA team to exclusively use the shotgun. “We just want the ball back, and we don’t even take the risk of a punt return guy dropping the ball,” Werner said. Sedgwick went 32-2 in league play from ’10-15 and went 6-1 last season and took second to Marion, which dominated the HOA. The Warriors, long an option team under veteran coach Grant Thierolf, developed dual-threat quarterback Jack Schneider. Since 2010, Marion had lost five in a row to Sedgwick but won 44-21 last year. Schneider ran for 1,005 yards and 18 scores and threw for 689 yards and seven TDs last fall. Ell-Saline returns second-year signal caller Nick Davenport for a program that has long delivered strong quarterbacks with veteran coach Terry King. Sedgwick averaged 63.7 plays a game last year but Werner wants to play faster this fall. On Thursdays, he has traveled to Wichita and watched Coach Martin at Northwest. Martin has used signals instead of wristbands for play calling, which has allowed the Grizzlies to play even faster. Werner will do the same this year. “I would really like us to play that fast,” Werner said. “Speed in space” Martin, always an option coach, learned the wishbone and flexbone at Halstead. His first head coaching job came at Troy. From ’06-08, Troy went 9-1 followed by 7-4 and 9-2. In ’06, Troy tallied 29 points a game followed by collectively averaging 37 points a contest in the next two years. In 2006, Troy was unbeaten entering the playoffs but lost 20-13 to Washington County. WC had a great running back and quarterback and found mismatches against Troy with speed in space. Troy had a strong quarterback and running back, but didn’t have significant depth at running back. Martin decided to switch to the spread to keep option responsibilities, a change that upped the offensive numbers. “Speed in space I thought would be good for us,” Martin said. “I thought at that time - back in 2006, 2007, spread hadn’t taken over the game much - that I could get some people that still weren’t ahead of the curve on defense to catch them behind a little bit in some of their coverages and how they played the read option and stuff like that.” After three years as Wichita Heights’ defensive

Jace Ruder Photo by Everett Royer,

coordinator, Martin has used the spread ever since he came to Northwest in 2012. At first, speed wasn’t a major priority. The next season, Northwest played fast and really found a higher gear in ’14. After 32.3 points his first season, Northwest has averaged 29, 39, 48 and 50 the last four. “In 2014 is where we really wanted to start picking up the tempo and we were pretty effective at it,” Martin said. “Since then, there has been no turning back.” Martin credited improvement at offensive line for helping the spread, especially against Carroll’s physical front. Martin believes his players can win 80 percent of 1-on-1 battles and wants to continually exploit those matchups. Like Sedgwick, the quarterback decision-making is simple. Martin wants Anderson to quickly get the ball out. While Sedgwick has been relatively equal for years in run/pass production, Northwest averaged 325 rushing yards a game for 60 percent of its offense in ’16. Anderson passed for 2,221 yards and rushed for 393 with 27 scores accounted for last fall. This year, Martin believes Anderson will run the ball more and expects great numbers from junior Breece Hall (307 rush, 14.6 yards/rush) and seniors Jaxson Reynolds (42 catches) and Jalen Smith (13 catches, great blocker). “Very excited for this season on offense,” Martin said. The Derby Panthers have built a Class 6A winner behind Brandon Clark and the spread offense. Clark, now entering his 12th year, holds a 93-33 career record and state crowns in ’13, ’15 and ’16. In the last four seasons, the Panthers have averaged 47.3, 38.3, 46.5 and 48 points a contest. Last year, Derby went 13-0 and joined a 12-0 mark in ’94 as the only perfect falls in school history. Clark’s offensive success has set a new bar for the

tradition-laden Panthers, who are 4-4 all-time in state games and rank in the top-10 all-time in Kansas playoff victories. Legendary coach Tom Young led Derby for 21 years before resigning in 2003. From ’93-95, Derby reached three straight title games and never averaged more than 36.8 points a game in any of those seasons, according to Panther football archives. An ’02 runner-up yielded 32.9 points a contest. Derby has produced excellent quarterbacks and Division I signees at multiple offensive positions in the last several years. In 2013, Derby won the title with two first team all-state picks: lineman Cole Hansen (Air Force) and tight end DeAndre Goolsby (Florida). Goolsby, a three-time first team all-state player, was third on the Gators with 38 catches last year. In 2014, the spread produced Curtis Whitten, who transferred from Wichita Heights for his senior season and earned first team all-state. Whitten, a St. Louis University baseball signee who then transferred to Washburn baseball for 2017, earned conference Offensive MVP honors and collected more than 20 scores his senior year at Derby. In ’15, quarterback Brady Rust was first team all-state with an electrifying year that produced 57 scores accounted for with 1,730 passing and 2,118 rushing yards. Last season, Dan Dawdy took over with 2,772 passing and a 35/5 TD/INT ratio with 413 rushing and 10 scores. Dawdy had plenty of weapons, led by junior all-state running back Brody Kooser (1,681 rushing, 31 scores) and Kenyon Tabor (Kansas signee, 1,257 receiving yards, 12 TDs). Coach Caleb Smith, helped by dual-threat quarterback Wyatt Lange and a bevy of experienced offensive players, has turned around the long struggling Valley Center program. From 2006-15, VC finished 17-72, including 3-6 in ’14 and 4-5 in ’15. In ’14-15, VC

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


BACKHOE – TRENCHING – HEATING & AIR 410 Main St. – Courtland, KS – 785-374-4275 Craig & Lisa Tebow & Family

Best of luck to coach Melby, quarterback Davante Hammer, and the entire Pike Valley football team this season!

Page 8

averaged 18 points a contest, tied for the program’s second-best offensive output in the last decade. Last year, VC went 9-2 and averaged 29.8 points a contest in Smith’s fourth year at Valley Center. Smith, formerly an assistant at Derby for five years before coming to VC, led the Hornets to its most wins since 1999. This season, Smith’s dad, Mike, a former VC head coach from ’93-01, will join the staff as a middle school assistant coach after he retired from the Garden City school district. Lange passed for 1,642 yards with a 60 percent completion rate and a 17/7 TD/ INT ratio. Additionally, he paced the Hornets with 535 rushing yards and eight more scores. Kale Pick, now the Fort Scott Community College head coach and a former standout wide receiver at Kansas, was the reason for Justin Burke switching to the spread when he was at Dodge City. The Red Demons had encountered some struggles before Burke first arrived Dodge City in the mid-2000s. Burke saw Pick, one of nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks, coming. “Knew (we) had to find a way to get into the spread,” Burke said. Dodge City went 4-5 and averaged 13.2 points a contest in ’05 with Pick as a sophomore quarterback. The next year, the Red Demons improved to 6-3 and averaged 33 points a game. In ’09, DC went 8-3 and averaged 32.2 points a game. Since then, DC has produced a variety of excellent offensive players, including quarterbacks Ty Thomas and Caden Walters. “Kind of that learning in Dodge City on the go, and it was fairly new then in the 2000s,” Burke said. The Red Demons, under coach Dave Foster since Burke left after ’09, averaged 31.2, 43 and 31.3 points a game the last three seasons. This year, DC returns Dawson Williams who rushed for 1,679 yards and 25 TDs. He threw for 329 yards and a pair of scores. Burke headed to Chaparral, which has long looked up to Conway Springs and Garden Plain in the Central Plains League. Chaparral is 3-21 against CS and GP since ’04. All three wins have come in the last three seasons and the Roadrunners posted 9-2 records in ’14 and ’16.

Greg & Tamra Frank Traci Oliver, CSR

626 Jefferson St. P.O. Box 15 Victoria, KS 67671


R&S Oil Field Service Proud supporters of Jace Ruder

108 West Kansas • P.O. Box 333 SMITH CENTER, KANSAS 66967 BUS. (785) 282-6658 • CELL (785) 282-0271 FAX (785) 282-3843 CROP • AUTO • HOME • FARM • COMMERCIAL • LIFE • ANNUITIES

Good luck to Davante and all the Pike Valley Panthers! Personal Training to fit your goals and lifestyle. All ages, sizes, and fitness levels. Natural products, supplements, and food products to help you! Call or email for more info! Scandia, KS 785-335-2889 808-341-2311 cell

Fuel The Inner You! Trainer Leah @ Empower Fitness


Howard State Bank Proud supporter of Cade and all the students, athletes and staff that make West Elk great! Buckle up....See ya in the Fall Member FDIC

Est. 1877

Levi Archer

Page 9

Photo by Jackie Elliott

Jack Blumer

After two years of the flexbone, Burke changed. From 2006-10, Chaparral averaged 19 points a game. From ’11-16, the Roadrunners have delivered 37.8. Senior Andrew Clark returns after he completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,667 yards with an 18/5 TD/INT ratio and rushed for five scores. “We (decided) will never beat Conway Springs or Garden Plain with power football, and that’s when we went back to the spread,” Burke said. In Week 9, Chaparral played Conway Springs with a district title on the line. Chaparral standout running back Jacob Jenkins, who is now at Kansas State, was hurt in Week 8 against Garden Plain. Burke admitted the Roadrunners probably had been too over-reliant on Jenkins, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher. “You could have called it from the stands,” Burke said. Jenkins didn’t practice all week and finished with seven rushes for 27 yards. Chaparral won, 33-8, behind 211 passing yards from Clark and captured Class 3A, District 10. “We kind of went back to our old way of just spreading it out,” Burke said. This season, the CPL and District 10 will be loaded again. Conway Springs’ senior Colton Terhune and Cheney’s senior Micah Grover return as dual-threat quarterbacks. Terhune had some outstanding games in 2016, including 259 rushing yards and four scores versus Douglass, and 166 passing yards versus Wichita Trinity. Grover, a former offensive lineman, enters his third season as a starter. “Conway is the favorite,” Burke said. Additionally, Class 3A west features continually improving Marysville and Jack Blumer, easily the North Central Kansas League’s top quarterback in 2016. Marysville, running the spread, broke a streak of 32 losses in the ’15 season opener. The Bulldogs are 4-6 and 7-3 the last two seasons. Blumer completed 87 of 148 passes for 1,372 yards with a 16/6 TD/INT ratio. No other NCKL quarterback threw for more than 794 yards. He rushed 54 times for 349 yards and five TDs and collected first team all-league honors at quarterback and punter. “Most gifted” Entering 2002, Mulvane had just two playoff appearances in school history. Since then, the Wildcats have been one of the state’s most consistent teams with 12 playoff appearances. Mulvane, under 26th-year head coach Dave Fennewald, switched to spread in 2006 after running the flexbone for about five years. From ’06-16, Mulvane made the playoffs nine times and collectively averaged 31.3 points a contest. Last year, with Price, Mulvane notched 42.4 points a game, easily the best in that span. Mulvane has produced Jordan Gosch, Gus Strunk, Ty Redington, R.J. Regier and now Price. All of the quarterbacks started for two years. Fennewald credited receivers like Tyler Sporing, Alex Evans, Ethan Evans and Collin Dempsey, along with coaches Phil Keys and Daniel Myears for offensive success.

“We went to spread because at (the) time we had Huldon Tharp in the backfield and didn’t want teams to dictate if he was carrying the ball,” Fennewald said. Gosch threw for 4,109 yards with 54 total scores. Strunk, a great leader, threw for 3,881 yards, rushed for 867 and accounted for 49 scores. Redington, a terrific three-sport athlete and dual threat, tallied 5,023 career passing yards, 1,130 rushing yards and 72 TDs. Strunk and Redington each went onto fine careers with Fort Hays State University baseball. Regier had 39 scores accounted for. Price, one of two Class 4A, Division I, Kpreps. com all-state quarterbacks in ‘15, has been outstanding with 210 of 365 passing for 3,111 yards and 35 scores, along with 2,486 rushing yards and 29 rushing TDs. Price, who may transition to safety in college, has ran 4.58 seconds in the 40yard dash and has offers from Illinois State, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Fort Hays and Missouri Western. “He is the most gifted of all our QBs and has gotten better each year in arm strength, speed and agility,” Fennewald said. Mulvane will again face Collegiate in Week 4, one of the state’s most consistent offenses with a wide variety of quarterbacks and playmakers. Last year, McNerney, now a senior, perhaps carried a team offensively more than any other 11-man program. He completed 140 of 222 passes for 1,876 yards with a 25/10 TD/INT ratio. Collegiate had a limited run threat, and he led the team with 129 carries for 620 yards and was second with four rushing scores. He accounted for 48 percent of the team’s rushing offense. The Spartans will face Wichita Trinity’s Sammy Hardin, who should lead the Knights to an improved season after a 3-6 mark in ‘16. Hardin was on the winning Sharp Performance 7-on-7 team at the K-State camp in June. A week later, Trinity won the Central Kansas 7-on-7 small school title. Even when Holcomb captured the Class 4A, Division II title in 2015, the Longhorns were still third in the GWAC behind run-heavy Scott City and Ulysses. Last season, Holcomb captured the conference title, beat Scott City in the regular season and playoffs and advanced to the 4A-II sub-state title game. Holcomb coach Kent Teeter has incorporated the spread for years, including at Goodland and Holcomb. His son, Trey, started for two years at Goodland and Holcomb before he gave way to Trey Gilbert last fall. Holcomb is 31-6 and has averaged 36.2 points a game under Teeter. Gilbert completed 111 of 207 passes for 1,888 yards with 24/8 TD/INT ratio. He rushed 114 times for 487 yards and two TDs. Before last season’s 54-0 win, Holcomb had lost five of its previous seven versus Ulysses. The Longhorns were 1-12 against SC from ’04-15. At Goodland, Levi Archer took over for Trey Teeter and has cleared more than 3,000 career passing yards. Archer has received interest from multiple college football programs. The GWAC’s Colby and Hugoton have run spread, and Colby features returning senior quarterback

Photo by Jada Ackerman, Marysville Advocate

Davante Hammer Nick Davenport Jack Caudel

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Photo by Kelly Elias,

Photo by Lane Mills Photography

Photo by Amy Rickard

Photo by Mark McCoy, Ellsworth Co. Independent-Reporter

Carter Putz

Photo by Susan Goodwyn,

Devin Ryan

Photo by Lynne Miller

Cade Miller

Photo by Everett Royer,

Gabe Salas

Cody McNerney Colton Hutchinson

Photo by Everett Royer,

Zach Hart (1,513 passing, 24 TDs accounted for) and junior all-purpose threat Jordan Schippers (27 total scores). Goddard had captured just 17 wins from ’08-14 before a 6-4 season in ’15 led to an 11-2 record and Class 5A runner-up finish to Mill Valley last fall. Sullivan, a senior, returns after he completed 102 of 215 passes for 1,629 yards with a 28/7 TD/ INT ratio. He rushed 198 times for 1,404 yards and 17 scores. Goddard defeated Carroll in the first round. The Golden Eagles, which have long used the spread under Dusty Trail, a former standout Osborne signal-caller and Carroll offensive coordinator, returns Braden Howell under center. Trail takes over as head coach after Alan Schuckman retired. Traditional power run teams open up the offense Central Plains’ Chris Steiner and Smith Center’s Darren Sasse each played for legendary Kansas coaches in Gregg Webb and Roger Barta. Steiner won state crowns at Claflin, while Sasse enjoyed great success as a player and coach with Barta. Both Claflin and SC rank in the top-five all-time for playoff victories and set multiple state records for rushing and scoring that still stand. Webb ran half the offense out of the I-formation and the other half out of Midway-Denton. SC has long used wishbone concepts, commonly referred to as the “Barta-bone.” However, both coaches have used the pass and dual-threat quarterbacking in their time as head coaches. Sasse, with back-to-back sub-state title game berths, has passed effectively with Kody Molzahn, Thayne Benoit and Colton Hutchinson, a returning senior. Hutchinson, an all-state defensive back, finished 40 of 86 passing for 765 yards and nine scores, along with 350 rushing yards and five TDs last season. SC threw for 682 yards in ’15. Steiner coached Claflin in its final year before Claflin and Quivira Heights consolidated to form Central Plains. He is 9-2, 13-0, 9-2 and 10-1 in the last four years, the first three with Braedan Crites under center and last season with Devin Ryan. Crites threw for 5,364 career yards with an 100/14 TD/INT ratio. He rushed for 1,564 yards and 39 scores. Crites’ primary target was Layne Bieberle, a Shrine Bowl selection who set state eight-man records for career receiving TDs (57) and punts returned for scores (eight). Bieberle is enjoying great success at Fort Hays, including honorable mention All-MIAA as a receiver as a redshirt freshman last season. Now, CP senior wide receiver Alex Barton, long compared to Bieberle, had an all-state year with 47 catches for 815 yards and 17 receiving TDs in 2016 as a junior. Ryan threw for 1,650 yards with a 68 percent completion rate and 32 TDs against just 3 interceptions. CP averaged 159 passing and 170 rushing yards a contest, including 5.7 yards per carry, a number that ranked higher than several solid eight-man programs that reached the playoffs including sub-state title game participant Wallace County (5.0) and district champion Stockton (5.1).

Photo by C Zimmerman

CP uses the I-formation about half the time. “Last year we threw the ball better out of I and ran the ball better out of spread formations,” Steiner said. “….I think it was because the two years prior we had so much success just the opposite way, running out of I and throwing it from spread.” More 8-Man teams employ dual-threat schemes Pike Valley, 10-2 last season and a sub-state championship participant, enjoyed a great year with dual-threat quarterback Davante Hammer, now in his fourth year as the starter. PV threw for 1,292 yards in ’16 and 841 in ’15, easily the team’s two highest totals of the last decade under Don Melby, in his 40th year on staff. Hammer’s intelligence, ability and few turnovers (22/4 TD/INT ratio, 238 rushing yards, seven rush TDs) helped the run game. PV rushed 439 times last fall, the fifth-most in the last decade. However, the Panthers rushed for 2,932 yards, first in the last decade by a good margin. “So intelligent and he knows where people need to be,” Melby said of Hammer. “And it’s not hard for him to say, ‘OK, you need to line up over here and this is what you are going to do,’ and he really helps him with that.” West Elk features Cade Miller, while Burlingame has Dalton Sporing, both seniors. Stockton features Brady Beougher and Satanta has Gabe Salas, both juniors. WE has enjoyed the best four-year run in school annals, Burlingame is playing its best football since the ‘70s, and Stockton reached the playoffs in 2016, its first trip since 2002. Miller completed 56 of 103 passes for 1,033 yards with an 18/8 TD/INT ratio. He cleared 1,100 yards for the second straight year with 168 carries for 1,240 yards and 29 rushing scores. Miller has accounted for 94 offensive TDs, along with five special teams scores. “One of the best I have ever had,” coach Chris Haag, who in his 17th year with the Patriots, said. “…He is a special player, and I feel like one of the top two dual-threat QBs in 8-man along with the Sporing kid from Burlingame.” Sporing, who suffered a serious knee injury in basketball, is expected to miss part of the fall. In his career, he has completed 211 of 380 passes for 3,485 yards with a 69/10 TD/INT ratio. After 1,221 yards on the ground in 2016, Sporing has 1,985 rushing yards and 48 rushing TDs in his tenure. A four-sport athlete, Sporing holds 24 offensive records.

Blake Sullivan Dalton SprOng Trey Sides Will Swanson

“One of the top overall players in 8-Man,” coach Jeff Slater said. “Everything goes through Sporing in the run game and pass game. Great kid, very coachable, tremendous work ethic and humble. Sporing is our best offensive player.” Beougher enjoyed a breakout season with 130 of 285 passing for 1,974 yards with a 27/11 TD/ INT ratio. He rushed 84 times for 377 yards and five scores. “Brady can get the ball out about as fast as anybody,” Stockton coach Phil Conyac said. Salas passed for 892 yards with a 14/5 TD/INT ratio and rushed 133 times for 1,247 yards and 19 scores last season as a sophomore. Hodgeman County, featuring the combined Jetmore and Hanston programs, has long been among the state’s top 8-Man programs, and their four-year starting quarterback Jacob Salmans could lead them to the top again. Jacob Salmans’ father, Oliver, was formerly an all-state player at Hanston in 1989 and a successful coach at Hanston and Pawnee Heights. Now, Oliver serves as coach Matt Housman’s veteran assistant at Hodgeman County. Housman played for Hanston when Salmans was on staff. Jacob has started at quarterback since his freshman year and is remarkably consistent with completion percentages of 64, 66 and 62 percent and passer ratings between 119 and 139 each year on the NCAA passer rating scale. Overall, he has thrown for 4,042 yards with a 56/13 TD/ INT ratio. He has rushed for 1,026 yards and 17 scores. Last year, he tallied a team-high 542 rushing yards, and threw for 18 TDs against only 6 INTs. His brother Eli had 425 rushing yards, second-best on the team. Kansas City-area standouts Mill Valley averaged 23.9 points per contest from 2006-09 and never averaged at least 30 in a season. Since Joel Applebee arrived in 2010 with the spread offense, the Jaguars have enjoyed the best success in school annals, including back-to-back Class 5A state crowns the last two falls. From 2010-16, MV has averaged at least 30 points every year and collectively scored 38.7 points a contest, a number that’s better than many other top 5A/6A powers. In that same span, Blue Valley has averaged 35.6 a game, Wichita Northwest 35.8, Hutchinson 37.4, Derby is at 41.7 and Bishop Carroll at 41.9, according to PPI. Last year as a junior, Brody Flaming continued MV’s great quarterback play with 192 of 378 passing for 2,700 yards with a 33/12 TD/INT ratio. He rushed 183 times for 1,297 yards and six scores.

Dawson Williams

Jack Schneider

Photo by Janae Rempel, Hillsboro Free Press

Last season, MV averaged 33.4 points a game, won the 5A crown with a 9-4 record and became the first Kansas 5A/6A state champion with single digit victories since 1972, according to the Sunflower Football News blog. Lawrence had significant questions after it graduated all but two offensive starters from a 10-1 team in 2015. Dante Jackson had never played quarterback before last year but stepped in and delivered a great season. Lawrence averaged 36.1 points a contest, slightly below its 38.4 average in ’15. Jackson had a great game in a 52-49 playoff loss to Shawnee Mission North with 275 yards of total offense. Jackson, who earned second team all-league honors as a punter and punt returner, has received interest from the University of Kansas as an athlete. He will guide the offense in coach Dirk Wedd’s final season. Wedd, a Lawrence graduate, has been the Lions’ head coach since 1997. Jackson is as explosive a player as the state of Kansas has to offer with a vertical jump of 41 inches and 4.5 forty yard dash speed. Wedd expects him to make the move to defensive back in college. Like Lawrence, Aquinas had plenty of inexperience with zero offensive starters back for 2016. Will Swanson guided the offense with 66 of 131 passing for 1,431 yards and a a 13/8 TD/INT ratio. He rushed 160 times for 775 yards and 15 scores, leading the team in rushing TDs. In three years with coach Randy Dreiling, Aquinas has averaged 31.2, 38.5 and 34.1 points a game - opening up the passing game from Dreiling’s traditional Flexbone look - and posted 9-4, 9-3 and 8-4 records. Bishop Miege’s Carter Putz, a Notre Dame baseball commit, has enjoyed back-to-back outstanding seasons for the Stags, currently on a run of three straight titles. In ’15, he threw for 3,187 yards and 36 scores with 69 percent completion. Last year, he was again 4A-I all-state with 3,264 passing yards and an 11man state record 50 TDs on 71 percent completion. He also rushed for 243 yards and three scores. Blue Valley North’s Graham Mertz, one of the state’s top pro-style quarterbacks, was offered a scholarship by KU in June. BV North finished 7-4 and produced 25.8 points a contest in ’16. The quarterfinals run was the best for the program since a semifinal showing in ’03. Mertz served as Putz’s backup at Miege last year and hopes to lead North to a deeper playoff run under energizing coach Andy Sims. De Soto’s Bryce Mohl is a returning first team all-league player who has helped De Soto improve from 0-9 to 3-6 to 6-4 to 7-3 in the last three seasons. DeSoto averaged 26.5 and 24.2 points a game the last two seasons. Shawnee Mission Northwest junior Spencer Stewart is learning the game from coach Bo Black, one of the original coaches to run the spread offense during a long run in the 2000s at Great Bend. SM Northwest averaged 20.4 points a game in a 1-8 season last year, Black’s second with the squad. He also went 1-8 in his first year and averaged 19.2 points a game. Stewart threw for over 2,100 yards last fall and with the return of three starting recievers, Black hopes to take a big step forward this season.

Photo by Jacque Bretton

Photo courtesy Osage County Herald-Chronicle

Photo by

Photo by Susan,

Photo by Everett Royer,

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


Page 12



Good Luck Hornets!

"1-0" 2017 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Sept. 1 St. James Academy Sept. 8 Blue Valley Northwest Sept. 15 @Blue Valley Southwest Sept. 22 @Blue Valley Sept. 29 St. Thomas Aquinas Oct. 6 Bishop Miege Oct. 12 @Blue Valley North Oct. 20 @Gardner-Edgerton

Family Business FAMILY BUSINESS Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 13

The Business is Football, and Business is Good!

Derby’s Brandon Clark, Mill Valley’s Joel Applebee, and Valley Center’s Caleb Smith are three of the best young coaches in Kansas high school football. Earlier this year the group gathered with some of their top players to talk about their passion for football, and their common connection to long-time coach Mike Smith (front left) who fueled their love for the Family Business! (Photo by Derek Livingston,

By Brad Hallier For Kansas Pregame Derby is in the midst of the latest big-class dynasty in Kansas high school football. Class 6A state champion in 2013, 2015 and 2016, Derby was a 2012 semifinal loss to Hutchinson and a 2014 quarterfinal loss to Hutchinson away from possibly owning five straight state titles. Meanwhile, in western Johnson County, a new state power has emerged. Mill Valley, which until 2015 had never even reached the state semifinals, has claimed the last two Class 5A state titles. These two elite high school football programs are intertwined by blood, as Derby coach Brandon Clark and Mill Valley coach Joel Applebee are cousins. There’s also a small northern Wichita suburb that has had a direct hand in Derby’s dominance, and an indirect hand in Mill Valley’s rise. The genesis of Derby’s renaissance - the Panthers

also won the 1994 6A title - and Mill Valley’s rapid ascent can be traced to Valley Center. Clark is a 1997 Valley Center graduate who played for some powerful teams under coach Mike Smith. Meanwhile, Smith’s son, Caleb, has helped revive a Valley Center program that did not win a playoff game since his dad was there, until last season. For these three football programs, strength is all in the family. Caleb Smith’s arrival in Valley Center was met with optimism. Valley Center hadn’t had much success since Caleb’s dad left for Garden City in 2002. Caleb Smith was coaching with Clark when the Valley Center job opened after the 2012 season. But even though Valley Center was still close to the Smith family’s heart, Mike was apprehensive of Caleb going back to his roots and following in his dad’s steps. “I was a little scared,” Mike said. “I didn’t know if I

wanted that. Valley had some tough luck through the years, and a lot of good coaches left. Caleb’s mom was nervous too.” Caleb had some pretty good mentors, however, in aiding his reconstruction project. “Dad has had the biggest influence of anybody on me,” Caleb said. “Probably 90 percent of my ideas and philosophies came from him. I was also at Derby for five seasons, and Brandon is a great coach and a better program-builder. What separates him at Derby, and the program, is everything he does off the field, and that is something I picked up.” The off-the-field team activities and making the entire community a family-like atmosphere is something Applebee has likewise duplicated. Bringing a small-town atmosphere to a metropolitan area isn’t the easiest thing to do. Applebee learned how to do just that from Clark, who in turn continued on page 32

This Marion Model #37 Steam Shovel is one of the many artifacts on display at the Crawford County Historical Museum. For more information visit, or, find them on Facebook.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 14

EARN UP TO $50,000 IN SUPPLEMENTAL INCOME DURING THE SUMMER GROWING MONTHS At K-Lawn, we’re looking to add a few quality dealers to our network that covers 10 Midwestern states. K-Lawn is a part-time business opportunity providing lawn fertilization and weed and insect control. If you feel you have what it takes, and are interested in owning your own business, call us today at 800-445-9116, or visit us online today at to learn the full story.

Kugler Company PO Box 1748 McCook, Nebraska 69001

Dealership Inquiries Call – 800-445-9116.

KL-102.indd 1

9/29/14 3:18 PM

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 15

Derby coach Brandon Clark (left) will count on Brody Kooser (#1), Jack Taylor (#3), and Michael Littleton (#14) to lead the push for a third consecutive 6A title this fall. (Photo by Derek Livingston,

Family Business The Crawford County Historical Museum is a non-profit organization with one of the largest collections of artifacts and historical displays in southeast Kansas. For more information visit, or, find them on Facebook.

By Brad Hallier For Kansas Pregame Derby is a Wichita suburb, the largest Wichita suburb actually. But when it comes to high school football, Derby is more like a small, rural town befitting its population of less than 23,000. Empty seats are hard to find, as the locals rowdily support the latest Kansas big-class dynasty. Coach Brandon Clark, who has been at Derby for 12 years, has led Derby to Class 6A state titles in 2013, 2015 and 2016. An important ally has been Clark building that small-town feel at Derby, a close-knit, family-like environment, something he picked up while playing for Mike Smith at another Wichita suburb, Valley Center. Derby is primed for a third-straight state-championship run with another outstanding group, headlined by running back Brody Kooser, wide receiver Jack Taylor and tight end/wide receiver Michael Littleton. Brody Kooser The seemingly never-ending supply of talented Derby running backs continues with Kooser, who ran for 1,664 yards and 30 touchdowns during the Panthers’ second straight state-championship run. He also caught nine passes for 212 yards and two more touchdowns. A man of few words, Kooser - who probably had more total yards last season than spoken words - keeps his goals and expectations

simple. “Be a better player, teammate and leader, and win the day,” Kooser said about his personal goals for the season. Colleges have been calling a bit, but no offers have poured in. At least, not yet. For an athlete who has spent most of his life helping teams win - he’s also been a part of some outstanding baseball teams the last 11 years, including a couple World Series squads - attracting more attention shouldn’t be too difficult. Michael Littleton Littleton has the body befitting a high-caliber college prospect - 6 feet, 4 inches and 210 pounds. What’s more, he’s an experienced player who has won two state championships, even scoring a touchdown in last year’s 17-14 title win against Blue Valley. While scoring in that thrilling game was what Littleton said was his favorite moment in high school football, he has bigger aspirations. “Playing college football at a high level has always been a dream of mine,” Littleton said. Given his size, experience and strength Littleton can hang clean 275 pounds five times - getting college football programs to notice him shouldn’t be too difficult. While in college, Littleton said he wants to study business. But first of all, there’s the matter of threepeating, something Littleton takes seriously. “I like to win,” Littleton said. “It shows that if you work hard, that it pays off.”


Jack Taylor He may not have one of the more familiar names on Derby’s star-studded roster, but don’t say you haven’t been warned. Jack Taylor can play, and this could be his coming-out party. The 6-foot, 1-inch, 180-pound Taylor had modest stats last season for the 6A champ, with 14 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns. But others have been taking note already. Taylor said Benedictine College has expressed interest in him playing there collegiately, and he even visited the Atchison school this summer. While Taylor looks to surgically dismantle opponents this year and then in college, he will be looking at studying medicine. “I want to pursue a career in the medical field - dermatology or anesthesiology,” Taylor said. “I feel either one of these careers will be rewarding and challenging.” Almost as challenging as opponents trying to slow down Taylor and the Derby offense. Derby will need to replace 10 starters on defense, including All-Staters Peerlus Walker, Tommy Carter, and Tanner Igo, but three returning o-linemen - including FBS prospect Evan Clark - should help the offense break in a new QB and carry the load early. Brad Hallier is a sportswriter from Hutchinson, Kan., who spent 17 years covering high school and college athletics in Garden City and Hutchinson.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Mill Valley coach Joel Applebee (left) will count on Ike ValenciaPage (#2),16 Mitchell Grissom (#67), Brody Flaming (#9) and Evan Rice (#18) to lead the push for a third consecutive 5A title this fall. (Photo by Derek Livingston,

Family Business The Crawford County Historical Museum is a non-profit organization with one of the largest collections of artifacts and historical displays in southeast Kansas. For more information visit, or, find them on Facebook.

By Brad Hallier For Kansas Pregame After working with his cousin, Derby’s Brandon Clark, Joel Applebee built his own program, made his own identity and has brought two state championships to what had been an obscure football school in western Johnson County. Mill Valley is now one of the premier programs in Kansas, recently joining the brutal Eastern Kansas League, a league the Jaguars went 4-4 in last year before embarking on their second straight Class 5A state-championship run. The weapons Mill Valley possess are abundant in their quest to secure a third straight state title, including quarterback Brody Flaming, wide receiver/ defensive back Evan Rice, defensive end Ike Valencia and athletic offensive lineman Mitchell Grissom. Brody Flaming Many high schools nationwide would love to have a quarterback who stands 6 feet, 2 inches and weighs a burly 215 pounds. Other high schools would give up a lot to have a returning starting quarterback who threw for 2,700 yards and 33 touchdowns while rushing for 1,297 yards and six more scores and leading his team to a state championship. Welcome to Mill Valley, where Flaming will be one of the most watched players in Kansas. Already on the radar of many MIAA schools - Northwest Missouri State and Missouri Western have shown interest - Flaming is also a humble kid. “I want to be the best player and teammate that I can be and win another state championship,” Flaming said in response to what his goals are. A powerful quarterback - he can squat 405 Flaming also doesn’t list “winning” as his favorite

part of football. Instead, he talks about the camaraderie and family-like atmosphere Applebee has built at Mill Valley. “I enjoy the family aspect (of football) and the energy that comes with playing it,” Flaming said. Mitchell Grissom Other offensive lineman might be bigger than the 6-foot, 3-inch, 255-pound Grissom. Others might be quicker. Still others might be able to beat him in the weight room. But if you want to challenge him in a pushups battle, do so at your own peril. “One exercise I excel at is pushups,” Grissom said. “I can pop out 50 pushups in one sitting easy, and for an (offensive) lineman, that’s pretty good.” Grissom is a pretty good offensive lineman too. Last year, Grissom helped carve up opposing defenses, as Mill Valley scored at least 28 points 10 times, including five times in Mill Valley’s season-ending six-game winning streak. A third straight state title is a real possibility, with Grissom anchoring a young offensive line. “My personal goal is to be the best leader I can every day, and our team goal is to work hard every day to put ourselves in position to compete on Friday nights,” Grissmon said. Evan Rice A talented and sure-handed wide receiver and safety, Rice says he understands that all his on-field accomplishments pale in comparison to the bigger picture. Every time he catches a pass - and he did that often last year as he snagged 44 passes for 571 yards and eight touchdowns - or breaks up a pass, Rice isn’t doing for personal gain. “Playing as a family and coming together for some-


thing bigger than yourself,” Rice said about what his favorite part of football was. “My personal goal is (to) be the best I can be, and help the team in any way.” Rice was valuable asset in helping Mill Valley win a second straight title last year, and the 5-foot, 11-inch, 185-pound Rice is intent on keeping up his contributions. His weight-room performances are solid, as he can bench 265 pounds and clean 300. An avid outdoorsman, Rice said he doesn’t know yet if college football is in his future. Ike Valencia Kansans, for decades, have liked Ike. Dwight Eisenhower, famously nicknamed “Ike”, is an Abilene native and was a popular two-term president from 1953-1961. Mill Valley has its own popular Ike, as Valencia is a defensive end and one of the top four returning defensive players. His sense of humor is appealing. When asked what he likes most about football, Valencia said, “I enjoy the contact of football, because this is really the only time it’s OK to hit somebody.” While his funny side can help in the locker room, it’s his prowess when the other team has the ball that makes Valencia a popular teammate and feared opponent. Last season, Valencia had 51 tackles, including 11 for loss, seven-and-a-half quarterback sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries. After school - he’s unsure if college football is in his future - Valencia wants to stop attacking and hitting and start protecting people. “I would like to be a police officer, because I want to be able to protect and help my community,” Valencia said.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

17 Valley Center coach Caleb Smith (left) will count on WyattPage Lange (#1), Tyler Boone (#11), and Caleb Rains (#26) to lead the way in the continued rebuilding project at Valley Center after a breakout season last fall. (Photo by Derek Livingston,

Family Business The Crawford County Historical Museum is a non-profit organization with one of the largest collections of artifacts and historical displays in southeast Kansas. For more information visit, or, find them on Facebook.

By Brad Hallier For Kansas Pregame In four seasons, Caleb Smith has taken Valley Center from the depths of Class 5A football to heights not seen since his father, Mike, coached the Hornets two decades ago. Although Caleb Smith’s tenure started like many other Valley Center coaches’ did - the Hornets were 0-8 in 2013 - he has quickly turned the Hornets into a team capable of playing deep into November. Smith, who was also an assistant for Brandon Clark at Derby, led Valley Center to a 9-2 season last season and two playoff victories. This year, the Hornets look for more, behind a talented trio of Tyler Boone, Wyatt Lange and Caleb Rains. Tyler Boone This could be a memorable senior year for Boone, a Valley Center middle linebacker. Not only are the Hornets expected to be high-caliber, a year after winning nine games, but Boone is also an accomplished wrestler. Last year, not only was Boone part of a great Valley Center football team, but also a wrestling team that finished third in Class 5A. But what about that football team? Can the Hornets replicate last season or do better? “The thing I want for our team this season is a season just as successful as last,” Boone said. “I don’t go into anything hoping not to win, so a state championship would be nice.” The senior tallied 109 tackles last year and earned all-league honors a year after tallying 60 tackles during his sophomore season. He also posted one tackle for loss in each season. He added an interception last year as well. Boone is content just being outside, and not only on the football field. An outdoorsman, Boone says he


favorite moment of Valley Center’s 9-2 season. enjoys fishing and camping as much as possible. Rains could be poised for a breakout season after Wyatt Lange rushing for 473 yards and five touchdowns last fall. Free time doesn’t really exist for the Valley Center He also posted 13 tackles on defense. senior quarterback. A four-sport athlete - he also Once the senior finishes up this season, howevplays basketball, golf and is a track hurdler - Lange er, he doesn’t expect to continue playing football. also excels in the classroom, where he enjoys math Instead, he hopes to shine a different kind of light, and hopes to study for a career in corporate law. on lives. What will than entail? An undergraduate degree in After high school, Rains wants to do inner-city economic policy and then on to law school. ministry, “because I enjoy reaching out to people and This means Lange could get into some pretty good being a light to those that do not have much.” debates in the courtroom one day. Among his non-football hobbies, Rains enjoys “I chose this because I am a straightforward person attending church, playing the bass and guitar, and and follow rules at all costs,” Lange said. being a part of his worship team. Right now, he might debate college coaches on Until then, Rains said he hoped to continue Valley why he would be a good fit for their program. Although Lange hasn’t received any offers to play Center’s rapid rise. It was just 2013 when Valley Center went 0-8. college football, he certainly proved himself last year “Be first in league and win one more (game) than in helping Valley Center to a breakout 9-2 season. last year,” Rains said about the Hornets’ season He accumulated 400 yards in a comeback win goals. against Goddard-Eisenhower. The dual-threat QB tallied 1,642 yards passing with a 17/7 TD/INT ratio, and rushed for another 535 yards and eight more scores. Caleb Rains Rains has been a shining light during Valley Center’s revival. A running back and linebacker, Rains brings up his 141-yard rushing performance during a 21-0 win against Newton as his


– Certified professional trainers with real college and professional playing experience – Marketing and exposure opportunities – The best facilities in Kansas – Elite 7-on-7 opportunities – Nutrition plans for optimal gains – Flexible and affordable packages to meet your needs

BE ELITE Learn more at | Email us at | Call us at 785-404-1544 | Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 19


3A-8MAN D2

6A-4A D2

Work in the weight room fuels success on the gridiron

With the birth of modern college football weight training at the University of Nebraska under strength coaching legend Boyd Epley in the early ‘70s the modern football offseason training regiment changed, not only for every college program in the country, but eventually at the high school level. Now, weight training and football (and for that matter most other sports) are synonymous. While in the early days of strength training coaches carried concerns that musclebound athletes would be slower and more susceptible to injury, years of improved performance as a result of work in the weight room has demonstrated that strength training programs are the key to speed and power development and injury prevention and may be the single most important factor in the success of a football program. In the following features Kansas Pregame will take a look at some of the state’s strongest and most athletic players who developed those traits thanks in large part to their commitment in the weight room.

(Photos by Joey Bahr,

The features are a look at not just the biggest and strongest players in the state, but players, that while they may be shorter or lighter, have achieved maximum results and are pound-for-pound among the strongest in Kansas. Certainly these are just a few of the literally hundreds of athletes in the state who have posted impressive numbers in the squat, clean, bench, 40 yard dash, or vertical jump, and Kansas Pregame would like to hear of other athletes with impressive weight room statistics. Please e-mail suggestions for next year’s coverage to Thanks to Sharp Performance and Rack Performance for sponsoring this feature. Sharp Performance is among the top athletic performance training centers in the entire Midwest, and their new facility in Concordia was host to the photo shoot. For more information about all Sharp Performance - with locations in Salina, and Concordia - offers, visit Rack Performance is a Kansas based provider of workout management applications. Learn more about how it can help your athletes get more done at



From here you can...

Go For It


Be a part of #BusterNation! Scholarships available

620-276-7611 •



Online Campus

more info:

Ja’Quan Allen Bennington RB/DB, Sr.

Keenan Baird Silver Lake WR/DB, Sr.

Josh Boyd Silver Lake FB/LB, Sr.

Photos by Joey Bahr,

Allen, a 5-10, 170 pound senior is one of the most electric athletes in all of 8-Man football. In 2016 Allen rushed for 885 yards and 15 scores, caught 19 passes for 340 yards and 7 more TDs, and averaged 23 yards per punt return. Allen was also one of the Bulldogs’ top defenders, tallying 69 total tackles and recording an interception. Those numbers earned him numerous honors including All-League, All-District, and All-State honors. named him 8-Man I’s All-State Return Specialist while the Topeka Capital-Journal gave him an honorable mention nod. Bennington coach David Gillett says Allen’s work in the weight room is unmatched and he has the numbers to prove it. Allen has recorded a 265 pound clean, a 415 pound squat, and a 255 pound bench press, excellent numbers for his size. Combine that with a 4.5 forty yard dash and a vertical jump near 40 inches and you have one of the most explosive athletes all classes. “He works harder than anyone,” Gillett said. “He set a couple school records (in May)...with squat and power cleans and tied the bench record.” Allen hopes his hard work will help lead the team to a winning record and a trip to the playoffs this season, and ultimately, he hopes to earn a college football scholarship. But if college football is not in his future, he’ll consider joining the Marines.

Baird is part of a family of successful football players that includes older brothers Blake and Cole, and father Ric. Blake was a walk-on at K-State in 2013 before a series of injuries and surgeries ended his playing career. Cole is currently a d-back at Emporia State. And Ric was a key component of multiple state title teams for the Midway-Denton dynasty of the 80s. But Keenan may be the best Baird yet. At 6-2 and almost 200 pounds Baird is one of the top d-backs in Kansas tallying 54 tackles and 5 interceptions in 2016. And he’s no slouch on offense either where he piled up nearly 900 all-purpose yards and 12 TDs as a slot receiver for one of the state’s top football programs. Those numbers earned Baird All-League and All-State honors a year ago including All Class 3A d-back by Kpreps. The senior excels in the weight room as well lifting over 260 pounds in the clean, nearly 300 pounds in the bench, and a whopping 490 pounds in the squat. His 4.5 speed in the 40 and 31 inch vertical round out the total package for a team that will try to get back to the state title game this year after a three year drought. The Eagles played in 11 of 12 3A title games from 2002 to 2013. The three sport athlete is also a multiple time state qualifier in the javelin, but Baird says it’s football he enjoys the most. “I enjoy the game of football most because of the teamwork and dedication it takes to accomplish things,” Baird said.

Josh Boyd loves the adrenaline produced by a close football game, but hopes those are few and far between this season as Silver Lake looks to return to the 3A title game for the first time in three seasons. If legendary Eagles coach CJ Hamilton wants to get Silver Lake back to the pinnacle of football competition he’ll rely heavily on production from his senior fullback and linebacker. The 5-11, 215 pounder earned All-State honors after registering 127 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and three interceptions last year, and his work in the weight room is likely to yield more tackles this fall. Boyd has posted some incredible numbers hoisting the iron with a 350 pound bench, a 560 pound squat and a 270 pound clean to go along with a 40 in the 4.6 range. He’s one of Silver Lake’s most experience players earning recognition as a team captain in just his sophomore season of high school, something he calls his most memorable moment of high school football so far. Boyd hopes to play football beyond high school and reports receiving recruiting interest from Cornell, Truman State, Rose-Hulman, and Ottawa. Boyd, who is also a standout baseball player, plans a career in physical therapy or athletic training so that he can stay involved with athletics once his playing days are through.

Physical Therapy • Rehabilitation after fractures, joint replacement & repair • Treatment for back & joint pain • Sports medicine • Orthopedics

Fitness Center • 24-hour access • No contracts • No over-crowding • No surprise fees

Two Topeka locations proudly supporting athletes from:

Seaman Silver Lake Royal Valley Jeff West Shawnee Heights Highland Park

• Personal training • Silver Sneakers© partner SERC Physical Therapy & Fitness Center 3405 NW Hunter’s Ridge Terr. #300 • Topeka, KS 66618 (785) 246-2300 1707 SE 29th Street • Topeka, KS 66605 (785) 266-4600

SILVER LAKE FOOTBALL State Titles: 1981, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1997, 2006, 2010, 2013 State Runners-up: 1980, 1995, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 Playoff Appearances: 34 Conference Championships: 34 State’s All-Time Winningest Coach: C.J. Hamilton, 400-90...and still counting!

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 22

November 25th 2017

Carnie Smith Stadium • Pittsburg, Kansas

The Football Capital of Kansas


LB, Jr.

Wichita Northwest

Josh Carter

Dominick Campbell

Campbell is a diminutive dynamo in the North Central Kansas League. The 5-8, 165 pound senior defensive back could be poised for a breakout season after earning honorable mention All-League honors a year ago. He posted 54 tackles, 3 interceptions and 4 pass deflections from his corner spot last season and rushed for 352 yards and 4 touchdowns while splitting time with Parker Base and Parker O’Neal, who both graduated this spring. Campbell’s commitment to the weight room has also yielded results on the track where he was the league champion in the 300 intermediate hurdles and ran a leg of the NCKL championship 400 meter relay. “He’s a workout freak,” coach Steve Simpson said. “Core work, abs, straight leg deadlift, jumps, he does it all.” This spring Campbell was the runner-up in the 156 pound weight class at the 4A State Powerlifting competition where he bench pressed 220 pounds, cleaned 260, and squatted 375. He has since improved those numbers with personal best lifts of 235 in bench, 275 in the clean and 380 in squat. Campbell, who hopes to play collegiately, says he enjoys the “anticipation and intensity of the game.” “I enjoy the challenge the opponents bring and the intensity of knowing everyone on that field is battling and fighting for the same goal,” Campbell said. “What excites me the most is the anticipation from the first whistle to the last.”

Abilene RB/DB, Sr.

Rogan Bruce Labette County MLB, Sr. At 5-10 and just over 170 pounds Labette County’s Rogan Bruce may not look like an All-State linebacker for a Class 4A, Division I football team. But don’t be deceived, the scrappy senior wrapped up an impressive 162 tackles last season with 7 for loss, 2 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, and 4 forced fumbles, and thanks to his dedication to the weight room there’s likely more to come this fall. “Rogan is the hardest working player we have, no one outworks him,” third year Labette County head coach Sean Price said this offseason. “He leads by example and is an overachiever in every way. Everything he’s achieved is because of his tremendous work habits.” That work ethic has yielded impressive results in the weight room with a 270 pound bench, a 375 pound squat, and an explosive 280 pound hang clean. He’s also found success on the wrestling mat where he posted a 31-10 record last season and expects to go over 100 wins for his career next season. Bruce will again anchor the defense as he tries to help Price take the next step with the Grizzlies after improving on a 3-6 season in 2015 with a two-win jump to 5-5 last year and a trip to the playoffs. “As a team we look to win an SEK and district title, and make a deep run in the playoffs,” Bruce said.

Photos by Joey Bahr,

The reputation of Wichita Northwest junior Josh Carter caught the attention of Jake Sharp. “Where’s the 600 pound squat guy?” Sharp said at the photo shoot at Sharp’s newest facility in Concordia in June. “That’s me,” Carter said, raising his hand. Carter earned All-League and honorable mention All-Class honors last year as a sophomore LB after tallying 131 tackles, including 13.5 for loss, for one of 6A’s better programs. But his efforts in the weight room - a 335 pound bench, a 275 pound clean, and an incredible 590 pound squat are the stuff of legends. And with two more seasons of high school football, he’s sure to add to those numbers. Carter’s unique Twitter videos impress. In one video he squats 500 pounds for six reps. In another he goes directly from benching 315 for one rep to front squatting and then push pressing 225. Comments on the video like “Freak” and “What a freak of nature!” say what most of us are thinking. But new Northwest defensive coordinator Edmund Cronn says it his work ethic that impresses him the most. “The maturity and dedication to his craft are a rarity for someone his age,” Cronn said. “He chases perfection and it shows up on the field both physically and in his leadership.” Carter hopes that chase for perfection, and the return of seven other starters on D, will result in an improved defensive effort, and more playoff wins this fall.

Watch a few minutes of film of Drew Cunnigham and you’ll see a football player. One who flies around making plays and delivering big time hits. According to Lakeside coach Drew Duskie, those big plays are generated at least in part by his dedication in the weight room. “Drew has been lifting hard since he has been in junior high,” Duskie said. “As busy as life can get for a high school kid, he never lets it get in the way of improving himself. He almost missed, or did miss some of prom because of a lifting meet the same day. Most kids in high school would choose prom over that.” That commitment in the weight room has delivered some impressive numbers for the 5-11, 198 pound senior. He has posted a 275 pound power clean, a 260 pound bench press, and is edging closer to 500 pounds in the squat with a personal best of 470. Cunningham has speed to go with his power running a 4.8 forty and leaping 32.5 inches in the vertical jump. That work in the weight room translated into success on the field last fall as Cunningham posted 115 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks, and also racked up 457 yards rushing and 6 TDs. Numbers even more impressive considering he compiled them in just six games due to injury.

LB, Sr.

Lakeside RB/LB, Sr.

Tyler Henry


Chacon is one of 8-Man’s top returning players earning numerous All-League, All-Area and All-State honors after rushing for 1,241 yards and 20 touchdowns last season for the 7-3 Eagles. According to coach Marc Cowles, with his work in the weight room, it’s easy to see why. “Brennan has really embraced the weight room and bought into what we want to accomplish in there, which is to get stronger,” coach Marc Cowles said. The 5-10, 214 pound senior, who is also a two-time state qualifier in the javelin, has posted a solid 240 pound bench, a formidable 280 pound clean, and an exceptional 455 pound squat. Chacon is a competitive powerlifter as well and this year placed fourth at the Trego Invitational, second at the 2A State Powerlifting Meet in Solomon, and was a champion at the 8-Man State Championship Meet in Claflin. “I also think that Brennan’s success during the powerlifting season has fueled his workouts,” Cowles added. Chacon, who hopes to play football in college and would someday like to become an Optometrist, said what he enjoys most about football is being part of a team. “(I enjoy) the bond that is created with my teammates and being able to run out onto the field every Friday night.”

Drew Cunningham

Ness City RB/LB, Sr.

Brennan Chacon

Photos by Joey Bahr,

Henry packs 190 pounds on his 5-8 frame and has been a consistent performer for the Blazer defense since his freshman year. The All-Eastern Kansas League linebacker racked up 60 tackles last year in an injury shortened season after posting 94 tackles for G-E as a sophomore. While undersized for a 6A linebacker playing in the EKL the state’s power conference - his work in the weight room puts him on a level playing field with the rest of the league. A 330 pound bench press, a 295 power clean, and a 500 pound squat ranks Henry among the strongest players pound-for-pound in Kansas. And Henry posts impressive endurance in the weight room as well, bench pressing 185 pounds 20 times at this spring’s Sharp Performance Combine and he has the ability to power clean 225 for 10 reps. Those performances match his on the field record of 11 tackles for loss in one game during his sophomore year against Olathe South. Henry hopes to help the Blazers continue on the path of improvement. G-E went 0-9 in 2014, 2-7 in ‘15, and 4-6 with narrow losses to state powers Mill Valley and Shawnee Mission East - last season. The second round playoff loss to East was a heartbreaking 36-35 affair with a two-point conversion by the Lancers with just 33 seconds in the game the difference.

Proud Partner of Kansas High School Athletes!

Bucklin Hoxie

Great Bend Greensburg Ness City


800 W Sycamore St. • Ness City, KS, 67560

(785) 798-3322

Good luck to Drew Cunningham and the entire Lakeside Knights Proud supporter of area schools! 354 US-24 Downs, KS (785) 454-3425

Football Team m this season! The Cunningham Family

Southeast of Saline

Garrett Lowry may be one of the state’s best kept secrets, but at 6-5, 253 pounds, don’t expect him to remain a secret much longer. The honorable mention all-league offensive tackle from Louisburg hit the recruiting trail this offseason and is garnering interest from a number of small and mid-major programs in the Midwest. A strong senior season could lead to opportunities for Lowry to play at the highest level. “I would love the opportunity to play football in college,” Lowry said. “Several schools have talked with me about their programs, but I am still undecided at this time.” If those opportunities do come his way it will be in large part to do with his impressive strength. The senior benches 300 pounds and can squat 490, but his maxes may not be his strongest attribute in the weight room. “I would say my leadership in the weight room is what I excel at most,” noted Lowry, who is the son of head LHS girls basketball coach Shawn Lowry. Louisburg has recently undergone a string of coaching changes, but the program is a consistent winner. If that success is to continue under new coach Robert Ebenstein, Lowry will be counted on to anchor the offensive line and provide leadership.

Only halfway through his high school career, Marks, a 6-1, 215 pound junior, has become a leader on a traditionally solid program at Southeast of Saline. “Dylan loves the weight room and has become one of our leaders in the weight room,” Trojan head coach Mitch Gebhardt said. “He has always worked hard at getting stronger and continues to push himself. He also makes the people around him better by pushing them.” At the Sharp Performance Combine this past spring Marks bench pressed 225 pounds 13 times, ran a 5.08 40 yard dash, with a 31.3 vertical jump and 4.6 pro agility. Marks’ maxed out at 335 pounds in the bench, 480 pounds in squat and 315 pounds in the clean. Marks’ work ethic has paid off with NCAA All-League first team defensive lineman and second team offensive lineman honors last season. Marks recorded 87 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and nine sacks during his sophomore campaign. In 2017 Marks looks to improve on those stats with goals of 90 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. “I enjoy the physicality and the brotherhood you form with your teammates,” Marks said of the game of football. By the time 2019 rolls around, Marks could be a hot commodity for college coaches looking for a versatile athlete who could play linebacker or defensive end.

OL/DL, Jr.

Dylan Marks

The Conway Springs powerlifting program is known for its production of freaks in the weight room. Names like Pauly, Seiwert, Creek and Wood are famous in Conway Springs for their efforts on the football field, but also for their seemingly super-human efforts in the weight room. And the tradition continues. Senior quarterback Colton Terhune won his third consecutive state powerlifting championship this spring and sophomores Chase Ast and Daniel Becker could be the next in a long line of Cardinal weight room legends. Ast squatted 510 pounds at a powerlifting competition this spring and Becker can power clean 335 pounds to go along with a 485 pound squat. But the current king of the Cardinal weight room may be senior lineman Matthew Lange. At 6 feet tall, and a solid 233 pounds, Lange can bench 330, power clean 345, and squat 500. He’s athletic as well running a 4.9 forty yard dash and posting a 31 inch vertical jump. But the impressive list of credentials doesn’t stop there, Lange is also a member of the student council at Conway Springs, carries a 3.8 GPA, and last year was selected to receive the Football All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year Award from the National Strength and Conditioning Assoication.

Page 25 Photos by Joey Bahr,

Garrett Lowry Louisburg OT/DE, Sr.

Matthew Lange Conway Springs OL/DT, Sr.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 26

Always on the go? Save time. Order lunch on your mobile phone.

Order online at Subway or order through the new Subway® mobile app. Step 1 Go to or download the free Subway® app from your phone’s app store Step 2 Select participating restaurant Step 3 Place your order and pay online with credit, debit or Subway® card Step 4 15 minutes later pick up your order at the selected location

App ordering available for participating restaurants. Allow 15 minutes for pickup. Subway® is a Registered Trademark of Subway IP Inc. ©2017 Subway IP Inc

Page 27

McConnell, a 5-5, 184 pound senior, has faced numerous obstacles throughout his high school career but the senior defensive back is never down long and continues to bounce back improving on the field and in the weight room. “He’s a very hard worker and has improved a lot in the last year and a half,” Indians assistant coach Tad Remy said. Since his sophomore year McConnell has added over a 100 pounds to his squat max and almost 80 pounds to his clean. Dealing with nagging back issues and entering the season out of shape, McConnell finished the 2016 season strong. Even with the injuries and a change in offensive philosophy down the stretch the running back rushed for 513 yards on 87 carries and seven touchdowns last season. Defensively, McConnell posted 21 tackles, 17 solo stops, one tackle for loss, two interceptions - returning one for a touchdown - and a fumble recovery. McConnell’s performance on the defensive side landed him Honorable Mention All-CKL. This past spring at the Sharp Performance Combine, McConnell posted a 4.92 40, a 31 inch vertical and repped 185 pounds 15 times on the bench press. If the Indians are to improve upon a 2016 late season push that saw them win a playoff game and take state power Phillipsburg to the limit in the second round, McConnell will play a key role this fall.

At 6-1 and 233 pounds, Nichols has the perfect frame for a linebacker. As he continues to grow and mature Nichols may eventually develop into a defensive end at the college level. And Nichols’ goal this season is to make an impression on those college coaches who might offer him a scholarship to play beyond high school. “I would like to play in college,” Nichols said this offseason. “I have a few schools sending me emails and I’m working on getting myself out there to coaches so that hopefully I will become someone they look into.” His numbers in the weight room are on par with other college linebackers. Nichols has benched 295 pounds, squatted 465 pounds and cleaned 300 pounds. And Nichols is quick enough enough to run from sideline-to-sideline or pressure the quarterback from the edge with an electronic 5.1 40, a 29.7 vertical and a 4.51 pro agility. As a senior, Nichols aims to improve his leadership. “A personal goal of mine is to be the best leader I can for my team,” Nichols said. Nichols also competes in wrestling and baseball and says he will give basketball a try this winter. Nichols has been a part of two baseball league championship teams, including a squad that posted a third place finish in State his sophomore year.

Tucker Richey Topeka OL, Sr.

Photos by Joey Bahr,

Brooks Nichols Russell LB, Sr.

Larned RB/CB, Sr.

Anthony McConnell

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Richey, a 6-1, 285 pound senior is an absolute freak in the weight room. This past year Richey won the heavyweight division in every powerlifting meet he competed in, including the Class 6A State Powerlifting Championships. Richey set the 6A State record in the squat at 530 pounds and the total weight lifted record at 1,195 pounds. But even more amazing, Richey could have went for more but already had the title clinched by his second lift. Richey also maxed out at 375 pounds in the bench and 300 pounds in the clean at the State meet. The senior offensive lineman can move well for his size with a 5.2 40 yard dash and is explosive with a 33 inch vertical. The work in the weight room has paid dividends in football and track as Richey was named Honorable Mention All-City by the Topeka Capital-Journal and finished in sixth place in the 6A shot put at the State track meet. Richey’s goal for the Trojans this football season is to “not just be a good team but a great team by not being satisfied of where we are now and to keep on getting better.” When Richey needs inspiration, he has to look no further than his own mother. “The person that inspires me the most is my mother because she’s always working hard to suport me and my sister and is always giving me advice about life,” Richey said.

The lowest rates, flexible plans, exceptional customer service and coverage for everywhere you are ... that is the Something Different you can expect from Nex-Tech Wireless.

It’s time to experience



Nex-Tech Wireless is eligible to receive support from the Federal Universal Service Fund in designated areas. As a result, Nex-Tech Wireless must meet reasonable requests for service in these areas. Questions or complaints concerning service issues may be directed to the Kansas Corporation Commission Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-662-0027.


SA LEGAL ADVISORS LC Rich Schoenfeld Attorneys at Law

PO Box 202 602 W Bertrand 785-437-2288

Serving the St. Marys Community since 2011


Colby RB/WR/LB, Jr.

As only a sophomore last fall, Schippers was already a physical presence on the football field with a 6-1, 184 pound frame. But the junior to be is also an athlete, posting a combined 1,734 yards from scimmage last season. Schippers rushed for 919 yards and 16 touchdowns and caught 11 touchdown passes while compiling 758 receiving yards. For his efforts, named Schippers All-State Class 4A, Division II All-Purpose. At the Sharp Performance Combine this spring Schippers ran a 4.788 second electronically time forty yard dash, jumped 9.045 feet in the broad jump, ran a 4.4 second pro agility drill and leapt 30.9 inches in the vertical jump. Schippers has improved on a couple of those numbers with his best forty time now at 4.7 and he has posted a 32 inch vertical jump. Schippers has maxed out at 275 pounds in the bench, 390 pounds in the squat and 285 pounds in the clean, and with two years of high school left will likely break the prestigious 300, 300, 400 marks in the three lifts. Schippers has been a 4A State Qualifier in the 200 meter dash the past two years placing fifth on both occasions. Schippers is also back-to-back GWAC champion in the 100 and 200 meter dash, and won the long jump at the league meet this past spring. “He is a very good student-athlete and a tremendous worker,” former Colby head football coach Chris Gardner said.

M.R. Drywall

Eric Meredith Brett Robertson 913-683-3354


Complete Drywall Specialists Hanging and Finishing Services

Proud to support the Chargers!

Proud to support Colby School Athletics 240 W. 4th St, Colby, KS 67701 785-460-3321 130 years in business, 1887-2017, and going strong

Taegan Schoenfeld St. Marys RB/DB, Sr.

No matter what sport Robertson competes in there’s a good chance he’s going to come home with some hardware, whether it be the football field, the track or the weight room. Robertson, a 5-9, 155 pound senior, has seen action on the gridiron since his freshman season and has started both ways since his sophomore year. In 2015 Robertson was named an All-District and Honorable Mention All-League safety, intercepting five passes and returning two for TDs. Last season Robertson garnered an All-League running back and honorable mention safety nod, and HM All-State running back from the Wichita Eagle and Topeka CapitalJournal. The past two summers he attended the Avila full contact camp earning the d-back MVP award both years. Robertson was having a fantastic 2016, rushing for 724 yards and 15 TDs, until a broken leg abruptly ended his season. However, Robertson bounced back to contribute to his relay team and improved his squat max to 310 pounds. Robertson also benches 230 pounds and cleans 255 pounds, weighing in at just 155. Robertson, a champion powerlifter, can also do eight dips with 100 pounds around his waste and at only 5-9 can jump 54 inches in the box jump. “The young man is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen and a tremendous team leader,” Charger coach Jeff Schneider said.

Jordan Schippers

Jeff. North RB/LB, Sr.

Ridge Robertson

Photos by Joey Bahr,

Schoenfeld is one of the most versatile players in all of Kansas high school football. Last season he found the end zone carrying the ball on the ground, passing the ball while he split time at quarterback, and as a kick returner. For his efforts, the senior to be was named All Mid-East League running back for the second straight year in arguably the toughest conference in class 3A. Last year he accounted for over 1,400 all-purpose yards and 16 TDs and tallied 60 tackles and 3 interceptions on defense, all while playing part of the season with a cast on his forearm. This offseason Schoenfeld added 28 pounds of muscle mass between coach Myron Flax’s emphasis on the weight room and working with the Sharp Performance team. While Schoenfeld has always been a speedster - he owns the school record in the 100 - the 5-9, 180 pound multi-sport athlete is now earning respect for his work hoisting the iron after posting a 300 pound bench press, a 285 pound clean, and a 455 pound squat. Schoenfeld hopes that strength will help contribute to a deep playoff run for the Bears and a 2,000 yard rushing season. He also hopes it will generate a college football scholarship. Schoenfeld says he loves the family aspect of football. “I love working in the weight room and on the field with my brothers,” Schoenfeld said.

Proud to support area high school football teams!

Luis Sotelo-Ruiz Salina Central OL, Sr.

Drake Steinbrock

The Salthawks haven’t won a state title since 2011, but Smith, a dynamic running back, is looking to return Hutchinson back to the glory days that are not so far in the distant past. In 2014, Smith’s freshman season, the Salthawks advanced to the 6A title game dropping the contest 33-14 to Shawnee Mission East. Last season, Smith, who plays tailback and slot receiver, posted 1,028 rushing yards, earning All-League and AllState honors. In his high school career, Smith a 5-10, 172 pound senior, has posted 2,063 yards on 289 carries with 25 touchdowns. Smith’s personal goal for the 2017 season is to go over 1,500 yards on the ground, and he hopes he’ll help the team to a state title in the process. If those goals are achieved it will be in large part due to his work in the weight room where Smith can bench 260 pounds, squat 405 and clean 280. His speed - he posted a 4.5 forty time this offseason - is also an asset. Smith hopes to play college football and is drawing interest from Fort Hays, Emporia State, Baker and Saint Mary. Smith also excels on the baseball diamond in the spring, helping to lead the Salthawks to their first state tournament in 12 years. Smith draws inspiration from another small running back. “(Former Stanford running back) Christian McCaffrey because he wears my number and runs the ball like I do.”

Last season was an anomaly for the Salina high school football scene. Central and South, traditionally quality football programs, combined for just one win on the season with South winning the intra-city match-up 28-13. Sotelo-Ruiz’s first goal for his Mustang team this season is to snap the losing streak and win that first game. “We want to show that we are a better team (than last year) and show how Mustang football is played,” Sotelo-Ruiz said this offseason. Sotelo-Ruiz has put in the work off the field in the weight room to help contribute to his team’s future improvement. His max numbers are seemingly not of this earth: 350 pounds in the bench, 540 pounds in the squat and a school record breaking 360 pounds in the clean. The 6-1, 275 pound senior can run a 5.32 forty and has a 26 inch vertical to boot. Sotelo-Ruiz said the clean is his favorite lift and he recognizes how the lift contributes to his on-field performance. “It’s a lift where you really have to use your hips and that helps me during football,” Sotelo-Ruiz said. Last season Sotelo-Ruiz was named a second team AllLeague lineman, and says his teammates can count on a similar performance this fall. “I enjoy the brotherhood of the game of football the most,” Sotelo-Ruiz said. “You learn a lot from each other and you know he has your back and you have his.”

Last year, as just a sophomore, Steinbrock started as a running back and cornerback. He proved a versatile asset for the Eagles, rushing for 747 yards and 15 touchdowns, reeling in 106 yards receiving and two more scores, and posting 37 tackles on the defensive side of the ball for an 8-2 Eagles team that qualified for the playoffs. At 5-9, 165 pounds Steinbrock is a also a strong performer in the weight room. This spring he won the 8-Man State Powerlifting 165 pound title. “I am very devoted to the weight room,” Steinbrock said this offseason. “I have put on almost 50 pounds on all my power lifts.” Steinbrock maxed out at 235 pounds in the bench, 365 pounds in the squat and can clean 265 pounds. He also runs a 4.9 forty and has a 32 inch vertical jump. “Lifting is something I enjoy very much and love going into the gym to make myself better,” Steinbrock added. Drake has a unique relationship with Clifton-Clyde coach Russ Steinbrock, who is his father. Sometimes playing for your father comes with higher expectations from the coach, but for Drake, that is one of the best parts of being on the team. “Favorite part about football is having my dad as a coach,” Drake said. “He may push me more at practice or in the gym but he expects more out of me.”

Clifton-Clyde RB/LB, Jr.

Brody Smith Hutchinson RB, Sr.

Photos by Joey Bahr,

D BT,Inc.

N H 3 & L iqu id Fertilizer

301 E. Bartlett St. | Clifton, Kansas | 785-455-3561 Salina Office • 300 S. Ninth, Suite 103 • Ph: 785-309-1515 Clifton Office • 105 East Parallel • Ph: 785-455-2025 Concordia Office • 101 East 9th • Ph: 785-243-4040

Curtis Long

Tax Preparation & Counseling • Financial & Estate Planning Bookkeeping & Payroll • Accounts Payable Service Computer & Software Consulting • Management & Advisory Services

Carroll L. Long Jr.

Scot E. Henderson

Galen Haas, Agent SUNFLOWER INSURANCE SERVICES, INC. P.O. Box 100 • Clifton, Kansas 66937 Office: 785-455-3463 • Res: 785-455-3650 • Fax: 785-455-2272



511 Cedar St. • P.O. Box 484 • Concordia, KS 66901 • (780)243-4049 404 Humboldt St. • Suite Clifton, A • Manhattan, KS 66502 • (785) 776-7615 Kansas

Travis Theis Pratt RB/DB, Jr.

Joe Watskey Bishop Miege LB, Sr.

Dylan Wood Canton-Galva RB/LB, Sr.

Photos by Joey Bahr,

In just two years of his high school athletic career, Theis has put together a pretty impressive resumé. The junior Greenback has a football State Title to his name, basketball State Runner-Up finish with an All-State Honorable Mention, First Team All-State third baseman honors and a Top 33 Selection in football. Theis rushed for 1,975 yards and 24 touchdowns from his fullback spot in Pratt’s Flexbone offense. Theis is a workhorse in the weight room, too. The 178 pound junior maxes out at 265 pounds in bench, squats 515 pounds and cleans a school record 335 pounds. Coach Jamie Cruce sums Theis up with one word: “Beast!” Theis’ goals for the upcoming season are “being a team leader and helping us get back to a title game in any way possible.” The Greenbacks finished the 2016 regular season with a 12-1 record with their only loss to Hoisington. In the playoffs Pratt cruised to the Sub-State final defeating Holcomb for the second time 21-14 to advance to the 4A-II title game. At State the Greenbacks dominated Topeka Hayden 48-14. Like Hutchinson’s Brody Smith, Theis draws inspiration from smaller athletes. “I’m inspired by smaller guys like Jose Altuve and Christian McCaffrey because they show that the little guys can get to the next level and that they can produce,” Theis said.

With one more football State Title the Stags would win their fourth consecutive championship and the Bishop Miege seniors would finish their careers with a state title every year of their football career. And of course this is Watskey’s goal for the season. “Continue to better myself as a player, get faster and stronger - and win state,” Watskey said. The senior linebacker is a two-time First Team All-EKL and two time First Team All-State honoree at the position. Last season the 6-0, 230 pound senior, recorded 154 total tackles, 107 solo stops, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles and one recovery, along with two interceptions and two passes defended. Watskey also earned First Team All-Metro honors, SportsinKansas All-Non-senior team and was named a semifinalist for the Bobby Bell Award. Watskey posts some impressive stats in the weight room, too, where he maxes out at 300 pounds in the bench, squats 475 pounds and cleans 275 pounds. The big linebacker can move as well with a 4.9 forty time and a 29 inch vertical. Spoken like a true linebacker, Watskey says his favorite part of football is “the contact and being able to hit people.” For inspiration, Watskey looks no further than family. “My dad and uncle Joe inspire me the most, they believe in me and are my biggest critics and supporters.”

In Wood’s first ever snap in a high school game his freshman year he scored on a touchdown run. And he hasn’t looked back. For his career Wood has 2,351 total yards and 21 touchdowns. From his linebacker position on defense he has 151 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Wood earned All-Wheat State League honors last season. When Patee arrived in Canton-Galva in 2015 Wood weighed 148 pounds. Now entering the 2017 season Wood weighs 162 pounds and has “maybe 5 percent body fat” according to Patee. Wood maxes out at 210 pounds in the bench, squats 295 pounds and cleans 255 pounds. “He has not only increased his body weight but jacked up his power ratio as well,” Patee said. Wood’s goal for this season is “leading our team to a winning season and help develop better players to come.” The Eagles haven’t had a winning season since Wood’s freshman season in 2014. “His success will dictate our success as a team in 2017,” Patee added. Wood’s favorite part of football is “the bonds that are formed between players.” And those bonds go beyond the football field. Eagles head coach Dustin Patee said Wood brought a freshman to weights with him every morning and neither player missed a session.

“Once you use it, you won’t want to run your program

without it.” - Randy Dreiling St. Thomas Aquinas


These programs in Kansas are already taking advantage of the time saving, strength building benefits of Rack Performance: Andover Atchinson County Atchison Augusta Baker University Beloit Bethany College Bishop Carroll Bishop Meige Blue Stem Blue Valley Blue Valley North West Blue Valley West Caldwell Central Plains Clay Center Derby Field Kindley Fort Scott

Fredonia Frontenac Garden Plain Gardner Edgerton Goddard Eisenhower Great Bend Hesston Hoisington Hutchinson Hutchinson Community College Inman Iola Jefferson West Kansas City Piper Kansas City Turner Labette County Lawrence Free State Leavenworth Lincoln

Lyndon Maize McPherson Mill Valley Mound Ridge Nickerson Oakley Olathe North Olathe South Paola Parsons Plainville Rose Hill Russell Salina Central Salina South Santa Fe Trail Shawnee Heights Shawnee Mission East

Shawnee Mission North Shawnee Mission South Shawnee Mission West Southeast of Saline Southwestern Heights St. Thomas Aquinas Topeka Hayden Topeka Seaman Valley Center Wellington Wellsville Wichita Campus Wichita Collegiate Wichita East Wichita Northwest Wichita South

Let us help take your program to the next level! Efficiently manage your weight room. Build, save, and display your workouts. Clearly communicates time and exercises to your athletes.

913-735-0090 @RackPerformance

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 32

Family Business/from page 13________ Gridiron Tech/from page 5____ learned how to bring that whole-town-stops atmosphere from Mike Smith. Applebee coached at Junction City and Russell before going to Derby. Coaching with Clark was an arrangement made when the cousins agreed that whoever got a head-coaching job first, they would hire the other as an assistant. That family tie made exiting a rising dynasty for an obscure program between Lawrence and Lenexa tough. “I thought it would be tough to leave Derby,” Applebee said. “My wife is from Olathe, and I’ve been there a thousand times, but I never had heard of Mill Valley still. But it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. The administration is top notch, and they let me bring in a whole new coaching staff.” A new way of doing things too, including making Mill Valley football games a community-wide social event. “I wanted this to have a small-town feel,” Applebee said. “I wanted the football field to be the place to be on Friday nights, and our community has responded. They’ve been unbelievable.” Since departing Derby, Applebee has showcased his program across Kansas and Missouri, including having a home-and-home series with Derby. Each team won at home, with Mill Valley’s 27-20 win in 2015 still being Derby’s last blemish. Clark’s head-coaching career also started against a familiar face, a 38-7 loss to Mike Smith’s Garden City team. A tough loss, a forgettable loss, but it was a reminder for Clark how much work he had ahead if he wanted a program like Mike Smith had at Garden City and Valley Center. “Coach Smith made me fall in love with the game of football,” Clark said. “He made us a big family with football. He made me love the game. I knew I’d be a teacher, because my whole family was teachers. But after playing for Coach Smith, I knew I wanted to be a football coach too.” Caleb Smith had similar inklings about his future. Not only is his dad still coaching some middle-school football, but Mike’s dad also coached football for 40 years. Plus, who was Caleb’s favorite Valley Center player of all time? “Brandon was my idol,” Caleb said. “He graduated in ’96, I graduated in 2005. When I got to middle school and high school, I wanted to be No. 14 because of him. I used to be an (Oklahoma) fan too, but he went to K-State, and I changed to K-State when Brandon went there.”

Brad Hallier is a sportswriter from Hutchinson, Kan., who spent 17 years covering high school and college athletics in Garden City and Hutchinson.

former college football players chosen for the Diagnose CTE study. In March, Horton spent three days at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix undergoing a battery of tests, including a lumbar puncture, two PET scans, several MRIs, blood draws and saliva collection, as researchers search for bio markers which will help doctors someday diagnose CTE while subjects are still alive. CTE affects athletes, military veterans and other individuals who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, some symptoms of the progressive degenerative disease include memory loss, confusion, aggression and paranoia, often experienced even decades after the trauma ended. Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed by examining brain tissue once a patient dies. “My love for the game, including those who play, those who coach, and those who let their sons play this great game, is the driving force behind this mission that God has placed on my heart to help these athletes lead better, healthier, happier lives after their playing days have ended,” Horton said. “The game truly is safer today than it’s ever been, and continues to get safer as we learn more about both technique and equipment. “We know we can’t prevent all concussions. However, we believe that we can greatly mitigate the risk for those who are open-minded to learning what we know about how neck strength and helmet weight Sponsored by Gridiron Tech play into the equation.”

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 34


to Excellence




Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

AUG. 24


oct. 14 vs INdependence HOME

Page 35


vs garden City HOME

oct. 21

vs iowa western AWAY

SEPT. 16

SEPT. 23

vs iowa central AWAY

vs hutchinson AWAY

oct. 28

nov. 5

vs fort scott HOME

vs coffeyville AWAY

Oct. 7 vs butler HOME

nov. 11

vs ellsworth HOME

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 37

On the front lines

Eisenhower and the Military

Editor’s Note: This summer, 32 of the state’s top highschool offensive and defensive linemen featured in this year’s edition of Kansas Pregame gathered for a photo shoot at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene. During the visit, some players and their parents toured the presidential library and museum to learn more about the extraordinary life and legacy of the only five-star general, who not only became president of the United States, but was known as a brilliant military strategist. Whether on the football field or the battlefield, he knew strategy was critical in battling along the frontlines. On any given fall Friday night, these players also stand on the frontlines, battling it out in the trenches, fueling the offense or creating turnovers and making plays for the defense. The struggles here often determine the outcome of the game, deciding who will be crowned victor for another season. By Jennifer McDaniel For Kansas Pregame Under the glow of the stadium lights, a battle is being fought. It happens every fall on football fields across Kansas. On Friday nights, players go head-to-head, defending team reps and earning the chance to make the playoffs. It’s also a battle between brains and brawn, pitting carefully crafted strategies against speed, talent and sheer physical strength. Often, the biggest struggles are in the trenches. While it’s not always the most glamorous part of the game, it’s where the biggest players on both sides of the ball struggle for control at the line of scrimmage. And often, that battle is quick and fierce. As a football player at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, Dwight D. Eisenhower began seeing the parallels between the sport and the tactics used in warfare. In the U.S. Army Center of Military History booklet, “Dwight David Eisenhower: The Centennial,” classmates described him as a natural leader who looked for ways to calm disputes and organize a group toward a common goal. Leadership traits aside, Eisenhower was a team player. “Whether it was the West Point football squad on which

he was a star athlete during his years as a cadet (1911-15) or the 1942-45 Anglo-American partnership he led that became history’s most successful allied military coalition, Ike put the team first. Yet, as his best biographer, Carlo D’Este, revealed, ‘Eisenhower’s easygoing manner and charming smile’ was ‘a disarming façade behind which lay a ruthless, ambitious officer who thirsted to advance his chosen career.’ That Ike never permitted his sizable ego to interfere with the success of the team is a testament to his remarkable strength of character. In fact, years after retiring from public life, he explained the secret to his success: ‘I got where I did by knowing how to hide my ego.’” Although a serious injury permanently put him on the sidelines, he went on to coach at West Point as well as for several Army teams. Not only had football fueled his determination, but three decades later, Eisenhower realized the skills he developed on the field were instrumental in making him a leader later in life. “…I noted with real satisfaction how well ex-footballers seemed to have leadership qualifications and it wasn’t sentiment that made it seem so — not with names that turned out to be Bradley, Keyes, Patton, Simpson, Van Fleet, Harmon, Hobbs, Jouett, Patch and Prichard,” he said. “Among many others, they measured up. I think this was more than coincidence. I believe that football, perhaps more than any other sport, tends to instill in men the feeling that victory comes through hard — almost slavish — work, team play, self-confidence, and an enthusiasm that amounts to dedication.” His service in Panama from 1922-1924 introduced him to General Fox Conner, who took him under his wing and encouraged him to read widely in history, military science and philosophy. Conner was instrumental in Eisenhower’s acceptance by the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. Eisenhower graduated first in the 1926 class of 245 officers.

Above: General Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks with paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division on June 5, 1944, just before they board their planes to participate in the first assault of the Normandy invasion. Right: Eisenhower portrait, 1943. (Photos courtesy of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home)

After assignments in the War Department, he accompanied Gen. Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines as an assistant military adviser; his principal duty was helping MacArthur and his staff develop a viable Filipino army. Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Eisenhower was again called to the War Department where Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall placed him in charge of plans for the Pacific War. Two months later, Marshall promoted him to chief of the War Plans Division where he received his second general’s star. In June 1942, Marshall sent him to England on a special mission to build cooperation among the allies as commanding general, U.S. Army, European Theater. Eisenhower arrived in England on June 24, 1942. Although Eisenhower had never seen combat during his 27 years as an army officer, his knowledge of military strategy and talent for organization were so impressive Marshall chose him over nearly 400 senior officers to lead U.S. forces in the war against Germany. While speaking to graduating cadets at the Royal British Military Academy in 1944, Eisenhower touched on his philosophy as an emerging military leader. “You must know every single one of your men. It is not enough that you are the best soldier in that unit, that you are the strongest, the toughest, the most durable, the best equipped, technically—you must be their leader, their father, their mentor, even if you’re half their age. You must understand their problems. You must keep them out of trouble; if they get in trouble, you must be the one who goes to their rescue. That cultivation of human understanding between Continued on the next page

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 38

6A-5A These 32 players are among the top offensive and defensive linemen in the state of Kansas. See their individual profiles, written by staff writer Tyler Gier, on pages 40-54. Photos by Everett Royer,

4AI you and your men is the one part that you must yet master, and you must master it quickly.” General Eisenhower, who served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from November 1945 until February 1948, later resigned to serve as president of Columbia University. Two years later, at President Truman’s request, Eisenhower took a leave of absence from Columbia to command the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. On June 1, 1952, Eisenhower returned to the United States to campaign actively for the presidency. Eisenhower assumed the presidency in January 1953, making him the 34th president of the United States. He would serve two terms. Following retirement, President Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, retired to his small farm outside Gettysburg, Pa. In August 1965, Eisenhower suffered a serious heart attack and was repeatedly hospitalized during the next three years. After having another heart attack during the summer of 1968, he spent his last few months in Walter Reed Army Hospital, where he

died in March 1969. Following his death, Eisenhower returned to Abilene one last time. The funeral, which took place on the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum grounds, began on the steps of the library and concluded inside the Place of Meditation, the chapel where Eisenhower was buried. During his two terms as president, Eisenhower kept the Cold War “cold,” implemented policies that led to greater prosperity and advanced civil rights. The Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home The Eisenhower Presidential Library, which is one of 14 presidential collections across the United States, serves as a place for scholars to conduct research. The extensive collection contains historical records, papers, photographs, original motion picture film and artifacts, consistently making it one of the most-visited for researchers from

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 39


2-1A-8Man around the world, staff member Pam Sanfilippo, an education specialist, said. Plans for a museum to honor General Eisenhower and all World War II veterans began soon after the war ended, she said. The site chosen for the museum was on property adjacent to Ike’s boyhood home where his mother, Ida, lived until her death in 1946. The Eisenhower brothers later donated the home to a foundation in the family’s name. Subsequently, Sanfilippo said, the home was opened to the public, making it a tourist attraction years before Eisenhower even considered running for president. The residence was eventually turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration - making it the only presidential library to own and operate a boyhood home. “From start to finish, the entire campus is a place to learn about Eisenhower, his life and times in an engaging and inspiring way,” she said. “We highly recommend visitors start with

the introductory film that provides an overview of Eisenhower’s life, connecting his Abilene roots with the strong values and patriotism he exemplified throughout his life.” The film sets the stage for touring the boyhood home and museum, where visitors can explore both personal and public aspects of Eisenhower’s life. “The Place of Meditation is a quiet space to reflect on Eisenhower’s many contributions to our nation’s history, and is the final resting place of Ike, his wife, Mamie, and their firstborn son,” Sanfilippo said. “And the grounds, with the statue of General Eisenhower and the Pylons, add the element of tribute to the man who, from humble beginnings, became the nation’s first five-star general and 34th president.” *For more information, go to the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home website at

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 40

Anthony Albertini

Andrew Callahan

OG/NG, 6-2, 225, Sr. St. Paul

OT/DT, 6-1, 270, Sr. Fort Scott

Photo by Everett Royer,

St. Paul head coach Keith Wiatrak can’t contain himself when discussing his senior standout lineman Anthony Albertini, whether it’s his play on the field, his commitment to the weight room, his drive in the classroom or his work in the community. Wiatrak says even though Albertini already has a weightlifting class during the school day he still leads the freshmen four days a week at 6:30 a.m. to lift with him since they do not have a weights option during the day. The 6-2, 225 pound senior benches 285 pounds, squats 360 pounds and cleans 250. Albertini can also bench 225 pounds 10 times. Albertini has earned All-League honors all three years of his football career, All-District the last two seasons, and All-State this past season. “I enjoy the fact everything is earned on the football field and that you have to put in hard work in order to be dominant,” Albertini said. “He carries a 4.0 GPA and received a 26 on his ACT - although he is taking it again to try for a 30 - this intellect makes it a rare occurrence for him to miss a blocking assignment,” added Wiatrak. “If I had five Anthony Albertini’s on my offensive line, my 11-year-old son, could rush for 1,000 yards.”

Keith Wiatrak 23940 120 Rd, St. Paul, KS 66771 th

Photo by Everett Royer,

The Fort Scott Tigers took a step back last year suffering their first losing season since 2009 with a 3-6 record. But senior Andrew Callahan has some lofty goals for his team and himself, “to be recognized as an All-State player on both sides of the ball and for our team to win a league title, district title, and state title.” The 6-1, 270 pound offensive and defensive tackle was named All-Southeast Kansas League on both lines and was an honorable mention offensive lineman by the Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital-Journal. The tangibles that set Callahan apart, according to Fort Scott head coach Bob Campbell, are his feet and hips. “He plays with good leverage (and is) very athletic, with great quickness and instincts.” Callahan would like to continue his career at the college level and has seen interest from several junior colleges and a few Division II schools. After his football career is over Callahan aspires to be a football coach. Callahan enjoys the excitement and energy of Friday nights. “It gets me pumped up!”

Proud to support St. Paul football!

Greyhound Athletics Academic Achievement Athletic Excellence Community Service

620-238-0254 | 800-874-3722

KICK OFF the day

RIGHT @ Hays 399 E Hudson Rd • Fort Scott, KS • 620-223-5756

101 9 BULL the

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 41

Aaron Clark

Mac Copeland

OT, 6-8, 300, Sr. Great Bend

OT/DT, 6-5, 250, Sr. Wichita Collegiate

Photo by Everett Royer, Photo by Everett Royer,

The Great Bend offense rushed for over 2,600 yards and compiled over 5,000 yards of total offense in 2016. If the Panthers are to repeat this productivity again Clark will lead the way from his offensive tackle spot. The massive 6-8, 300 pound senior garnered First Team All-Western Athletic Conference honors, was named Honorable Mention All-State by the Wichita Eagle, and was named to the All Non-Senior Team by SportsinKansas in 2016. Last season the Panthers reached the 5A Sub-State round losing to Goddard 50-21. This season Clark’s goal is to take the next step and not just make it to the State game but win the title. Clark’s favorite memory of last season’s playoff run was a 28-24 fourth quarter comeback victory over Valley Center in the quarterfinals. The state’s two Division I programs, Kansas State University and the University of Kansas, have show interest in Clark, who hopes to play in college. “He is a physical kid that only continues to develop and get better each day,” Great Bend head coach Erin Beck said. “He is a great young man.”

Copeland, a 6-5, 250 pound senior comes from a football lineage. Copeland’s two older brothers, Myles and Mitch, are KSU Wildcats, with Myles playing from 2012-15, and Mitch entering his junior year for the Wildcats. However, Copeland is forging his own path, verbally committing to play at the University of Kansas after high school. “My two older brothers have inspired me to be a hard worker on and off the field, by paving the way towards success,” Copeland said. “I have looked up to them since.” Last season Copeland was named First Team All-AVCTL IV offensive lineman and the Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital-Journal gave Copeland an honorable mention. The Spartans are two years removed from a State title berth after a Regional Runner-Up finish in 2016. Copeland would like to return to the championship game. Copeland’s goals for the season are to “improve on my weaknesses as a player while competing towards a state championship.” Copeland, who has an impressive wing span, is a top performer in the weight room as well where he benches 345 pounds, squats 430 pounds, and cleans 290 pounds. Copeland’s favorite aspects of football are “making a difference on and off the field, playing the game I love, while competing with my teammates.” After Copeland’s football career is over he plans to pursue a career in business.

108 All-Conference Players • 6 All-Americans Ranked Since 2012 • 61 Consecutive Polls 76% Winning Percentage

Tabor College

NAIA Playoffs

2003 2004 2005*Quarter Finals 2013*Quarter Finals 2015*Quarter Finals 2016

NAIA National Ranking 2003 - #16 2004 - #13 2005 - #6 2012 - #17

2013 - #11 2014 - #24 2015 - #8 2016 - #12

KCAC Championships 2004 2005

2015 2016

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


Cushinberry OG/DT, 6-2, 265, Sr. Atchison

Photo by Everett Royer,

According to Redmen head coach Jim Smith, top offensive and defensive lineman Leighton Cushinberry is an all around player both physically and mentally. “He is one of the most athletic linemen I’ve had the opportunity to coach,” Smith said. “Not only is he a physical player but he is a very smart player as well.” A 6-2, 265 pound senior, Cushinberry doesn’t shy away from competition either. “He strives to be the best and he always wants to go up against the best lineman of the opposing team,” Smith added. Last season Cushinberry was named All-KCAL and earned an honorable mention by the Topeka Capital-Journal. But Cushinberry is pushing himself for more this season. “I want to go All-State this year, I’m not satisfied with honorable mention.” So far Wyoming, Washburn and a few other schools have shown interest in Cushinberry but he is still waiting for his first offer. Cushinberry’s versatility extends to other sports where he has lettered the past two years in basketball and track. In the weight room he is maxing out at 290 on the bench press and 245 in the clean. Cushinberry’s favorite part of football is “being able to hit someone and not get in trouble.”

Page 42

Trayton Doyle C/NG, 6-3, 230, Sr. St. Francis

Photo by Everett Royer,

Doyle, a 6-3, 230 pound senior center and nose guard, has started since his freshman season, helping lead the Indians to back-to-back 10-plus win seasons including a trip to the State final last year. Doyle is determined to lead St. Francis back to the State title game, and this time deliver a win. “His athleticism and size up front allow our offense to play fast,” Indian head coach Rodney Yates said. “He is a true competitor that practices as hard as he plays in games.” In 2016 Doyle garnered First Team All-State recognition from the Topeka CapitalJournal, honorable mention from the Wichita Eagle, and All-State offensive line honors to go with First Team NWKL honors on both sides of the ball. Doyle benches 335 pounds, squats 405 pounds and cleans 275 pounds, but even more impressive are his 395 pound front squat and his 225 pound single leg squat, and Yates says he can move, recording a 4.75 second forty yard dash. Doyle is working to impress more college teams with the goal to continue his football career after high school. Division II programs Fort Hays State University and Chadron State College have shown the most interest so far. Doyle embraces the excitement of football. “I enjoy this because there are few things that can produce such excitement,” Doyle said.


•Pump & Well Service •Solar Energy •Plasma Cutting •Laser Engraving •Powder Coating •CNC Machining 301 W. Washington • PO Box 1191 St. Francis, KS 67756


Bill Wilson Accounting Specializing in

Small Business & Farm Accounting and Tax Preparation US Hwy 36, St. Francis, KS (785) 332-2191

port p u s to s! l d o u o o h Pr s sc i c n a r St. F

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 43

Sam Eddington

Demarcus Elliott

OT/DL, 6-1, 242, Sr. Columbus

DT, 6-4, 290, Sr. Garden City

Photo by Everett Royer,

Coaches dream of players who can lift up their programs to new heights, both on and off the field, and Columbus coach Dan Grundy says he found one who does just that in Eddington. “(He) always has been a leader in our community, in our school, and on our team,” Grundy said. “Great person who has made our program better.” Eddington, a 6-1, 242 pound senior, started as a freshman in the 2014 State Championship where the Titans lost to Andale. Eddington’s favorite moment from the title run was beating Holton in the final seconds of the Sub-State to reach the finals. “It was a moment that I will remember the rest of my life,” Eddington said. But he hopes his senior year will leave him with the memory of winning a title game. The senior placed second in the 4A State powerlifting meet his sophomore year and was named second team CNC offensive lineman his sophomore year as well. Last season Eddington was named All-CNC offensive lineman and second team defensive line while earning All-State honors from, the Wichita Eagle and the Topeka Capital-Journal. After his football career comes to a close Eddington would like to become a pediatrician. “I have always enjoyed working with kids and I want to help people in some way,” Eddington said.

Photo by Everett Royer,

Elliott makes his presence felt not only on the defensive line for the Buffaloes but in each sport season. After helping lead Garden City to an undefeated regular season in football last fall, Elliott contributed to the basketball team’s Sub-State championship, and won the shot put in Class 6A at the State Track Meet this spring. The year prior Elliott took runner-up in the shot put, and he placed sixth in the event as a freshman. The 6-4, 290 pound senior even caught a two-point conversion pass for the Buffs in 2015. Even with all these accomplishments Elliott’s favorite football highlight was the overtime win over Great Bend last season for the WAC Title. Elliott’s goals for this season are “to lead my conference in every category and to win a state championship.” Elliott’s work in the weight room has helped him to a successful sports career. Elliott has posted max lifts of 320 pounds in the bench, 585 pounds in the squat and 330 pounds in the clean, and he can move, running a 4.97 forty yard dash. College coaches of various levels have kept in contact with Elliott including those from KU, the University of North Dakota, Western Illinois University, Pittsburg State University, and Central Missouri, with all but KU extending scholarship offers this offseason.

Electrical Power Technician Program One Year Certification, Two Year Degree


American Implement is a family owned John Deere Dealer with thirteen locations throughout Western Kansas and one in Walsh, Colorado. Founded in 1970 on a reputation for being responsive to our customers growing needs, we have over 400 employees dedicated to customer satisfaction.


Dodge City Community College Tech (620) 521-0565 “In a class of its own.”

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Carlos Emanuel NT, 6-4, 311, Sr. Hanover

Miles Emery

Page 44

DE, 6-5, 240, Sr. Blue Valley North

Photo by Everett Royer, Photo by Everett Royer,

Hanover has played in three consecutive State Championship games, and if the Wildcats are going to send the seniors out with another title game appearance, Emanuel will be a key factor. The 6-4, 311 pound senior is the lone returning starter on the defensive line and will anchor the front. Emanuel has started the past two seasons where the Wildcats have lost just one game, the 2015 State Championship to Spearville. Last season Emanuel finished with 38 solo tackles, 70 assists, 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The Hanover defense gave up six points per game while the offense racked up 51 points per game en route to an undefeated season and a 6822 victory over Dighton in the 8-Man, Division II championship. Emanuel’s performance over the season garnered him honorable mention defensive line nods from both the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Wichita Eagle. At the Sharp Performance Combine this past spring Emanuel won the bench reps competition with 19 reps of 225 pounds. Emanuel’s prospects have risen since the combine and opportunities to play at the next level could come following this season.

Emery, a 6-5, 240 pound senior, enters his final high school football season with plenty of hype. The second ranked recruit in Kansas by 247Sports and Rivals committed to the Kansas Jayhawks over other FBS offers from Oklahoma, Louisville and Iowa State. Emery’s commitment has pushed the Jayhawk’s recruiting class to the best in school history and a top 25 ranking. Emery has also helped turn around a Blue Valley North program that is four years removed from a winless season in 2013. In Emery’s freshman season the Mustangs went 2-7 missing the playoffs; his sophomore season 8-2 with a 35-28 first round loss to Olathe North; and last season 7-4 advancing to the quarterfinals losing to eventual State Runner-Up Blue Valley 35-14. Emery, who tallied 61 tackles, with 10 for loss, 9 sacks, and 13 QB pressures, tries to model his game after Oakland Raider Khalil Mack. At defensive end Emery uses his hands to get off the offensive lineman and attacks the edge fast to get at the quarterback. Emery’s teammate, North offensive lineman Nick Orr, is also one of the state’s top offensive tackles. At 6-5, 270 pounds, and a returning All-Eastern Kansas League pick, Orr is on the radar of many of the Midwest’s top college football programs.



7-4 Record Back to Back winning seasons 1st Playoff victory since 2003 22 All-Conference Players, most in school history in one season 31 Academic All-Conference players 1 Buchanan Nominee: Peter Klug 2 All Metro Selections: Peter Klug & Raleigh Barthol 2 All Class/All State Selections: Peter Klug & Sammy Gutierrez

The Blue Valley North Gridiron Club is proud to support Mustang football!

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Justin Finnigan

OL, 6-2, 270, Sr. Shawnee Mission East

Photo by Everett Royer,

The Lancers are a force in 6A and Finnigan would like to bookend his high school career with State Titles. The Lancers won the 6A championship in 2014 over Hutch. “As a team our goal is to win state, as always,” Finnigan said. Individually, Finnigan is shooting for All-State and All-Metro honors again and to be Top-11 in the state. Last season Finningan earned All-State honors from the Wichita Eagle, Topeka Capital-Journal, and, All-Non-senior recognition from SportsinKansas, All-KC Metro honors from the Kansas City Star, and All-Sunflower League recognition. He is receiving recruiting attention from a number of FCS and DII schools including Southern Illinois, Northern Colorado, Pitt. State and Missouri Western, with the latter two extending offers. Finnigan said coaches have called him the “most flexible” lineman they’ve seen, and can bench press 225 pounds 16 times. Finnigan also maxes at 325 pounds in bench press, 425 pounds in the squat and 330 pounds in the clean. Defeating Olathe North in double OT to advance to the 2014 title game is one of Finnigan’s favorite football memories. Most recently, defeating Gardner-Edgerton by a single point, 36-35, on a two-point conversion in the 2016 playoffs also ranks at the top.

Page 45

Hayden Gillum

OT/LB, 6-3, 250, Sr. Plainville

Photo by Everett Royer,

The Cardinal defense was a tough bunch in 2016 shutting out five opponents including a 49-0 victory over Republic County in regional play and a 14-0 victory over Smith Center in Sub-State. Gillum was a key factor playing linebacker and defensive line recording 97 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. Gillum, a 6-3, 250 pound senior, who projects as an offensive lineman or defensive end at the college level, was named a All-State linebacker in 2016. Currently Gillum is on the radar of numerous colleges including Kansas State, Wyoming, Air Force, Texas Christian, Army, Fort Hays State , Emporia State, Washburn and more. Gillum’s favorite aspect of football is “competing as a team for a common goal.” Last season the Cardinals lost a back and forth title game, that included six lead changes, 28-24 to Troy. Gillum’s team goal is to return back to the title game. “Personally, I would like to help my team to be the best we can be,” Gillum said. Gillum’s plans after football include a couple routes, either entering the medical field or returning home to help with the family business. Gillum’s brother, Hadley, is a senior All-MIAA selection on the FHSU basketball team who ranked ninth in the MIAA in rebounding and 14th in scoring last season.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Brandon Gray DE, 6-3, 200, Sr. Jayhawk-Linn

Photo by Everett Royer,

Gray, a 6-3, 200 pound senior, is a versatile athlete for the Jayhawks. Gray totaled 49 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and blocked a punt from his defensive end position in 2016. However, last season Gray was honored for his offensive abilities as named him All-State at tight end. Gray caught 25 passes for 509 yards and eight touchdowns. Gray has also excelled in other sports for Jayhawk-Linn. As a junior Gray averaged 22 points per game in the basketball season pushing his career point total over 1,000. Gray earned First Team All-League and Third Team All-State for his efforts. Gray is also a State Track qualifier. Gray’s most memorable moment from football is posting a 9-0 record in the 2016 regular season. However, Gray is looking for more in the upcoming season. Gray is looking for the Jayhawks to win the first playoff game in school annals. Gray’s personal goal for the upcoming season is simply “to be the best teammate I can possibly be.” Gray’s favorite part of football is “knowing every minute of every Friday night you and your teammates have each other’s backs.”

Page 46

Marcus Hicks

DE, 6-5, 245, Jr. Wichita Northwest

Photo by Everett Royer,

Hicks has exploded onto the recruiting scene this offseason earning national recruiting interest, with schools like Oklahoma, Ohio State, and even Alabama paying visits to the junior defensive end from Wichita. Hicks has received FBS scholarship offers from both Kansas schools, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Toledo. “He is gonna be a force on his side of the defense,” said Northwest head coach Steve Martin, who emphasizes he may not generate crazy sack stats this fall as a junior as he has a role in the Grizzlies 3-4 defensive scheme. The 6-5, 245 pounder also excels on the wrestling mat and on the track. Hicks placed sixth in 220 class at the 6A state wrestling tournament in February and placed third in the discus and fifth in the shot in May’s state track meet, as just a sophomore. Hicks runs a 4.61 forty and has a 33 inch vertical and has maxed out at 275 pounds in the bench, 440 in the squat and 350 in the clean, where he can rep 275 five times. Hicks is one piece of what will be a more exeprienced Grizzly defense this fall. He’ll pair with fellow junior linebacker Josh Carter to provide two of the most talented young defenders in the City League.

HARLOW OIL CO. 414 MAIN ST., P.O. BOX 119 MOUND CITY, KS 66056 (913) 795-2295

Tires • Oil Changes • Batteries • Gasoline Diesel • Off-Road Diesel • Propane Bottles/RV • Kerosene

Proud supporters of Jayhawk-Linn football!

ters of

Proud suppor

Jayhawk Linn football!

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Nathan Jackson OG/LB, 6-1, 210, Sr. Wakefield

Photo by Everett Royer,

Jackson, a 6-1, 210 pound senior, is one of those players a coach can stick at any position and he can make a positive impact on the game. Last season Jackson played defensive end before moving to linebacker and on offense he played guard, tight end, and both fullback and tailback. Bomber head coach Chris Freeman said Jackson never complained about all the new assignments. “He is my hardest worker and a great team player. Never complains.” Jackson is a workhorse in the weight room rarely missing a weights session. “During the season and into basketball season he attended Zero Hour (6-7 a.m. workout) three days a week to maintain his strength,” Freeman said. Jackson’s goal for the season is to break Wakefield’s season tackling record and make the playoffs for a run at state. Jackson has received interest from the next level including multiple Division II, Division III, and NAIA schools, and would like to play in college. Jackson also excelled on the basketball floor for the Bombers receiving First Team All-League and Honorable Mention All-State recognition after last season. “I love the kid and I could not ask for a better leader for our program,” Freeman said.

Flint Hills

Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

Industry leading orthopedic surgeons specializing in:

Page 47

LeeRoi Johnson DE, 6-2, 230, Sr. Tonganoxie

Photo by Everett Royer,

Johnson, a 6-2, 230 pound senior, is a three sport athlete for the 4A Division I Chieftains. Johnson excels in football, basketball and track. “LeeRoi is a three sport athlete which allows him to be competing at a high level all year long,” said Chieftain head football coach Al Troyer. Last football season Johnson garnered first team All-State defensive end honors from the Topeka Capital-Journal and was named to the All-KAW Valley first team offensive and defensive teams. According to Troyer, Johnson’s athletic abilities help him to be an example to the rest of his teammates. “LeeRoi is an asset to our team due to his athleticism, hard work and dedication to making himself and everyone around him better.” Johnson can run a 4.6 40 yard dash, benches 250 pounds, squats 420 pounds, and cleans 315 pounds. The senior also excels in track and field qualifying for state every year of his career. Johnson won the the discus and placed third in the shot put this spring, finished fifth in the discus his sophomore season and seventh his freshman season. Johnson, who is an aggressive defender, will try to lead the Chieftains to their first playoff appearance since the 2013 season.


Physical Therapy Sports Medicine Fracture Care Joint Replacement Arthroscopy MRI Supplementary Services 1106 Saint Marys Rd Ste 204 Junction City, KS 66441 (785) 238-1391

American Legion Post #88 Longford, Kansas

• USD 473 Chapman Schools (4A) are Award Winning • Indian Hill Golf Course & Clubhouse • Swimming Pool & Parks, Sports Complex, Tennis Courts • Local Police & Fire Department • Public Library • Local Businesses & Restaurants • Active Senior Citizen’s Community Center • Senior Assisted Living & Continues Care • Churches of Several Denominations • Annual Labor Day Celebration

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 48

June 9th, 2018 What now? We can help.

• Free pregnancy tests 6th & Independence • Pregnancy Options Counseling Beloit, KS • Pregnancy & Parenting Education 10 am to 5 pm • Maternity and Baby Items Tuesday-Friday • Fathers welcome!



Ask about free ultrasound!


Wishing the





Smith Center 785-282-6813

Smith Center Redmen & Thunder Ridge Longhorns success this season!

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Dalton Kuhn OT/DE, 6-2, 230, Sr. Smith Center

Tristan Lee

Page 49

OG/DE, 5-10, 240, Sr. Burlingame

Photo by Everett Royer,

Kuhn, a 6-2, 230 pound senior All-League, All-Area and All-State lineman, has a way with words to pump anyone up for a fall Friday night. “I love the intensity involved with the sport of football,” Kuhn said. “Lining up against your opponent and waiting for the snap of the ball is a feeling like no other. The anticipation to dominate your opponent just builds up and then you have the opportunity to let it out, line up and do it all again.” Redmen head coach Darren Sasse echoes that sentiment about Kuhn’s personality. “Dalton is one of those kids who plays angry,” Sasse said. “He enjoys the game and has fun, but he has goals and knows what he has to do to achieve them.” Those goals include taking Smith Center back to the promise land. “My own personal goals are broadened to the team side,” Kuhn said. “A state championship ring is always the goal in mind.” Playing college football is a dream of Kuhn’s and the senior landed an offer from Fort Hays State this offseason. His summer has yielded college level weight room numbers with a 340 pound bench, 320 pound clean and a 500 pound squat, and with his speed a 4.84 second forty yard dash - he may transition to linebacker at the next level.

Logan Lingg

OG/NG, 6-2, 235, Sr. Dighton

Photo by Everett Royer,

Lingg, a 6-2, 235 pound senior, wants to obtain a degree in Fire Science and become a firefighter after his football playing days are done. Similar to the exhilaration generated by responding to a raging fire or emergency rescue, Lingg enjoys the twists and turns a football game can take. “There’s just something about playing on Friday nights and going as hard as you can and not knowing how the game may end up,” Lingg said. Lingg manned both the offensive and defensive lines for the State Runner-Up Hornets last season. Dighton navigated through perhaps the toughest district in 8-Man football and defeated perennial power Sharon Springs in Sub-State for the second time last season before losing to Hanover in the title game. The Hornet’s success also extends to basketball where Dighton qualified for state Lingg’s sophomore season and where he earned All-League Honorable Mention his junior season. Lingg’s goals for the football season include “to get stronger and better everyday, and to make a playoff run again this year.” Currently Lingg is not being recruited at the next level but plans to open some eyes by season’s end. “My personal goal (is to) receive some postseason honors again that might help me make it to the next level of competition.”

Photo by Everett Royer,

Burlingame head coach Jeff Slater says Lee is an “animal” on Friday nights. “He is a very special talent who started as a freshman,” Slater said. In 2013, a season before Lee’s freshman year the Bearcats posted a 3-6 record. In Lee’s freshman season the Bearcats swapped their record to 6-3, but missed the playoffs. The past two seasons the Bearcats have posted 11-1 records losing in the Sub-State Championship game both years. Now, Lee and his teammates want more. Offensively when the Bearcats need yards in a critical situation they run behind Lee. And when the Bearcats are on defense the opponent runs away from Lee. “He has a motor on both sides of the ball,” Slater added. In the weight room Lee benches 265 pounds, squats 455 pounds and cleans 275 pounds and the 5-10, 240 pound senior was named All-State d-end by the Wichita Eagle, Topeka Capital-Journal and and was a unanimous All-Lyon County League offensive lineman and defensive end in 2016. Several key returners join Lee with the goal to propel Burlingame to a title game berth.

Trevor Little OT/DT, 6-3, 240, Sr. Galena

Photo by Everett Royer,

Little, a 6-3, 240 pound senior, sounds like he has the makings of a future coach. Little stressed the importance of the name on the front of the jersey in an offseason interview. “I enjoy the competitive nature that the game brings and just getting to go out with my friends and represent my town.” When talking about the season Little wasn’t focused on any particular game on the schedule but taking a business like approach. “My team goal for this year is to have a ‘one game at a time’ approach, and to be playing our best ball by district so we can try and make a deep run in the playoffs.” Last season the Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the 3A playoffs losing to Wellsville 27-22. Little garnered All-State offensive line honors and was named to the All-CNC first team on offense and defense. Little’s most memorable football moment was last season’s comeback victory over Coffeyville when the Bulldogs overcame two double-digit deficits to win 38-33. Little also plays basketball and baseball, earning All-State second team honors as a pitcher last spring.

THUN DER ST R UC K Home Plate Café 811 North Street Seneca, KS 66538 785-336-0059 Galen & Cindy McWilliams

Small, Local, Family Businesses always support The Team!

Seneca Chiropractic & Wellness Center 514 Main Street Seneca, KS 66538 785-336-6222

Main Street Loft & Fitness

S & S Automotive & Towing, Inc.

514 Main Street Seneca, KS 66538 785-770-0062

104 N 1st Street Seneca, KS 66538 785-336-2828

Dr. Kristina Heiman

Mark Heiman

Clint & Dana Schmelzle

Schmitz Drive-Thru Liquor & Deli

Cornerstone Coffee Haus

Spanky’s Bar & Grill 405 Main Street Seneca, KS 66538 785-336-6031 Aaron & Mary Carpenter

310 North Street Seneca, KS 66538 785-334-3354 Darin & Amy Schmitz

Water Conditioning & Seneca Cellular

Suther’s Building Supply

301 North Street Seneca, KS 66538 785-336-2273

105 N 1st Street Seneca, KS 66538 785-336-2255

Keith & Patty Haverkamp

Rod & Julie Suther

431 Main Street Seneca, KS 66538 785-334-4287 Aaron & Amy Duryea

Holthaus Trucking Inc. 912 Spring Creek Road Seneca, KS 66538 785-799-4007 Eric & Lisa Holthaus

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 51

Tate Petrie

Eli McWilliams

OG/DT, 6-0, 240, Sr. Burlington

OG/DT, 5-10, 270, Sr. Nemaha Central

Photo by Everett Royer,

McWilliams, a 5-10, 270 pound senior, is a people person. Whether it’s on the field or off, McWilliams enjoys being around people. “The feeling I get right before I go into battle with my buddies when I run on the field through the tunnel, my parents, friends, and fans giving me high fives is something that I won’t ever forget.” After football, McWilliams would like to enter into social work. “I enjoy helping people and making a difference on a personal level one-on-one,” McWilliams said. The Thunder were a score away from ending Rossville’s reign in 3A last season losing to the Bulldogs 27-22 at Sub-State. In 2017 McWilliams wants the Thunder to take the next step and get to the title game. “My team goals are to have a third (consecutive) Big 7 League (championship) and to go farther than last year’s Sub-State round, on to winning State this year.” Last season McWilliams was named All-League on both the offensive and defensive lines. This year he is looking to repeat the feat and then some. “My personal goals are to get All-League and All-State on both sides of the line,” McWilliams said. “I love the atmosphere of Friday nights, I love playing with my friends, and I love winning!” McWilliams added. “I love high school football in my small town.”

Photo by Everett Royer,

Petrie will head an experienced Wildcat line in 2017 and try to lead Burlington back to the playoffs after a two year absence. Even though the Wildcats haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2014, Petrie expects the Wildcats to make a run. “Team goals are to win league, and go deep into the playoffs,” Petrie said. Last season Petrie was named a Pioneer All-League offensive lineman and All-State Honorable Mention by the Topeka Capital-Journal and Wichita Eagle. Petrie’s goal is to build on his 2016 performance. “My personal goal is to double my tackles on defense.” In the weight room Petrie maxes out at 260 pounds in the bench press, 370 pounds in the squat and 225 pounds in the clean. Petrie enjoys seeing all the hard work week to week come to fruition on game days. “I enjoy the feeling of winning a hard fought game and see that all of our hard work has paid off.” After football Petrie is looking for an occupation that keeps a person on their toes. “I am thinking of pursuing a career in the medical field,” Petrie said. “I like the idea of helping others and experiencing something new almost everyday.”

Tyler Palic OG/LB, 6-1, 222, Sr. Marion Photo by Everett Royer,

According to veteran Marion head coach Grant Thierolf, the work Palic displays off the field translates to ball games where Palic is a playmaker. “The thing that stands out about Tyler is his instinct for the game,” Thierolf said. “He just has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.” Palic, a 6-1, 222 pound senior, doesn’t shy away from the spotlight either. “He is not afraid of making big plays and he plays his best against our best opponents in the biggest games,” Thierolf added. Palic was named an All-State linebacker and All-League offensive lineman and linebacker recording 135 tackles, two interceptions and five forced fumbles in 2016. Palic has plans to repeat those postseason awards. “Personally I want to make AllState as a lineman and linebacker.” Marion missed the playoffs last season but that doesn’t discourage Palic from setting some hefty goals for the Warriors. “For our team I want to win a state championship because it would be Marion’s first ever.” Palic also excels in other sports placing sixth and second respectively his sophomore and junior years at the state wrestling tournament. Palic also placed third as a sophomore in the discus and won the event last spring at the state meet. Palic also took sixth in the shot put.

Quality Service You Deserve 24/7 Admissions

Alzheimer’s / Dementia Unit

Inhouse and Outpatient Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy Wound Care

IV Therapy


24 Hour Nursing Care

Accepts Medicare, Medicaid and Most Insurances

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 52

Jaylen Pickle

Lawson Schultz

OG/DT, 5-11, 235, Sr. Buhler

DE, 6-5, 275, Sr. Cimarron

Photo by Everett Royer,

Pickle, a 6-5, 275 pound senior defensive end, can fill a trophy room with all the accolades he has garnered over his high school career. Last season Pickle was named First Team All-League, All-Area, and All-State Honorable Mention for the second consecutive year. Pickle aspires to exceed those honors and make the All-State team this fall. In basketball Pickle has been named All-League three times and All-State twice and he has qualified for the state track meet twice. The Bluejays have made the 3A state playoffs every season of Pickle’s high school career and he expects to keep the run going. “As a team I want to get back to the playoffs for the fourth time,” Pickle said. Cimarron has been bounced out of the playoffs in the first round the past three seasons. Pickle is beast in the weight room benching 350 pounds, squatting 585 pounds, and cleaning 315 pounds. Pickle also ran a 4.9 40 at Kansas State camp last summer. Speaking of the Wildcats, Pickle, one of the state’s top recruits, committed to Kansas State in the offseason and has received offers from other Division I programs including Wyoming, Central Florida, South Dakota, Western Illinois and Southern Illinois. Pickle plans on studying oncology after his first four years of pre-med and becoming an Oncologist. “I want to help people and inspire other people,” Pickle said.

Photo by Everett Royer,

The Crusaders have been very successful under coach Steve Warner, winning the 4A state title in 2013, finishing as sub-state runner-up in 2014, and 4A-I state runner-up last season, and winning at least one playoff game each year since 2006. Buhler is loaded with returning talent especially on the line, and if the Crusaders expect to return to the title game, Schultz will have a big impact up front. Last season, Schultz, a 5-11, 235 pound offensive guard and defensive tackle was named First Team All-State offensive line, First Team All-League offensive line and Honorable Mention All-League defensive line. In 2017 Schultz is aiming to be All-State on offense once again, and to make the All-State defensive line and Top 33 All Classes. Buhler has also excelled in other sports where Schultz has been a key contributor. Schultz has started as varsity catcher for the baseball team since his freshman season. The Crusaders won the 4A Division I title his sophomore season. Schultz would like to add a football title to the resumé this season listing an undefeated state championship season as the primary team goal. After his football days are over, Schultz sees himself still being involved with athletics. “My first love is sports,” Schultz said. “I’ve considered majoring in education so I can coach as well. However, I’ve also considered a career in health sciences.”

Wyatt Seidl DE, 6-3, 220, Sr. McPherson Photo by Everett Royer,

Seidl, a 6-3, 220 pound senior, will lead a very experienced and dominant Bullpup defense into 2017. With eight returning starters the McPherson defense has a bond that Seidel enjoys. “I enjoy the camaraderie that football creates, it is like a brotherhood where we take care of each other both on and off the field.” McPherson allowed just 11.8 points per game in 2016 and Seidl is hoping to again lead the defense in sacks and tackles for loss after posting 8 and 15 respectively last year. Seidl’s goals for the team this season are “to leave nothing in the tank, to be the best we can be every down.” On a personal note Seidl would like to earn the chance to play in the Shrine Bowl next summer and to parlay his efforts into a college scholarship. “I definitely want to play in college,” Seidl said. “Several coaches have contacted me about my plans for next year but I have not received any offers yet.” Seidl is part of the basketball team which placed second in the state tournament this past winter. Seidl also plays baseball where he earned honorable mention All-State as a designated hitter. After football Seidl wants to be involved with special education. “I want to be an adaptive PE teacher, where I would have the opportunity to work with special needs kids in a physical education environment,” Seidl said. “I have always had a passion for working with special needs kids and adults, teaching would allow me to do this and to have the opportunity to coach football as well.”

Griffin Real Estate & Auction Service is proud to support the Chase County Bulldogs!

Kincaid Equipment Manufacturing Seed Research 210 West 1st Street Haven, KS 67543 620-465-2204

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 53

Joseph Stout OG/DE, 6-3, 240, Sr. Chase County

Photo by Everett Royer,

On five occasions last season the Bulldog defense held their opponents to single digits including two shutouts. Stout, a 6-3, 240 pound defensive end, was a major reason for that success. Stout, a senior this fall, recored 81 total tackles, including 12 for loss, and sacked the quarterback eight times. Stout received All-State honors on both sides of the ball including AllState offensive line, and First Team All-League on offense and defense. This season Stout is aiming for the All-State team again and wants to see the Bulldogs take the next step after missing the playoffs despite a 6-3 record. “As a team I expect a playoff appearance and to surpass the success of last season,” Stout said. “I enjoy the camaraderie that comes along with playing the game because you have a whole team of brothers that you get to go into ‘battle’ with every week.” Stout hopes to play defensive end at the collegiate level and is being recruited by a number of area schools. He also excels on the wrestling mat, where he was a state qualifier last season, and in track, where he qualified for state in the javelin throw. After college, Stout plans on taking over the family ranching business one day. “My father is a rancher and I have been around it all my life.”

AJ Vang C/DL, 6-2, 260, Sr. Goddard

Zach Titus

DE, 6-4, 280, Sr. De Soto

Photo by Everett Royer,

Last season the Wildcats pitched four shutouts en route to a 7-3 record and an appearance in the playoffs. Titus, a 6-4, 280 pound defensive end, was the anchor for the De Soto defense on the outside edge turning in 52 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Titus, now a senior, earned All-State honors from and honorable mention from the Topeka Capital-Journal and Wichita Eagle. Titus was also All-Frontier League. “Zach is probably the most physically gifted athlete I have seen in my nine years at De Soto,” said assistant coach Mark Gastelum. And head coach Brian King reinforced Gastelum’s statement, “Like Coach G said, I do not think I have coached a more talented defensive lineman.” According to Gastelum, Titus is always the most physically aggressive player on the field and Titus has a motor that never stops when on the field or the weight room. “We saw tremendous growth in Zach’s motor on the field this past fall and have seen his dedication in the weight room grow this offseason,” Gastelum added. And the college coaches have taken notice. North Dakota, South Dakota State, and Wyoming have all made the trip to De Soto to see Titus. And according to at least one Division II coach, Titus will likely be on a Division I roster next fall. Watch a little film of Titus and you’ll become a believer. The physical senior plays angry, and if the Wildcats are to make a playoff run, Titus could be the key.

Brendan Webb DE, 6-4, 206, Sr. Buhler Photo by Everett Royer,

Photo by Everett Royer,

Vang, a 6-2, 260 pound senior, is a physical player that not only wants to beat his opponent across the line of scrimmage, but wants to make his presence felt on every play. “My personal goal is to demolish every kid I face and do everything I can to help my team,” Vang said. “I love the physicality of football because where else can you hit, throw, or be violent and not get in trouble.” Last season the Lions lost a double overtime thriller to Mill Valley in the 5A State Title game, 35-34. Vang aims to get the Lions back to the final weekend. “The team goal is to get back to State and win it this time.” Last season Vang was named to the All-State offensive line. According to Vang’s father, and head coach, Scott, his son’s physicality allows Goddard flexibility in the offense. “He is a dominant, physical center who allows us to run schemes some of our other teams could not,” Scott Vang said. Butler and Hutch JUCOs have shown interest in Vang along with some colleges in Missouri. Hutch is the only college to offer Vang, who wants to play in college. After his playing days are through Vang would like to serve the community as a police officer or a firefighter. “I want to help people and nothing is the same everyday in those jobs,” Vang said.

The Buhler defense returns eight starters from a State Runner-up finish. If the Crusaders are the team to end Bishop Miege’s reign on 4A-I, Webb will be a key factor. Webb, a 6-4, 206 pound senior was named All-State defensive line by the Topeka Capital-Journal last season. He recorded 32 solo tackles, 28 assists, 13 tackles for loss, seven sacks, one forced fumble and three pass break ups. Webb also contributed on offense, catching four passes for 16 yards and two touchdowns, and blocking from the tight end position. Webb runs a 4.69 forty yard dash and benches 235 pounds, squats 375 pounds and cleans a whopping 335 pounds. Webb made quite the impression at the Sharp Performance combine. “Webb is one of those kids that one watches and realizes the sky’s the limit at either tight end or defensive end,” sportswriter Ben Mitchum said in his post-combine report. “If he continues to build upon his 6-4, 206-pound frame, the first team 4A-I All-State selection could end up at an FBS program or, at least make a very good player at the FCS/Division II level.” Those afore mentioned college programs are taking notice and Webb earned offers from Illinois State and South Dakota State earlier this summer. Over Webb’s high school career the Crusaders have advanced to at least the second round of the playoffs. Last season Buhler lost to powerhouse Miege in the title game, 53-21.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 54

Dalen Williams

Austin Youngers OG/NG, 6-0, 235, Sr. Garden Plain

DE, 6-3, 215, Sr. Wichita Heights

Photo by Everett Royer,

In 2016 the Falcons defense had four games where they held opponents to single digits including one shutout. If Wichita Heights is to improve on that mark and make a deeper run into the playoffs, then Dalen Williams will be looked upon to anchor his side of the defensive line. Last season, Williams, a 6-3, 215 pound defensive end, was named First Team AllState in Class 5A and made the All-City team. Williams, now a senior, demonstrated excellent athletcism at this spring’s Sharp Performance Combine posting a 4.99 second forty yard dash, 9.05 feet in the broad jump, a 4.63 second pro agility shuttle and a 30.5 inch vertical jump. Williams also did 10 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. “Dalen definitely looks the part of a high-caliber college athlete,” Ben Mitchum said. “Williams should have no problem adding the needed size at the next level.” The Falcons have posted winning records throughout Williams’ high school career winning at least seven games each season. Wichita Heights has fallen in the quarterfinals each of the past three seasons to an eventual title game participant and will look to breakthrough in 2017.

Class 5A/from page 67_______________

playmaker Keyon Saunders will sting, but senior quarterback Wyatt Lange is one of six threeyear starters returning (three each way) and tailback Caleb Rains is a four-year starter. Maize has arguably the top tailback in 5A to carry the load after the Eagles went 7-3 a year ago with its two regular-season losses coming to 6A champion Derby and 6A quarterfinalist Hutchinson. Senior back Dalyn Johnson rushed for a 1,539 yards and 27 TDs last year as a workhorse in the Eagle backfield and has complements in returning QB Brayden Payne and WR Jordan Helm. But Maize must replace its entire offensive line and the Eagles could rely heavily early on a defense which returns seven starters. The arrival of veteran coach Glenn O’Neil sparked Seaman to a bounce-back season last year as the Vikings turned around a decade of losing seasons with an 8-3 finish and trip to the quarterfinals. O’Neil’s magic will get a stern test this year, however, as the Vikings graduated the bulk of its offensive production, including standout quarterback Dalton Cowan, leading receiver Nick Steiner and leading rusher Michael Latendresse, who also doubled as their leading tackler. Graduation also leaves plenty of question marks for Kansas City Schlagle, which earned the No. 1 seed in the east a year ago in the revamped playoff format. The Stallions rode the legs of All-Class 5A back Cornelius Ruff to an 8-2 record, but he’s gone and Schlagle must prove it can hang with teams outside of its league. The Stallions didn’t beat a team with a winning record a year ago and were nearly upset in the first round of the playoffs by winless Highland Park. St. James Academy ended Schlagle’s playoff run with a resounding 53-17 victory and reached the quarterfinals before falling to Mill Valley. The Thunder has won playoff games in back-to-back seasons and held their own in their first season in the EKL. Standouts Travis Pickert, Bryce Steffens and Clay Lautt are gone from the defense, but veteran coach Tom Radke feels that side of the ball will be the Thunder’s strength early, led by linebacker Cole Barrett and safety Jackson Diel. Pittsburg took on a daunting schedule after leaving the Southeast Kansas League last year and the final 5-4 record may not have been indicative of how good the Purple Dragons were. Pittsburg went 5-1 against Kansas schools, getting upset by Blue Valley Southwest in the first round of the playoffs. The defense will miss All-5A pick Deveron Duncan and Division I signee Trevor Kent, but the offense should have plenty of firepower in returning senior quarterback Chase Curtis (1,157 yards passing) and tailback Jhalani Long (733 yards rushing).

Photo by Everett Royer,

Youngers, a 6-0, 235 pound senior, is a leader by example, this according to Owl head coach Ken Dusenbury. “He’s a quiet leader that sets the work ethic for the team.” “Austin is relentless as an offensive and defensive lineman, he maximizes his ability on every play,” Dusenbury added. Youngers’ goals for the season also reflect these traits. “My goal this season is to have a motor unlike anybody else. I want to be the most physically and mentally strong lineman on our schedule.” Last season Youngers was named All-League on both the offensive and defensive lines, and All-Metro and All-State along the offensive line. Younger posted 20 solo tackles, 37 assists, eight tackles for loss and two sacks. After posting a 4-5 record in Youngers’ freshman season the Owls have won 19 games the past two seasons including a trip to the quarterfinals last season and reaching the second round in 2015. “My team’s goal is to continue to get better and have another deep run in the playoffs,” Youngers emphasized.

Garden Plain Football: Go Owls!





Get a free 6-inch sub when you buy a 30 oz. drink. Extras at additional cost.* Text OFFERS to 782929 (Subway®) to start receiving weekly offers SMS Program available for participating restaurants. Text Offers to 78292 to get updates and special offers from Subway®. By texting Offers, you agree to receive autodialed ads and other messages from Subway® at your phone #. Your consent is not a condition of making any purchase. Message & data rates apply. Help? Txt HELP, Stop? Txt STOP or 8447887525. *Free sub excludes Extras. Valid at participating restaurants. No additional discounts or coupons may be applied. Plus applicable tax. Subway® is a Registered Trademark of Subway IP Inc. ©2017 Subway IP Inc

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

liver the program its first 6A crown (all five of Blue Valley’s titles have come in 5A). And while that certainly will be the case, the Tigers also enter the 2017 playing for something even bigger. No program in the state was rocked more than Blue Valley during the offseason. The sudden death of head coach Eric Driskell from a brain aneurysm sent shockBy Brent Maycock waves throughout the state’s football community and was a Topeka Capital-Journal devastating blow to the Tiger program. The road to a championship may have traveled a different The highly respected and well-liked Driskell, who was just path in Class 6A in 2016, but the end result was pretty 43, compiled a 70-17 record and led the Tigers to 5A state familiar. titles in 2010 and 2013. He’ll be replaced by Allen Terrell, A year after meeting for the 2015 6A state title, Derby and the former Kansas City Turner head coach who had joined Blue Valley found their way back to the title game. And for the Blue Valley staff in 2012. the second straight year, Derby won a thriller, pulling out a Not only does Terrell have big shoes to fill, he’s also got 17-14 victory over the Tigers on Blayten Tullis’ 21-yard field some serious holes from a player personnel standpoint as goal with 27 seconds left in the game. well. Only one starter returns to an offense which averaged The title was the third in four years for Derby, which has 39.8 points per game and didn’t score less than 25 until the established itself as one of the state’s premier programs title loss to Derby. The likes of All-Class 6A picks Matt Derunder Brandon Clark, who in 11 years has gone 93-33. cher (quarterback), Will Evans (running back), Harrison Van Last year’s 13-0 record marked the first undefeated season Dyne (receiver) and Kirrian Kirby (line) leave monstrous in program history for the Panthers, who ran roughshod holes to plug with senior receiver Blake Brown the lone over their foes a year ago. Derby’s starters played only returning starter. briefly in the second half of most games and the Panthers The Tigers aren’t in much better shape defensively, redidn’t have a game closer than 26 points until the title turning just three starters, but did a capable job of reloading game, finishing the season outscoring their foes 624-158 on that side of the ball last year after wholesale graduation on the year. losses from 2015. Is a three-peat in order for the Panthers this year? Well, While Blue Valley has emerged as the East representative despite graduating another stellar senior class — one that in the title game the past two years, the list of challengers included All-State selections Kenyon Tabor and Peerlus has been extremely deep and last year it took a two-point Walker and Ark Valley Chisholm Trail Division I defensive conversion in overtime of the state semifinals for the Tigers player of the year Tommy Carter – to name a few — Derby to get past Shawnee Mission East. certainly has the pieces to make another run. East is the only program to interrupt Derby’s title streak Senior tailback Brody Kooser emerged as one of the in the past four years, capturing the 2014 state title with a state’s best, rushing for more than 1,000 yards, including victory over Hutchinson. The Lancers have gone 43-6 over 132 in the title-game win over Blue Valley, and standout that span, falling to Derby in the 2013 title game before lineman Evan Clark is a three-year starter. After anchoring going undefeated in 2014. the offensive line for the past two seasons, Clark could The 35-34 overtime loss to Blue Valley was the Lancers’ move to defense this year to plug holes on a unit which only loss to a Kansas team last year — they also fell 26-20 graduated 10 starters. to Rockhurst (Mo.) — and despite losing All-State receiver/ The holes may be big, but Derby has reached the point cornerback Trevor Thompson and 1,500-yard rusher Nigel where Clark is confident in the next wave’s ability to carry Houston, East could be the team most equipped to deny on the success without missing a beat. Derby its bid for three straight crowns. “Every year we’ll have to reload with new players, but Senior back Milton Braasch still gained nearly 1,600 yards there won’t be a lack of knowledge,” Clark said. “Everybody splitting the backfield load with Houston a year ago and knows the system and we’ll make it fresh every year and scored 23 touchdowns. Though All-Class 6A lineman Justin adapt to what players we have. We understand we’re not Finnigan is the only other returner on offense, the Lancers going to win a state championship every year. But that’s return seven starters on defense. definitely going to be the goal from here on out.” Blue Valley and SM East were a notch above the rest on Coming off two straight runner-up showings, Blue Valley the East side last year with Blue Valley North the only other should be chomping at the bit to get over the hump and de- team to post at least seven wins. Heavyweights Olathe North and Lawrence endured a dropoff from their 2015 level and Shawnee Mission West never really made a charge after a season-opening win 1. Derby over eventual semifinalist Free 2. Shawnee Mission East State. 3. Blue Valley Coming off its first winning season in more than a decade 4. Blue Valley North in 2015, Blue Valley North 5. Wichita Northwest backed it up with a 7-4 mark Others: Hutchinson, Lawrence, that included six straight wins after a 1-3 start. The MusLawrence Free State, Topeka, tangs won their first playoff Washburn Rural game in more than a decade and reached the quarterfinals



Page 58

before falling to Blue Valley and with 35 seniors, led by Kansas commitment Miles Emery, they could take another step this year and challenge Blue Valley and East for the top spot in the East. Derby’s dominance a year ago overshadowed how deep the western half of 6A really was — and maybe that spoke volumes as to how good the Panthers were. Nine other teams entered the first round of the playoffs with at least five wins and two — Manhattan and Junction City — hit the postseason undefeated. Neither Garden City nor Manhattan made it past the second round with the Indians upset 24-21 by a Washburn Rural team it had beaten during the regular season and Garden City falling 42-7 to Free State. Another undefeated regular season seems like a longshot for both with Manhattan returning only one offensive starter and Garden City having to replace standout quarterback Jesse Nunez, who racked up more than 2,500 yards of total offense. Garden City’s defense, however, should be formidable with four first-team All-Western Athletic Conference picks among six returning starters. Defensive lineman Demarcus Elliott had 15 tackles for loss a year ago in a breakout season and all four members of the secondary return, with three of them all-leaguers. Manhattan’s losses include the entire offensive line which started for two years straight and dual-threat quarterback Ian Trapp. Like Garden City, the Indians also will hang their hats on their defense early with five starters back, led by linebacker Nik Grubbs, from a unit which gave up just 15.3 points per game. Free State was able to plug some pretty big holes well enough a year ago to return to the state semifinals for the second straight year. Shaking off a 1-2 start, the Firebirds won eight straight before falling to Derby 49-21 with only one of those wins by less than 14 points. Once again veteran coach Bob Lisher will be turning to a new quarterback, this time replacing Dallas Crittenden, who stepped in as a transfer from Hayden and had a big season, throwing for 1,902 yards and 19 touchdowns. What’s more, the Firebirds also must replace leading receiver Zack Sanders — a three-way first-team All-Sunflower League pick — and leading rusher Zion Bowlin as well as top lineman Chase Houk. Returning starting linebacker Gage Foster could factor into the mix at quarterback and there’s another Dineen still around to carry on the family tradition laid by older brothers Joe and Jay as Jax Dineen came on strong late and could start both ways. Lisher likes what he’s got to work with at the skill spots despite their lack of starting experience, and his biggest concern will be up front where only two offensive linemen and one defensive linemen return as starters. Hutchinson has shown its staying power after Randy Dreiling’s departure three years ago and last year, the Salthawks’ only losses in a 9-2 season came to Derby — 46-20 in the Panthers’ closest regular-season game and 40-7 in the playoff quarterfinals. Few ground games were better than the Salthawks a year ago as Ryan Cornelsen’s flexbone attack produced two 1,000-yard rushers and came up just 100 yards shy of having four. Only two of them are back, seniors Brody Smith (1,028 yards, 17 TDs) and Josiah Galindo (957 yards), but the biggest loss in the ground game is the hulking presence of All-State lineman Josh Rivas, who is now at Kansas State. The graduation hits defensively were just as big with leading tacklers Peyton Pendergrass and Braden Archer gone.

continued on page 60

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Clint Rider Coach, Blue Valley Northwest “The players have to feel the energy from the coaching staff and from the leaders on the team. We have to build a program where people want to be a part of it.”

(Photo by Derek Livingston,

Brought to you by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to

By Brad Hallier For Kansas Pregame Clint Rider Rider, who led Hesston to the Class 3A state championship game last season, is jumping into the proverbial lion’s den at Blue Valley Northwest. You can make an easy case for the EKL being not just the strongest football conference in Kansas, but by far the strongest. Last year, the EKL had the Class 5A state champion (Mill Valley) and Class 4A Division I state champion (Bishop Miege). The conference also produced Class 6A runner-up Blue Valley. Eight of the EKL’s 10 teams won at least one playoff game. Here’s all you really need to know about how strong the EKL was last year - Mill Valley had a 4-4 conference record and finished in fifth place, and yet was a state champion. Far down the standings was Rider’s new team. The Huskies were 2-7, finishing eighth in the EKL. “I keep going back to Mill Valley. They were 4-4 in the league and won 5A state,” Rider said. “That’s the epitome of what a tough league is. There’s a great tradition in the league, there’s great institutions, and it’s the coaches who set this league apart, with guys like (Bishop Miege coach Jon) Holmes, (Mill Valley coach Joel) Applebee and (St. Thomas Aquinas coach Randy) Dreiling.” While the task ahead looks daunting, Rider experienced first hand last season what happens when a team plays in a strong league. Last season, the Central Kansas League was one of Kansas’ top middle-sizedschool conferences. CKL runner-up Pratt was the Class 4A Division II state champion. Halstead, which matched Pratt’s 6-1 league mark, handed Hesston one of three September losses. So did fellow CKL foe Nickerson, which finished in a three-way tie for fourth place with Hesston and Smoky Valley. Even Larned, which finished in eighth place, won a 3A playoff game and then nearly upended previously undefeated Phillipsburg in the second round. “The first couple years, maybe the league wasn’t as strong,” said Rider, who spent four years at Hesston. “That gave us a false sense of confidence. You have to have a good week of practice week in and week out. But when you win by 40 points, by 60 points, the kids ask, ‘Coach, why do we need to get better?’ Every week, you have to commit to having a good week of practice, and that’s when you get better. “Last year, we had to be prepared every week.” Through seven games, Mill Valley was 3-4, losing all four games to EKL teams -

Page 59

Blue Valley, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Miege and Blue Valley North. From that point, the Jaguars didn’t lose again. Rider’s Swathers were 1-3 entering October. Unfazed, Hesston won its final five regular-season games, and then beat 6-3 Sterling, 9-1 Chaparral, 11-0 Phillipsburg and 12-0 Hoisington to reach the 3A title game in Hutchinson. Hesston and Rossville then played a game that won’t be forgotten by those who saw it, as Rossville won 48-42 in OT. That proved to be the epilogue of Rider’s Hesston tenure. The table of contents are being set in place for Rider at Northwest. The first chapter won’t be easy to fill with happy memories. Northwest returns 16 lettermen, seven offensive starters and six defensive starters from last season. The Huskies are 4-15 in the last two years and haven’t won a playoff game since 2009, when they topped Olathe Northwest 17-14 in the first round of the 6A playoffs. That’s where Rider comes in, as he tries to build a football program at a school more known for its powerful basketball, and in a school district where Blue Valley boasts one of Kansas’ top programs annually. “In the short term, it’s about creating excitement around the program,” Rider said. “It’s maybe gotten a little stale the last two years. The players have to feel the energy from the coaching staff and from the leaders on the team. We have to build a program where people want to be a part of it. “Long term, we’re going to improve our weight program. We’re not going to create a great strength program in two, three months. You do that in two, three years. That’s where you build the culture and environment for success. If you can’t physically compete, or if your best athletes aren’t out there because they’re injured, you’re going to struggle.” Rider’s program isn’t bare of talent. The Huskies have one of Kansas’ top players in senior tight end and linebacker Jackson Heath. Last season, Heath snagged 36 passes for 592 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, Heath collected 78 tackles and a pair of quarterback sacks. Jackson comes from a family of athletes. His father, Matthew Heath, played basketball at K-State. He also had a brother - Blake Lawrence - play football at Nebraska and another brother - Tyler Lawrence - play football at KU. Northwest also returns four o-linemen, including seniors Joshua Cruz, Jared Cruz, Max Wagoner and Luke Weber. The process is underway at Blue Valley Northwest. Maybe the results won’t be continued on page 60

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 60

Class 6A/from page 58___

only lost to arch rival Manhattan and Hutchinson a year ago, falling 42-41 in a wild overtime playoff battle with Hutch, coming up short on a game-winning two-point try. Dynamic offensively a year ago behind Centennial League MVP Ryan Henington (2,800 yards of total offense) and versatile weapon Jovon Baldwin (1,300 combined rushing/receiving yards), Junction City will rely heavily on its defense at the start of the season as they replace those playmakers and find a new identity. The Blue Jays have long been stout defensively under veteran coach Randall Zimmerman and return leading tackler Kenson Henderson and three other starters from that unit. Northwest will have the luxury of returning one of the top QBs in 6A in Austin Anderson. The senior threw for 2,221 yards and 26 touchdowns last year in leading the Grizzlies to the second round of the playoffs and a 6-4 season. What weapons he has to go with him will be the big question for the Grizzlies as 1,500-yard rusher Jahlyl Rounds and 1,000-yard receiver Martese Mullins as well as standout lineman Joey Gilbertson, a Kansas signee, graduated. Senior end Jaxson Reynolds had 42 catches a year ago for 715 yards and is one answer. The other could be an improved defense led by end Marcus Hicks, who has

emerged as a top recruit, already with multiple FBS offers. Northwest barely escaped Topeka High in the opening round of last year’s playoffs, winning 29-28 on a late safety. While the Trojans aren’t as stacked as they’ve been in recent years they might have the state’s top sophomore in tailback Ky Thomas. As a freshman, Thomas racked up nearly 2,000 yards rushing, receiving and passing. Shawnee Mission North made a bit of a postseason splash last year, upsetting Lawrence in the second round to reach the quarterfinals, but will have to replace the state’s all-time leading passer, Will Schneider, who finished his career with 8,901 yards and threw for 3,035 yards and 31 touchdowns last year. The first year without districts in both 6A and 5A may have eliminated the existence of loaded/weak districts but still produced some high-caliber first-round clashes in week nine a year ago (Wichita Northwest-Topeka High, Washburn Rural-Dodge City). Only two lower seeds prevailed in the first round with the biggest “upset” 10th-seeded Gardner-Edgerton beating seventh-seeded Olathe Northwest. Brent Maycock is a sportswriter with the Topeka Capital-Journal with over 25 years experience covering high schools in the Topeka area, and across Kansas.

Clint Rider/from page 59_

After serving for three years as an assistant, Rider took over the program from Bryan Burdette, and the traditionally mediocre program took just two seasons to make a significant turnaround. While Rider’s Lancers lost the first eight games of the year in that 2011 season, the second half of the year showed a marked upswing in scoring offense. After scoring 12 points or less in the first four games, the Lancers scored at least 28 points in the final five,

including a season closing 63-16 victory over rival Northeast-Arma. Then, in year two of Rider’s brief tenure, the Lancers enjoyed their best season in at least the last eight. A 6-3 finish that included quality wins over Columbus, Frontenac and Riverton. Now the 30 year old coach from tiny McCune, Kansas, will try to engineer a similar turnaround at one of the state’s largest high schools.

But the Salthawks have shown the ability to simply reload and again will be Derby’s top challenger in the AVCTL. Washburn Rural was somewhat of a surprise quarterfinalist, knocking off undefeated Manhattan 24-21 after losing 28-6 to the Indians in the regular season. The Junior Blues nearly rode that momentum to another upset, just getting clipped by Free State 17-14 in the semifinals as the program made its deepest postseason trek since reaching the 1992 6A state championship game. While quarterback was a somewhat unsettled position early in the season for Rural with three different players taking snaps, it should be a position of stability this year. Junior Jordan White grabbed control of the job in midseason and finished strong with more than 1,300 yards of offense. He’s the lone returning skill player and only two linemen return so fifth-year coach Steve Buhler will have to call on a slew of new faces to go around White. The reloading task is greater on defense as only two starters return. While Rural was an unexpected challenger a year ago, Junction City and Wichita Northwest continued their recent success and should once again be a factor. The Blue Jays

seen immediately, but Rider is encouraged with his observations. “We won’t worry about those guys who are gone, just those who have stuck it out here,” Rider said. Rider’s coaching potential was demonstrated early in his first job as the head coach of his alma mater, Southeast High School in Cherokee, Kansas.


Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


Hobbies: Fishing Favorite subject: Chemistry Favorite food: Chicken Wings Favorite band: Red Hot Chilli Peppers Favorite pregame song: “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley Most memorable high school football moment: “Winning our first playoff game in double overtime on our last down to beat BVNW.”

(Photo by Derek Livingston,

Brought to you by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to

Miners Memorial Miners Memorial in Immigrant Park located in downtown Pittsburg on Second Street, between Pine and Walnut streets, is a tremendous asset for the community. This coal miner’s memorial celebrates and preserves the rich mining and immigrant history of the deep shaft and strip miners, including auxiliary workers, in the Weir-Pittsburg Coal Field located in Cherokee and Crawford counties.

Blue Valley North

By Alan Dale For Kansas Pregame Senior Grant Hamel is one of the key players in the Blue Valley North Mustangs’ football renaissance. Last fall, Hamel finished the campaign with 1,466 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns (11 rushing, five receiving) and things could be even better this season. How much better? Well it would be a doozy if he eclipsed some of his junior marks. Some of his best games include a 300 all-purpose yard explosion against Mill Valley, which saw five Hamel scores in a blowout, 52-23 win where he recorded the school’s third-longest touchdown reception in a game (80 yards) in that contest. His five touchdowns in the game were also a team-high for the team in a lone contest and ended up with the third most scores and points – 96 – over the course of 2016. Hamel also recorded the second-longest touchdown run (71 yards) last year and ended up with the second most touchdowns rushing (11) for a season in program history. It all propelled him to No. 3 on the all-time career rushing yards list at Blue Valley North (1,172) and he should finish his career as the second-best all time. “It was pretty surprising how my year came out, but I worked hard all summer for the past three years so that hard worked paid off,” Hamel said. Now with the addition of Bishop Miege backup quarterback, Graham Mertz, who is getting D1 attention, including a scholarship offer from KU, Hamel’s game may not change too much, but his numbers could see a boon with the new arm in tow. “I think he can help big time, because we had a pass game last year and if he opens the passing game even more, I will get more of a chance to do what I do in the open field,” Hamel said. Fourth-year head coach Andy Sims, who has reshaped the Mustangs’ program into a winner after years of struggle, sees Hamel’s potential and contribution as being unique due to the senior’s skill sets. “I don’t think the expectations are so high…I think the sky is the limit in terms of how we utilize him,” Sims said. “He’s kind of a Swiss army knife. He’s not a kid that will catch the ball three of four times or we throw to 70 percent of the time. Kids like him have good weeks then average weeks depending on the other team and how they kind of defend you. “We are a team that throws the ball all over the place, but then again we led the conference in rushing. So, it’s one of those sneaky things where since we throw the ball so much, it opens up the run game. Maybe one week we might see like we saw in the Mill Valley game a year ago…then the next week he only has 100 yards. It depends on what the teams’ approaches will be. He’s kind of a high school-version of a Christian McCaffrey-type of problem.” Hamel, who also plays free safety, truly loves the game for what it does to bring guys together. “What I love most about football is the brotherhood it creates between a bunch of random guys and then the adversity you have to fight through together as a team,” Hamel said. “My personal goal for the season is to rush for over a thousand yards for the second season in a row. Our team goals for the season are to be the best team in North history, which means getting past the second round of the playoffs and winning a state championship.” It could happen with a player like Hamel helping lead the charge. “He’s just a true athlete,” Sims said. “If me and you were going to pick a game of tag, I don’t think either of us want the other to pick him first. There are those type of players, where the kid is just good and he’s just that kid. He just has the knack that where some kids get two yards, he’ll get four. He can play tough football and is definitely a tough kid.” With designs on playing in college, Hamel hopes he gets recognized by coaches at the next level. “I’ve been wanting to play college ball, that’s the end goal,” Hamel said. “I am starting to get some looks from some colleges, but hopefully more though.”

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 62

Full Service Financial Institution

Carryout or Delivery


320 W Wyatt Earp dine-in or Carryout

620-225-2286 110 N Frontview

Dodge City, KS


Identifying 16 new starters is enough of a handful for Derby, the two-time defending 6A state champion. Another reconstruction of the assistant coaching staff is an additional chore all together. Brandon Clark’s coaching tree was slowly taking root across the state in recent years – Mill Valley plucked Joel Applebee for its head role, Wichita Trinity came for Jared McDaniel and Valley Center selected Caleb Smith. Each time, Clark found another protégé to help continue Derby’s dynasty. He will be tested once more in 2017 as Derby grows two more branches. Cade Armstrong and Shelby Wehrman departed to become head coaches at Andover and Cheney, respectively, ripping two longtime defensive masterminds from the Panthers. Little looks the same from a Derby defense that swatted away opponents, allowing only 12.2 points per game, by far the best in the class. Linebacker Alex McGill is the lone returning starter. The offensive pedigree should not waver. Brody Kooser is a workhorse running back, coming off a season with 220 carries for 1,681 yards and 31 touchdowns. Kooser worked to add power in the weight room this offseason. Receiver Michael Littleton forces defenses to still respect the passing game after snatching 35 catches for 567 yards and eight visits to the end zone. Three linemen are entrenched, as well, led by the pulverizing strength of three-year starter Evan Clark. Clark may slip over to defense, too, to aid the unit’s transition. “We have had a decent winter and spring with our 2017 players,” Brandon Clark said. “We will have to continue to get stronger and faster this summer if we will want to compete with the top teams in the state.” Weeks two through five offer a stunning whirlwind of competition for the Panthers. Derby squares off with Goddard, Maize, Hutchinson and Bishop Carroll, which all captured at least seven wins in 2016. 13-0 in 2016 / 6A Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I Coach: Brandon Clark (12th year, 93-34) Assistants: Kevin Davis, Chris Devore, James Foster, Derek Goble, Eric Hendrick, Todd Olmstead, Mitch Pontiaus, Devin Tarrant, Jarrod Foster, Zach Haynes, Chris Pinaire Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 5 Offense, 1 Defense Evan Clark, OL, 6-3, 274, Sr.; Gage Jones, OL, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Jordan Renard, OL, 5-10, 220, Sr.; Michael Littleton, TE/WR, 6-3, 210, Sr.; Brody Kooser, RB, 5-10, 190, Sr.; Alex McGill, LB, 5-9, 185, Sr. Kyle McCaskey

GARDEN CITY, KS 2611 West Jones Ave. | Toll Free: 800-475-4114 | 620-275-4114

Good Luck Buffaloes!


Dodge City had completely different personnel, offense and statistics from ’15 to ’16. Both seasons yielded 5-4 records. In ’15, DC had a prolific passing offense that averaged 43 points a contest but permitted 29.7. DC won the WAC title with a Week 9, 21-20, last-second victory against Garden City that came down to a blocked extra point. The Red Demons, behind standout quarterback Caden Walters, delivered 474 yards per game. Last season, Dodge City returned just one starting defensive player, senior linebacker Zach Rodriguez, but he suffered a knee injury. DC had just two offensive starters returning, both linemen. Dodge City went to a heavy, run-based offense that often snapped the ball in the last several seconds of the play clock. The Red Demons averaged 31.3 points a contest and permitted 23.7. It marked the Red Demon’s best scoring defense since allowing 16.7 points a game in an 11-1 season in 2010. Junior Dawson Williams completed 33 of 82 passes for 329 yards with a 2/1 TD/INT ratio. He led the WAC by a wide margin with 1,679 rushing yards and delivered a conference-best 25 rushing scores. Overall, DC averaged 42.6 passing and 282.8 rushing yards a contest. In ’15, DC averaged 275.3 passing and 198.3 rushing yards a game. This season, DC returns three offensive starters, including Williams, and six defensive starters, including junior Marcos Fisher, who led DC with 12 TFLs. In ’16, DC opened 2-0 with a 14-7 win against Wichita West and a 50-8 victory at Wichita Southeast. The Red Demons lost 34-14 to Wichita Heights and 34-27 at Great Bend. Then, DC beat Wichita South, 35-19, and won at Hays, 44-14. After a 36-13 home defeat versus Garden City, DC defeated Liberal, 70-34, on the road. In the first round of the playoffs, DC lost at Washburn Rural, 27-15. Rural ended up going three rounds deep in the playoffs.

620-275-6616 1627 N Taylor

Garden City 1714 E. Kansas Ave. 1.800.825.7661


Member NCUA

Garden City opened 9-0, the team’s best record through nine games since 1991. GC had multiple signature victories, including a Week 7 road win, 36-13, versus rival Dodge City, and a 21-14 road overtime victory versus Great Bend in Week 8. The GB game featured two teams with perfect records. GC missed a short field goal from an awkward angle just before regulation ended. In overtime, the Buffs scored first. On 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, GC stopped the Panthers on the game’s final play for its first WAC title since 2013. After a 49-14 first-round home playoff win against Wichita East, GC faced Lawrence Free State, which made the 335mile trip out west. Free State led 28-0 and held GC to 46 first-half yards en route to a 42-7 victory. GC took significant graduation losses, including linebacker Zeke Herrera, who finished with 106 tackles, six forced fumbles and three interceptions. Offensively, the Buffs graduated more than 90 percent of its rushing yards from quarterback Jesse Nunez and running back Peyton Hill. Both Herrera and Hill signed with Fort Hays. Nunez, a three-year starter, set multiple school records. He passed for 1,168 yards, rushed for 1,367 and accounted for 30 offensive scores. Hill delivered 692 rushing yards and eight rushing scores. The topthree tacklers graduated, though junior Demarcus Elliott returns after he led the team with 15 TFLs. Senior Quinton LaPointe is back after he tied for the team lead with three interceptions, also defended four passes and recorded 52 stops, most among returners. Senior defensive back David Arteaga defended eight passes, a team best. Sophomore Rufugio Chairez started on the line as a freshman.

Delivery & Carryout


1502 E Harding Ave #1 Dine-in & Carryout

620-275-4121 301 E Kansas Ave

Garden City, KS


G-E was one defensive stop away from pulling off what would have been the upset of 2016. Leading heavily favored Shawnee Mission East in the final minute of their second-round playoff game, the Trailblazers saw the Lancers score with 33 seconds left and punch in a two-point conversion for a 36-35 win. As heartbreaking of an ending as it was for the Trailblazers, it shouldn’t overshadow the step forward they took in 2016. The four wins doubled Gardner’s win total from 2015 and were the most for the program since 2013. Even in its losses, Gardner was competitive, including a seven-point loss to eventual Class 5A champion Mill Valley. Veteran coach Marvin Diener likes the make-up of his 2017 squad and it’s easy to see why. His smashmouth style hinges on strong line play and that should be the strength for each unit with four starters back on the offensive line and three on the defensive front. The group was young last year, but made steady improvements throughout the year. Senior middle linebacker Tyler Henry is a four-year starter who ranked sixth on the team in tackles last year with 60 - in just six games - while senior defensive back Austin Bond led the Trailblazers with 96. Senior linebacker Tucker Tribble led the team with eight tackles for loss. Offensively, Gardner returns its leading rusher, Keegan Michael (543 yards, TD), and receiver Jace Sprague (52 catches, 815 yards, 3 TDs).

4-6 in 2016 / 6A / Eastern Kansas League Coach: Marvin Diener (12th year, 73-44) Assistants: Kris Henry, David Diener, Greg Webb, Joel Bergmann, Aaron Stubblefield, Jason Radel, 9-1 in 2016 / 6A / Western Athletic Conference Stan Watchous, John Yockey, Kyle Pacheco, Ryan Coach: Brian Hill (8th year, 45-25) Plankerhorn, Hayes Farwell, Scott Peavey Assistants: Dominick Dingle, Justin Reich, Nathan Offense: I-formation Defense: 4-3-4 Smith, Asa Gottsponer, Erik Base, Jacy Holloway, Returning lettermen: 23 5-4 in 2016 / 6A / Western Athletic Conference Donald Raymer Offense: Pistol Defense: 4-2-5 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 6 Defense Coach: Dave Foster (7th year, 39-30; 111-93 overall) Returning lettermen: 15 Austin Bond, DB, 5-11, 178, Sr.; Tyler Henry, LB, Assistants: Mark Sandbo, Ty Thomas, Kyle Culwell, Returning starters: 4 Offense, 6 Defense 5-11, 195, Sr.; Emilio Oropeza, DL, 5-10, 210, Sr.; Dustin Fergerson, Marcos Guiterrez, Chris Whitson, Demarcus Elliott, OL/DL, 6-4, 290, Sr.; Jasper Partin, Tucker Tribble, LB, 6-1, 20-5, Sr.; Jackson Flowers, Nathan Gaswick, John Johnson, Tucker O’Hair, DL, 6-0, 205, Sr.; Quinton LaPointe, DB, 5-11, 185, DE, 6-5, 225, Sr.; Keegan Michael, RB, 5-9, 195, Daniel Voth Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Sr.; David Arteaga, DB, 5-8, 175, Sr.; Garrett Doll, Sr.; Jace Sprague, WR, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Colton Kane, Returning lettermen: N/A DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Tye Davis, DB, 6-3, 185, Jr.; OL, 6-1, 215, Sr.; Parker Guffey, OL, 6-2, 295, Sr.; Returning starters: 3 Offense, 6 Defense Refugio Chairez, OL, 6-1, 190, So.; Andrew Kreutzer, Hayden Mulford, OL, 5-10, 271, Sr.; Doug Plank, OL, Dawson Williams, QB, 6-4, 200, Sr.; Charlie WR, 5-8, 170; Jack Koehn, FB, 5-10, 200, Sr. 6-1, 267, Sr.; Peyton Vance, DL, 5-10, 235, Jr.; Luke Fernandez, WR, 6-3, 185, Sr.; Eric Real, OL, 6-2, Conor Nicholl Jennings, TE, 6-3, 205, Jr.; Baylor Maxwell, RB, 6-0, 295, Sr.; Marcos Fisher, DL, 6-2, 210, Jr.; Evan 185, Jr. Brent Maycock Darville, DL, 6-2, 275, Jr.; Ansony Quezada, DL, 5-11, 210, Sr.; Jashon Taylor, LB, 5-7, 165, So.; Sam Mead, LB, 6-1, 175, Jr.; Carlos Gamboa, DB, 5-10, Hutchinson finished fifth in the final Class 6A rank- lineman, helped at state track with 13 points in the 170, Jr. ings and graduated Josh Rivas, who anchored the throws. Senior Tre Vaughn Jones scored four points Conor Nicholl Salthawk line and signed with Kansas State. Rivas in the triple jump, and junior Davian Vigil had nine earned ACVTL Division I MVP honors as a lineman, points in the individual sprints and ran on the 400 an extremely rare honor. relay that earned five points. Jones and Vigil each Hutchinson scored 39.3 points per game and return as starting defensive backs. year, Federico Harvey could create a case as the allowed 23.1 in the third season under coach Ryan best quarterback in the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail 9-2 in 2016 / 6A League Division I. Harvey’s elusiveness adds anoth- Cornelsen. Hutchinson is 8-5, 6-4 and 9-2 under Cornelsen with a run to the Class 6A title game in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I er threat to the spread. The Colts have a stable of Coach: Ryan Cornelsen (4th year 23-11; 14th year, battle-tested backs and receivers to guarantee depth his first year. The Salthawks, known for its ground game, 111-35) Assistants: Scott Yantes, Dave Armbrust, among playmakers. averaged 33.6 and 33 points per contest in the Jeremy Garcia, Gary Cornelsen, Adam Kroll, Sean The Colts opened this past season 3-1, but first two seasons under Cornelsen. The defensive Harper, Marshall Musil, Kyle Burkhardt dropped their final five games, including a quick Offense: Multiple Defense: Odd Front playoff exit at Hutchinson, 56-21. Campus has never average was 27.5 a contest in ’14 and 23 a game in ’15 before remaining consistent last season. Returning lettermen: N/A advanced past the Round of 16. Hutchinson graduated two all-state players in Rivas Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense and defensive back Peyton Pendergrass (63 tackles, Brynden Grow, C, 6-1, 253, Sr.; Jordan Denison, G, 3-6 in 2016 / 6A first team all-conference). 5-11, 235, Sr.; Hunter DeGarmo, OT, 6-0, 218, Sr.; Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I Coach: Greg Slade (4th year, 7-29; 20th overall, 103- Cornelsen’s goal is to “win one game at a time” for Dylan Jensen, OG/NG, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Josiah Galindo, 91) Assistants: Jeremy Scheufler, Eric McCormack, a team that returns six offensive and seven defensive FB, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Brody Smith, TB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; starters. His dad, Gary, coached Liberal to great foot- Austin Corwin, DT, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Colten Miller, LB, John Dravis, Jimmy McDowell, Matt Peschel, Mike ball and track success in the ‘90s and again remains 6-2, 205, Sr.; Bryce Culley, LB, 5-9, 205, Sr.; TreRichter, Alex Nuss, Jeff Long, Brandon Johnson, on staff as an assistant coach. Hutchinson lost 46-20 Vaughn Jones, S, 6-2, 180, Sr.; Michael Coulter, CB, Jonny Burke Offense: Spread Defense: N/A to Derby in Week 4. In the playoffs, the Salthawks 5-9, 155, Jr.; Davian Vigil, DB, 6-3, 184, Jr. Returning lettermen: N/A defeated Campus, 56-21, and beat Junction City, Conor Nicholl Returning starters: 9 Offense, 7 Defense Federico Harvey, QB/CB, 6-1, 155, Sr.; Matt Kloxin, 42-41, in overtime before a 40-7 loss at Derby. “We will need to be able to run the ball, our OT, 6-2, 270, Sr.; Braden Haak, WR, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Carryout or Delivery play action pass must improve,” Cornelsen said. 620-662-7788 Anthony Queen, WR, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Seth Falley, 123 W. 4th OT, 6-3, 280, Jr.; Robbie Adamson, C, 6-0, 250, Jr.; “Defensively we will need to swarm to the ball and Quinton Hicks, TE/LB, 6-3, 230, Jr.; Tyler Kahmann, create turnovers.” Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery Cornelsen has achieved great success as 620-662-0571 TE, 6-3, 210, Jr.; Cameron Harvey, RB/FS, 5-10, 930 E. 30th Hutchinson’s track coach in his three years. This 160, Jr.; Sammie Wise, RB, 5-9, 165, Jr.; Cole spring, the Hutchinson boys went undefeated and Martins, LB, 5-11, 170, Jr.; Mateo Martinez, LB, 6-1, Hutchinson won the Class 6A state title, and the girls were 195, Jr.; Nathan Preece, NG, 6-0, 245, Jr.; Corbin Gosnell, LB, 6-0, 185, Jr. Kyle McCaskey third. Senior Hunter Degarmo, a returning offensive


If ever there was a time for Campus to announce itself as a reborn program, this is the year for it. The Colts have made one-win improvements year-overyear for two seasons, and now start 2017 with nine offensive and seven defensive starters set. There is reason for optimism. Now the incentive is on the Colts to prove that hopefulness is warranted. “I feel like we have made some improvements in the offseason on and off the field,” said Campus coach Greg Slade. “We have had our best turnout for our summer program in five years.” Slade would know a program on the rise when he saw it. He is not far removed from guiding Rose Hill to a state title. But the first four years at Campus were tough, a program still searching for its first winning season since 2006. Campus’ defense has shored up leaks the past two years. There are more holes to plug to make another leap, but special talents dot the roster to keep the Colts afloat. Quinton Hicks is a developing junior linebacker. Cameron Harvey cleans up any miscues at free safety. “We feel we have improved our speed at all defensive positions,” Slade said. “We return two defensive backs, four linebackers and one defensive lineman from last season’s team. We have several players competing for the positions on defense.” The offense is mostly intact – only two linemen departed – which allows Campus to start a step ahead from past seasons. With a standout junior

Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery


Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


As good of a season as Junction City enjoyed a year ago, it was oh so close to being something special. The Blue Jays finished the season 8-2 and six points from taking an undefeated record into the state quarterfinals. A 27-22 loss to arch rival Manhattan was the only regular season blemish and denied Junction City a second straight Centennial League title. The playoff loss to Hutchinson was an even bigger heartbreaker. After leading 13-0 early, the Blue Jays and Salthawks spent the rest of the game in a shootout, eventually going to overtime. Hutchinson scored on its possession and JC answered, but elected to go for two and fullback Baylor Wilkey was stopped a foot short on the conversion and the season ended with a 42-41 loss. The graduation of a talented senior class which played a huge role in Junction City’s 18-3 record the past two season leaves Randall Zimmerman with some serious holes as he heads into his 24th year. None are bigger than in the backfield where Centennial League offensive MVP Ryan Henington has graduated after throwing for 1,783 yards and rushing for 1,012 yards a year ago in his third year as starting quarterback. Three-year starter and All-Class 6A all-purpose back Jovon Baldwin also is gone after racking up a combined 1,268 rushing and receiving yards and 17 total TDs. A strong defense has been a staple for Randall Zimmerman’s teams and should be a strength again this year. Leading tackler Kenson Henderson returns at linebacker after making 76 stops last year. 8-2 in 2016 / 6A / Centennial League Coach: Randall Zimmerman (24th year) Assistants: John Davis, Dylan Richardson, Jimmy Goheen, Carl Laughlin, Ty Zimmerman, DeShawn Fogle, Mitch Whaley, Aaron Craig, Willie Snipes Offense: Multiple/Spread Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 4 Defense Jalen Brooks, WR, 5-7, 155, Sr.; Baylor Wilkey, FB, 5-11, 205, Jr.; Xavier Cason, TE, 6-4, 245, Sr.; Kenson Henderson, LB, 5-11, 220, Sr.; Davante King, S, 6-0, 200, Sr.; SaDante Person, DL, 5-9, 230, Sr.; Javontez Brime, DB, 5-10, 160, Jr. Brent Maycock


A stellar season came to a shocking end for Manhattan in 2016. After a perfect run through their Centennial League foes and dominating Wichita Southeast in the playoff opener, the Indians’ bid for a perfect season came to a crashing halt with a 24-21 loss to Washburn Rural — a team the Indians beat 28-6 in a lightning-shortened game in Week 2. The unexpected loss should serve as plenty of motivation for the Indians heading into 2017. At least it should for the few players back with that bad taste in their mouth. Only 10 letterwinners return and the Indians must replace all but one starter on offense and only five return on defense, giving eighth-year coach Joe Schartz one of his youngest teams ever coming on the heels of arguably his most experienced team. The biggest hole to fill will be the offensive line where Manhattan graduated five players who had started at least two years, including three-year starter and All-Class 6A pick Eldon Picou. Returning back Reece Wewer will have to carry the offensive load early as the Indians replace a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, including quarterback Ian Trapp, who also threw for more than 700 yard and had 35 total touchdowns. Defensively, Manhattan should be strong at each level with most of the team’s returning experience on that side of the ball. Senior LB Nik Grubbs made big strides last year and had a good offseason. Senior safety Jalin Harper is a state champion wrestler. Manhattan won the Centennial League outright last year for the first time since back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011, with only one of its league wins last year by less than 20 points — a 27-22 win over rival Junction City. The Indians have won a share of the league title seven times in the last eight years 9-1 in 2016 / 6A / Centennial League Coach: Joe Schartz (8th year, 65-17) Assistants: Pat McKinney, Jim Webber, Ryan Small, Weston Moody, Shane Sieben, Nathan Good, Steve Aschenbrenner Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 1 Offense, 5 Defense Reece Wewer, RB, 5-10, 185, Sr.; Matt Bollman, DL, 6-3, 235, Sr.; Andrew Sorenson, DL, 6-2, 225, Sr.; Nik Grubbs, LB, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Jalin Harper, FS, 6-0, 175, Sr.; CJ Lowery, CB, 5-9, 165, Sr. Brent Maycock



After graduating a plethora of stars and 18 total starters from its 2015 10-1 squad, Lawrence figured to be in for a bit of a slow start as the new faces got up to speed. Instead, the Lions hit the ground running, reeling off five wins in their first six games, all by 21 or more points — the lone setback coming against Missouri foe Lee’s Summit West. The hot start didn’t last, however, as Lawrence lost three of its last four to finish 6-4. In a wild 52-49 shootout loss to Shawnee Mission North in the second round of the playoffs a late field goal was the difference. The Lions had beaten the Indians by 26 earlier in the season. Lawrence gave up 48 or more points in its final three losses. The late-season defensive troubles may be something the Lions have to deal with early in 2017. Every defensive starter from a year ago graduated, including All-Class 6A lineman Jacob Unruh. That leaves an inexperienced group needing to mesh quickly and grow up fast. It also puts a bigger burden on the offense to score points, which wasn’t a problem for the Lions a year ago as they averaged 36.1 points per game. The unit will miss All-6A running back Trey Moore, who racked up more than 1,000 yards in his first year taking over as feature back for the Lions after the departure of the program’s all-time leading rusher, J.D. Woods. Until a new feature back emerges, Lawrence will lean heavily on its passing game, which should be in good hands. Senior quarterback Dante Jackson returns after transitioning from defense to offense a year ago and amassing more than 1,000 yards of 2-6 in 2016 / 6A / Kansas City-Atchison League total offense. He also has three of his top receivers Coach: Michael Lockett (4th year, 5-21) from a year ago back, including second-team Assistants: Isaac Templeton, Eugene Rodriguez, All-Sunflower League pick Clarence King and honorDarin Bowen, Kurt Parker, Bryan Nelson able mention selection Ekow Boye-Dow. Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 This will be the final season for Lions head coach Returning lettermen: N/A Brent Maycock Dirk Wedd, who announced he would retire from teaching and coaching last fall. Wedd has coached for more than 40 years, including 28 as either an assistant or head coach at Lawrence, and enters the For the second time in Jesse Owen’s two-year tenure at Olathe East, the Hawks went 3-6. But while season one win shy of 100 in his career as a head last year’s mark looked the same, East was a much coach. improved team in 2016. After getting outscored by 74 points in 2015, East 6-4 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League cut that deficit in half a year ago. Outside of blowout Coach: Dirk Wedd (18th year, 99-72) losses to Hutchinson (41-13) in the season opener Assistants: Adam Green, Chris Johnson, Jamie and Shawnee Mission East (49-7) late in the season, Reeseguie, Chuck Holley, Jeff Lyster, Jeff Colter, the Hawks were right in all their other games and lost Matt Stiles Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 14 twice by a touchdown or less. Strides this season would be in the win column as Returning starters: 8 Offense, 0 Defense East looks to get back to its customary place of chal- Dante Jackson, QB, 5-7, 155, Sr.; Ekow Boye-Dow, WR, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Jalen Dudley, WR, 6-1, 190, Sr.; lenging for the Sunflower League title and making deep postseason runs. The Hawks started a slew of Clarence King, WR, 6-1, 180, Jr.; Jacob Mills, OL, BM sophomores a year ago as Owen looked to develop 6-1, 220, Sr.; Kristian Russell, 6-2, 265, Sr. for the future and hopes are that experience will go a long way in 2017. Things went from awesome to so-so for Olathe An improved offense a year ago could take North last season as the days of a Class 6A semifinal even more steps this year with much of the team’s production back. Graduation claimed only one skill were immediately filed away into the past. player, but leading rusher Jack Mason (535 yards, 10 North went from 10-2 in 2015 and finishing a game touchdowns) transferred. No other back really estab- short of a state title game appearance to a 3-6 result lished themselves as a workhorse, but four returners last fall, but make no mistake, head coach Chris had at least 150 yards on the ground and senior Will McCartney may have the pieces in place to look Scofield and junior Dwan Washington each scored at more like the former than the latter in 2017. The third-year head coach is seeking commitment least six touchdowns. and the ability to get better each week from a roster Scofield and junior Hunter Thomas split time at quarterback a year ago, but combined for only 532 that returns a healthy number of lettermen (24) and starters on both sides of the ball – six each on passing yards and three touchdowns. Leading receiver TyJuan Lewis (20 catches, 294 yards) also offense and defense. returns and more production in the passing game will The Eagles went 3-3 in Sunflower League play and help take some of the pressure off the ground game suffered a 36-22 defeat at Shawnee Mission North in with Owen hoping Thomas takes control and settles the teams’ playoff opener. North has designated home games against Wichita the position this year. Heights (Sept. 1), Olathe East (Sept. 8), Shawnee East returns its top-five tacklers from a year ago Mission West (Oct. 6) and Olathe Northwest (Oct. with senior linebacker Ryan Brockschmidt leading 13) while road games at Blue Springs South (Sept. the way with 79 stops. 15), Shawnee Mission East (Sept. 21), Lawrence (Sept. 29) and Shawnee Mission Northwest (Oct. 20) 3-6 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League will make this campaign yet another competitive one. Coach: Jesse Owen (3rd year, 6-12) Assistants: Travis Greeg, Kevin Colwell, Nick Ash, 3-6 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League Phil Simons, Jamie Harris, Jason Peete, John Thomas, Lucas Yarnell, Mike Thomas, Lance Larson, Coach: Chris McCartney (3rd year, 13-8) Assistants: John Hilton, Bryan McCall, Josh Carroll, Chris Burnett LaDrew Murrell, Zach Johnson, Kyle Swartz, Sean Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Richardson, Jeremiah Baer and Gersom Paredes Returning lettermen: 33 Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense Daniel Reed, WR, 6-0, 170, Sr.; TyJuan Lewis, WR/ Returning lettermen: 24 CB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Hunter Thomas, QB, 6-3, 195, Jr.; Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Eric Dooley OLB/TE, 6-2, 190, Sr.; Ryan Huck MLB/ Joe Colwell, S, 5-8, 160, Sr.; Xavior Green, RB/S, 5-9, 175, Jr.; Dwan Washington, FB/LB, 5-9, 185, Jr.; TE, 6-5, 210, Sr.; Jordan Dubin DE/OL, 5-11, 230; Connor McCartney, LB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Trevon Kear- Sr., Javon Parrish, S/RB, 5-7, 150, Sr.; Drew Rediger, ney, RB/CB, 5-9, 165, Jr.; Cade Wilson, RB/LB, 5-9, DE/TE, 6-0, 210, Sr.; Anthony Crawford DE, 5-11, 220, Sr.; Zac Krause, QB, 6-2, 180, Jr.; Gavin Jones, 180, Sr.; Brandon Fox, OL/LB, 6-1, 210, Sr.; Ryan Brockschmidt, TE/LB, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Conner Smith, NG, 5-10, 220, Jr.; Matt Burks. OL/DL, 5-11, 230, Jr. Alan Dale OL/DL, 6-4, 275, Sr.; Henry Carranza, OL/DL, 6-5, 300, Sr. Brent Maycock Only two players on Wyandotte’s roster played in all eight of the Bulldogs’ games last year as injuries or other circumstances prevented them from being at full strength all season. The setbacks derailed a season where the Bulldogs had high expectations on making a big improvement from their 1-8 showing in 2015, returning a wealth of starters and a total of 42 lettermen. The biggest loss early in the season was starting quarterback Marcus Jones, who went down in the opener and didn’t return until the final game of the season. Even then, he only played at receiver. In his place, Terrell Batts had a solid season, throwing for 768 yards with the bulk of that going to Gerail Lucas, who had 20 of the team’s 37 catches for 507 yards and seven of the nine touchdowns. Batts and Lucas are gone now, so a healthy Jones will be key to the offense this year. Senior Marcus Dotson developed into a solid threat in the run game, rushing for 572 yards, but no other returning back had more than 100. Four of the Bulldogs’ top-five tacklers were underclassmen a year ago, led by Larry Jones’ 51 stops. The defense will need to improve after giving up at least 30 points in all but one game and more than 40 six times. Wyandotte hasn’t posted more than two wins in a season since going 4-5 in 2013 and all five wins over the past three years have come against either KC Harmon or KC Sumner.



Page 63


Whatever questions Free State entered the 2016 season with, the Firebirds sure didn’t take long to answer them. After losing a season-opening shootout with Shawnee Mission West, the Firebirds never slowed offensively and shored things up defensively, winning nine of their next 10 games to return to the state semifinals — the only loss in that stretch coming to Park Hill (Mo.). The season ended with a 49-21 loss to eventual state champion Derby — the second straight year Free State fell to the state-champion Panthers in the semifinals — but the 9-3 mark was satisfying nonetheless for a team which had to almost completely reload offensively and up front. That scenario will play out again as Free State graduated its leading rusher (Zion Bowlin), passer (Dallas Crittenden) and receiver (Zack Sanders) as well as top o-lineman Chase Houk. Crittenden, a transfer from Hayden settled into the starting QB job nicely, throwing for 1,902 yards and 16 touchdowns while getting plenty of help from Bowlin (1,039 yards, 15 TDs) and Sanders (969 yards, 11 TDs). Sanders’ departure might be the biggest with the versatile athlete earning first-team All-Sunflower League honors offensively, defensively and as a returner. Graduation also claimed All-Class 6A linebacker Jay Dineen, now at Kansas. Veteran coach Bob Lisher, entering his 20th season, will resume the play-calling duties this season and will turn to either starting linebacker Gage Foster or underclassmen Jordan Preston or Malik Berry to step in at quarterback. Foster and Preston battled Crittenden during the preseason a year ago before Foster moved into a starting role defensively and Preston took a back-up role. Finding complements to go with whoever wins the starting job will be a task in itself, though junior Jax Dineen could fill one of the voids in the backfield if Lisher opts to play the standout LB both ways. The Firebirds finished runner-up in the Sunflower League to SM East and gave Lisher his 125th win at Free State with the long-time coach needing just eight wins this year to hit 150 overall in his career. 9-3 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League Coach: Bob Lisher (20th year, 128-82) Assistants: Mike Gillman, Spencer Bonner, Taylor Stuart, Devin McAnderson, Decorey Pittman, Mike Evans Offense: Spread Gun Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 4 Defense Gage Foster, OLB, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Nathan Spain, C/ NG, 6-0, 205, Sr.; David Johnson, LB, 6-0, 195, Sr.; Gabe Delvalle, DB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Spencer Roe, OL, 6-3, 250, Sr.; Tanner Cobb, WR, 5-11, 175, Sr. BM


Coming through in close games was the biggest difference in Olathe Northwest being able to post its third straight winning season and the eventual 3-6 finish the Ravens posted. In games decided by seven points or less, Northwest was just 1-5. That included a 27-26 double-overtime loss to eventual Class 5A runner-up Goddard in the season opener and a 20-14 overtime loss to Olathe East in week two. The only blowout loss the Ravens suffered was 35-0 to eventual 6A semifinalist Free State and two of Northwest’s three wins were 34-0 routs of Leavenworth and SM South. An experienced offensive line was a huge plus for the Ravens a year ago, but graduation claimed four two-year starters from the unit. As much as that hurts, the program got a huge boost in the offseason with the addition of transfer Seth Zegunis, a standout at Blue Valley Northwest who left the Huskies after his father, Mike, resigned as coach to become an assistant at newly opened Olathe West. With the Owls not fielding a varsity team this year, Northwest reaped the benefits in getting Zegunis, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound Division I prospect who was a second-team All-Eastern Kansas League selection last year. In all, Northwest graduated 25 seniors off last year’s team and with them went most of the team’s offensive and defensive production. Sherman will turn to senior Brayden Koch to lead the offense after he served as the main backup to departed starter Easton Crupper last year. Senior receiver Joe Hatzfield was an honorable mention All-Sunflower League pick last year, but is the only returner who earned all-league recognition. 3-6 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League Coach: Chip Sherman (5th year, 17-19) Assistants: Pat Butler, Jon Krug, Lorne Clark, Chris Burnett, Justin Slaven, Richie Blazevic Offense: Pro Defense: 4-2-5 Brent Maycock

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12



Coming off its first winning season in a decade, many wondered if Blue Valley North could back it up in 2016. Four games into the season, those questions were legitimate as the Mustangs sat 1-3, riding a three-game losing streak. From there, however, North turned things around. Sparked by two straight shutouts and a 52-23 win over eventual Class 5A state champion Mill Valley, the Mustangs won six straight and reached the 6A quarterfinals before falling 35-14 to Blue Valley. The 7-4 record still spoke volumes about where fourth-year coach Andy Sims has the program. The departed senior class was the winningest in 13 seasons at the school and helped the Mustangs to a share of the 2015 Eastern Kansas League title and their first playoff victory in more than a decade. With a 35-member senior class coming back for 2017, North should be in strong position to keep things rolling. Yes, the defense will miss All-Class 6A defensive lineman Peter Klug and standout linebacker Harrison Frazier, but six starters are back, including defensive end Miles Emery, a KU commit who had 61 tackles and nine sacks a year ago. Senior linebackers Thatcher Robertson and Ander Johnson each had 80 or more tackles as a complement to Frazier with Johnson recording 12 sacks. A ground game which produced the second-most yards in program history remains in good hands with the return of senior Grant Hamel, who had 1,156 rushing yards and 11 TDs and also caught five scores. He’ll have a new signal-caller as Graham Mertz replaces Cole Chapman as starting quarterback. Mertz’s size (6-4, 205) and arm strength already has earned him a scholarship offer from KU. In all, 11 players who earned all-league honors of some kind return for the Mustangs and that experience will be huge. Few teams have as tough of a regular-season schedule as North, which will 4-6 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League face four teams who reached the state semifinals a Coach: Craig Lewis (2nd year, 4-6) year ago including three — 6A runner-up Blue Valley, Assistants: Todd Buttermore, Reed Howard, Nate Harrison, Mike Jasiczek, Adam Christopher, Graham 5A state champion Mill Valley and 4A Division I state champion Miege — who played in title games in ‘16. Reece, Denis Grayless, Josh Perkins, Kenyon North played all three of those foes tough a year Thornburg, Codi Willard, Alex Warn, John Plankers, ago, beating Mill Valley behind 300 all-purpose yards Alex Howard, Zach Epps and four touchdowns from Hamel, and losing tight Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 games to Blue Valley (25-7) and Miege (24-6). Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A Offense, N/A Defense Nick Jouret, QB, Sr.; Adrian Garcia, MLB, 6-0, 210, 7-4 in 2016 / 6A / Eastern Kansas League Coach: Andy Sims (4th year, 17-13) Assistants: John Sr.; Jamison Phelps, WR/DB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Kevin Bayless, Cory Cox, Casey Curran, Calvin Davenport, Burdett, OLB/FB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Tyler Cavil, RB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Ben Landshut, WR/FS, 5-8, 163, Sr.; Trent Hedlund, AJ Sambol, Kevin Stewart, David Tindle, Bobby Williams, Jerry Woodruff, Corey Young JJ Neal, NG, 6-1, 240, Jr.; Kolby Murphy, FS, 6-3, Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 191, Jr.; Peyton Wiggs, LB, 5-9, 190, Jr.; Nathan Returning lettermen: 26 Larsen, DE, 6-2, 210, Jr. Brent Maycock Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Miles Emery, DE, 6-5, 240, Sr.; Grant Hamel, RB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Dylan Freberg, TE, 6-4, 220, Sr.; Vence Allen, WR/KR, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Thatcher Robertson, LB, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Zion Thompson, DL, 6-2, 275, Sr.; Calvin Masters, S, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Cole Riley, CB, 5-11, 160, Sr.; Ander Johnson, LB, 6-1, 225, Sr.; Nijel Roberts, WR, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Nick Orr, OL, 6-5, 270, Sr.; Jack Stallard, OL, 6-3, 230, Jr. BM All things considered, Craig Lewis’ first year as head coach at Olathe South went pretty well. After getting off to a 1-5 start, the Falcons finally gelled late in the season and won three straight before losing a wild 49-35 shootout to eventual runner-up Blue Valley in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. Another year of familiarity should help the program and with a slew of players back from a year ago, the Falcons very easily could improve on last year’s 4-6 mark. A total of 10 players who earned All-Sunflower League honors of some kind are back, giving Lewis and the Falcons plenty of firepower to keep up in the challenging Sunflower League. The biggest of those pieces is senior quarterback Nick Jouret, who had more than 1,500 yards of total offense a year ago, leading the Falcons in passing and rushing. A state champion wrestler a year ago as well, Jouret has the toughness and talent to carry South on his back. Not that he’ll have to. Senior Jamison Phelps was first-team all-league at kick returner and should take on a bigger role in the offense while senior back Tyler Cavil also should get more opportunities. Defensively, senior Adrian Garcia leads a strong linebacker unit which returns in tact and features three of the Falcons’ top-five tacklers a year ago. Garcia was a second-team all-league pick and ranked third on the team in tackles. South has a tough opener in Shawnee Mission East, a 6A semifinalist a year ago, and also has to face another 6A semifinalist midway through the season. But rivalry games with Olathe North and Olathe East are there for the taking with South losing to North by a point a year ago and sweeping two games with East, including a 35-14 win in the first round of the playoffs as a lower seed.


Offseasons don’t get much tougher than the one Blue Valley went through. The sudden death in February of well-respected head coach Eric Driskell after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm sent shockwaves not only throughout the Tiger community, but the entire state. The stunning loss of the 43-year-old coach who compiled a 70-17 record and had led Blue Valley to two straight runner-up finishes in Class 6A as well as 5A state titles in 2010 and 2013 won’t be easy for the Tigers to put behind them as they try to regroup in 2017. Allen Terrell moves up from his role as defensive line coach to replace Driskell and will try to keep the Tigers among the elite in Class 6A. Terrell previously was head coach at Turner and in six years compiled a 31-27 record before joining the Blue Valley staff in 2012. Even without the loss of Driskell, Blue Valley faced some challenges in the offseason to fill major holes after the graduation of a stellar senior class. The likes of All-State linebacker Michael Maffry (183 tackles), All-6A running back Will Evans (1,590 yards, 23 TDs rushing), All-6A receiver Harrison Van Dyne (1,096 yards, 12 TDs receiving), All-6A lineman Kirrian Kirby and quarterback Matt Dercher (3,000-plus yards passing), among others, leaves some huge shoes to fill. Though 23 lettermen are back, only four starters return total. Senior receiver Blake Brown is the only starter back on offense and the Tigers not only must replace the entire backfield, but the line. Defensively, most of the front seven is gone with junior lineman

Sutton Williams the only starter back. The secondary will be the strength of the team with Brown, Owen Olson and Eric Olson all back. Blue Valley’s new starters will get an immediate test right out of the gate, though in reality every night in the Eastern Kansas League is a challenge. The Tigers open with three-time reigning Class 4A Division I champion Miege, though they’ve handed the Stags their only losses the past two seasons, including a 35-28 victory in last year’s opener. Blue Valley followed with 11 straight wins, all by 18 points or more until a 35-34 overtime win over SM East in the 6A state semifinals when the Tigers went for two and converted for the victory. The lone loss last year was 17-14 to Derby in the state championship game, denying the program its seventh state title overall and first in 6A.

Page 64


A new era begins at Blue Valley Northwest as Mike Zegunis resigned after 12 years as head coach to take an assistant coaching job at newly opened Olathe West. The Huskies went 4-15 over the past two seasons, including a 2-7 mark a year ago. Zegunis’ tenure nearly ended on a high note as Northwest came agonizingly close to avenging a season-opening 28-14 loss to arch rival Blue Valley North in the first round of the playoffs, falling 39-36 in double overtime. The only wins came against Blue Valley West and Blue Valley Southwest and all seven losses came to programs which won at least one playoff game. Taking over for Zegunis is Clint Rider, who is fresh off leading Hesston to the Class 3A state championship game. Rider spent four years as coach of the Swathers, compiling a 36-9 record and winning at least eight games each season. He coached at Southeast-Cherokee before taking over at Hesston. A high-flying offense was a trademark of Rider’s teams at Hesston and he hopes to instill a similar attack at Northwest, which averaged just under 21 points per game a year ago. While Rider will be breaking in an entirely new cast of starting skill players with his spread offense, he’ll have the luxury of an experienced group of linemen with six returning who saw starting time a year ago, including two-way starters Jared and Joshua Cruz. That group could have been even stronger but Zegunis’ departure also meant the exit of senior linemen Seth Zegunis, a Division I prospect who will play his senior year at Olathe Northwest with Olathe West only fielding a JV squad this year. As strong as the Huskies should be up front defensively, the linebacking tandem of seniors Jackson Heath and Garrett Parks will be the heart of the unit with Heath also returning as a first-team All-Eastern Kansas League pick at tight end a year ago. Rider is hoping he can duplicate the success he had at Hesston and help elevate Northwest into one of 6A’s top program, no easy task in the tough Eastern Kansas League. The Huskies won’t get the luxury of easing into things with rival North expected to be one of 6A’s best again and then a week two meeting with two-time defending Class 5A champion Mill Valley. 2-7 in 2016 / 6A / Eastern Kansas League Coach: Clint Rider (1st year; 7th overall, 46-20) Assistants: John Reichart, Tenny Dewey, Tim Serbousek, Darren Masten, Zack Orrick, Rex Van Buskirk, Patrick Gittemeier, Jeremy Spears, Tobin Sample, Adam Repass, Ed Thomas, Leon Washington Offense: Pistol Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense Jackson Heath, TE/WR/LB, 6-5, 210, Sr.; Joshua Cruz, OL/DT, 6-0, 230, Sr.; Jared Cruz, OL/DE, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Max Wagoner, OL, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Luke Weber, OL, 5-10, 225, Sr.; Peyton Potts, OL, 6-1, 215, Jr.; Jacob Mies, OL, 6-0, 225, Sr.; Derrick Taylor, DT, 5-11, 250, Sr.; Garrett Parks, LB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Eric Fischbach, FS, 6-1, 175, Sr. Brent Maycock


It was a tough season last year for the Jaguars and not just based on playing in the rough-and-tumble, east side of Class 6A. BV West also dropped decisions to Class 5A St. James Academy and 4A-I Bishop Miege and so the 2-7 season ended with a No. 14 seed in the opening round of the playoffs where the Jaguars fell 51-12 at Lawrence. But head coach John Koerkenmeier heads into his second year with 15 starters back and two dozen lettermen to count on, so improvement this fall could be a reality. Koerkenmeier stated that he just wants his team to get better every day while the players dedicate themselves to the team, play with passion, compete on each rep and care for one another as a family. If that happens, they could better negotiate a schedule that includes designated home games against Blue Valley Northwest (Sept. 15), Bishop Miege (Sept. 28), Gardner-Edgerton (Oct. 13) and St. James Academy (Oct. 20). The road slate will be challenging, with games at Blue Valley Southwest (Sept. 1), Blue Valley (Sept. 8), St. Thomas Aquinas (Sept. 22) and Blue Valley North (Oct. 6). 2-7 in 2016 / 6A/ Eastern Kansas League Coach: John Koerkenmeier (2nd year, 2-7) Assistants: Ryan Copp, Danny Catanzaro, Kollin Ahern, Bryan Salsgiver, Randy Lowe, Mike Besler, Mason Anthony, John Stone, Kevin Bandy, Chris Stoneberger, John Haley, Trevor Burgess Offense: Power Spread Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 24 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 8 Defense Keaton Goodale, QB, Sr., Jake Kidd, RB, Senior, Riley Cummings, RB, So., Sam Pascuzzi, TE, Sr., Ben Freeman, OL, Jr., Dalton McCullum, OL, Sr., Caden Bolz, OL, Jr., Ben Perez, DL, Sr., Zach Luchtefeld, DL, Sr., Dean Morrow, DL, Senior, Riley Cummings, LB, Sophomore, Ben Coates, DB, Jr., Jake Kidd, DB, Sr., Preston Rouse, DB, Sr. and Jack Michelson, DB, Sr. Alan Dale


East was clearly one of the best teams in the state a year ago. Shawnee Mission East finished unbeaten in Sunflower League play – 6-0 – and rolled all the way to the Class 6A state semifinals where the season ended in an instant classic, 35-34 loss at Blue Valley. Combine that with a narrow, 26-20 loss at Missouri powerhouse K.C. Rockhurst, and the Lancers were essentially a touchdown and an extra point from being 12-0 and playing Derby in the state title game. Dustin Delaney is heading into his fifth year as the head coach of the Lancers with a 43-6 record and he has nine starters back. He previously served a short stint as the head coach at Emporia and before that was an assistant to Randy Dreiling, the current 12-1 in 2016 / 6A / Eastern Kansas League Aquinas head coach who was then in charge of the Coach: Allen Terrell (1st year, 0-0) Assistants: Rick McNerlin, Lew Rowe, Paul Brown, most successful large class program in the state at Hutchinson. Jonathan Jost, Adam Kinzer, Mel Foxx, Brandon SM East’s offense could struggle early on with only Olney, Don Hanna, Tad Kersting, Dan Cromer, Larry Lindsay, Pat McRoberts, Clark Winslow, Matt Shipley, two starters back, but that could be relative. Last year, the Lancers scored 40+ points on 10 different Adam Bien occasions with half of those being of the 49+ variety. Offense: Spread Pistol Defense: 4-2-5 Returning all-state players, offensive lineman Returning lettermen: 23 Justin Finnigan and running back Milton Braasch Returning starters: 1 Offense, 3 Defense who earlier this summer verbally committed to play Blake Brown, WR/CB, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Owen Olson, football at Colgate next fall - are two good places to DB, 6-3, 195, Sr.; Eric Olson, DB, 5-10, 190, Jr.; start. Finnigan is one of the top offensive linemen in Sutton Williams, DL, 6-3, 225, Jr. Brent Maycock Kansas, and Braasch - also a LaCrosse player - is

one of the most explosive and athletic players in the state running an incredible 3.9 second pro agility drill earlier this spring an rushing for over 1,500 yards last fall. Defensively, the team had its moments, holding half its opponents to less than 20 points and with seven starters back, Delaney believes this unit has the makings of potentially the program’s best in his time with the school. 10-2 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League Coach: Dustin Delaney (5th year, 43-6) Assistants: Chip Ufford, Andy Walter, Courtney Porter, Brandon May, Derrick Rider, Sam Jacobsen, Matt Jacobsen, Danny Long, Drew Steffen, Trey Hobson, Will Kaiser, Gary Carl, Shawn Hair, Andrew Gagnon, Dre Carnegie Offense: Flexbone/Spread Option Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 2 Offense, 7 Defense Ashton Andino, DL, 5-10, 285, Jr.; Kelyn Bolton, DB, 6-1, 160, Sr.; Milton Braasch, RB, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Justin Finnigan, OL, 6-2, 270, Sr.; PJ Spencer, DE, 6-3, 235; Carter Trippel, OLB, 6-0, 210, Jr.; Cooper Walton, OLB, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Isaiah Wright, DB, 5-10, 185, Jr.; Zach Yeo, DB, 5-11, 185, Sr. Alan Dale

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


After winning just five games in Ben Bartlett’s first two years as coach, Shawnee Mission North turned the corner a bit last year, going 6-5. The strides made during the season showed up in the postseason when the Indians avenged a 52-26 loss to Lawrence in Week 2 with a 52-49 win over the Lions in the second round of the playoffs. For that matter, it also showed in the season-ending loss to Shawnee Mission East in the Class 6A quarterfinals. After losing to the Lancers 77-26 early in the season, North dropped a 41-25 decision in the postseason. Shootouts were the name of the game for North, which finished only one game above .500 despite averaging 38.5 points per game. The Indians gave up 39.9 points per contest and only once allowed fewer than 22 in a game. Shoring up the defense will be a big key this year because the offense graduated its top gun. Threeyear starting quarterback Will Schneider departs as the state’s career leader in passing yards with 8,901 yards. He threw for 3,035 yards and 31 TDs last year, while also rushing for 608 yards and 12 more scores. Bartlett has a trio of candidates battling to take over for Schneider with senior Dustin McKessor and juniors Billy Conaway and Zach Bush in the mix. He more than likely prefers McKessor to win the job with Conaway staying at wide receiver where he led the Indians with 65 catches for 963 yards and six touchdowns. Three other receivers who combined for 73 catches, 1,296 yards and 12 touchdowns also return, led by Noah Laird (34-810, 9). Schneider isn’t the only big void to fill with North also graduating leading rusher Marcos Garcia (967 yards, 11 TDs) and top lineman Danny Presler. Three starting offensive linemen do return. Six starters return to the defense, including leading tackler, senior linebacker Tanner Willmon (74 tackles), and the entire secondary. But the unit gave up 70 points twice last year and could hold the key to this year’s success. North won two of its first three games to jump-start its breakthrough season and will have the chance to do so again, facing SM South in the opener and 5A Lansing in the third week. Those games sandwich a rematch with Lawrence, which also will be rebuilding for the 2017 season.


Getting things turned around at Shawnee Mission Northwest has been a little slow going for Bo Black. The former Great Bend coach who led the Panthers to the 2006 Class 5A state championship game enters his third year at Northwest still looking to get the Cougars back on track. Northwest posted its second straight 1-8 season under Black last year and hasn’t had a winning season since 2010. A porous defense was the biggest hindrance for the Cougars a year ago. Northwest surrendered 39 or more points in all eight losses and for the season yielded 406 points (45 per game). With six starters back on that side of the ball, Black hopes the defense takes some steps forward this season. Five of them are on the front six in Black’s 3-3 scheme, giving the Cougars the potential for a solid front line of defense, led by two-way starting lineman Travis Morrison, who at 5-11, 255 represents Northwest’s biggest returning starters. Offensively, Morrison is one of four returning starters, only two of them coming on the line. Northwest should have a solid passing combination in junior quarterback Spencer Stewart and senior receiver Hayden Goodpaster, but the remainder of the skill positions are a question mark with graduation claiming last year’s supporting cast. The new faces will have to get up to speed quickly because Northwest’s schedule is front loaded with the Cougars having to face 6A semifinalists SM East and Free State within the first four weeks as well as perennial contender Lawrence in the opener and a cross-state game with Grandview (Mo.). The only win the Cougars picked up a year ago came against SM South and six of the eight teams on Northwest’s schedule finished with at least six wins.


Shawnee Mission South has struggled in the first two seasons of the Brett Oberzan era, winning one lone game against 17 defeats, including last year’s 0-9 campaign. Twenty-three lettermen return to South, including 10 starters on both sides of the ball, which could be a good or bad thing, but better on age and maturity means that the Raiders could be aiming to gain some revenge. Improvement should be attainable at the least. Last year, the Raiders scored 17+ points only twice all season, were shutout three times and on the flip side, allowed 30+ points in all but one game. Oberzan just wants his team to get better and “compete every day” and says the team’s success will be predicated on the “ability to run the football” and win the turnover battle. The battle will test the Raiders again as they travel to Shawnee Mission North (Sept. 1), Lawrence Free State (Sept. 8), Olathe East (Sept. 28) and Shawnee Mission West (Oct. 13) while South plays host to Winnetonka (Sept. 15), Leavenworth (Sept. 22), Shawnee Mission Northwest (Oct. 6) and Olathe Northwest (Oct. 20).


Page 65

As good as things looked for West and Tim Callaghan in 2016, the Vikings could never get a real groove going and finished 6-3 in regular season play before a 20-9 defeat in the Class 6A round of 16 against Blue Valley North ended the campaign in the blink of an eye. The Vikings went 4-2 in Sunflower League play, including an impressive win at Lawrence Free State in the season opener. With seven offensive and five defensive starters back, West could have enough talent on hand to be a factor in the league and postseason races. “This is a hardworking group of players who want to continue the Viking football tradition,” Callaghan said. “There is a small but tough and talented group of seniors that will be helped out by a number of juniors and handful of sophomores. The team is committed to each other and has worked hard in the off season to increase their chances of success. The offseason weight room dedication should pay off for some of the younger talent. “The line will bring back some experience on defense and will be the key on both sides of the ball. This team will have little depth and experience, high expectations are always here and this team will 0-9 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League be ready for the challenge. These guys know how Coach: Brett Oberzan (3rd year) to compete and have had success at the younger Assistants: Bob Ray, Matt Sullivan, Rob Powell-Dep, levels. They understand improvement needs to come Kris Kiblin, David Faggett, Andrew Shumate and from beginning to end of the season. They will be Chris Bervert eager to prove themselves on every Friday night.” Offense: Spread Defense: 3-3 Callaghan has a handful of 2-way talents to count Returning lettermen: 23 on, including seniors Terrion Brewer (OG/DL), Kirby Returning starters: 10 Offense, 10 Defense Grigsby (RB/DB), Damien Sanches (TE/LB) and Hunter Carpenter, HB/FS; Jack Roberts, QB/LB; Byron Sherwin (OT/LB). Brandon Ammons, OL/LB; Skyler Roads, OL/DL, They will need to come up big against the same Trevor Locke, C; Marquez Briscoe, RB/LB, Austin schedule as a year ago, only with a rearrangement Connor, TE/LB, Steven Ampufo, RB/LB; Tony of sites. 1-8 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League Thomas TE/DL; Graham McCalmon, WR/DB; Luke West travels to Free State (Sept. 1) and plays at Coach: Bo Black (3rd year, 2-16) Benson, LB; Sean Kirby, WR; Nolan Thimmesch, ODAC against Olathe North (Oct. 6), while the rest of Assistants: Brian Vesta, Chris Walters, Sedrick DB; Matt Miless, OL/K; Sam Macklin, WR/DB; Brett their games will be played at Shawnee sites including Cook, BJ Dunbar, Jay Black, Dave Coopman, Jeff Harrison, OL Leavenworth (Sept. 8), Blue Springs (Sept. 15), Adams, Brad Qualls, Mike Tysver, Billy Sent, Dominic Alan Dale Lawrence (Sept. 22), Shawnee Mission Northwest Mussat, Joe Leiker (Sept. 28), Shawnee Mission South (Oct. 13) and Offense: Spread Defense: 3-3 arch-rivals Shawnee Mission East (Oct. 20). Returning lettermen: 17 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 6 Defense 6-4 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League Hayden Goodpaster, WR, 6-4, 180, Sr.; Spencer Coach: Tim Callaghan (14th year, 103-45) Stewart, QB, 5-9, 175, Jr.; Travis Morrison, OL/ 6-5 in 2016 / 6A / Sunflower League Assistants: N/A DL, 5-11, 255, Sr.; Austin White, OL, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Coach: Ben Bartlett (4th year, 11-20) Offense: N/A Defense: N/A BJ Harvey, FS, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Reid Stimach, DL, Assistants: Zach Rampy, Aaron Sawyer, Luke Returning lettermen: N/A 6-0, 190, Sr.; Jack Merritt, LB, 5-8, 180, Sr.; John Rampy, Taylor Counts, Jeff Roudebush, Jeremy Returning starters: 7 Offense, 5 Defense Hanneman, DE, 6-2, 205, Sr.; Dylan Bruner, DE, Milne, Mike Bechina, Landon Murrell, Rich Davila, Terrion Brewer, OG/DL, 5-9, 250, Sr.; Ray Chavez, 6-5, 220, Jr. David Setter, Conan McCormack K, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Kirby Grigsby, RB/DB, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Brent Maycock Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Will Humphreys, DB, 6-0, 175, Jr.; Damien Sanches, Returning lettermen: 12 TE/LB, 6-1, 185, Sr.; Byron Sherwin, OT/LB, 6-2, Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense 285, Sr.; Dante Smith Posey, OT, 6-4, 270, Jr.; Mark Reese Sila, RB/LB, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Talbot Ebberts, OL/ Tines, C, 6-0, 185, Jr. DL, 6-3, 270, Sr.; Jorge Oregon, OL/DL, 6-1, 230, Sr.; Alan Dale Nate McCoy, WR/DB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Trevon Klient, WR/DB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Tanner Willmon, LB, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Aidan Thao, OG, 5-11, 225, Sr.; Billy Conaway, Perhaps no team took more advantage of the new along with fellow junior Preston Williams, who also WR, 6-0, 200, Jr.; Noah Laird, WR/DB, 6-0, 180, Jr.; playoff format in Class 6A than Washburn Rural. split time at quarterback early in the year before Alex Taylor, LB, 6-0, 185, Jr.; Zach Bush, DB, 5-11, Stuck for years in arguably the toughest 6A district moving to receiver. The Junior Blues must replace 160, Jr. Brent Maycock with the likes Manhattan, Junction City, Topeka High leading rusher Hunter Browning as well as the rest and Free State, the Junior Blues saw their share of the backfield and first-team All-6A lineman Danny of good teams never make the playoffs. With the Shields. elimination of district play last year, however, Rural Despite the low number of returning starters, vetDespite outscoring its foes 305-172, Topeka High Xavier Dunbart and senior linebacker Ethan Sams. no longer had to get past those perennial powers eran coach Steve Buhler said plenty of key reserves Despite the relative inexperience, Trojan coach Walt and the result was its deepest postseason run since a year ago saw quality time and should be ready to finished with just a 5-4 record. As maddening as it might have been for the Trojans, it just shows how Alexander says overall his team has much more 1992. step in and fill the voids. depth than in previous seasons and expects the close they were to having a really good season. After beating Dodge City in week nine, the Junior Four of Rural’s losses last year were by seven Three of their four losses were by 10 points or less, Trojans to be a fun team to watch this year. Blues avenged a regular-season loss against points or less, including a one-point decision to High’s schedule is front-loaded, starting with including a gut-wrenching 29-28 loss to Wichita unbeaten Manhattan with a 24-21 upset and then Junction City. In its victories, Rural won by an Northwest in the playoff opener where a late safety an opener against Class 4A Division II runner-up nearly knocked off Free State as well, seeing the average margin of 22 points per game, including Hayden and followed by Junction City, Emporia proved to be the difference. Firebirds pull out a 17-14 win on a field goal with two a convincing 33-6 win over Class 4A Division II High spent much of the 2016 season with standout and Centennial League champion Manhattan. The minutes to go. runner-up Hayden. quarterback Corey Thomas, an Emporia State sign- Trojans handled Hayden last year, winning by 17, A stingy defense which allowed just under 14 points ee, battling or sidelined by injuries. In his absence, but didn’t beat another team which finished with a per game keyed Rural’s most wins since 1996, but 7-4 in 2016 / 6A / Centennial League however, a star was born as freshman Ky Thomas winning record. the Junior Blues will have to rebuild that unit this year Coach: Steve Buhler (5th year, 19-19) emerged as one of the top running backs in the state. with just three starters returning. Senior corner Tyler Assistants: Bruce Humphrey, Alan Neil, Ryan 5-4 in 2016 / 6A / Centennial League Filling in at quarterback for a brief spell and also Cummings returned an interception for a touchdown Smith, Duane Zlatnik, Colter Scott, Josh Lamb, lining up at receiver periodically, Ky Thomas torched Coach: Walt Alexander (12th year, 62-44) in the playoff loss to Free State and is joined by Tyler Pfitzenmaier, Chris Ridley, Tyler Kelly, Chris Assistants: Luke Coffman, Blake Alexander, Tony defenses to the tune of 1,957 combined rushing, linebacker Jack Hamilton and lineman Jacob Kerschen Canacari, Carlos Kelly, Jason Nichol, JD Kappeler, passing and receiving yards and 20 total touchGlendinning as returning starters. Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 downs. The bulk of the damage came on the ground Brandon Mitchell, Ron Morehead. Offensively, Rural used three different quarterbacks Returning lettermen: 16 Offense: Spread Defense: 3-5 where he ran for 1,272 yards and 16 scores. early in the season, but Jordan White eventually Returning starters: 4 Offense, 3 Defense Returning lettermen: 18 The lone returner in the backfield, Thomas will grabbed hold of the position and ran with it. He Jordan White, QB, 6-0, 190, Jr.; Keaton Jones, OL/ have a veteran offensive line to work behind. Led by Returning starters: 6 Offense, 3 Defense racked up more than 1,300 yards of total offense, DL, 5-8, 215, Sr.; Jacob Glendinning, OL/DL, 6-5, seniors Tanner Matthias (6-0, 260), Matt Garza (6-6, Ky Thomas, RB, 6-0, 185, So.; Tanner Matthias, OL, including 100-yard rushing and passing games in the 295, Sr.; Preston Williams, WR/QB, 6-2, 185, So.; 320) and Tucker Richey (6-0, 285), the Trojans are 6-0, 260, Sr.; Matt Garza, OL, 6-6, 320, Sr.; Tucker playoff upset of Manhattan. Jack Hamilton, ILB, 6-2, 195, Sr.; Tyler Cummings, Richey, OL, 6-0, 285, Sr.; Jalen Blackwell, WR/TE, big and strong up front which should give Thomas He’s one of four returning starters on offense CB, 6-0, 170, Sr. Brent Maycock 6-2, 220, Jr.; Kieran Essman, WR, 6-1, 200, Sr.; more than enough room to do his thing while they Xavier Dunbar, DE, 6-0, 255, Sr., Ethan Sams, LB, develop a young starter at quarterback. 6-0, 200, Sr. While the offense is in good hands, it will be the Brent Maycock development on the other side of the ball which ultimately could determine the Trojans’ success. Only three starters return defensively, led by senior end



Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


The challenging, uphill climb out of the canyon of the City League standings continues for Wichita East. The Blue Aces battled to a 2-7 mark in 2016, their seventh season under .500 in the past eight tries. East collected victories over Wichita North (47-6) and Wichita Southeast (21-20), but those programs were a combined 1-17. The Blue Aces had less success against the upper echelon, taking double-digit defeats in their seven other contests. The wheels fell off the defense during the grind of the season, allowing more than 40 points in five of its final six games. The defense may quickly flip around to become a strength, however. Lineman Marelle Boulingy was a second-team City League selection. Linebacker Dewede Black and defensive backs Garett Lancelot and Blazer Snell were honorable mentions. The offense will rely on senior running back Jovon Givins, a City League honorable mention pick. Coaching shakeups leave East coach Bill Coffman as one of the longest tenured head coaches within the City League, even as he enters year three. Wichita South, Wichita Southeast, Wichita North and Bishop Carroll all are undergoing staffing changes. East has glory days to lean on for inspiration. The Blue Aces were once a state power, capturing championships in 1982 and 1983, a runner-up trophy in 1981 and semifinal appearances in 1976 and 1980.



The Wichita North football program and Scott Moshier’s coaching career spent the past decade on divergent roads. North’s struggles are well known locally, records mired in misery. The program tallied 11 combined wins over the past 10 years, including a winless 2016. This past season, the offense produced 6.7 points per game, while the defense bent for 55.1 ppg. Belaboring the point, no final score was within 30. With more than a quarter-century of coaching expertise, Moshier has toured the state with coaching positions, including Oxford, Wellington, Hoxie and Belle Plaine. The past 11 years were at Meade, where he established the Buffaloes as a small-school gem in Western Kansas. He crafted 107 victories at Meade, setting the program record for career coaching wins. Meade won state championships in 2010 and 2012 under Moshier’s tutelage. If opposites attract, North and Moshier were made for each other. Moshier, a Wichita East graduate, has a bit of a homecoming as he takes the reins at North. “We have to create a new mindset at North High that involves our student-athletes and empowers them to be successful through hard work and a commitment to excellence,” he said. “We also have to put ourselves in a position where we can be more competitive in every aspect of the game, and this begins in the offseason with workouts and camps.” 2-7 in 2016 / 6A / Greater Wichita Athletic League To pulsate energy into a comatose program, Coach: Bill Coffman (3rd year, 3-15; 15th overall, Moshier will go back to basics, tasking the offense 47-84) with ball security and the defense with zooming to Assistants: N/A the football. Offense: N/A Defense: N/A “Finding players that are willing to not look at what Returning lettermen: N/A North High has been in the past, but find those that Returning starters: N/A want to be part of helping build something special,” Moshier said. Kyle McCaskey The front half of the schedule offers some prospect for North to shake out the kinks of a new coaching staff. North challenges Wichita South, Wichita East, Wichita Southeast and Liberal in that run, with all but Southeast at home. Those opponents were a combined 7-25 against foes other than North in 2016.

Wichita Northwest amassed more than three miles of offense in 2016. An assignment-sound offensive line and skill players with feet that could spark a fire dissected opponents for 546.8 yards per game, establishing a new state record – breaking a mark the Grizzlies set the year before. Northwest’s 28 points in its “worst” offensive performance would qualify as some teams’ season best. That came in a season-ending 6A playoff loss at eventual state champion Derby, the most points Derby conceded all year. The offense, of course, can only be on the field for so long before the adversary can attack back. That proved to be the downfall of the Grizzlies in a whirlwind 6-4 season. Nine foes scored at least 21 points on Northwest. “(Garrett) Bridwell, (Eric) Solis, (Marcus) Hicks and (Percelle) Finch all return to anchor the defense,” said Northwest coach Steve Martin. “This group at times showed their youth last year, but will lead this defense.” That quartet encompasses a defensive line that should regularly wreck backfields. Hicks, in particular, has accumulated several Division 1 offers, including in-state from Kansas and Kansas State. Should ball carriers leak through to the next level, first-team City League linebacker Josh Carter returns. He topped the team in tackles as a sophomore. Looking to salve the secondary, Martin will give receivers Jaxson Reynolds and Jalen Smith the chance to double up on playing time at safety. The offense will be as lethal as ever. Quarterback Austin Anderson, the program’s leader in passing touchdowns and yards, settles in for his senior year. Sensational playmaker Reynolds shook loose for 100-yard receiving games against Bishop Carroll, Wichita Heights, Great Bend and Garden City. There is no wait-and-see when it comes to develop. Northwest opens with Carroll, Heights and Great Bend, a combined 26-7 in 2016. Northwest has finished atop the City League standings for two consecutive seasons.

0-9 in 2016 / 6A / Greater Wichita Athletic League Coach: Scott Moshier (1st year; 27th overall, 158-106) Assistants: Mitchell Kucera, Quinton Burgess, Darius Warner, Jack Ewings III, Lorne Williams, Eli Copeland, Albert Herrera, Jordan Moshier Offense: Single Wing/Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A Kyle McCaskey

6-4 in 2016 / 6A / Greater Wichita Athletic League Coach: Steve Martin (6th year, 34-17; 11th overall, 65-28) Assistants: Beau Bedore, Cole Cherryholmes, Edmund Cronn, MiKendrick Harper, Dan McKee, Jonathon Thompson, Zack Westhoff Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 6 Offense, 8 Defense Austin Anderson, QB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Jaxson Reynolds, WR/S, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Earon Garcia, C, 5-11, 240, Sr.; Jalen Smith, WR/S, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Garrett Bridwell, DE, 6-2, 215, Sr.; Josh Carter, LB, 5-10, 210, Jr.; Marcus Hicks, DE, 6-5, 245, Jr.; Eric Solis, DT, 5-10, 275, Jr.; Breece Hall, RB, 6-1, 195, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


Newly-minted Wichita Southeast coach Erik Dobbins could have started the conversation with the usual tenets. Holding the edge on defense, strong up the middle, win the trenches. Those are all always true concerns for a program in need of resuscitation. Dobbins is not ignoring the on-the-field improvements needed at Southeast. Dobbins, however, embraced the role of educator this summer. His goals include a 90 percent graduation rate, more participation in athletic programs, prioritizing the classroom and unity throughout the school. It is a purposeful rallying cry for a school with a storied history. While the Buffaloes look to dig their hooves into solid ground, it can at times be too easy to forget the program’s tradition. From 1972 to 1980, the Golden Buffaloes won four state titles, and played in the championship on four other occasions. Dobbins becomes the fourth coach in eight seasons for Southeast. He replaces Mike Schartz, who was 1-8 in both his seasons guiding the Buffaloes. Southeast’s last winning season came in 2008 under current Maize coach Gary Guzman. The current budding dynasties of the City League make upward movement in the standings a challenging proposition, but Southeast has the experience to reset the tone of the program in Dobbins’ first try. Ten starters shuffle back into the defense, and eight more return on offense. Brandon Payne is an honorable mention City League defensive back. Tarik Adkins

and Dayton Evans received the same praise at quarterback and offensive line, respectively. Of Southeast’s eight regular season opponents, five come off seasons below .500 – Kapaun, Wichita North, Wichita East, Liberal and Wichita West. Gauzing the defense will be a priority, as the Buffaloes allowed 38-or-more points six times in 2016.


Page 66

As Wichita South’s Paul A. Lopez ascends from an assistant coaching role to the top, he inherits a program that recently climbed its way back to respectability. Former head coach Kevin Steiner was 13-32 in five years before resigning, including 9-9 over the past two. South nudged its way up the City League hierarchy, placing fourth behind traditional powers Wichita Heights, Wichita Northwest and Bishop Carroll. Little steps can repay themselves as bigger morale boosts schoolwide. “Our No. 1 priority is that every player graduate senior year,” Lopez said. “We will be working hard not only in the weight room and on the football field, but in the classroom, as well.” Identifying a breakaway threat for the offense is no issue. Senior running back Phillip Landrum can shimmy loose at the snap of the fingers. He won the 6A state track and field 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as helping the 4x100 relay to gold, this past spring. “The South High Titan football team is made up of a multitalented group of student-athletes,” Lopez said. “Most players participate in two or even three sports together. Because of this, our team has a sense of trust and camaraderie.” South started fast in 2016, winning three of its first four, but tailed off down the homestretch, dropping four of five, concluding with a 52-14 loss at Free State in the 6A playoffs. On the low side of returning starters, South may benefit from a backloaded schedule. The Titans face the aforementioned heavyweights of the City League – Carroll, Northwest and Heights – in the final three weeks of the regular season. Week one highlights two coaches striving for a 1-0 start to their stints at their respective schools, as Lopez and the Titans visit Scott Moshier and Wichita North. 4-5 in 2016 / 6A / Greater Wichita Athletic League Coach: Paul A. Lopez (1st year) Assistants: Theodore Tafoya, Sean McDonald, Kick Westmoreland, Roy Oeser, Sam Breeden, Davin Weber, Alex Hutchins Offense: Pro Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 8 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Jabril Freeman, WR/SS, 6-3, 185, Sr.; Phillip Landrum, RB/DB, 5-11, 165, Sr.; Marciano Escareno, LB, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Evan Kruse, QB, 6-0, 165, Jr.; Payton Collins, RB/NG, 5-8, 235, Jr.; Damian Wells, WR, 5-8, 165, Jr.; Antwan Scales, RB/LB, 5-10, 155, Jr.; J’shawn Brown, RB/DL, 5-10, 200, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


Wichita West’s 2016 was best measured with a grain of salt – maybe a few cups of it, actually. From five straight losses, to rallying with a three-game win streak to polish off the regular season, the Pioneers’ 3-6 record was reasonably understandable given the harsh reality of losing coveted starters to injury woes. “The Pioneers hope to build on the momentum gained at the end of last season as we return lots of starters and key players,” said West coach Weston 1-8 in 2016 / 6A / Greater Wichita Athletic League Schartz. “Getting Casey Glann and Isia Reed back Coach: Erik Dobbins (1st year) from missing all of last season with injuries will be a Assistants: Coy Noble, Jason Gamble, Blake big help.” Gordon, Lewis Winfield, Aaron Johnson West’s offense fired up to reel off at least 21 Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 points in each of its final seven games. That came Returning lettermen: 30 without Glann, whose 6-foot, 215-pound maturity Returning starters: 8 Offense, 10 Defense at tackle will cut an entire new alley for runners to Ollie McGee, DB, 5-11, 165, Sr.; Edres Heartfield, dash through and present protection for quarterback DL, 5-11, 210, Sr.; Tarik Adkins, QB, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Zion Parks. Bryce Eckels, WR, 6-2, 165, Sr.; Matthew Byall, “Offensively, Glann, Jordan Rios and Bryce RB, 5-9, 185, Sr.; Brandon Payne, DB, 5-10, 180, Leonard will lead a strong line,” Schartz said. “Parks Sr.; Mark Carter, WR/QB, 5-6, 160, Sr.; Johnathon returns for his junior season at QB and leads a talentStrader, DL, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Sterlinski Cadet, OL, 6-0, ed group of skill players, including Kesean Deshazer, 210, Sr.; Margius Hannon, OL, 6-1, 285, Sr.; Dayton who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season.” Evans, OL, 6-2, 285, Sr.; Brayon Loggins, WR, 6-2, Slowing high-octane arsenals was often West’s 200, Jr.; Kely Klinginsmith, LB, 5-6, 170, Jr.; Braxton pitfall in 2016, giving way to 33 points per game. Davis, DB, 5-8, 160, Jr.; Malik Claibourn, DL, 6-3, Reed, wherever he lands position-wise, will be a 230, Jr.; Larry Cherry, LB, 5-11, 180, So.; Quintin sturdy frame in the defensive front seven. Senior Thomas, WR/QB, 5-9, 200, So. defensive backs Alante French and Jaquez Hadley Kyle McCaskey combined for 89 tackles. “Defensively, we will have more speed on the field,

starting with the line. Rios, Reed and Glann will lead a strong defensive front,” Schartz said. Coming after a decade stretch at Wichita Northwest, Schartz’ return to the West sideline in 2012 has been a blessing to the Pioneers. In the five years prior to Schartz’ homecoming, West won six combined games and never more than two in one season. In Schartz’ five years of service in his second go-round, the Pioneers have 21 victories, winning at least three each season. 3-6 in 2016 / 6A / Greater Wichita Athletic League Coach: Weston Schartz (24th year, 105-89; 34th overall, 181-116) Assistants: N/A Offense: I-Formation Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 7 Offense, 8 Defense Casey Glann, T, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Kesean Deshazer, RB, 5-4, 140, Sr.; Treven Veltman, WR/QB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Tayton Webb, TE, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Bryce Leonard, C, 5-10, 230, Sr.; Jordan Rios, DL, 6-1, 250, Sr.; Isia Reed, LB/DE, 6-0, 210, Sr.; Alante French, DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Jaquez Hadley, DB, 5-7, 155, Sr.; Christian Loudermilk, Dl, 5-9, 230, Sr.; Zion Parks, QB, 5-10, 185, Jr.; Austin Fulgroat, T, 6-2, 255, Jr.; Xavier Sellers, DB, 5-6, 150, Jr.; Shakur Johnson, DB, 5-8, 170, Jr.; Deshawn Nichols, DL, 6-2, 270, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Brent Maycock Topeka Capital-Journal There wasn’t anything run of the mill about Mill Valley’s repeat as Class 5A state champion a year ago. In fact, in late October the Jaguars looked nothing like a team ready to capture a second straight state championship. A 52-23 loss to Blue Valley North was Mill Valley’s fourth straight defeat following a 3-0 start and left the Jaguars sitting 3-4 with one week left before the new start for the 5A postseason in week nine. Sure, three of Mill Valley’s four losses came to state powerhouse teams — Class 4A Division I three-peat champion Miege, Class 6A state runner-up Blue Valley and Class 5A semifinalist Aquinas — but the skid certainly seemed to have the Jaguars reeling. “It was definitely a different journey,” Jaguar coach Joel Applebee said. “We told the guys that they just had to have the mindset that the ultimate goal—state—was still there, and they kept at it.” The old adage goes “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and Mill Valley certainly can attest to its validity. The Jaguars recovered from their mini-slump to win six straight games, closing out the title run in dramatic style with a 35-34 double-overtime victory over Goddard in the Class 5A state championship game — the win secured on an extra-point kick by Jack Matchette after he had missed a field goal in the first overtime. Heck, just getting to the title game proved Mill Valley had come through its mid-season setbacks stronger. After falling to Aquinas 40-33 in their regular-season meeting, the Jaguars avenged the loss with a 14-13 win in the state semifinals, forcing a key Saints turnover late in the game to secure the win. Ramping up its schedule three years ago to elevate the program to a position where it could challenge for state titles, Mill Valley went even further in testing itself by joining the Eastern Kansas League last year. And while the 9-4 season record may not have been as glossy as the 12-1 record fashioned by the 2015 state title team, the end result was just as satisfying, if not even more so considering the heavy graduation losses suffered from the 2015 squad. “This is a resilient group, and they never lose the mind-set of winning,” Applebee said after the thrilling title-game win over Goddard. “That’s why we never had a doubt.” Without a doubt, Mill Valley will wear a target again entering the 2017 season, particularly returning eight starters on offense and six on defense. Graduation didn’t hit quite as hard this time around, though the loss of All-State safety Joel Donn and All-Class 5A lineman Keegan Zars are significant, and the Jaguars boast arguably the best offensive arsenal of any team in Class 5A. Senior quarterback Brody Flaming was sensational in taking over for Logan Koch a year ago, throwing for 2,700 yards and 33 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,297 yards and six more scores. His dual-threat ability freed up junior tailback Cameron Young to rush for 1,546 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore and even with leading receiver Ben Hartman gone, Flaming has reliable targets in senior Evan Rice and junior Logan Talley, who combined for more than 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns a year ago. Mill Valley’s top challenge may come from within its own league. Aquinas split with the Jaguars a year ago and if not for seven turnovers in the state semifinal loss, the Saints might have played for the state title for the second time in Randy Dreiling’s three years as coach after his move from Hutchinson.

Page 67

Dreiling’s presence figured to elevate Aquinas to a position among the best in 5A and the argument could be made the Saints are there. They went 8-4 a year ago, but two of the losses came to state champions (Mill Valley, Miege) and another came to 6A runner-up Blue Valley. Like Mill Valley, Aquinas will enter 2017 with a load of experience as 10 startThe program is now in the hands of Dusty Trail, who ers return on offense and eight are back on defense. If Mill Valley boasts the best set of skill players, Aquinas isn’t far served as an assistant under Schuckman for all 22 of those seasons. The Eagles finished 7-3 a year ago, losing 20-12 to behind. Senior quarterback Will Swanson threw for 1,431 yards Goddard in the second round of the playoffs. Despite gradand eight touchdowns on just 131 attempts out of the Saints’ uating 27 seniors, the cupboard is far from bare for Trail as flexbone offense and added another 775 yards and 15 he begins his tenure. Carroll returns seven starters on both touchdowns on the ground. Having senior back Drew Hicks sides of the ball and has another big senior class (26) ready around for a full season can only help the production as the to keep the tradition going. Strong quarterback play is a theme among 5A’s top confullback was limited to just nine games by injury a year ago, but still managed a team-high 1,074 yards on the ground tenders and Carroll is no different. Senior Braden Howell is with 12 scores. In all, the Saints return more than 3,000 coming off a junior season where he threw for 2,187 yards rushing yards from a year ago as well as the bulk of their and 23 touchdowns and while the bulk of last year’s playmakers around him are gone, enough returns for Carroll to offensive line, led by junior standout Joe Michalski. A defense which already returned five of its top-seven have another explosive offense. Wichita Heights also returns a playmaking quarterback tacklers from a year ago, led by seniors Ryan Jurczak (77 tackles) and Jared Flood (73), gets a huge addition with the which should have the Falcons in the hunt after they went transfer for strong safety Adam Davis from Blue Valley West, 9-2 a year ago, falling to Goddard in the quarterfinals. where he was a first-team All-Eastern Kansas League pick K’Vonte Baker ran for nearly 1,500 yards a year ago as a sophomore starter and will team with fullback Dejuan Scott a year ago. Goddard, which reached its first championship game in (904 yards) to give the Falcons a dynamic 1-2 backfield program history won’t be going anywhere either. The Lions punch. Eight starters return to the offense overall and sevwere a goal-line fumble in the first overtime away from en are back on defense, led by All-Class 5A lineman Dalen knocking off Mill Valley for the title a year ago and finished an Williams and linebacker Javeon Johnson, who was the lead11-2 season with its only two losses coming to state champi- ing tackler a year ago. While Great Bend reached the semifinals a year ago beons, the other to 6A champ Derby. While the graduation of All-State running back Kody fore falling 50-21 to Goddard to finish a 10-2 season, the Gonzalez leaves a huge hole in the backfield, the Lions Panthers have some huge holes to fill to stay among the have a dual-threat quarterback on the level of Flaming and elite in 5A this season. All-State quarterback Jacob Murray Swanson in senior Blake Sullivan. Sullivan came on strong graduated after amassing more than 3,300 yards of total ofin the postseason a year ago as teams tried to take away fense and 46 total touchdowns. His loss alone would be tough enough. But Great Bend Gonzalez and finished the season with 1,629 yards and 28 touchdowns passing and 1,404 yards and 17 touchdowns also must replace 1,000-yard rusher Cal Marshall, 1,000yard receiver Bryce Lytle, All-Class 5A linebacker Payton rushing. Senior lineman AJ Vang is one of the best in the state and Mauler and a total of nine players who earned All-Western is one of three starters back up front. The defense took the Athletic Conference honors last year. Line play will be biggest hit, losing its top-three tacklers including All-Class 5A a strength for the Panthers with the return of all-leaguers end Ethan Wright, but senior free safety Ian McSwain had Aaron Clark and Payton Doll offensively and Pablo Martinez six interceptions a year ago and senior middle linebacker defensively. The depth of the west went far beyond the usual suspects Justin Amaro and strong safety Cole Caraway are two-year a year ago. starters. Valley Center rode a stingy defense to a 9-2 record last Goddard survived a western bracket which was loaded with top-notch contenders, having to beat perennial power- year, but graduated 25 seniors and seven starters on each houses Carroll and Wichita Heights in the second round and side of the ball. The loss of All-5A pick Jay Shank, and continued on page 54 quarterfinals, respectively, before racing past Great Bend in the semifinals. Carroll has been the most consistent 5A program in the state for the past two decades, having lost just 1. Mill Valley 10 regular-season games 2. St. Thomas Aquinas in the past 13 years and 3. Wichita Heights recorded at least six wins for 19 consecutive sea4. Goddard sons. The Golden Eagles 5. Bishop Carroll rose to prominence under Others: Great Bend, Pittsburg, legendary coach Alan Schuckman, but the longTopeka Seaman, Valley Center time coach retired at the end of last season, his 22nd at Carroll.



Kansas Pregame, Volume 12Livingston, (Photo by Derek


Page 68


By Alan Dale For Kansas Pregame When he wraps his football career this fall, Dalyn Johnson may go down as one of the best players in the Maize history. Johnson was a, Class 5A All-State running back in 2016, after the 5-7, now senior, rushed for 1,539 yards while scoring 27 touchdowns. He also recorded 220 receiving yards and three touchdowns via the air route for a 7-3 team that finished its season in the round of 16 with a loss to Valley Center. Johnson’s numbers came against a solid schedule that featured regular season losses to 6A powers Derby and Hutchinson, who finished the campaign at 22-2 combined. Not bad numbers for head coach Gary Guzman’s top returning offensive weapon this fall. “He’s been starting since he was a freshman…we plugged him in there and he’s been running for us ever since,” Guzman said. “He’s a really good running back. He has the ability to outrun people, the ability to make you miss and he’s powerful and can take people on. He’s got great vision and sees the field really well. “He’s worked pretty hard for us. He can also catch the ball really well for us out of the backfield and with us running the spread offense, that’s a key for us. We feel very comfortable throwing the ball to him out of the backfield. I’ve had some good running backs (over two decades of coaching) and he’s right there with them.” Johnson’s focus is to better himself in a game he has grown to love. A game that allows him to escape. “Friday night lights allow you to just get away from everything and allows you to just get away from all the negative,” Johnson said. “No matter how frustrated you are with your girl for cheating on you last night, you put them pads on and lace up them cleats, you forget about all of that on the turf.” Johnson’s big numbers were certainly impacted by having a strong offensive line in front of him. This year, Guzman’s squad will be looking for new hogs up front to help pave the way for the offensive attack. “Our passing game can be pretty good,” Guzman said. “It’s whether the guys up front get the job done. We graduated all five offensive linemen. If they can get it done, we could be pretty good offensively and overall.” If the line comes together, Johnson’s goals for the fall are definitely doable. “My personal goals for this season are to repeat being first team All-State and break 1,000 rushing yards so I can break the (Maize) career rushing record,” Johnson said. “Team goals are to do the little things right and be dedicated to the weight room and everything else will take care of itself.” Johnson didn’t want to speak too much on the process of getting to the next step of playing college football, but he did say he was very interested in taking his game to the next level. “I want to become a personal trainer and when I find something I’m good at, hopefully become an offensive coordinator,” Johnson said of his college and post-education plans. A double-digit per-game scorer for the Tigers’ basketball team, Johnson is a strong athlete – deadlifting 510 pounds – while benching 245 pounds and squatting 385 pounds. A 4.65 40 time and a 30 inch vertical jump won’t hurt his chances of gaining interest from college programs. Right now, he is just trying to build more memories as an Eagle, but he already has some doozies locked away in his brain. “My most memorable moment was my freshman year when our starting running back got injured just before halftime, Coach Guzman called number nine and that just showed me that he had faith in me as his guy from day one,” Johnson said. “I now consider myself a veteran of the (Arkansas Valley-Chisholm Trail League) and that is a huge confidence booster.” It doesn’t hurt that his family has also provided a big boost of positive thinking over the years.

continued on page 72


Hobbies: Xbox Favorite subject: History Favorite food: “Mama’s enchiladas or GranGran’s fried chicken.” Favorite musician: Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole Favorite pregame song: “I’m the Man” by 50 Cent Most memorable high school football moment: “Freshman year when I was called in for the injured starter.”

Brought to you by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to

Miners Hall Museum The Miners Hall Museum in Franklin, Kansas is dedicated to preserving the rich mining history of Southeast Kansas. The museum offers monthly exhibits and programs as well as a mining library and research area. They have hundreds of mining artifacts on display and admission is free.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


No matter the result of the Andover versus Valley Center game in week eight of the regular season, the coaches’ handshake afterward will be a welcome one. Andover’s Cade Armstrong will meet a former colleague, Valley Center’s Caleb Smith, at midfield, as the Brandon Clark coaching tree extends another branch. Armstrong adds to the growing list of Derby assistant coaches that have stepped into lead roles. Armstrong oversaw three 6A state titles at Derby as the defensive coordinator for Clark, Derby’s head coach. Armstrong replaces Tony Crough, who departed Andover after one season to take a coaching position with Hutchinson Community College. With only one returning starter on offense – senior wideout Ben Smith – Andover’s defense must welcome the responsibility of taking the lead role. That pairs with Armstrong’s defensive pedigree perfectly. Senior defensive backs Brent Alfaro and Kale Rishel were second-team Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II selections, and so, too, was senior linebacker Casey Mayes. “Our offense will be extremely young, so we will depend on a stout defense and strong special teams to help us be successful this season,” Armstrong said. The regular season provides a chance to checkmark vital confidence-boosting victories for Armstrong and his program. Only two of Andover’s opponents – Goddard and Valley Center – won more than three games a year ago. Andover comes off a promising 6-4 season that marked a five-win improvement. The Trojans knocked off Goddard Eisenhower 35-14 in the first round of the 5A postseason, avenging a regular season loss from two weeks prior. Andover succumbed to Great Bend 16-7 in the round of 16. Great Bend was the only opponent to hold Andover’s offense under 14 points in 2016. That bodes well for continuity among the Trojans’ offensive architecture as Armstrong implements a similar spread scheme.


Much of the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II has seen a renaissance of sorts, establishing itself as an up-and-coming division. Four of the six programs won at least six games in one of the past two seasons, and in that span, Goddard played for a 5A state title, Eisenhower was a semifinalist and Valley Center was a quarterfinalist. As programs are on the come up, one would expect Arkansas City to have a rise of its own in the near future. With established starters across the field – seven return on offense, six on defense – the Bulldogs can begin to add layers onto their sturdy foundation. “Our first priority is to establish a clear direction for this group and make certain that everyone is on the same bus. We want to create an atmosphere of competition in every drill, every rep, every play, and make sure this team practices the right way,” said Ark City coach Braden Smith. “After that, our goal is to execute at a high level every snap. If we can do those things, we will feel very good about the outcome.” Ark City’s quarterback has a surplus of receivers to target. Andrew Brautman (658 receiving yards, five touchdowns), Tryee Watkins (214, five), Montez Robinson (154, two) and Nate Spencer (116, one) were the Bulldogs’ top four receivers in 2016. The unanswered question, however, is who that quarterback will be. “Whoever can step up and show they can lead the offense and take care of the ball will have a lot of weapons to distribute the ball to,” Smith said. Ark City comes off a 3-6 season, a two-victory improvement over the year prior. The Bulldogs nearly pulled an upset in the opening round of the 5A playoffs, falling on the road to Maize, 22-20. That was a measure of marked improvement in its own right. Ark City had lost to Maize by 23 four weeks prior. “If we can get 11 hats to the ball relentlessly and make sure tackles, we will be in good shape,” Smith said. “We started a lot of talented sophomores last year, and for us to be good, we need them to be standouts as juniors.”


Chad Eaddy takes over at Bonner Springs, who finished last season on a relative positive, by sweeping Lansing in a regular season finale and a Class 5A East playoff opener before dropping a 43-0 decision at St Thomas Aquinas in the Round of 16 to wrap a 4-6 season. Eaddy steps into the Braves’ program that returns a bevy of players from a talented squad that also earned wins over Kansas City Turner and Tonganoxie to finish 3-3 in the Kaw Valley League. Eaddy has nine starters on both sides of the ball and 28 total lettermen to go to work with and it’s no stretch to think the Braves could make a run at a KVL title in the league’s last year of existence. Eaddy wants the Braves to win the opener against Turner at home on Sept. 1 and compete “week in and week out,” with the hopes of securing a playoff game or two on Bonner Springs’ turf. He also notes that the Braves will need to perform at a higher level in the trenches, both offensively and defensively to negotiate through a tough schedule. Other home games include visits by Piper (Sept. 15), Paola (Oct. 6) and Lansing (Oct. 20) while the Braves travel to De Soto (Sept. 8), Tonganoxie (Sept. 22), Basehor-Linwood (Sept. 29) and Pittsburg (Oct. 13). The four road contests are quite daunting and a 2-2 split at minimum could secure a winning record and that hoped-for home playoff game.


Page 69

Emporia recorded its first playoff victory since 2012 when it traveled to Liberal and took a 14-7 win. The postseason ended in the next round with a 42-7 loss to Wichita Heights, concluding a 4-6 season. Other than the playoff win, the highlight of the season was a one-point win over Hayden in the second week. Still, the performance with a young team a year ago has fourth-year coach Corby Milleson plenty excited about the 2017 season, one in which Emporia will field its largest and most talented team in his brief tenure. The Spartans will still be relatively young with juniors and sophomore filling several key roles, but Milleson is optimistic the offseason went well enough to allow the Spartans to go to a full platoon system this year. A handful of returning starters could go both way, including senior lineman Jonathan Olsson, who made 37 tackles last year and teams with fellow senior Brandon Vega to anchor the left side of the offensive line. Junior Myles Livingston holds all of Emporia’s weight room records for heavyweights and his continued emergence on the line could key the offense. The bulk of Emporia’s returning experience offensively lies in the skill spots. Senior back Sawyer Slayden and junior back Anthony Delgado combined for just under 1,000 yards rushing last year. Junior quarterback Jace Stewart took over under center as a sophomore and threw for just under 500 yards, but made strides in the offseason and will battle fellow 4-6 in 2016 / 5A / Kaw Valley League junior Hayden Baumwart and sophomore John Miller Coach: Chad Eaddy (1st year) for the job this year. Assistants: Kyle Razak, Josh Fahlgren, Justin Defensively, senior linebacker Austin Hibler is on Walker, Shane Smith, Heath Wilson pace to become Emporia’s career leading tackler Offense: Pro Defense: Multiple and made 91 stops last year. Free safety Brent Returning lettermen: 28 Hastert (52 tackles) and senior end Isaac McBroom Returning starters: 9 Offense, 9 Defense (40 tackles) each had at least 40 tackles last year David Holt, RB, 5-10, 185, Jr.; Caden Henley, WR, and sophomore nose guard Riley Wagner made 24 6-0, 190, Sr.; Nosureen Peleowo, TE, 6-3, 195, Sr.; tackles as a freshman starter. Colin Henley, WR, 5-9,170, Sr.; Dre’lyn Carroll, WR, With so much experience back, Milleson will be 6-3, 175, Jr.; Adam McClure, OL, 5-11, 245, Sr.; Izac looking for a little more consistency this season. 6-4 in 2016 / 5A Carrillo, OL, 5-11, 235, Jr.; Mason Harris, OL, 6-5, Despite finishing one game under .500 last year, Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II 285, Sr.; Jacob Peterson, OL, 6-1, 265, So.; Damian Emporia was outscored 304-142 and five of its six Coach: Cade Armstrong (1st year) Amayo, OL, 6-1, 240, Sr.; LeVoide Simpson, DE, 6-2, losses were by 29 or more points, with the closest Assistants: Dustin Murray, Austin Bohanon, Derek 3-6 in 2016 / 5A 255, Sr.; Rafael Carrillo, DL, 6-1, 270, Sr.; Blaine defeat 35-20 to Seaman. Base, Shawn Woods, Chad Wilmott, Tyson Liston, Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II Grimes, DL, 5-11, 255, Jr.; Andrew Puckett, LB, Ryan Dieckgrafe Coach: Braden Smith (5th year, 10-26) 5-11, 190, Jr.; Bryce Krone, LB, 6-1, 190, So.; Bryant 4-6 in 2016 / 5A / Centennial League Offense: Spread Defense: 3-3 Assistants: Caleb Hartman, Adam Dorsey, Curt Stimac, LB, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Jamison Jackson, LB, 6-4, Coach: Corby Milleson (4th year, 11-17) Returning lettermen: N/A Massey, Anthony Whetstone, Matt Koehn, Eric 200, Sr.; Alonzo Hokes, DB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Nasjon Assistants: Randy Wells, Jay Adkins, Terry Taylor, Returning starters: 1 Offense, 7 Defense Swanson, LK Giger, Wes Stammers Porter, DB, 6-1, 165, Jr.; Devante Washington, Josh Barnes, Keaton Tuttle, Colton Koenigs, Garrett Ben Smith, WR, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Michael VanArsdale, Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 DB, 5-9, 165, Jr.; Camden Mayfield, DB, 6-3, 185, Eck, Mike Sauer, Cody Swanson DL, 6-0, 250, Sr.; Casey Mayes, LB, 6-0, 195, Sr.; Returning lettermen: 17 Sr.; Da’Quan Burgin, KR/PR, 5’8, 155, Jr.; Caleb Offense: Spread Defense: 4-2-5 Grant Staehr, LB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Preston Drake, OLB/ Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense Hightower, P/K, 5-9,150, Sr.; Austin Lampton, LS, Returning lettermen: 20 FS, 5-7, 150, Sr.; Brent Alfaro, CB, 5-9, 150, Sr.; Jacob Nelson, OL, 5-10, 265, Sr.; Hunter Stewart, 5-10,145, Jr. Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Kale Rishel, FS, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Alex Jones, OLB/QB, TE, 6-3, 190, Sr.; Nate Spencer, WR, 6-0, 175, Alan Dale Sawyer Slayden, RB, 5-9, 170, Sr.; Brent Hastert, 5-10, 170, Jr. Sr.; Andrew Brautman, WR, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Hunter WR/FS, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Myles Livingston, OL, 6-1, 295, Kyle McCaskey O’Toole, FS, 6-2, 180, Sr.; Blake Watkins, ILB, 5-10, Jr.; Jace Stewart, QB, 6-2, 170, Jr.; Anthony Delgado, 190, Sr.; Johnathan Nickum, DE, 6-3, 225, Sr.; FB/LB, 5-10, 175, Jr.; Brandon Vega, LT, 5-11, 225, Montez Robinson, WR/RB, 5-10, 160, Jr.; Tryee Sr.; Jonathan Olsson, DT/OL, 6-5, 250, Sr.; Hayden Watkins, WR/RB, 5-11, 170, Jr.; Ike Abrams, FB, Baumwart, WR, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Colton Bieker, DB, 5-11, 185, Jr.; Cevin Clark, CB, 6-0, 170, Jr.; Brice 6-0, 170, Jr.; Austin Hibler, LB, 6-1, 210, Sr.; Tyler Nittler, ILB, 5-11, 185, Jr.; Jordan Wilson, DE, 6-4, Lindquist, LB, 5-11, 190, Jr.; Riley Wagoner, NG, 200, Jr. 5-10, 215, So.; Isaac McBroom, DE, 6-3, 190, Sr. Kyle McCaskey Brent Maycock


Few programs can boast an eight-win improvement over a two-year span. Goddard – from 3-7 to 6-4 to 11-2 and only a couple points short of a 5A state championship – has swiftly transformed the perception of the program. Once perceived to make short stays in the playoffs, Goddard now enters 2017 as one of a handful in the championship conversation. “We have several returning players who received honors last year, and have a chance to be a state-qualifying team that can make a deep run in the playoffs,” said Goddard coach Scott Vang. “The key to this will be the development of our younger guys who played but were non-starters last year.” The offense could be a juggernaut. Quarterback Blake Sullivan dons the title of three-year starter, coming off a junior year highlighted by 28 touchdown passes and 17 more on the ground. He can hone in on a standout pass-catcher, tight end Owen Beason, the team’s top returning threat, carving out 456 yards and eight touchdowns last year. Leading the way is A.J. Vang, a 280-pound snow plow at center, who is joined by offensive guard Aaron Valentine, and tackle Chad Morrow. “He is a dominant, physical center who allows us to run schemes some of our other teams could not,” Scott Vang said of his son A.J. Goddard’s defense only pencils in four returning starters, but they were vital to a unit that ranked as 5A’s best by keeping opponents to 16.6 points per game. Safeties Cole Caraway and Ian McSwain would

be in the discussion of best safety duo in Kansas. Linebacker Justin Amaro trucked the ball carrier for loss 15 times as a junior. Jacob Mondragon gums up the interior at nose guard. “Our overall numbers will be up and this will help fill in areas where we lost quality players,” Vang said. The Lions will miss wide receiver Bryant Mocaby, one of the premier basketball talents in Kansas, who, as first reported by Taylor Eldridge of the Wichita Eagle, transferred to Derby in the offseason. Mocaby was second on the team catching 30 passes for 396 yards and eight scores.


As enemies try to intrude on Goddard Eisenhower’s offense, they will be greeted by a frigid, immovable stone wall anchored by returning starters Caden Douglas, Stu Habbart, Matt Cook and Jackson Brunow. The line digs in at an average of 280 pounds across its starters and top three reserves. “We expect to lean on that offensive line to run our option game as well as our power game,” said Eisenhower coach Marc Marinelli. The stability of the offensive line will be the cornerstone of the Tigers, and will be of particular importance as they break in a new starting quarterback to replace three-year starter Mason Madzey. 11-2 in 2016 / 5A The offense returns nine starters, including top Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II wideout Tanner King and running back Parker WenCoach: Scott Vang (6th year, 24-28; Overall, 42-69) zel, who comes off a breakout freshman campaign Assistants: Tom Beason, Darren Fisher, Matt Busby, where he garnered second team Ark Valley-Chisholm Bobby Rehse, Joel Condray, Cody Kohler, Kris Trail League Division II honors. Houseberg The future looks bright for Eisenhower, but looking Offense: Pistol Spread Defense: 3-3 Stack toward the immediate past is a stark reminder that Returning lettermen: N/A the Tigers cannot afford complacency. Eisenhower Returning starters: 5 Offense, 4 Defense must bounce back from a 3-6 season, which included AJ Vang, C, 6-2, 280, Sr.; Blake Sullivan, QB/P, 6-0, a one-and-done appearance in the 5A playoffs. 185, Sr.; Aaron Valentine, OG, 6-2, 225, Sr.; Owen “Coming off a year where we felt we underBeason, TE, 6-2, 190, Sr.; Chad Morrow, OT, 6-5, achieved, we have refocused our energy completely. 225, Sr.; Ian McSwain, FS, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Justin After a semifinal appearance two years ago, we are Amaro, LB, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Cole Caraway, SS, 5-8, dangerously optimistic with the team we have coming 170, Sr.; Jacob Mondragon, NG, 5-11, 265, Sr.; up,” Marinelli said. “Numbers are at an all-time high Gentry Cole, K, 5-7, 145, Jr. and we have made some great hires that should help Kyle McCaskey us achieve our team goals.” Eisenhower’s defense slots in six veterans, but

must make disciplined strides toward plugging leaks after being punctured for 42.7 points per game last year. In the Tigers’ semifinal run in 2015, they only gave up 24.1 ppg. “Our secondary will be a strength of the team, led by returning starters Evan Ellingson and Kaden Roy,” Marinelli said. “We have focused on a return of pure discipline from the front seven.” 3-6 in 2016 / 5A Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II Coach: Marc Marinelli (5th year, 14-25; 8th overall, 35-35) Assistants: Shane Harden, Enrique Espinoza, Corey Flax, Colby White, Payton Lerner, Travis Thurston, Graham Ratzlaff, Russ Wells Offense: Flexbone Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 9 Offense, 6 Defense Matt Cook, RG, 6-5, 330, Sr.; Jackson Brunow, RT, 6-2, 250, Sr.; Justice Moore, SLOT, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Tanner King, WR/OLB, 6-3, 180, Sr.; Jordyn Legrande, TE, 5-10, 205, Sr.; Evan Ellingston, CB, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Keaton Pfaff, OLB, 6-0, 210, Sr.; Caden Douglas, LT, 6-6, 300, Jr.; Stu Habbart, LG, 6-5, 300, Jr.; Colton MacKinnon, SLOT, 5-8, 180, Jr.; Kaden Roy, SS, 5-9, 175, Jr.; LJ Flax, DE, 6-2, 205, Jr.; Ryan Cooper, CB, 5-11, 155, Jr.; Parker Wenzel, RB, 5-7, 180, So. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


4101 W. 10th 2006 N. Main St.

Schlagle carried the No. 1 seed into the Class 5A East playoffs last year, but could only parlay that into a second-round appearance, where the Stallions’ season ended with a 53-17 home defeat to St. One number to call James Academy. 620-792-7316 That loss came on the heels of a narrow, 24-16 Dine-in, Carryout win over winless Topeka Highland Park in the playoff & Delivery opener, which was clearly a harbinger of future events. The Stallions should continue to be one of the top teams in the KCAL and if all goes right, they could Great Bend rose from outside of the top-5 in the get to Atchison at home and avenge a 40-12 defeat preseason to No. 1 in Class 5A in the latter part that denied Schlagle a league title. of the regular season. Coach Erin Beck, a Claflin graduate, led the Panthers to a 10-2 record and sub- After that, it’s all up in the air on how the Stallions state championship game loss to eventual runner-up will stack up in the race for quality playoff seeding and moving forward. Goddard. GB’s top showing is a state runner-up finish in ’06 8-2 in 2016 / 5A / Kansas City-Atchison League followed by sub-state appearances in ’78, ’04 and Coach: Dwayne Williams last fall. In the postseason, GB defeated Topeka West, 70-31, beat Andover, 16-7, and Valley Center, Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A 28-24, before the 50-21 loss to Goddard. The 70 Returning lettermen: N/A points marked the most in school history. Quarterback Jacob Murray and wide receiver Bryce Returning starters: N/A Offense, N/A Defense Alan Dale Lytle earned Class 5A all-state honors after they piloted an offense that averaged 38.8 points per game. GB permitted 22.7 a contest. GB started 7-0 before falling 21-14 at home to Garden City in overtime to decide the WAC title. Quietly, the Golden Bears whipped up a respectMurray completed 169 of 256 passes for 2,281 able 5-5 overall record and a seventh seed in the yards with a 23/6 TD/INT ratio. Additionally, Murray Class 5A East playoffs in 2016. rushed 236 times for 1,322 yards and 26 scores, With the KVL fading into oblivion after this school while Cal Marshall tallied 151 carries for 1,088 yards year, the Golden Bears could have a shot of going and 13 TDs. Lytle enjoyed another prolific season out in style if they can rise up against what could be with 75 catches for 1,035 yards and 11 receiving a balanced league. scores. “We hope to pick up where we left off last season,” Beck’s goals are to win the WAC and compete for first-year head coach Julian Parks said. “We want to a Class 5A state championship. Koy Brack, the No. win a league title and advance further in the playoffs.” 2 wide receiver last season with 42 catches for 471 Parks adds that he hopes to see Turner control yards and three receiving TDs, is expected to take the game with its running attack while stopping the over as the starting quarterback. In spot duty, he opposing rushers with his experienced linebackers completed 3 of 4 passes for 118 yards with a score. and defensive linemen. Sophomore Dalton Miller, likely going to be a feature Turner held off Washington, 61-49, in the playoff back, had one of the strongest freshman seasons opener last season before being rolled by Topeka of anyone in Kansas in ’16. Miller, who took over a Seaman, 62-14, in the round of 16. starting safety role, finished third with 111 tackles and The schedule will be a busy one as Turner travels is the only one of the top five tacklers back. to Bonner Springs (Sept. 1), Bishop Ward (Sept. GB’s first month is at Coffeyville, at rival Hays High, 22), Tonganoxie (Oct. 6). Lansing (Oct. 13) and versus Wichita Northwest and at Dodge City. Wyandotte (Oct. 20). “Very excited to see who is going to step up and They only have three home games in 2017 and the fill the void on both sides of the ball,” Beck said. “We majority of the slate will be a doozy with Washington lost a lot of key skill positions, but have a good core of guys coming back. Our team’s key to success will be our ability to find leaders that can play with confidence.”

Great Bend


Page 70


The Hawks had a season to let slip into a distant memory as they struggled to an 0-8 mark that included a 61-22 defeat at Topeka Seaman in a Class 5A East playoff opener. Harmon only scored in double figures four times and other than a 46-44 defeat against Kansas City Wyandotte, the Hawks lost the rest of their contests by double figures. They went winless in the KCAL, but a few competitive losses could bode well moving forward into 2017. They host Sumner Academy (Sept. 1), Frontenac (Sept. 29), Washington (Oct. 13) and Schlagle (Oct. 20). Road games are scheduled at Wyandotte (Sept. 8), Hogan Prep Academy (Sept. 16), El Dorado (Sept. 22) and Atchison (Oct. 6). 0-8 in 2016 / 5A / Kansas City-Atchison League Coach: Steven Jackson Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A Offense, N/A Defense Alan Dale


10-2 in 2016 / 5A / Western Athletic Conference Coach: Erin Beck (2nd year, 10-2) Assistants: Bill Maddy, Cody Carlson, Brandon Wells, Dustin Klassen, Tony Chesney, Jeff Lutt, Kelly Brack, Eric Steiner, Bryce Wells, Nathan Broeckelman Offense: Spread Defense: 3-3 Stack Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 6 Defense Koy Brack, QB, 6-2, 175, Jr.; Aaron Clark, OT, 6-8, 300, Sr.; Pablo Martinez, DE, 6-1, 190, Jr.; Blake Penka, LB, 5-11, 195, Jr.; Max Jerke, OLB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Dalton Miller, FS, 5-10, 180, So.; Payton Doll, OG, 5-11, 210, Jr.; Kaden Schroeder, C, 5-9, 235, Jr.; Trevor Fehr, OG, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Brock Blessing, LB, 6-1, 180, Jr.; Eric Vasquez, DE, 5-11, 235, Jr. CN

Sumner Academy was able to tally two wins in 2016 – wins over JC Harmon (26-12) and Bishop Ward (42-8) made for some good growing points in a 2-2 start. From there things got awkward, as the Sabres dropped four straight to end the year, while being outscored 188-20 in the last month of play. The season ended with a 56-0 defeat at Mill Valley, the eventual Class 5A state champion. With last year’s schedule flipped, the Sabres could get a few more wins this fall, but in order to make a dent in KCAL play, they will have to close the gap with improved offense after losing handily to both FL Schlagle (70-8) and Washington (27-8). 2-6 in 2016 / 5A / Kansas City-Atchison League Coach: Andrew Wright Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A Offense, N/A Defense Alan Dale


A respectable season could be a launching point to more in 2017 for Washington. Washington went 3-6 overall a year ago, including 5-5 in 2016 / 5A / Kaw Valley League 3-2 in KCAL play – only losing to top dogs Atchison Coach: Julian Parks (1st year) (58-6) and FL Schlagle (63-20) – and saw its season Assistants: Andrew Pinnell, Michael Brakenhoff end in a sizzling, 61-49 defeat at Turner in round one Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-2-5 of the Class 5A East playoffs. Returning lettermen: 18 Things will get popping right off the bat for the Returning starters: 7 Offense, 8 Defense Wildcats when they travel to Class 3A powers Silver Joshua Becton, CB, 5-7, 130, So.; Jaylin Richardson, Lake (Sept. 1) who beat the Washington boys, 58-8 a RB 6-1, 180, So.; Jaelon Harley, QB, 6-1, 170, Sr.; year ago in Kansas City. Davion Scott, WR/CB, 5-11, 150, Sr.; Carlos Garcia, The other road games will be at Turner (Sept. 8), FS, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Mathew Hook, LB, 5-7, 180, Sr.; FL Schlagle (Sept. 22), JC Harmon (Oct. 20) and Robert Magill, LB, 5-8, 175, Jr.; Rodney Carroll, DL, Sumner Academy (Oct. 20). 5-8, 275, Sr.; Jordan Goff, DL, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Christian Washington plays host to Maize South (Sept. Rodgers, OL, 6-3, 225, Jr.; Ryan Johnson, OL/ DL, 15), Atchison (Sept. 29) and Wyandotte (Oct. 6) as 6-1, 240, Sr.; Ricky Jackson, OL/ DL, 5-11, 225, Sr.; the schedule is unbalanced with only three home Cameron Bates, FB/LB, 5-10, 185, Jr. contests versus five on the road. Alan Dale 3-6 in 2016 / 5A Kansas City-Atchison League Coach: Terrance Jordan Assistants: Gerald Brewer, Brian Everett and Eric King Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A Offense, N/A Defense Alan Dale



The Lions got things off to a solid start in 2016, breaking out to a 3-1 record halfway through the regular season before the wheels came off on what felt like a promising campaign. They dropped a 28-21 road decision to Tonganoxie and then were blitzed at home by Basehor-Linwood before a narrow win over Piper stemmed the bleeding. However, back-to-back defeats to Kaw Valley League (KVL) rival Bonner Springs, including a Class 5A East playoff opener – sealed up a 4-5 season that the Lions expected more out of when they began practice last August. But, the team that struggled with a myriad of injuries all of last fall, brings back two dozen veterans and 11 total starters that got plenty of extra reps as some of the top-line guys went down week after week. “Offensively, we want to be balanced, that’s what we are striving to accomplish this summer,” coach John McCall said of his team this year. “Defensively, we want to rely on our returning experience. We want to get off the field quicker and not be so much a bend and don’t break style we were last year.

(Sept. 8), Basehor-Linwood (Sept. 15) and Piper (Sept. 29) ready to visit the Golden Bears.


“Our keys to success will be a balanced offense and we feel like our kicking game is going to be improved. With all of our returners our defense will be improved. Also, being able to execute explosive plays on offense will be a key for us this year.” Lansing hosts Leavenworth (Sept. 1), Shawnee Mission North (Sept. 15), Tonganoxie (Sept. 29) and Turner (Oct. 13) while taking trips to Bishop Ward (Sept. 8), Piper (Sept. 22), Basehor-Linwood (Oct. 6) and Bonner Springs (Oct. 20). 4-5 in 2016 / 5A / Kaw Valley League Coach: John McCall (4th year, 14-14) Assistants: Greg Berg, Dylan Brown, Larry Brown, Byron Mays, Adam Meyer, Trent Schneider and Martez Wesley Offense: Wing-T Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 22 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 7 Defense Konner McQuillan, Malachi Turner, Marcus Sutton, Joe Dill, Carter Burleigh, Khalil Austin, Dameon Lewis, Brett Pine, Clay Brown, Shawn McAlexander, Ryan Munoz Alan Dale

To talk Leavenworth football one must first begin with the program’s yearly battle with schedule imbalance. Last year, a young Pioneer squad finished 1-8 overall while playing only one regular season 5A game – a 30-28 loss to Lansing in the season opener. They then entered the gauntlet called Sunflower League play – along with one game against a KCMO school – that saw them overwhelmed with a young roster, not yet built for prime time. This fall, the lines are bit bigger, the returners – many of which played as underclassmen – are a little wiser and the Leavenworth boys will have something to prove in the school’s last season of Sunflower League. Head coach Mark Littrell enters his fifth year with a lot more experience and strength to look to for making the 2017 campaign a memorable one. “Our team goal is to improve of off last year’s performance,” Littrell said. “I want to help them to be successful and not only in football, but their daily lives. “Our work ethic is great and we just need to keep healthy and remain focused throughout the whole year. We have to understand it’s a long season and you want to put yourself in position to have a decent seed in your playoffs.” To make a move up the Class 5A East standings, the Pioneers will have to negotiate a schedule that includes four home contests against North Kansas City (Sept. 15), Olathe Northwest (Sept. 29), Shawnee Mission North (Oct. 6) and Olathe South (Oct. 13) while having to go on the road to play rivals Lansing

(Sept. 1), Shawnee Mission West (Sept. 8), Shawnee Mission South (Sept. 22) and Olathe East (Oct. 20). 1-8 in 2016 / 5A / Sunflower League Coach: Mark Littrell (5th year, 14-26) Assistants: Kurt Bangle, Tim Dorian, Sheldon Farrell, Sonny Gnutake, Kyle Guerss, Sean Sachen, Gary Soske, Steve Taylor, Nate Troyer Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 6 Defense Andrew Ativie, WR, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Anthony Garcia, OL, 6-2, 250, So.; Isaiah Griffin, TE, 6-5, 230, Jr.; Devin So., WR/CB, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Chase Mack, OL, 6-2, 185, Jr.; Grant Mullins, OL, 6-4, 290, Sr.; Truman Thomas, OL, 6-2, 230, Jr.; Hayes Edwards, LB, 6-0, 160, Sr.; Cody Herrell, LB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Seth Johnson, FS, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Brandice Lewis, CB, 5-10, 165, Sr., Etena Tuivaiti, DL, 5-11, 225, Sr. Alan Dale

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12 Delivery & Carryout

620-624-4444 114 W 1st

Full Service Financial Institution Liberal 21 Medical Drive 1.800.825.7661

dine-in and Carryout

620-624-8176 #4 Village Plaza and


160 E Pancake Blvd

Liberal, KS


The Thunder were undone by bookend, lightning performances by Mill Valley, as the eventual Class 5A state champions began and ended St. James Academy’s 2016 season with 35-13 and 28-14 defeats respectively. In between it all, the Thunder crafted a respectable 6-5 record. They also went 3-4 in a stacked Eastern Kansas League (EKL) – the program’s first year in the league - which explains why they were able to get to the state quarterfinals after wins over Shawnee Heights and FL Schlagle before the champion Jaguars turned the lights out on the Thunder. Still, winning a playoff game in consecutive seasons for the first time in the program’s 12-year history is a big building block to move up from. The Thunder’s size up front with Nick Farnsworth and Matthew Maurer will be a nice place to start offensively, while head coach Tom Radke says his linebacking corps are the defense’s most exciting group. Cole Barrett, Rio Martinez, Robert Start and Zack Rodina will all play key roles for that group, while the secondary will be patrolled by Jackson Diel and Jase Adams. Only three starters are back on offense, but WR Mason Dunsmore and RB Jack Petz are returning so they aren’t bare. Parker Kelley, Chris Spencer, Josh Geither and Joe Frank return with various levels of experience on the line to protect a passing game that will have newcomer Will Sharpton as one of the Thunder’s targets for projected starting quarterback, sophomore Jack Moellers or senior Luke Heller. 6-5 in 2016 / 5A / Eastern Kansas League Coach: Tom Radke (7th year, 38-21) Assistants: Matt Joshi, Tanner Hageman, Cole Orrick, Larry Beashore, Jerome Tucker, Chris Walters, Sam Bruning, Jason Denton, Conor Moore, John Lanfranca, Luke Bruning, Mike Consiglio, Alex Keith, Jared Herzet Offense: Pistol Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 22 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 7 Defense Nick Farnsworth, DT, Sr.; Jack Petz, RB, Sr.; Jackson Diel, FS/WR, Sr.; Zack Rodina, DB, Sr.; Mason Dunsmore, WR, Sr.; Parker Kelley, OL, Sr.; Cole Barrett, OLB, Sr.; Josh Geither, OL/LB, Sr. Alan Dale


Member NCUA

Jason Dunlap, a mid-90s Liberal graduate and athletic standout, played during the glory days of Redskin athletics with Gary Cornelsen leading Liberal in football and track, and Phil Stines in basketball. Dunlap replaced Caleb Cline, who also excelled in Liberal athletics and coached the Redskins the last three seasons. Dunlap was part of Liberal’s run of seven consecutive football state championship games (four titles). Dunlap has coached in Liberal for 18 years, including as a Redskin assistant, as well as middle school head coach. Liberal won titles in ’92, ’94, ’95 and ’97 and was second in ’91, ’93 and ’96 with sub-state berths in ’98 and ’99. He previously served as West/Eisenhower Middle School coach the last three seasons and finished with a 27-9 record. Dunlap has coached West/ Eisenhower in basketball and track, too. His son, Syris Dunlap, saw significant time on varsity as a freshman and is expected to play a key role this fall. Dunlap led the Redskins with 677 yards rushing, which ranked sixth in the conference during the regular season. He also rushed for six touchdowns, second-most on the team. Senior Cesar Burciaga led the Redskins with eight rushing TDs. In the regular season, junior Jose Auguilera was second in the WAC with 98 tackles. Before last season, Liberal reached the playoffs in ’13 (55-40 loss to Kapaun) and ’14 (36-0 to Maize South), its last trips since ’09. The Redskins went 4-6, 2-7 and 4-5 under Cline and have not been above .500 since a 6-4 year in 2005. Since ’08, Dunlap is the fifth Liberal coach. Last season, Liberal tallied 216 points and permitted 242, its fewest points permitted since 237 in 2007. The Redskins lost, 14-7, to Emporia in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. In 2015, Liberal scored 99 points and permitted 326. In ’14, the Redskins had 175 points scored and 277 allowed. Last year, the Redskins ranked last in the WAC in passing yards (271), second-to-last in rushing (1,951) and second-to-last in total offense (2,222). Liberal opened with a 30-13 loss to Ulysses and then captured three in a row with road wins against Hays High (21-13), Guymon (Okla.) (14-0), and versus Wichita North (56-14). After a 45-26 road loss to Garden City, Liberal won at Wichita Southeast, 38-7, before losses to Great Bend, Dodge City and Emporia. 4-5 in 2016 / 5A / Western Athletic Conference Coach: Jason Dunlap (1st year) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning Starters: N/A Conor Nicholl


At first glance, Blue Valley Southwest’s 2-8 record looks like a bit of a step back in Anthony Orrick’s second year as head coach of the Timberwolves. But a closer look at the season suggests the Timberwolves actually took a step forward after a 3-6 season in 2015. Sure, Southwest started the season 0-6. But four of the six losses were by a touchdown or less and the only real blowout in that span came to eventual Class 6A runner-up Blue Valley. The Timberwolves showed their potential in a week seven 30-27 upset of eventual 5A semifinalist Aquinas and they knocked off Pittsburg in the first round of the 5A playoffs after another tight loss to Blue Valley North. The argument could easily be made that Southwest was just a handful of plays from a winning season. Graduation claimed 26 seniors, including two-way lineman standout Brett Sabath, so to get there this year, Orrick will have to plug some pretty big holes. Fortunately for the Timberwolves, several key pieces to return. Will Eldridge stepped in as the starting quarterback as a sophomore a year ago and wound up throwing for 2,074 yards and 15 touchdowns while completing 64 percent of his passes.

Defensively, leading tackler Nick Allen is back for his senior year at linebacker after making 102 tackles a year ago, including nine for loss. Secondary standout Chris Logan also returns after making 65 tackles. Making strides in the ultra-tough Eastern Kansas League is no easy task so Southwest still must prove it can contend with the elite, though last year’s win over Aquinas was a huge indicator the Timberwolves were getting close. They don’t have to face threetime reigning champion Miege, but two-time reigning 5A champion Mill Valley looms in week three as does back-to-back games with Blue Valley and Aquinas. 2-8 in 2016 / 5A / Eastern Kansas League Coach: Anthony Orrick (3rd year, 5-14) Assistants: Brandon Hawks, Nick Foster, Rich Troxel, Ki’anie Brooks, Dustin Barnes, Earl Stephens, Kareem High, Caleb Lynch, Mike Pangborn, Justin Barlett, Mark Simoneau Offense: Pro Split Back Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A Offense, N/A Defense Brent Maycock


If Maize football were being seeded in the NCAA men’s basketball Selection Show, the Eagles’ resume would have been highly regarded in 2016. Maize (7-3) was handed losses by Derby, Hutchinson and Valley Center, foes with a combined 31-4 mark. There were no bad losses on the schedule. The offense’s weekly performance was a barometer for results. Every game Maize won, it punched out at least 22 points. Each loss, the Eagles failed to surpass 13. Maize will rely heavily on longtime starting running back Dalyn Johnson and his wizardly shiftiness to whittle away at defensive fronts this season. If he does, that will supply quarterback Brayden Payne and wide receiver Jordan Helm more space in the passing game. That trio is paramount to Maize’s success as an all-new front line hunts for chemistry. “In order for our team to be successful, we will need to overcome the lack of experience on offense, especially on the offensive line,” said Maize coach Gary Guzman. The defense was coaxed into too many shootouts in 2016. With youth abundant on offense, the defense must be the lighthouse that helps the Eagles find their way. Colton Lumpkins is recognized as a reliable outfielder in the secondary. Antonio Espinoza can generate pressure with a rush off the edge. Maize was competitive the majority of the year. The Eagles were 5-1 in games decided by 14 points or less. Unfortunately, the one came in the second round of the playoffs, a 27-13 loss at Valley Center. Still, 2016 marked a six-win jump from the year prior. The eight-game slate for Maize is relatively palatable, especially for a team with several unknowns on offense. Only two opponents – Derby and Hutchinson – come off seasons with winning records. None of Maize’s other six opponents collected more than three wins. 7-3 in 2016 / 5A Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I Coach: Gary Guzman (7th year, 27-29; 26th overall, 127-116) Assistants: Clarence Anderson, James Hammett, Rob Helm, Rocky Helm, Aaron Leichner, JJ Milanovich, Norris Poole, Brett Soft, Wayde Watkins Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 25 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 7 Defense Antonio Espinoza, DE, 6-3, 206, Sr.; Ethan Farney, LB, 5-11, 205, Sr.; Dalyn Johnson, RB, 5-7, 194, Sr.; Jalen Johnson, LB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Colton Lumpkins, DB, 5-9, 168, Sr.; Brayden Payne, QB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Cameron Grimes, DB, 5-8, 145, Jr.; Jordan Helm, WR, 5-8, 138, Jr.; Jacob Quiggle, DL, 5-9, 221, Jr.; Noah Stanton, DE, 6-0, 187, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


Page 71

The grade for Chris Jaax after his first year at Newton is ‘incomplete.’ It would be reckless to pass judgement. All turnarounds need a baseline starting point. Championships are not won with a quick snap of the fingers, which Jaax knows all too well from spending a decade as an assistant at Bishop Carroll. Newton is not Carroll, lacking the prestige of its 5A brethren. The 1-8 season to commence Jaax’s tenure – a road win at Salina Central sandwiched between four losses on either side – was not indicative of the behind-the-scenes effort to instill an attitude change in the program. Newton kept relatively close to its opponents. The Railers reached 20 points in all but one game. Newton lost at Valley Center 21-0 in week four – five weeks later, when they squared off again in the first round of the playoffs, Valley Center’s margin of victory thinned to 28-20. The wins may not have accumulated, but progress was made. “We have investment from the entire athletic department to establish #TheRailerWay, the core values that our school athletic programs aim to mold young men and women,” Jaax said. “Development of that culture will be what defines us.” The Railers will rely on a defense that carries eight returning starters into the season. The leader of the group is Warren Dietz, a physical 6-foot-2-inch, 180-pound senior safety. The offense will be a work in progress as it hunts for a new identity. Gone are quarterback Landon Moore and fleet-footed running back Kade Remsberg, both off to continue playing careers at Air Force. Tested linemen Brett Ashcraft and Ethan Entz afford a steadying presence in the meantime. The eight-game regular season slate shows little compassion for the Railers’ developing offense. Five Newton adversaries finished with winning records and won at least one playoff game. Only Goddard-Eisenhower, Salina Central and Ark City fell below that cutline. Newton has exceeded three wins in a season only once in the past seven tries. 1-8 in 2016 / 5A Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II Coach: Chris Jaax (2nd year, 1-8) Assistants: Tyler Swalley, James Pfannestiel, Fred Schmidt, Max Switzer, Patrick Wilson, Zach Reed, Brandon Steed, Jon Adkins Offense: Spread Defense: Multiple Returning lettermen: 30 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 8 Defense Cailen Valdez, CB, 5-10, 150, Sr.; Warren Dietz, S, 6-2, 180, Sr.; Sid Simmons, LB, 5-8, 170, Sr.; Cyle Gautchi, DL, 5-10, 220, Sr.; Ryan Watkins, LB, 5-10, 200, Sr.; Kaden Davis, LB, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Garret Pfannestiel, HB, 5-8, 170, Sr.; Jerik Ochoa, CB, 5-10, 180, CB; Angel Silveyra, DL, 5-9, 250, Jr.; Brett Ashcraft, OL, 5-10, 220, Jr.; Ethan Entz, OL, 6-4, 220, Jr.; Damarius Peterson, WR, 6-5, 220, Jr. KM


Veteran coach Randy Dreiling rarely minces words. So when he says his 2017 St. Thomas Aquinas team should contend for the Class 5A state title, well, it’s pretty easy to believe it. Shoot, Aquinas was an extra-point away from playing for the 5A crown a year ago. After beating Mill Valley on a late touchdown earlier in the season, Aquinas saw a botched extra point and five turnovers prove oh so costly in a 14-13 loss to the Jaguars in the state semifinals, denying the Saints their second trip to the title game in three years. The loss finished an 8-4 season for the Saints with two of the other three losses coming to teams which played for state titles as well — 48-21 to Class 4A Division I champion Miege and 45-34 to Class 6A runner-up Blue Valley. While the past two year’s results proved Aquinas has established itself as a force in the ultra-tough Eastern Kansas League, the biggest reason for Dreiling’s firm belief he’s got a title contender is what he’s got back. The Saints return all but one starter on offense and have eight starters back on defense, giving Dreiling his most experienced squad during his brief tenure at the school. More than 3,000 of the Saints’ 3,735 rushing yards are back, more than a third of that coming from senior back Drew Hicks, who ran for 1,074 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing four games with injury. A healthy Hicks teamed with returning senior quarterback Will Swanson (1,431 yards passing, 775 rushing) gives Aquinas a 1-2 punch not many in 5A can match. Throw in all five starting linemen, including junior standout Joe Michalski, and as powerful as the Saints offense was a year ago when it averaged 34 points per game, it’s easy to imagine an even more

explosive unit this season. Last year’s top-two tacklers — senior safeties Ryan Jurczak (77 tackles) and Jared Flood (70) — are back and Aquinas returns seven players overall who had at least 40 tackles. The addition of transfer Adam Davis from Blue Valley West, an all-leaguer who had 85 tackles last year, will only bolster the unit. Aquinas has won at least eight games in each of Dreiling’s first three years after going 3-7 the year before his arrival. Expectations are for the Saints to hit double-digit wins for the first time in his tenure and to challenge for the program’s first state football crown. 8-4 in 2015 / 5A / Eastern Kansas League Coach: Randy Dreiling (4th year, 26-11; 28th overall, 211-87) Assistants: Kevon McGrew, Justin Gore, Dillen Jackle, Pat Lonergan, Chad McKinnis, Pete Flood, Chris Johnson, Sean Thompson, Tyler Fee, Ray Williams, Nelson Young, Brock Howard Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 36 Returning starters: 10 Offense, 8 Defense Will Swanson, QB, 5-10, 176, Sr.; Drew Hicks, SB, 5-8, 175, Sr.; Tristan Davis, SB, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Joe Clune, TE, 6-2, 265, Sr.; Joe Michalski, OT, 6-4, 270, Jr.; Wyatt Keena, OG, 6-2, 250, Sr.; Anthony Vena, C, 5-11, 215, Sr.; Tommy Biddlecombe, OG, 6-4, 270, Sr.; Alex Mann, OT, 5-10, 205, Sr.; Jack Morrissey, WR, 6-3, 181, Sr.; Anthony Gaona, DE, 6-2, 205, Sr.; Javier Derritt, DT, 6-3, 270, Jr.; Mathew Roberts, DE, 6-2, 205, So.; Ryan Jurczak, S, 6-3, 205, Sr.; Dan Bollig, LB, 5-11, 195, Sr.; Bo Meisenheimer, LB, 6-0, 194, Jr.; Jared Flood, FS, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Adam Davis, SS, 6-2, 210, Sr. Brent Maycock

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 72

Dalyn Johnson/from page 68_________

“My inner family are the ones who inspire me, because I know if I make it they will be very proud of me,” Johnson said. “Most of it comes from within me because if I make it , I’ll have high expectations for my kids in the future and will expect nothing less than what I’ve accomplished.” Guzman believes Johnson’s football career should be able to continue after his days at Maize wrap up. “I believe he can play at the next level, he’s very talented,” Guzman said. “What level, I am not sure and it’s hard to say with some players. He can play at a high level. He’s a normal kid: he’ll clown around with his buddies, but when it’s time to get serious, he’s serious. He gets very focused and very competitive.” 121 S. Sante Fe Salina, KS

1205 Washington Rd




Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery

Specializing in small businesses

Joel Benson, CPA Mary Benson, CPA

Benson Accounting

1929 S. Ohio Salina, KS 67401

Office: (785)827-3157 Fax: (785)827-3159

Ebert-Stein Group 2036 South Ohio Street Salina, KS 67401 785.827.3606 fax 785.827.9882 toll free 800.669.3606

Brandon Ebert

Kevin Quinley

Financial Advisor direct 785.309.7007

Financial Advisor direct 785.309.7007

Why Waddell & Reed? Since opening our doors in 1937, our approach has remained decidedly simple, genuine and straightforward: know our clients well, treat them with respect and measure our success by their success. That deeply personal approach is the reason that Waddell & Reed advisors typically enjoy long-lasting client relationships. We take your journey seriously, and will be there every step of the way, listening, planning and advising.

Salina, KS Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery


Carryout or Delivery

785-825-4422 1200 S. Santa Fe

2935 S. 9th St.




Dine-in or Carryout

785-823-5169 550 S. Ohio St.

Securities and Investment Advisory Services through Waddell & Reed, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC and Federally Registered Investment Advisor. Ebert-Stein Group is a team name used by advisors affiliated with Wadell & Reed for marketing purposes only. 07/17

Bradley C Daily, M.D

Byron L Grauerholz, M.D


When competition turns into pain- turn to SALINA ORTHO SATELLITE CLINICS

Gary L Harbin, M.D

Todd M Herrenbruck, M.D

❖ Abilene ❖ Ellsworth ❖ McPherson ❖ Quinter ❖ Beloit ❖ Concordia Michael J Johnson, M.D




Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


The Pittsburg Purple Dragons ventured out as an independent for the first time in 2016. The former members of the Southeast Kansas League went 5-4 on the season, advancing to the Class 5A playoffs for the third-straight season. The Purple Dragons only suffered a single loss to a team from the Sunflower State, a season-ending setback to Blue Valley Southwest in a first round playoff contest. Three of Pittsburg’s four losses came to talented squads from Missouri—Carl Junction, Webb City and eventual Class 4 state champion Harrisonville. The Dragons earned wins over Chanute, Fort Scott, Andover Central, Bonner Springs and Wichita North. Pittsburg returns eight starters on offense and five on defense in 2017. The Dragons have eight other returners who saw some varsity playing time last fall. Senior quarterback Chase Curtis returns after compiling 1,157 passing yards and nine touchdowns a season ago, while senior running back Jhalani Long is back after recording 733 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns. The team’s top returning receiver is senior Drew Roelfs, while four starting offensive linemen return in Reese Willis, Daniel Eichenberger, P.J. Monsour and Jerek Butcher. “We return several key offensive personnel, so I feel we should be better offensively,” Nickelson said. “Our team chemistry should be very good. This is a very tight team.” Senior defensive end Tye Cicero is a leader of the defense. Cicero, who also plays tight end, recorded 22 tackles and had two fumble recoveries last year. Other defensive returners are tackle Nathan Neef and defensive backs Joel Kafka, Long and Roelfs. Neef is also a kicker. Seniors Curtis, Long, Willis, Roelfs and linebacker Chase Johnson are expected to lead the way. “These individuals are multiple-year starters and need to lead us in a positive direction on and off the field,” Nickelson said. “No one should ever out-work our seniors.” The Dragons must overcome the loss of Northwestern recruit Trevor Kent, last year’s topranked prospect in the state. Nickelson noted his team may be a bit undersized this year, so they’ll need to rely on quickness. “Every position will need to improve every week,” Nickelson said. “We need to improve every day and put our teammates ahead of ourselves.”


Salina Central tumbled back from 4-5 to 0-9 last season. The Mustangs opened with a 48-20 road loss to Andover, then lost at home to Arkansas City (13-7) and Hutchinson (33-14). SC lost at Campus, 45-8, then fell to Newton, 4521, at Derby (46-16) and at Maize (42-28). In Week 8, Central lost against rival Salina South, 28-13. In the first round of the playoffs, Central fell 55-0 at Wichita Heights. Central has lost six straight to South and eight of the past nine. Central passed for 102 yards and rushed for 183 yards a contest. Junior Brogen Richardson completed 62 of 176 passes for 917 yards with a 5/12 TD/ INT ratio. Central threw just two interceptions in ’15. All but 61 of the 1,644 rushing yards return. Junior Taylon Peters rushed 231 times for 1,053 yards with eight rushing scores and earned all-state honorable mention. No one else rushed for more than 158 yards. Fifty of the 64 receptions return, led by senior Kedric Liggins team-highs 18 catches, 344 yards, three receiving TDs. Central forced just 10 turnovers and had a negative turnover margin for the season. Since a 5-1 record at home in ’14, Central has won just one home game in the last two years. Coach Mike Hall is in his 19th year at Central and 12th as head coach. Hall said the Mustangs have “not much size on both sides” and “will have to utilize their strength and quickness.” “The keys are to stay healthy and develop depth,” Hall said. “Ball security would be another major key to our success. Our team goals are to win every game.”

0-9 in 2016 / 5A Ark Valley Chisholm Trail Division I Coach: Mike Hall (13th year, 54-55) Assistants: Travis Benoist, Rick O’Neill, Ernest Ballenger, Mike Kilgore, Eric Clayton, Derryl Hill, Richard Brake, Tim Cross, Alan Shuler Offense: I-formation Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 25 Returning starters: 10 Offense, 7 Defense Brogen Richardson, QB, 6-0, 170, Jr.; Taylon Peters, RB, 5-8, 190, Jr.; Houston Griffitts, RB, 6-0, 200, So.; Jordan McMullen, RB, 5-8, 160, Sr.; Logan Horst, TE, 6-1, 200, Sr.; Cade Goertzen, WR, 5-10, 162, Sr.; Kedric Liggins, WR, 6-0, 170, Sr.; James Morrow, OL, 6-5, 280, Sr.; Luis Sotelo, OL, 6-0, 265, Sr.; Jeffrey Hemstock, OL, 6-2, 255, Sr.; Ben Driver, DB, 6-1, 175, Jr.; Jere Thomas, DB, 5-8, 135, Jr.; 5-4 in 2016 / 5A / Independent Cole Butts, DL, 5-10, 220, Jr.; Josh Morrow, DL, 6-2, Coach: Tom Nickelson (6th year, 40-18) 220, Jr.; Dawson Maring, LB, 5-8, 175, Sr.; Michael Assistants: Ben Bernhardt, Leroy O’Bray, Matt Butler, Russell, LB, 5-11, 175, Jr.; Drew Burgoon, LB, 5-8, Trevor Elliott, Jeff Johnson, Matt Vaughn, Andrew 130, Jr. Brennon, A.J. Terry. Conor Nicholl Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 5 Defense Chase Curtis, QB, 6-4, 180, Sr.; Jhalani Long, RB/ DB, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Drew Roelfs, WR/DB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Tye Cicero, TE/DL, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Reese Willis, OL, 6-0, 245, Sr.; Daniel Eichenberger, OL, 6-2, 215, Sr.; P.J. Monsour, OL, 5-9, 200, Sr.; Nathan Neef, DL, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Jerek Butcher, OL, 6-1, 215, Jr.; Joel Kafka, DB, 6-1, 180, Jr. Jason Peake


The final record read 3-6 for Shawnee Heights. But oh how close it was to being so much better. Half of the T-Birds’ six losses came by four points or less — 24-21 to Class 5A quarterfinalist Seaman, 32-28 to Class 6A Topeka High and 23-20 to Class 4A Division II state runner-up Hayden. The close calls denied Heights a home playoff game in the first round of the playoffs where it fell 42-25 to St. James Academy. Finding a way to finish off those close games will be a key for Heights in 2017, as will be rebuilding an offense which graduated all but three starters. The T-Birds do return nearly one-third of their rushing and receiving production from a year ago, but most came from players in complementary roles who now will take the lead. Senior Trey Jenkins ran for 585 yards while sharing carries in the backfield with the departed Christian Clark and will be the feature back. He’ll help ease fellow senior Mitchell Lady back into the starting quarterback job. A defensive starter a year ago, Lady made spot starts under center as a sophomore, including the playoff loss to Pittsburg, throwing for 308 yards and two touchdowns before Trey Brown took over the job last year. The defense will miss All-5A end Wyatt Hubert, who signed with Kansas State, though they adapted to life without him for portions of last season while he

battled injuries. Despite his loss, the defense should be a strong suit for the T-Birds with seven starters back overall. Senior lineman Cade Holmes, a twoway returning starter, is drawing Division I interest and captured regional track titles in the discus and shot put in May. Holmes and Lady are two of six three-year starters back for Heights along with senior linebackers Dane Terry (101 tackles) and Tanner Buckley (68 tackles) and defensive back Tre Munoz (79 tackles) — the T-Birds’ top-three tacklers a year ago. Heights enters its final year in the Centennial League, moving to a newly formed league with fellow 5A schools Leavenworth, Lansing, De Soto, KC Turner and 4A Basehor-Linwood next year.


Salina South has tumbled from 10-2 to 5-5 to 1-8 in the last three seasons. The Cougars had a very young team with just nine seniors for coach Sam Sellers, in his 17th year at South and eighth as head coach. South lost to Valley Center (27-9), Bishop Carroll (40-13) and Campus (36-21) to start the season last fall. Then, the Cougars fell 28-21 to Maize, 42-7 against Goddard and 42-21 to Hutchinson. A 56-7 loss to Derby led to the season’s lone victory, 28-13, versus rival Salina Central, which finished winless for the season. It marked the sixth straight South win against Central. In the first round of the playoffs, South fell to Goddard, 52-0. “With a lot of young talent returning, the two keys for the 2017 Cougars will be finding their confidence after a rough 2016 season and continuing to develop depth behind the returners,” Sellers said. Senior Casey Lanoue returns after he completed 39 of 98 passes for 639 yards with a 9/6 TD/INT ratio. Senior Tanner Parret had 176 carries for 681 yards with two scores. Lanoue had 118 carries for 611 yards and three TDs. “He was highly successful running the ball showing great instincts, explosiveness and a physical running style,” Sellers said. “As he enters his senior year, he has already shown to be much more comfortable in our offense with a veteran offensive line and more weapons at wide receiver he looks to have a big senior year.” Four of the top five tacklers return, including senior Payton Webb (team-high 89 tackles, 30 more than any other player). Sellers said South will “feature a great defensive line” that “should make the Cougars a tough group to run the ball against.” Junior defensive end Isaac Mitchell was a first team all-league selection whom Sellers believes will be an all-state caliber player. Junior defensive end Jayden Miller is a very aggressive player who can squat 600 pounds. Junior Kyle Quill, a transfer from Sacred Heart, is expected to get 10-15 touches a game. 1-8 in 2016 / 5A Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I Coach: Sam Sellers (8th year, 48-35) Assistants: Gary Seibel, Justin Ebert, Kanean Wendell Offense: Pro/Spread Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 21 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 7 Defense Casey Lanoue, QB, 6-0, 173, Sr.; Tanner Parrett, RB, 5-8, 179, Sr.; Michael Mathews, TE, 6-4, 223, Sr.; Isaac Copes, OL, 5-10, 256, Sr.; Garrett Krebs, OL, 6-1, 213, Sr.; Spencer Einhaus, OL, 6-0, 252, Jr.; Karter Granzella, OL, 5-10, 210, Jr.; Ty Garrett, WR, 6-2, 183, So.; Peyton Webb, LB, 6-0, 203, Sr.; Ethan Resley, DE, 6-3, 197, Sr.; Layne Haddock, DE, 5-10, 152, Sr.; Isaac Mitchell, DE, 6-4, 226, Jr.; Jayden Miller, DL, 5-11, 270, Jr.; Luke Streit, DB, 5-8, 152, Jr.; Cai Calvert, DB, 5-11, 158, Jr. Conor Nicholl

Page 73


The Jaguars captured a second-straight Class 5A state title last fall and in the most dramatic fashion by virtue of a 35-34 double OT win over Goddard. On the road to that win, they also extracted revenge on St. Thomas Aquinas, who beat Mill Valley 40-33 in the regular season, by nipping the Saints 14-13 in the state semifinals. It was definitely a learning experience for the Jaguars who finished their first season in the powerful Eastern Kansas League 4-4 overall and in fifth place, before making it’s post season run and a 6-game winning streak to wrap the campaign. Head coach Joel Applebee returns eight starters – six on offense, two on defense – out of his 37 veteran letterman and the Jaguars could make some progress moving forward in year two of the EKL. Quarterback Brody Flaming threw for 2,700 yards and 33 touchdowns and rushed for 1,297 yards and six more scores and returns for his senior year. Evan Rice and Logan Talley will be his main throwing targets as they combined for almost half of Flaming’s throwing yards and touchdowns. Talented junior running back Cameron Young returns after rushing for 1,546 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore. The defense can count on Tanner Moore, Christian Roth and Ike Valencia to set the tone, but they will need to replace a number of players lost to graduation. Moore paced the secondary with four interceptions and 42 total tackles, while also recording 1.5 sacks. All told, the players are in place to potentially keep the winning ways alive for the Jaguars, who broke eight offensive and two defensive school records last campaign. The Jaguars will take to the road against Blue Valley Southwest (Sept. 15), Blue Valley (Sept. 22), Blue Valley North (Oct. 12) and Gardner-Edgerton (Oct. 20) which they went a combined 2-2 against during the regular season. Mill Valley beat Southwest a second time, in the Class 5A round of 16. Home games against St. James Academy (Sept. 1), Blue Valley Northwest (Sept. 8), St. Thomas Aquinas (Sept. 29) and Bishop Miege (Oct. 6) will go a long way toward playoff seeding and a potential move up the EKL charts. 9-4 in 2016 / 5A / Eastern Kansas League Coach: Joel Applebee (8th year, 57-20) Assistants: Drew Hudgins, Mike Strack, Aaron Cox, TJ Finan, Alex Houlton, Zach McFall, Ian Nichols, Greg Oder, Rick Pollard, Geoff White Offense: Spread Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: 37 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 2 Defense Jake Broadbent, OL, 6-1, 250, Sr.; Brody Flaming, QB, 6-2, 215, Sr.; Mitchell Grissom, OL, 6-3, 255, Sr.; Tanner Moore, S, 6-1, 185, Jr.; Evan Rice, WR, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Christian Roth, DL, 6-0, 210, Jr.; Sage Sieperda, LB, 6-0, 195, Jr.; Logan Talley, WR, 5-9, 175, Jr.; Ike Valencia, DE, 6-2, 215, Sr.; Cameron Young, RB, 6-0, 195, Jr. Alan Dale


The final ledger read as a second straight winless season for Highland Park. But the Scots made some good strides in Faron Kraft’s second year as coach and the season ended on about as high of a note as it could in an 0-fer campaign. The No. 16 seed on the east side in the Class 5A playoffs, Highland Park nearly began the new playoff format with a bang, pushing top-seeded KC Schlagle late into the fourth quarter before falling 24-16. The Scots attempted a fake punt in the fourth quarter with the game tied and couldn’t convert and the Stallions took advantage for the game-winning touchdown. Even before the close call in the playoff opener, the Scots had shown plenty of improvement, especially defensively. After giving up 403 points in 2015, the Scots allowed just 307 last year. With six starters 3-6 in 2016 / 5A / Centennial League back defensively, the unit could take another step Coach: Jason Swift (15th year) forward this year. Assistants: Brad Nicks, Doug Holmes, Michael The key to tallying a win, however, likely will fall on Werner, Josh Oshel, Richard Lady, William Skaggs an improved performance from the offense. Highland III, Curtis Hamilton Park was shut out three times and managed a single Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-2-5 score in three other games and wound up scoring Returning lettermen: 15 just 66 points the entire season. Six starters also Returning starters: 3 Offense, 7 Defense return on offense, including leading rusher Jacquez Cade Holmes, OL-DL, Sr.; Trey Jenkins, RB, Sr.; Barksdale, who ran for 606 yards last year as a Connor Hicks, C-DL, Sr.; Dane Terry, LB-RB, Sr.; sophomore, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Tanner Buckley, LB-TE, Sr.; Michael Hoffer, DB-WR, He may have to find a few more yards on his own Sr.; Tre Munoz, FS, Sr.; Mitchell Lady, DB-QB, Sr.; this year as the Scots work to rebuild their entire Seth Nelson, DL-OL, Sr. Brent Maycock

offensive line from a year ago. Senior Tyree Flourence-Patton and sophomore Davonshai Harden look to solidify the quarterback spot and senior Angelo Plakio will help shoulder the load in the backfield with Barksdale. Numbers continue to be an issue and only 10 total lettermen return from last year’s team. Still, Kraft is optimistic from the signs he saw last year. The Scots only lost to Topeka West by nine and Shawnee Heights by 12 and didn’t allow more than 24 points to any of its 5A opponents. Highland Park enters the season on a 25-game losing streak and hasn’t won a Centennial League game since 2012. 0-9 in 2016 / 5A / Centennial League Coach: Faron Kraft (3rd year, 0-18) Assistants: Lashad Buffett, Nick Chapman, Derron Hopson, Aaron Ebke Offense: Multiple option Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Angelo Plakio, RB/LB, Sr.; Will White, WR/CB, Sr.; Tyree Flourence-Patton, QB/CB, Sr.; Armond Hendricks, OL/DL, Sr.; Davaun Elrod, LB, Sr.; Jacquez Barksdale, RB, Jr.; Davonshai Haren, QB/LB, So. Brent Maycock

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12



It sure didn’t take long for Glenn O’Neil’s impact to be felt at Seaman. Taking over a program coming off a 2-8 mark in 2015 and six straight seasons of finishing .500 or worse, the former Scott City coach righted the Viking ship in his first year, guiding Seaman to an 8-3 record and trip to the Class 5A state quarterfinals. Seaman’s only losses in the regular season came to 6A powers Manhattan (42-21) and Junction City (20-13) and the Vikings rode a high-powered offense to 60-point explosions in each of their first two playoff games before running into a buzzsaw in a 57-21 loss to Aquinas. O’Neil inherited a bevy of talented skill players who delivered big seasons to spark the turnaround, none more so than quarterback Dalton Cowan, who finished with 1,726 yards passing and another 426 rushing, accounting for 23 total touchdowns. Senior receiver Nick Steiner hauled in 49 catches for 767 yards and 10 TDs and All-Class 5A linebacker Michael Latendresse also finished as the leading rusher with 460 yards and nine scores. All those guys have graduated, as has the bulk of Seaman’s offensive production from a year ago. Returning seniors Janson Garman (140 yards) and Dalton Temmen (160 yards) and junior Jake Spence (130 yards) all averaged seven yards a carry in backup roles and will have to carry the load as O’Neil breaks in new quarterback Kobe Jones, a junior who saw action in three games last year but attempted just one pass and had only five carries. The strength of the Vikings will come up front where seniors Jared Kerr, Mitch Miller and Dakota Allen return as starters. Miller and Allen were twoway starters last year, also anchoring the defensive perimiter from their end positions where they combined for 72 tackles (12 for loss) and four sacks. Junior linebacker Sam Payne ranked second to Latendresse on the team in tackles a year ago with 83, including 10 for loss. Though only four starters return each way, the Vikings do return 26 lettermen, many of whom saw plenty of time during the season as Seaman posted six wins by 14 or more points. The Vikings’ early season schedule helped the transition year to O’Neil get off to a flying start and will allow the new starters this year a chance to gain confidence before hitting the meat of the schedule starting with a week-three clash with rival Hayden, which the Vikings beat 14-0 last year.

Topeka West is hoping a blast from the past can turn around a program which hasn’t posted a winning season since 2005. The Chargers went 5-4 that year with Ryan Kelly at quarterback and while Kelly isn’t returning under center for the program, he is taking over as coach. The former West standout replaces John Tetuan, whose contract was not renewed after the Chargers posted a 1-8 record last year. West went 10-35 in Tetuan’s five-year tenure and while those numbers aren’t much to brag about, they’re a far cry better than the 3-51 mark West posted in the six years prior to his arrival. Kelly hopes to continue and expand on the progress Tetuan made and get West back to a place of prominence in Class 5A. He was a freshman defensive starter on the 2002 West team which reached the Class 5A state championship game and though he’s new to high school coaching, Kelly has spent the past six years coaching at the collegiate level — two years at Fort Hays State as a graduate assistant and the past four as running backs coach at Benedictine, where he set passing and total offense records as the Ravens’ quarterback from 2006-09. As typically is the case with new coaches, Kelly is wiping the slate clean. West only graduated eight players off last year’s squad so Kelly will have a large number of returning players to work with, but he’s emphasized that all starting spots are up for grabs. Arguably the biggest hole to fill is at quarterback where three-year starting quarterback Zach Shima has graduated. Over the past two seasons, Shima threw for 2,697 yards and 25 touchdowns, including nearly 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Whoever takes over the position this year should have a strong cast of receivers to throw to as every player who caught a pass last year is expected to return. Senior Chris Ellis tops the group after having 48 catches for 597 yards and seven touchdowns last year, while fellow senior Elliot Mehrens caught 38 passes for 469 yards and two scores. Developing a running game could become a priority for Kelly as West has struggled on the ground for a number of years. The Chargers only gained 417 rushing yards and two touchdowns last year with sophomore Brian Wright leading the team with 192. West’s only win a year ago was a 29-20 victory over winless Highland Park and the Chargers were outscored 435-109.

8-3 in 2016 / 5A / Centennial League Coach: Glenn O’Neil (2nd year, 8-3) Assistants: Mike Lincoln, Travis Brown, Jerrick Jorgenson, Tim Heibert, Dawson Elliott, Rick Rhineberg, Scott Peterson, Daniel Ruda, Michael Ragsdale Offense: Wing T Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 26 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 4 Defense Mitch Miller, TE/DE, 6-2, 225, Sr.; Dakota Allen, OG/ DE, 6-0, 225, Sr.; Janson Garman, WR/LB, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Jared Kerr, OT, 6-2, 280, Jr.; Sam Payne, LB, 5-9, 190, Jr. Brent Maycock

1-8 in 2016 / 5A / Centennial League Coach: Ryan Kelly (1st year) Assistants: Marco Hunter, Josh Dirks, John Darrow, DeJuan Gardenhire, Josh Perry Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A Offense, N/A Defense Brent Maycock


For four consecutive tries, Wichita Heights has reached the state quarterfinals under coach Terry Harrison. Another 5A quarterfinal showing should be the baseline expectation for the Falcons entering 2017. A deeper run is preferred, possible and perhaps projected. “The key to the 2017 season for Heights will be developing as a team during our summer strength and conditioning sessions, along with the many camps we attend,” Harrison said. “Overall, we expect to have another great year and build on our strong football tradition here at Wichita Heights.” A strong argument can be made that Heights carries the most explosive backfield into the City League. That starts with senior running back Dejuan Scott and junior quarterback K’Vonte Baker, who earned first-team City League honors. The front line needs restocked, but Terry Jenkins and Ryan Depperschmidt are two cinder blocks that can thwart defenders while newcomers adapt. The defense was far from a liability during a 9-2 season, but a more refined unit would be the difference in soaring the Falcons into elite status. Six opponents notched at least 21 points against Heights, including in a 28-14 loss to Goddard in the quarters. The front seven in the 4-3 must accept that test as the secondary acclimates. Defensive lineman Dalen Williams and linebacker Javeon Johnson, both first-team City League picks as juniors, will be tasked with fine-tuning their units. “While we are returning several key players from

last year’s team, we will be looking to replace great leadership from the 2016 senior class,” Harrison said. Harrison has established his own reputation as a standout area coach, but his support system is uniquely talented. Heights’ athletic coordinator is Rick Wheeler, who preceded Harrison and coached the Falcons to a 6A state championship in 2010. Harrison added Heath Henderson as an assistant for this year. Henderson spent the past three seasons as head coach at Circle. Harrison’s staff touts continuity, too, as six other assistants renewed for another year. 9-2 in 2016 / 5A / Greater Wichita Athletic League Coach: Terry Harrison (5th year, 31-13) Assistants: Heath Henderson, Matt Kelly, Ryan Alliman, Paul Kempf, Todd Sacquitne, Jeremy Moss, Malik Jaradat Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense Dalen Williams, DL, 6-3, 215, Sr.; Austin McCartney, DL, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Javeon Johnson, LB, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Caleb Washington, LB, 5-9, 195, Sr.; Keshawn Howell, DB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Aevodric Gilkey, LB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Dejuan Scott, RB, 5-11, 195, Sr.; Braxton Kirkendoll, RB, 5-9, 150, Sr.; Terry Jenkins, OL, 5-7, 185, Sr.; Courtez Orange, WR, 6-2, 185, Sr.; K’Vonte Baker, QB, 5-8, 165, Jr.; Ryan Depperschmidt, OL, 6-1, 235, Jr.; Rashawn Mayes, DB, 5-6, 155, Jr.; Kyle McCaskey


Beyond the excitement of a 9-2 season that featured a run in the 5A postseason, there was a precedent set, a proclamation that Valley Center can once again be a mecca for Friday night football fireworks. Twenty years after the Hornets’ last state semifinal appearance, Valley Center nearly matched its predecessor. The Hornets picked off Newton and Maize to reach the quarterfinals before tripping up in a competitive road game at Great Bend, 28-24. Valley Center’s nine wins equaled their program total from the four previous years combined. Although it was a senior-laden team, the efforts of that class may have just laid the framework for years to come. “We lost 25 seniors and seven starters on both sides of the ball, so we will have a lot of new faces this year. We will be undersized compared to our opponents,” said Valley Center coach Caleb Smith. “I feel like we can still compete with anyone, but will need to play our best to beat teams. We hope to continue to grow as a program.” The Hornets rode one of the best defenses in 5A a year ago. Now, they must reconfigure nearly all of the front seven. The secondary is mostly intact, though, with Tyler Boone, Dalton Cross and Kadin Pearson prowling for game-changing opportunities. Boone comes off a season with triple-digit tackles. Cross grabbed five interceptions. Payton Stoffel will be an anchor for the offense. The senior center is the only returner to the offensive line, but quite the steady one – Stoffel was a first-team Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II selection. Wyatt Lange will take the snaps from Stoffel, looking to improve his passing line. Lange threw 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions, completing 60 percent of his attempts. He also ran for eight touchdowns. Caleb Rains is the lead back, running for 473 yards and five scores as a junior. 9-2 in 2016 / 5A Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II Coach: Caleb Smith (5th year, 16-21) Assistants: Scott L’Ecuyer, Dallas Boone, Nick Barnes, Joey Craig, Jared Ensey, Chad Baalman, Jeff Sells, Blake Pearson Offense: Multiple I Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 4 Offense, 4 Defense Wyatt Lange, QB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Payton Stoffel, C, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Caleb Rains, RB, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Dalton Cross, WR/DB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Tyler Boone, DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Patrick Gillen, DE, 6-2, 190, Sr.; Kadin Pearson, DB, 5-11, 160, Sr.; Aaron Coash, K, 5-11, 200, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

Page 74


The immediate results of Alan Schuckman’s tenure as Bishop Carroll head coach are measurable. Among them, 22 seasons, nearly 200 victories, 21 consecutive winning seasons and two state titles. Now begins the examination of Schuckman’s long-term impact. It includes discovering if Schuckman was a one-man mastermind, or rather if the program’s transcendence was the product of full buy-in across the board. As Dusty Trail climbs up to the head coaching position, he carries with him familiarity. Trail spent 22 seasons as one of the assistants on Schuckman’s loyal staff. Schemes may be tweaked here and there, but overall, the Golden Eagles should have an established foundation to continue the precedent Schuckman helped launch. “The 2017 season for the Golden Eagles stacks up to be a tough one, but we think this team is up to the challenge,” Trail said. “Their commitment and work in the offseason has been great, and as we have been telling them throughout the offseason, ‘If it is not difficult for you to do, it is not helping you. Embrace the grind of hard work, commitment and sacrifice.’” An abundance of talent and a strong contingent of returners has Carroll poised for an extended 5A playoff run after a 7-3 season. Division 1 interest for junior TE Clay Cundiff is accelerating. His distributor, Braden Howell, is back at QB. O-linemen Wade Hull, Kevin Kelly and Sean Hallacy return up front. Relative to many teams, the defensive effort was respectable in 2016, allowing 24.4 points per game. However, that falls below Carroll’s typical standard of excellence – in 2015, the Eagles averaged 14.5 points against, and in 2014, a paltry 5.0 average. “The biggest strength on the defensive side of the ball for the 2017 Golden Eagles is the return of the entire starting defensive backfield, with seniors Luke Evans, Jacob Buchanan, AJ Peters and Ben Berenson,” Trail said. “They will provide leadership, consistency and confidence to the rest of the defense. Returning as the bona fide leader of the defense is two-year starter Riggs Robben. Riggs makes plays sideline to sideline and is the ‘coach’ on the field.” 7-3 in 2016 / 5A / Greater Wichita Athletic League Coach: Dusty Trail (1st year) Assistants: Jim Nance, Josh Mans, Jimmy Allen, Matt Bye Jr., Brad Carey, Phil Blanton, Drew Rhoades, Joe Frangenberg, Dave Armagost, Steve Harshberger, John Linnebur, Shane Esfeld, Aaron Havlovic Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Braden Howell, QB, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Thomas Helten, WR, 6-4, 190, Sr.; Wade Hull, OL, 6-0, 275, Sr.; Kevin Kelly, OL, 5-9, 200, Sr.; Riggs Robben, LB, 6-2, 230, Sr.; Luke Evans, DB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Isaiah Carter, DE, 6-2, 220, Sr.; Jacob Buchanan, DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; AJ Peters, DB, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Ben Berenson, DB, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Rodney Steven, K, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Joseph Holthusen, RET, 5-10, 155, Sr.; Clay Cundiff, TE, 6-4, 220, Jr.; Sean Hallacy, OL, 6-2, 240, Jr.; Jackson Nichols, RB, 5-10, 165, Jr.; Brady Bockover, LB/P, 6-0, 185, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


It came rather quietly, it seems, but Dan Adelhardt, beginning his 13th year guiding the Kapaun Crusaders, is now the longest consecutively-tenured head coach at the same school in the City League. The resignation of Bishop Carroll’s Alan Schuckman after 22 seasons made Adelhardt the elder statesman (though Weston Schartz has 24 total years at Wichita West, his came with a separation before a return). Adelhardt’s tenure at Kapaun has encompassed ups and downs, but mostly ups. The program fell below .500 in the 2008 season, 4-6, but promptly followed with six, eight and eight win seasons. In 2012, Kapaun missed the postseason at 3-6. A year later, the Crusaders cranked out double-digit victories and reached the 5A state semifinals. All this is to say a 2-7 mark this past season is likely a mirage. Kapaun, much like Adelhardt’s coaching career itself, shifts from young to experienced. “What a difference a year makes on the offensive line. What was a very young line with one returning starter has turned into a strong point with five seniors or juniors returning who all were starters and gained valuable varsity experience,” Adelhardt said. “Nick Channel will lead on both sides of the ball and Michael Tomblin’s return from a junior injury is very welcomed. Kevin Mills, Jacob Roberts and Travis Phelps return to lead the defense. Competition for positions and depth are expected.” Talent was present at Kapaun a season ago, but the Crusaders lacked the know-how to slam the door

late in games – they lost by three at Andover, three at Heights and 11 to St. James. The offense never quite found its formula for success, a task now assigned to a new signal caller. “The quarterback position is uncertain. Several different players, each having their own strengths, are competing for the job,” Adelhardt said. “The summer will be huge in helping determine who will win the spot.” 2-7 in 2016 / 5A / Greater Wichita Athletic League Coach: Dan Adelhardt (13th year, 68-50; 20th overall, 115-73) Assistants: David Roberts, Luke Westerman, Ryan Burr, Trent Hungate, Brad Spicer, Kyle Stevens, Tyler Cahn, Craig Schmidt, Tom Angelo, Pat Gimino Offense: Flexbone Defense: 3-5 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 8 Offense, 6 Defense Nick Channel, RB/DB/LB, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Nick Lowe, OL, 6-3, 260, Sr.; Brayden Wells, OL, 6-1, 245, Sr.; Dylan Baxter, OL, 6-0, 260, Sr.; Jon Schoelwer, RB, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Kevin Mills, LB, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Jacob Roberts, LB, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Travis Phelps, DL, 5-9, 220, Sr.; Patrick Altenor, OL, 6-2, 240, Jr.; Christian Werne, OL, 6-0, 210, Jr.; Jacob Schmitz, TE, 6-4, 215, Jr.; Scott Valentas, DB, 6-3, 190, Jr.; Parker Manning, DB, 5-10, 155, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Brent Maycock, Topeka Capital-Journal The state’s great football dynasties are well known. -- Lawrence in the 1980s and 1990s when the Lions made 10 straight appearances in the Class 6A state championship game, winning eight including four straight from 1989-93. -- Hutchinson in the mid 2000s when the Salthawks won a state-record six straight titles from 2004-09. -- Colgan in the early 2000s and Smith Center in the late 2000s. Colgan won the first four Class 2-1A titles of the new millennium, setting a state record with 66 straight wins, only to be followed by Smith Center’s run of a state-record five straight undefeated seasons from 2004-08, in the process reeling off a state-record 79 consecutive victories. So when it comes to reaching the dynasty stage, Miege might have a little ways to go. But darned if the Stags aren’t well on their way. For the third straight year, Miege flat-out dominated Class 4A Division I on its way to another state championship. The script read pretty much the same as the Stags’ run to the 2015 crown: Lose the season-opener to Blue Valley and then blow through the remainder of the schedule and postseason in untouchable fashion. “This one feels just as good,” Miege coach Jon Holmes said after a 53-21 rout of Buhler in the state championship game. “When you get a new group of kids every year, it means something to every single one of them. You have kids winning their first, kids winning their third, and you want to make it special for all of them.” Since going undefeated for the first of its three titles in 2014, Miege has been something special all right. The only two losses the Stags have suffered in the last three years came to Blue Valley, each by a touchdown. Against their Class 4A postseason competition, the Stags have had just once game closer than 32 points — a 42-35 win over Hayden in the 2014 title game — and they’ve outscored 4A foes by a combined 678-127 in the playoffs and 1,154-192 overall. If that’s not dynasty-making stuff, well, it’s hard to imagine what would be. To put itself in the same class as the state’s great dynasties, Miege arguably needs another title or two. And while the Stags will be the overwhelming favorite to make it four straight championships this year, there are enough key holes to fill to at least give them a sense of vulnerability. For starters, there’s the loss of four-year starting All-State lineman Colin Grunhard, who was the anchor for the offensive line throughout his career. And three-year starting AllState receiver Jafar Armstrong, who had more than 1,200 yards receiving each of the last three seasons and hauled in 45 touchdown grabs. Mix in glue guys like Landry Weber, Dijmon Colbert and a total of 21 seniors and Miege suffered pretty significant graduation losses. Don’t feel too bad for the Stags, however. The cupboard is far from bare. Senior quarterback Carter Putz is on track to become the state’s all-time leading passer in yardage and touchdowns this season and has plenty of weapons to work with. Putz threw for 3,264 yards and 50 touchdowns a year ago and enters his senior season with 6,492 yards and 86 touchdowns — well within the state’s career records of 8,901 yards (set by SM North’s Will Schneider last year) and 92 touchdowns (set by Silver Lake’s Shannon Kruger from 1994-97). While Miege breaks in a new cast of receivers for Putz to target, the Stags could lean on their ground game. Brison Cobbins ran for a team-high 841 yards last year as a freshman and the Stags return all but 118 of its 2,080 rushing yards from a year ago. The defense took a hit in the secondary, but the front seven

Page 75

will be strong with the return of leading tacklers Joe Watskey (105) and Dylan Downing (102). So the question is, who can challenge Miege? The answer isn’t an easy one. Buhler came the closest a year ago and returns a large bulk of last year’s runner-up team, which finished 11-2 — the only other loss coming to Wichita Collegiate. Senior back Dalton have hoisted the first championship trophy in program histoBrown got his first crack as the Crusaders’ feature back and ry a year ago. The Bobcats reeled off 11 straight wins before ran with it, literally, finishing the season with 1,932 yards and falling 52-0 to Miege in the state semifinals, all but two of 28 touchdowns. those victories coming by 29 or more points. An explosive He’s one of eight returning starters each way for the offense which averaged 42.6 points per game will have to be Crusaders, who captured the last unified Class 4A state title completely rebuilt, however, as graduation claimed leading before the split into two divisions and Miege’s run began. passer Justin Phillips (1,824 yards, 18 TDs), leading rusher Buhler will be strong up front, particularly defensively where Chas Rollo (1,501 yards, 19 TDs) and four receivers who Lawson Schultz, Brendan Webb and Braden Rose are a for- combined for 1,400 yards. midable trio ahead of a solid linebacking corps led by Jhet The Bobcats return just three starters total on offense and Burkhart and Brayden Lock. will have to lean heavily on a defense which returns five Crusader coach Steve Warner calls the schedule the starters including leading tackler TJ Williams (80 tackles) toughest since his arrival at Buhler. But every year the and end Nolan Ford (eight sacks). Basehor only allowed 135 Crusaders seemingly have tough game after tough game points to teams not named Miege, giving up more than two in the challenging Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League, tests touchdowns just once, a 48-34 win over rival KC Piper. which have hardened them for their postseason runs. Piper has made the playoffs each of Chris Brindle’s seaThey will come right away this year as Buhler opens with sons as coach, last year falling in the first round to Miege to a McPherson team many expect to be among the top chal- finish a 6-4 season. The Pirates have one of the top linemen lengers to Miege this season. The Bulldogs have a number prospects in the state in junior Cooper Beebe (6-4, 285), of holes to fill offensively, but the defense will be stout with whose brother Colton was an All-State selection and is now eight returning starters led by defensive end Wyatt Seidl and at Minnesota. The loss of do-everything back JJ Letcher safety Drew Labertew. leaves a big hole in the Pirate backfield and only three startMcPherson went 8-3 a year ago, rebounding from an ers return offensively overall. 0-2 start to win eight straight before falling 35-27 to Maize The Frontier League placed three teams in the playoffs a South in the playoffs — the second loss of the season to the year ago and annually is one of the toughest 4A leagues Mavericks. Maize South, meanwhile, suffered its only losses in the state. This year should be no different as De Soto, last year to Buhler in a 10-2 campaign and return six starters Ottawa and Louisburg all return key pieces from last year’s on offense and seven on defense, giving the Mavericks plen- playoff teams. ty of pieces to make another deep run. De Soto shared the league title a year ago for the first time Seniors Tyler White and Jack Wagner were first-team all- in a long time in going 7-2 and gave Basehor its toughest test league selections in the secondary for the Mavericks a year of the season prior to Miege, falling 21-14. Injuries plagued ago and six other players who earned all-league honors of the Wildcats late in the season with starting quarterback some kind are back. The offense will miss standout quar- Bryce Mohl going down in week six after racking up more terback Ethan Richardson (2,132 total yards), but Brent than 1,200 yards of total offense. He’s back along with two Pfeifer’s teams have always hung their hat on their defense other members of the backfield, but De Soto’s strength will and the program has won at least eight games for five be on the lines where the offense is anchored by Division I straight years. prospect Marshall Kellner and the defense is led by Zach The depth in the AVCTL goes beyond that trio, however. Titus, an All-Class 4A selection a year ago. Mulvane went 8-3 with the three losses by a combined 22 Ottawa is coming off its best season in more than a decade, points, including a 24-14 loss to Buhler in the playoff quar- going 8-3 and reaching the state quarterfinals before falling terfinals. The Wildcats have the top dual-threat QB in Class to Basehor-Linwood. The Cyclones graduated standout line4A in senior Jayden Price, who last year threw for more than man Drew Bones and quarterback Isaac McCullough, but 1,800 yards and ran for another 1,300-plus yards with a total tailback Devion Bethea emerged as a big-time threat in the of 41 touchdowns on his way to All-Class 4A honors. backfield as the season went on last year, rushing for 1,096 The Wildcats will have to completely rebuild an offensive yards and 16 TDs — the bulk of it coming from Week 6 on. line which graduated every starter, all of them two-year startcontinued on page 89 ers, as the program lost 25 seniors overall. The biggest loss defensively could be on the sidelines where defensive coordinator Scott Swaney retired after 25 years in the position. Andale also enters the season without a familiar face on the sideline as longtime 1. Bishop Miege coach Gary O’Hair retired after 15 seasons 2. Buhler in which he built the program into one of 4A’s best. The Indians won three state titles 3. McPherson (2006, 2007 and 2014) and went 150-30 4. Maize South under his watch. His loss will be big enough 5. De Soto with former Indian Dylan Schmidt taking over the program and having to replace Others: Andale, Mulvane leading rusher Tristan Dagenais and All-4A lineman Aidan Camp, among others. If not for Miege, Basehor-Linwood might



Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 76

Enjoy Music and Festivals

Shop The Bricks in Downtown Hays

Act like a German at Oktoberfest Cheer on the Fort Hays State Tigers



Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Alan Dale For Kansas Pregame Ottawa could be looking at being in possession of one of the best weapons in all of Class 4A-I football this fall. Head coach Rob Hedrick will count on senior running back Devion Bethea to come up big as he did a year ago for the Cyclones who finished 8-3 overall and went to the state quarterfinals. Bethea, ran for 1,099 yards in only seven games out of the feature back position and he did a lot of that with an experienced offensive line. Bethea earned plenty of yards on his own, but that skill may be put to the test this fall as only three starters return and just one along the o-line. “That is going to be the biggest question mark,” Hedrick said. “I think we have some guys that will step up and be good, offensive linemen, but I think there will be some growing pains early until they get used to the speed of Friday nights and everything.” Regardless of who lines up in front of him, Bethea is still one that captures his coach’s minds’ eye. “As far as I have seen and coached, he’s really good,” Hedrick said. “He doesn’t have those times and speed that will really impress you, but on the field, he’s hard to catch, so his game speed is really good. He’s a powerful runner and he gets a lot of yards after contact. He’s got good vision, he’s a good, strong runner and has great, strong hands. “I think he will have some success at the collegiate level, because he fits that mold of a strong runner and he could make a good slot receiver too.” Bethea, who also plays linebacker while helping out on kick and punt return teams, does appear to have a collegiate future as he is being recruited by a number of schools including NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision program Wyoming and NCAA Football Championship Subdivision programs such as Cornell, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, North Dakota, Drake, Missouri State, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois to name a few. That doesn’t happen on accident. “He’s a very good athlete,” Hedrick said. “He’s got the ‘it’ factor and has a lot of natural ability. He’s very determined on the football field. He takes a lot of pride in his performance and he’s the kind of guy that when you put him on the field, he makes things happen. He puts a lot of time into it that’s for sure.” Bethea puts in the time because he loves the game. “I enjoy football because of the team effort required,” Bethea said. “Everyone has to be in sync with what’s going on around them and have to think ahead, so pretty much just the competition and trying to outwit your opponents.” His performance in the weight room attests to his work ethic and strength as his bench (255 pounds), squat (420) and clean (300) all illustrate his talents, as does a recorded, 600-pound dead lift. A 4.48 40 time, along with a 31-inch vertical doesn’t hurt either. “My dad (inspires him),” Bethea said. “Little does everyone know he’s been through so much and seen a lot. He’s had to do so much to get to where he’s at now. It was a major process for him and to see him doing big things and having his life so together now is just motivating me to never stop working hard for what I want to achieve in life. It’s not out of reach. I just have to go the distance to reach it.” That explains his lofty goals heading into the fall. “Obviously I want to get back to the playoffs of course,” Bethea said. “I’ve got to think realistically, since I’m pretty much the only returning player with experience at the varsity level. It’ll be great to see what our new team can do. Graduating 22 seniors makes it very tough because you stop and think, ‘what’s next?’ or ‘who will fill this position?’ “It’ll be a great ride and I’m up for it though.” Last year, Ottawa won District 3 and its first playoff game since 2001, so the expectations are built off recent success. While he’s not playing football, he is working on his basketball


Page 77



Hobbies: “Hang out with friends, go shopping for shoes because I’m a sneaker head, or work out.” Favorite subject: Science Favorite food: Ice Cream and Chicken Sandwiches Favorite musician: Lil Pump or Migos Favorite pregame song: “Digital Dash” by Drake and Future Most memorable high school football moment: “Winning District last year and getting our first playoff win since 2001.”

(Photo by Derek Livingston,

Brought to you by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to

Bone Creek Reservoir Bone Creek Reservoir is a very young body of water established in 1996 when the Bone Creek Valley was flooded to provide water for the residents of Crawford and Cherokee Counties. The reservoir is ideal for fishing stocked with monster-size largemouth bass, catfish, walleye and crappie. Regional bass tournaments are held weekly and monthly including the American Bass Anglers Association District 128E Tournaments and the Mirza Shriners Tournaments. skills in AAU and hangs out with friends shopping for shoes, as he is a professed “sneaker head.” He works with two personal trainers, one for each sport. He’s a point guard in basketball. “I prefer football, but I’m sure I’ll get basketball offers as well as track,” Bethea said. “For basketball though we fell short of our goals obviously not making it to state being one of the top teams in the state. Ottawa has a lot of good history with basketball so being able to wear a jersey with Ottawa on it night in and out is a huge honor.” With his prep football career coming to an end, he will have college to look forward to, but then what? “I’ve always wanted to be an Occupational Therapist,” Bethea said. “I’ve got to see first-hand what goes on and it’s something that I like to do which is communicate with people and help them.”

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


Abilene won its first seven games last season and did so in rather convincing fashion. A two-point win over Class 3A playoff qualifier Marysville was the only close call, the only game decided by less than 21 points, as the Cowboys ran roughshod over the North Central Kansas League. But following a 50-14 win over Wamego to start district play, the Cowboys got corralled. They made the playoffs despite losing their last two district games, advancing via points tiebreaker, and then were bounced from the playoffs in the opening round with a 45-13 loss to Buhler. Strong play in the trenches both ways proved to be a big force behind the 7-3 season and rebuilding each front will be the key to maintaining that success this year. In addition to losing All-Class 4A Division I pick Sam Burt, the Cowboys must replace all but one starter on the offensive front and all but two defensively with sophomore Kade Funston the lone returner on offense and seniors Hunter Sprouse and Tucker Robinson back on defense. If the lines can come together quickly, fourth-year coach Steve Simpson feels good about the skill players he can put behind them. Both units will miss the Parkers, Base and O’Neal, who not only were the top-two ground gainers for the Cowboys, combining for nearly 1,100 yards and 22 touchdowns rushing, but also ranked 1-4 on the team in tackles with O’Neal leading the way with a team-high 118 stops. Dominick Campbell ran for 346 yards in a complementary role in the backfield last year and will share carries with fellow senior Trey Hoerner, who returns after missing last season. The two will be counted on heavily as Abilene replaces all-league quarterback Ryan Wilson with the job likely falling to junior James Mayden. Mayden is part of a strong junior class which will have to fill the many holes on the line and at receiver and in the secondary. Abilene graduated its top-five tacklers with Campbell’s 54 stops tops among returners. Abilene will once again be a favorite to defend its NCKL title and challenge for a playoff berth in the final year of Class 4A Division I. As has been the case for many years, the Cowboys’ district will be one of the toughest in the state with Hays, McPherson and Wamego all strong.

In his second season as Labette County’s head coach, Sean Price directed the Grizzlies to their first non-losing record since 2009. Finishing 5-5 on the season, the Grizzlies advanced to the Class 4A Division I playoffs before falling 45-13 to Ottawa in the first round. Now, the Grizzlies will try to build on that success in Price’s third season. And they should have a good opportunity to do so as they return loads of experience on both sides of the ball. Labette County boasts 10 players on offense with at least part-time starting experience from last year’s squad, and 11 players on defense who started some games. Limiting players to only one side of the ball last year, Price said his team has 50 returning lettermen. “We have a ton of depth created by two-platooning last year,” Price said. “A lot of young kids played a lot and got much better as the year went on. Making the playoffs was a big deal to us. Preparing us for this upcoming year, we now know what we need to improve on to make a run.” Junior Easton Dean (6-7, 215) plans to take over the Labette County offense at quarterback after playing wide receiver a year ago. He will take the place of his older cousin Logan Dean, who passed for more than 2,000 yards as a senior last season. The Grizzlies also graduated running back Isaiah McPherson, who rushed for more than 1,400 yards. T.J. Mayhue, a transfer from Parsons, is expected to take over at running back. Several talented receivers return as Tanner Russell, Owyn Back and Kale Irwin gained 773, 744, and 382 yards respectively. Four players with starting experience return to the offensive line. Rogan Bruce is back at linebacker for the Grizzlies after posting 162 tackles, two sacks and one interception in 2016. Senior defensive lineman Quiency Jones led the Grizzlies in sacks last year with four, while contributing seven quarterback hurries. KeShaun Anderson, another transfer from Parsons, is expected to be a key player in the secondary.

5-5 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Southeast Kansas League Coach: Sean Price (3rd year, 8-11; 11th overall, 68-41) Assistants: Travis Burk, Bradley Argabright, Davey Brown, Drew Weidert, Mike Hall, Joe Page 7-3 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Offense: Air Raid Defense: Multiple North Central Kansas League Returning lettermen: 50 Coach: Steve Simpson (4th year, 22-8) Returning starters: 10 Offense, 11 Defense Assistants: Brad Hartman, Corey Casteel, Darren Easton Dean, QB, 6-7, 215, Jr.; Kale Irwin, WR, Whiteley, Todd Callahan, Joe Ross 5-11, 160, Jr.; Owyn Back, WR, 6-3, 180, Sr.; Josh Offense: Multiple Spread/I-formation Defense: 4-3 Walters, TE, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Josiah Rexwinkle, WR, Returning lettermen: 15 6-1, 160, Sr.; Tanner Russell, WR, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Zane Returning starters: 5 Offense, 6 Defense Sweeten, C, 5-10, 225, Sr.; Dalton McNickle, OT, Trey Hoerner, RB/LB, 6-1, 210, Sr.; Dominick 6-3, 200, Sr.; Dylan Walker, OG, 6-0, 240, Jr.; Skylar Campbell, RB/CB, 5-8, 165, Sr.; Tucker Robinson, Gatewood, OT, 6-4, 250, Sr.; Tate Phillips, LB, 5-9, TE/DE, 6-4, 255, Sr.; Byrce Riekeman, TE/LB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Caleb Hentzen, CB, 5-10, 145, Jr.; Zach 220, Sr.; Hunter Sprouse, DL/K, 5-8, 210, Sr.; Kade McCarty, SS, 6-0, 180, Jr.; Quiency Jones, DL, 6-0, Funston, OL, 6-1, 230, So. 190, Sr.; Shelby Howard, DL, 5-11, 230, Sr.; Caleb Brent Maycock Haggard, DE, 6-1, 210, So.; Rogan Bruce, LB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Braden Baker, DE, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Ethan Jameson, FS, 6-1, 155, So.; Garrett Bussinger, DL, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Issac Payne, DL, 5-11, 240, Sr. Mark Schremmer


If the 2016 season had a familiar feel to it for Atchison, well, there’s good reason. In 2014, the Redmen reeled off six straight wins to start the season before hitting the skids in a loaded district, going winless in the last three games. After an 8-1 season in 2015, Atchison repeated the 2014 script, rolling through its first six foes before again posting an 0-fer in district play, the toughest of those defeats a 22-16 overtime loss to Tonganoxie to start district play. The district shortcomings have kept Atchison from the playoffs since 2009 and to end that streak, the Redmen will have to do some big-time reloading across the board. Only three starters return each way, leaving plenty of key holes to fill. None are bigger than at quarterback where the Redmen have flourished in recent years with Wykeen Gill and last year’s starter, Adam Smith. Smith accounted for More than 1,400 yards of total offense and 26 touchdowns and his loss as the team’s quarterback defensively might be even greater. The job of replacing him will likely fall to Cole Batemon, a starter at tight end last year who attempted just four passes in backup duty. His top complements in the backfield — seniors Matt Schrick and Taye Helms and junior Sercy Duncan — combined for a whopping two carries last year, so when veteran coach Jim Smith calls his

Page 78


team green this year, he’s not exaggerating. The new faces in the backfield will have the luxury of operating behind a pair of returning all-league senior linemen in Leighton Cushinberry and Giovanni Burk, who also lead the defensive returners. Both had at least 40 tackles with Burk getting 11 tackles for loss and four sacks — both team highs. There’s not much experience around them, however. Atchison enters the season having won 16 straight KC-Atchison League games and the Redmen are the two-time reigning league champions, winning last year’s league contests by an average of 39.6 points. The Redmen open the season for the second straight year with a strong test in Holton, taking a 24-14 win over the Wildcats last year, but will have to once again navigate a brutal district which includes Tonganoxie, Basehor-Linwood and KC Piper.

Jarad M. Waite, O.D.

1703 N. Buckey



202 NW 15th St, Abilene, KS 67410 (785) 263-2020

Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery



It is the type of situation one hates to think about, and really cannot answer. How would the New England Patriots replace Tom Brady? Who would be the next New York Yankees closer after Mariano Rivera? What will the San Antonio Spurs do when Gregg Popovich steps away? How does one replace an institutional legend? So how does one replace Gary O’Hair? The answer comes internally. Dylan Schmidt, previously an O’Hair assistant, gets the opportunity and the challenge. Under 15 years of O’Hair, Andale won 150 games and state titles in 2006, 2007 and 2014. Not much is known in terms of starters, but team-building is best accomplished from the trenches out. Within that spectrum, Schmidt has a good place to start. Senior Grant Fairchild was an Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV first-teamer, and Mason Fairchild received honorable mention status. Andale is seasoned at the line of scrimmage on offense, too. “Our strength will be up front. Our four returners are offensive linemen or tight ends,” Schmidt said. “We must continue with our physical play that has made us successful over the years.” The known weapon in Andale’s arsenal is senior wideout Parker Bruce, whose 6-foot-1-inch frame will provide a big target for a new quarterback. The offense averaged 400 yards per game a year ago, cashing in for more than 30 points in each of Andale’s eight wins. The cupboard is not barren, either – Andale’s junior varsity steamrolled to a 7-0 mark. Andale has 50 wins in the past five years. The program has reached the postseason in 15 consecutive seasons, dating back to 2002. Sixteen is in play. Andale and Buhler’s reputations precede them in a district that rounds out with Circle and El Dorado, neither of which have made the playoffs in the past five years.

Andover Central’s 2-7 season in 2016 had a profound demarcation. The Jaguars’ two wins arose from two opponents that struggled for wins – Rose Hill and Circle were a combined 4-14. Andover Central’s seven losses came at the hands of opponents with a combined 53-21 record, a gauntlet schedule that did no favors for the rebuilding Jaguars. Where the Jaguars likely ranked was somewhere in the middle of that separation. The program had won 16 combined games in the prior two seasons, including a 4A-Division I title game appearance in 2015, but much of the tremendous firepower that ignited that offense departed from graduation. Indeed, an offense that scorched opponents for 37.8 points per game in 2015 fizzled in 2016, producing only 9.9 ppg, second-worst in the class. The offense is still relatively young, returning five starters. Two senior cogs on the offensive line should help the transition in Kameron Sheppard and Isaac Rozario. “We will be playing some kids that have none or little experience on Friday night,” said Andover Central coach Tom Audley. “We will need to get to Friday night quickly.” The Jaguars should expect dependability from the defense. Six starters return, including senior linebacker Stratton Stamp, a second-team Ark ValleyChisholm Trail League Division III honoree, and senior defensive end Austin Zellers, an honorable mention. Senior strong safety Jack Stiner provides a safety net for an otherwise inexperienced secondary looking to break in new faces. The schedule does not change from the year prior, so Andover Central’s youth will be immediately tested. The Jaguars open at home against Andale, followed by a road trip to 4A-I runner-up Buhler and a home date with Abilene before a rivalry game with Andover.

8-2 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-I Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV Coach: Dylan Schmidt (1st year) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 4 Offense, 3 Defense Hunter Barbeau, C/DL, 5-11, 245, Sr.; Grant Fairchild, OL/LB, 6-3, 205, Sr.; Parker Bruce, WR/ DB, 6-1, 185, Sr.; Jeremy Jansen, RB/DB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Mason Fairchild, TE/DE, 6-3, 220, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A Division I Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III Coach: Tom Audley (16th year, 100-57; 31st overall, 170-125) Assistants: Derek Tuttle, Dean Taylor, Fred Sims, Ben Page, Gary Merritt, Doug Snyder, Chris Saferite Offense: I Formation Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 27 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 6 Defense Kameron Sheppard, OL, 6-0, 290, Sr.; Isaac Rozario, OL, 6-4, 230, Sr.; Mitchell Allison, RB, 5-10, 155, Sr.; Jack Stiner, SS, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Austin Zellers, DE, 5-10, 195, Sr.; Hunter O’Connor, DL, 5-10, 255, Sr.; Clark Schoonover, LB/K/P, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Stratton Stamp, LB, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Stefan Anthemides, RB, 6-0, 175, Jr.; Peyton Jensen, TE, 6-1, 180, Jr.; Sam Thomas, LB, 6-1, 180, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


Augusta coach Jason Filbeck stated the goal for this season bluntly – to be the best team in Augusta’s history. To reach that standard, the Orioles must do so without one of the greatest players in the program’s history. Linebacker Dallin Marlnee departed for Butler Community College after totaling 102 tackles – 11 for loss – in his senior campaign that garnered him the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV’s Defensive Most Valuable Player honor. It is lofty production to fill, but Augusta benefits from the return of eight defensive starters from a unit that was sturdy, budging for only 18.7 points per game and holding four teams to single digits. Defensive back Clay Wesbrooks snatched six interceptions as a junior. Coban Honey and Ceetyn Anderson complement him to lead a lockdown secondary. The line can crumble the pocket, too, behind seniors Kendall 6-3 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A Division I Davis, Jonny Clausing and Ryan Rogers. Kansas City-Atchison League The offense will feature several newcomers. Coach: Jim Smith (20th year, 100-81) Assistants: Charley Harris, Roni Ettleman, Matt Hall, However, the Orioles have a creator in quarterback Chance Whitehead, who threw for 1,500 yards and Josh Rebant, Mike Nigus sprinted for 500 more. Offense: Spread/Power/Option Defense: 4-2-5 “We need to stay healthy, just like anyone else. Returning lettermen: 12 Hopefully, our experience and toughness will come Returning starters: 4 Offense, 3 Defense Brent Maycock through in the tough games,” Filbeck said. Augusta has thrived under Filbeck, averaging six

wins and making the postseason in each of his first three years. That is the rub, however – Augusta has not made it out of the opening round of the postseason in that time. The Orioles lost to Mulvane 42-7 to end a 6-4 season in 2016. The Orioles’ most recent quarterfinal appearance was in 2005. In the quest to become Augusta’s best, the Orioles are striving to at least match their three semifinal performances in their history, with the last coming in 1988. 6-4 in 2016 / 5A Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III Coach: Jason Filbeck (4th year, 18-12) Assistants: Sean Hayden, JD Hand, Brian Prentice, Rhett Mallon, Chuck Bisbee, Robert Hall Offense: Pistol Bone Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 4 Offense, 8 Defense Kendall Davis, DL, 6-4, 285, Sr.; Jonny Clausing, DE, 6-8, 245, Sr.; Chance Whitehead, QB, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Clay Wesbrooks, DB, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Coban Honey, DB, 6-2, 180, Sr.; Easton Brown, OL, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Ryan Rogers, DL, 5-11, 235, Sr.; Grady Tole, LB, 5-8, 185, Sr.; Ben Volkman, OL, 6-4, 280, Jr.; Ceetyn Anderson, DB, 5-10, 165, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


The 2016 campaign was a special one for the Bobcats, who advanced to the Class 4A-I sub-state finals where they fell to the eventual champs, powerhouse Bishop Miege. The Bobcats went 11-1 and recorded the program’s first ever sectional title with a ton of talent helping push them all the way to the final four, but many of those players are now gone to graduation. BLHS returns only three starters on offense while the underrated defense does have five starters coming back that Stallbaumer can rely on. The Bobcats graduated four of the team’s top receivers that combined for 1,400 yards and two top rushers (2,100) including Chas Rollo who produced the second most rushing yards in school history. JC Watson will battle junior Dylan Musset for the quarterback position vacated by Justin Phillips. He will have Zach White and Miles Beach in front of him on the offensive line. T.J. Williams and Nolan Ford will push for reps at the running back spot. Linebackers Williams, Ford and Joey Foster will ignite the team’s defense while the line has enough players back with valuable experience. “We will need some young guys to step up in the secondary,” Stallbaumer said. “We lose 3-year standout Eric Scott as well as corner Justin Phillips. We return cornerback JC Watson. We do return our kicker in senior four-year starter Parker Rusk who was All-State honorable mention last season with 6 field goals and 55 extra points.” 11-1 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-I Kaw Valley League Coach: Rod Stallbaumer (4th year, 24-9) Assistants: Brian Lohafer Ron Barnes, DeAngelo Brooks, Harrison Taylor, Tim Johnson Offense: Spread Flexbone Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 9 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 5 Defense Miles Beach, OL/DT, 5-11, 285, Sr.; Jacob Coleman, WR/DB, 6-4, 170, Jr.; Nolan Ford, RB/LB, 6-1, 185, Jr.; Joey Foster, OL/DE, 5-11, 195, Sr.; Jace Friesen, OL/DE, 6-1, 195, Jr.; JC Watson, WR/DB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Zach White OL, 6-4, 225, Sr.; T.J. Williams RB/ LB, 5-8, 185, Sr.; Lucas Willis DE, 5-11, 195, Sr. Alan Dale


De Soto backed up its breakthrough season in 2015 with a validating 7-3 mark last year. Along the way, the Wildcats captured their first Frontier League title — the first league title of any kind for some time. Entering its final year in the Frontier — De Soto will join Shawnee Heights, KC Turner, Basehor-Linwood, Leavenworth and Lansing in a newly formed league in 2018-19 — the Wildcats would like nothing more than to leave on top and get a bigger taste of postseason success. Each of the last two years since De Soto’s turnaround have ended in the first round of the playoffs, including a tough 21-14 loss to undefeated Basehor-Linwood in the first round last year. Injuries kept the Wildcats from entering the postseason at full strength. The biggest void late in the season was at quarterback after starter Bryce Mohl was lost after the sixth game. He still managed to earn first-team all-league honors after racking up 732 yards rushing and 507 passing in King’s flexbone offense and his return this year will be vital to the team’s success. Having offensive lineman Marshall Kellner back will be a big plus with the 285-pound senior drawing Division I interest after having 69 pancake blocks last year. He’s the only returning starter up front and rebuilding a line around him will be key. De Soto was stingy defensively a year ago, allowing just 14.9 points per game and posting four shutouts. The strength of that unit is back with senior d-end Zach Titus among the state’s top players after recording 52 tackles and 10 for loss a year ago on his way to All-Class 4A Division I honors. Linebackers Jack Barger and Trevor Gress each had at least 60 tackles with Barger a first-team all-league selection. 7-3 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-I / Frontier League Coach: Brian King (5th year, 16-22) Assistants: Joel Thaemert, Mark Gastelum, Bob Gadwood, Lynn Hoffman, Tod Hessong, Zack Griffiths, Justin Pickens Offense: Flexbone Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 27 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 4 Defense Zach Titus, DL, 6-4, 285, Sr.; Jack Barger, LB, 6-0, 205, Sr.; Trevor Gress, LB, 5-11, 250, Sr.; Brayden Brummer, DB, 5-8, 145, Sr.; Marshall Kellner, OL, 6-3, 285, Sr.; Bryce Mohl, QB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Trevor Watts, RB, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Darren Winans, RB, 5-11, 175, Sr. Brent Maycock


Buhler brings more style into 2017 than a Kardashian. Looking for a run game predicated on a speedy back that zooms through any sliver of daylight? Try Buhler’s Dalton Brown, the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III Offensive Most Valuable Player who gashed opponents for more than 1,900 yards on the ground, or up-and-coming defensive back Jordan Hawkins, a state track and field champion in the 100and 200-meter dashes. Want to see a wideout who is equally adept at climbing the ladder or burning the sideline? Enjoy the freaky athleticism of the 6-foot-5 Dalton Smyres. Prefer a more physical brand of football? Come witness linebacker Jhet Burkhart or pass rusher Brendan Webb crater the ground with bone-decaying tackles, or an interior offensive line that could shove over an elephant. The styles are nearly limitless. That adaptive and reactive trait puts Buhler on a crusade for a 4A-Division I state title. Buhler nearly got one a year ago in an 11-2 season, but ran into behemoth Bishop Miege in the championship matchup. “We lost some really good seniors last year, but we return eight starters on offense and eight starters on defense,” said Buhler coach Steve Warner. If Buhler displayed one weakness, it may have been a defense that was, at times, susceptible. Six teams touched up the Crusaders for at least 20 points, leaving an explosive offense to cover for them. Miege tested Buhler’s limits, exposing those vulnerabilities in a humbling 53-21 victory in Topeka. An older, wiser defense should prevent so many blemishes.


In 2016, the Chanute Blue Comets suffered their second consecutive losing season under head coach Chris Shields and their third straight losing season overall. However, that doesn’t stop Shields from thinking his team is on the brink of being a winner. “We are truly on the cusp of turning a corner and putting together a group that can be successful over time, not just one season,” Shields said. “A lot of that will be determined by our ability to stay healthy as well as continuing our commitment to the offseason process.” Chanute returns nine starters on offense and six on defense. Junior wide receiver Corbett Kimberlin and junior tight end Cooper McMillen are among the top returners to the offense. Both players received all-SEK honorable mentions in 2016. Other returning receiving targets for the Comets include junior Lane Harvey and senior Matt Hernandez. Sophomore Ty Bowman is slated to return as Chanute’s quarterback. The offense also returns several linemen in seniors Gage Leedy and Hunter Lyden, and juniors Qualin Powell and Braxton Reed. “I like our skill group returning,” Shields said. “We return four of our top receivers from last year, as well as our quarterback.” The defensive line will be led by Powell, while Leedy and Hernandez return at linebacker. The secondary will include Harvey and Kimberlin. Powell, Leedy and Harvey each earned all-league honorable mentions at their respective positions last year.

3-6 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Southeast Kansas League 11-2 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-I Coach: Chris Shields (3rd year, 5-13) Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III Assistants: Rusty Emling, Clete Frazell, Brian Coach: Steve Warner (12th year, 108-26; 229-87 Campbell, Luke Hall, Trevor Ewert, Kurt Sizemore overall) Assistants: Jason Kohls, Kevin Ruda, Robby Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Grey, Mie Zeyen, Garret Hotmar, Connor Thierolf, Returning starters: 9 Offense, 6 Defense John Neill, Willie Adkins Offense: I Defense: 4-3 Corbettt Kimberlin, WR/DB, 6-1, 175, Jr.; Lane Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense Harvey, WR/DB, 6-0, 170, Jr.; Matt Hernandez, WR/ Brendan Webb, DE, 6-5, 200, Sr.; Dalton Smyres, LB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Cooper McMillen, TE/LB, 5-11, 170, WR, 6-5, 185, Sr.; Braden Rose, DE/TE, 6-1, 225, Jr.; Ty Bowman, QB, 6-5, 195, So.; Gage Leedy, OL/ Sr.; Dalton Brown, TB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Lawson Schultz, LB, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Qualin Powell, OL/DL, 6-3, 215, OG/DT, 5-11, 245, Sr.; Jhet Burkhart, LB/FB, 6-0, Jr.; Braxton Reed, OL, 6-3, 245, Jr.; Hunter Lyden, 185, Sr.; Brayden Lock, LB, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Dylan OL, 5-9, 230, Sr. Brown, DB/WR, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Ben Epp, DB, 6-1, 170, Mark Schremmer Sr.; Cade McLean, OG, 5-11, 230, Sr.; Logan Sweet, C, 5-9, 190, Sr. Kyle McCaskey For the second straight year, Eudora’s season could be summed up with a simple adage: “It’s not El Dorado has one of the most active coaching how you start, but how you finish.” carousels in the state. The Wildcats took another After beginning the 2015 campaign 0-3, the turn this offseason, as Jason Nichols departed after Cardinals won eight straight games to reach the two seasons, collecting a 5-13 record in his tenure. Class 4A-I state semifinals. Last year, the script Heading into 2017, Bill Shaw becomes the school’s flipped. Eudora picked up victories in two of its first sixth head coach in the past nine years. three games and then couldn’t find the win column While Shaw certainly has football acumen – he was the rest of the season, finishing a disappointing 2-7. an assistant for Tom Young when Derby won a state Entering his third season, Cardinal coach Phil football title in 1994 – he may be better known for his Katzenmeier hopes his team can bounce back this baseball background. Shaw guided Derby to its lone year behind a load of experience. Eudora returns six baseball championship in 2001. starters on offense and seven on defense. Slowly but surely, El Dorado has inched ahead If Gavin Elston can channel the senior season in the standings, become a tougher out in the Ark his older brother Grant had in 2015, Eudora could Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV. After have an explosive offense. The elder Elston was a back-to-back winless slates in 2009-10, the Wildcats one-man wrecking crew two years ago, racking up followed with three straight 1-8 marks. In 2014 and nearly 2,500 yards of total offense including 2,100 on 2015, El Dorado improved to 2-7. This past season, the ground and leaving big footsteps for his younger the Wildcats climbed one more step, stopping at 3-6. brother to follow in. There may be room to continue an upward The Cardinals aren’t blessed with size. No returning trajectory. El Dorado brings back enough pieces to starter is more than 220 pounds and only three are build from a stable foundation in 2017. Seniors Kyle more than 200. The linebacking corps will be led by Bobbitt and Kaden Clites return at running back and seniors Jamee McGinness and Khalil Thrasher. wide receiver, respectively, to spark an offense that Eudora should be hungry after missing the playoffs rumbled to a commendable 24.9 points per game. following 2015’s deep run. The Cardinals open Linebacker Presley Mabe and defensive back Hunter against Frontier League rival Baldwin, which they Armijo spearhead the defensive unit. Cameron Hunt beat 22-6 last year and then face future league holds the fort as a two-way lineman. foe Tonganoxie in Week 2. Following KC Sumner El Dorado has eight playoff berths in program in Week 3, the schedule is downright loaded with history, often coming in bunches – the Wildcats league foes and three-time reigning 4A Division I have gone back-to-back on three occasions. The champion Miege starting off district play. most recent came in the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Squeaking out of a difficult 4A-Division I District 7 will 2-7 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-I / Frontier League remain a chore. The district includes class powers Coach: Phil Katzenmeier (3rd year, 10-11) Buhler (11-2) and Andale (8-2), as well as Circle Assistants: Jason Tharp, Chris Durkin, Mark Elston, (1-8). Andale, Circle and El Dorado are all welcoming Drew Brown Offense: Veer/Trap Defense: 4-3 new head coaches. Returning lettermen: 14 The Wildcats have room for improvement on their Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense home field. El Dorado was 2-2 in road games this Dustin Adler, OL, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Alex Brown, DB, 5-8, past season, but only 1-4 at the luxurious BG Prod- 130, Sr.; Elijah Kennedy, DT, 5-8, 145, Sr.; James ucts Veterans Sports Complex, also home to junior McGinness, LB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Austin Ormsby, DT, college power Butler Community College. 5-8, 195, Sr.; Tanner Rocha, WR, 5-6, 155, Sr.; Khalil Thrasher, LB, 6-0, 195, Sr.; Gavin Elston, QB, 5-8, 3-6 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I 145, Jr.; Gage Shepard, DE, 6-1, 220, Jr.; Sawyer Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV Tomlinson, OL, 5-9, 210, Jr. Brent Maycock Coach: Bill Shaw (1st year) Kyle McCaskey



Page 79


In Darrin Wegner’s first season as Coffeyville’s head coach, the Golden Tornado posted a 4-5 record and fell short of advancing to the Class 4A Division I playoffs. The Nado displayed significant improvement after suffering through an 0-9 season in 2015. Now, Coffeyville has its sights set on a winning season and a run in the postseason. Wegner listed the Nado’s goals in 2017 as a winning record and a district championship. It would be Coffeyville’s first winning season since the Nado finished 12-2 and advanced to the Class 4A state championship game in 2012. Coffeyville will be looking to replace several key players. Kameron Wilson earned first-team all-league honors at wide receiver and defensive back, while Sean McIntosh was first-team all-league on the offensive and defensive lines. However, Coffeyville also brings back some talent for 2017. The Nado returns seven starters. Running the spread offense will be junior quarterback C.J. Kelley, who earned honorable mention all-league honors as a sophomore. The offense also returns Cody Smith and Jaylen Logan at wide receiver, Jacob Jackson at running back, and Brandon Barriger and Tyler Collins on the offensive line. Wegner said improved depth as well as improvement on the offensive line will be crucial. Leading the defense will be Smith, who earned second-team all-league accolades at LB last year. Jackson joins Smith at LB after receiving an all-SEK honorable mention a year ago. Logan was an honorable mention at d-back. Kelley returns as a starter in the secondary, and Barriger is back on the d-line. 4-5 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Southeast Kansas League Coach: Darrin Wegner (2nd year, 4-5) Assistants: Dave Harlan, Mark Andrews, Mike O’Connor, Jake Price Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense C.J. Kelley, QB/DB, 5-11, 155, Jr.; Cody Smith, WR/ LB, 5-10, 161, Sr.; Jaylen Logan, WR/DB, 5-6, 132, Jr.; Jacob Jackson, RB/LB, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Brandon Barriger, OL/DL, 5-8, 210, Jr.; Tyler Collins, OL, 5-9, 235, Sr. Mark Schremmer


In a rare occurrence, Tigers finished the 2016 season with a losing record. It was only the second time in Bob Campbell’s 21 years as head coach his squad finished below .500. Now, as the 2017 season arrives, Fort Scott appears poised to bounce back. “Last year our numbers were down a bit and that was compounded by injuries,” Campbell said. “But we had a number of young players who saw playing time and made big contributions on Friday nights.” An experienced senior class should lead the way for Fort Scott. All six of the team’s returning starters on offense are seniors, along with four on defense. Senior running back Zarek Fewell ran for 1,014 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago, earning first team honors in the Southeast Kansas League. Senior Jesse Jones is back under center and the offensive line features four returning senior starters. Senior lineman Andrew Callahan earned all-state recognition last year, along with first team all-league honors on both sides of the ball. Fellow seniors Colby Page, Ben Daniels and Elijah Wright also return on the offensive line. Defensively, senior Derek Bollinger is expected to lead the way from the linebacker position after recording 107 tackles and earning first team all-league recognition a year ago. Senior defensive backs Jessie Lawrence, Gunnar Brown and Alex Gorman are other key returners. Lawrence also contributed 360 rushing yards, while Brown compiled 250 receiving yards. 3-6 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-I Southeast Kansas League Coach: Bob Campbell (22nd year, 171-57) Assistants: Bo Graham, Josh Regan, Alvin Metcalf, Jr., Josh Messer, Johnathan Stark Offense: Split-back Veer Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 20 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Zarek Fewell, RB/DB, 5-9, 185, Sr.; Andrew Callahan, OL/DL, 6-2, 270, Sr.; Jesse Jones, QB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Colby Page, OL, 6-2, 280, Sr.; Ben Daniels, OL, 5-10, 220, Sr.; Elijah Wright, OL, 5-11, 205, Sr.; Jessie Lawrence, RB/DB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Gunnar Brown, WR/DB, 5-10, 155, Sr.; Derek Bollinger, LB, 5-9, 170, Sr.; Alex Gorman, DB, 5-8, 165; Alec Michaud, LB, 5-10, 155, Jr.; Jarrett Shoemaker, DL, 6-1, 180, Jr. Jason Peake

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 80 Dine-in or Carryout

1308 Vine





Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


Hays High again played a very challenging schedule with the No. 3-hardest in 32-team Class 4A, Division I, according to Prep Power Index. In ’15, HHS had the No. 1-hardest SOS in 4A-I. Last season, HHS finished 2-7 for the second straight year, but picked up two quality wins and had a Week 9 contest that decided a playoff game. In Week 1, Hays High had a big comeback and won at Scott City, 31-21. SC finished 7-3. After the win, HHS dropped six straight contests and played most of the season without its best player, Shane Berens, an eventual Shrine Bowl selection. HHS was competitive in most, including a 35-14 Week 2 home loss to Great Bend where the game was close well into the second half. In Week 3, HHS lost at home to Liberal, 21-13. After a 34-0 road defeat to Garden City, HHS played Valley Center tough in a 20-6 home defeat. VC was undefeated at the time and eventually finished 9-2. Following losses to Dodge City (44-14) and the road district opener at McPherson (48-14), HHS defeated Abilene, 23-12, for the first home win in the two-year Randall Rath era. The Cowboys were 7-0 entering the contest and were one of two 4A-I unbeatens entering Week 8 but had played a significantly easier schedule than HHS. Berens returned for the game and caught a key 14yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. In Week 9, Hays High traveled to Wamego for the district runner-up and lost, 30-13. Senior quarterback Hunter Brown, the starter under center since late in his sophomore year, had a solid season. He completed 69 of 118 passes for 826 yards with a 9/4 TD/INT ratio. He rushed for 378 yards, tops among HHS returners. Keaton Markley is the top receiver back after he led the team with 230 receiving yards. Hays High upped its passing yards from 526 to 859. The total offense stayed consistent at 235 a game in ’15 and 239 last year. Hays High tallied 14.2 points a game and permitted 29.4, both last in the WAC.

Hays 2720 Broadway 1.800.825.7661

Delivery or Carryout

785-623-2650 • 1105 Canterbury Dr. Hays, KS 67601

Supporting Area Youth


700 N. Main St.



It will be the last year of Kaw Valley League action for Piper as they move to newer pastures and the KVL ceases operations in 2018. A year ago, the Pirates went 4-6 and qualified for the Class 4A-I playoffs where they saw an early end come in the form of a 64-0 defeat to eventual champs, Bishop Miege. Piper fell to second in district play behind BasehorLinwood, who held on for a 48-34 victory over the Pirates in week seven. Head coach Chris Brindle enters year seven at Piper and has done well with the plethora of athletic talent he has had at his disposal, averaging nearly seven wins a season. It will be tough to replicate something similar as he only returns eight starters and 12 lettermen, but a lot of teams in the league will be reloading as well. Brindle has designs on winning the district title, getting to the playoffs and advancing this fall, as he 8-2 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-I has seen his program make the postseason every Southeast Kansas League year since taking over the top post for the Pirates. Coach: Carl Boldra (13th year, 55-64) In order to make a third state semifinal appearance Assistants: N/A and win his sixth district title, Brindle needs to Offense: N/A Defense: N/A develop some young talent to fill the holes many Returning lettermen: N/A graduated starters left. Returning starters: N/A The Pirates have one of the top linemen prospects John Baetz/Brent Maycock in the state in junior Cooper Beebe (6-4, 285), whose brother Colton was an All-State selection and is now at the University of Minnesota, but the loss of do-everything back JJ Letcher leaves a big hole in the Pirate backfield and only three starters return offensively overall. The Pirates travel to Paola (Sept. 1), Bonner Springs (Sept. 15), Turner (Sept. 29) and Tonganoxie (Oct. 20) and have five home games against Louisburg (Sept. 8), Lansing (Sept. 22), Bishop Ward (Oct. 6), Basehor-Linwood (Oct. 13), and Atchison (Oct. 27).

Graduation hit hard at Independence, which went 8-2 a year ago. Along with two-time All-Class 4A defensive lineman Peyton Usher-Pearson, the Bulldogs must replace the backfield combination of quarterback Colan Snodgrass and tailback Will Schabel, who combined for nearly 3,000 yards a year ago. The Bulldogs opened last season on a three-game win streak that included a narrow 14-11 victory over traditional Southeast Kansas League power Fort Scott before a lopsided loss to Basehor-Linwood, an eventual 4A-I semi-finalist, 46-6. The Bulldogs then went on a five game win streak before losing the playoff opener against Louisburg, 20-0. The Bulldogs were the SEK League champs - besting Labette County, Fort Scott, Coffeyville, Chanute, and Parsons - in the first year without 5A school Pittsburg who left the league and became an independent in 2016.

4-6 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-I Kaw Valley League Coach: Chris Brindle (7th year, 44-25) Assistants: Brian Gray, Tim Cottrell, Shae Grosdidier, Kevin Coker, Sean Wilkerson Offense: Pistol Defense: Multiple Front Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 5 Defense Cooper Beebe, OL/DL, 6-4, 285, Jr.; Ryan Bach LB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Dalton White S, 6-1, 178, Jr.; Trey Bates, CB/Slotback, 5-11, 170, Jr.; Corbin Fullerton, OL, 6-3, 260, Jr.; Tyler Ash, LB, 6-0, 175, Sr. Alan Dale/Brent Maycock

2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Western Athletic Conference Coach: Randall Rath (3rd year, 2-7; 20th year, 135-71) Assistants: Steve Sedbrook, Tucker O’Hair, Brian Haynes, Jay Sanders, Nathan Howard, Art Schoenthaler, Fred Winter Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 9 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 4 Defense Hunter Brown, QB/DB, Sr.; Dylan Schmidtberger, RB/ DE, Sr.; Trey Van Pelt, C, Sr.; Keaton Markley, RB/ LB, Jr. Conor Nicholl


In 2014 and 2015, Maize South reached new heights in the school’s relatively young existence, battling all the way to the 5A state quarterfinals. In 2016, the Mavericks continued their climb, pushing into the 4A-Division I semifinals. Entering 2017, there is only one game that has eluded the program – the state championship. While the classification is ruthless with elite programs, and although Maize South is breaking in new starters at key positions, the Mavericks have forced their way into the annual championship conversation. The Mavericks are averaging nearly nine wins per season over the past five years. They come off a 10-2 campaign that included 4A-I playoff triumphs over Ulysses and McPherson before running into eventual state runner-up Buhler, falling 27-7. Both of Maize South’s 2016 losses came to Buhler. “Our program’s core value of ‘dedication’ will be put to test this season, as we lose more players in key positions,” said Maize South coach Brent Pfeifer. “There will be a lot of experience to replace, so time, effort and unselfish decisions will be very important for us to continue our success.” An athletic, sturdy defense kept eight opponents under 20 points, and should thrive again. The secondary has a trio of budding stars in seniors Jack Wagner, Tyler White and Tristan Knoblauch. With passing attacks and big plays limited, the impetus will be to maul runners at the line. Senior John Moses

Full Service Financial Institution

2215 E. Kansas

headlines a skilled front four. “Young players will be expected to put in time and be prepared to fill positions,” Pfeifer said. “As long as we work unselfishly for our teammates and remain positive in our approach to practice, we can continue to be successful in building strong, respectable young men.” The Mavs have seven straight postseason appearances. They will be the favorites once more in a district that includes Augusta, Rose Hill and Andover Central. 10-2 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-I Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III Coach: Brent Pfeifer (9th year, 55-25) Assistants: N/A Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense Cade Koster, OG, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Gavin Woddard, OT, 6-2, 200, Sr.; Bradyn Wiens, WR, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Max Domnick, RB/WR/DB, 5-7, 185, Sr.; John Moses, DE, 5-10, 190, Sr.; Bryce Wiedemann, DE, 6-6, 215, Sr.; Korban Trapp, DT/P, 6-0, 210, Sr.; Tristan Knoblauch, DB, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Jack Wagner, DB, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Tyler White, DB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Corey Minks, WR, 5-7, 155, Jr.; Nolan Veenis, WR, 6-4, 170, Jr.; Andrew Bliss, PK, 5-7, 150, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


Member NCUA

A somewhat turbulent start to the 2016 season didn’t keep Louisburg from enjoying yet another strong season as the Wildcats went 8-3 and reached the Class 4A Division I state quarterfinals before falling to eventual state champion Miege. Just more than a week before the season started, head coach Kyle Littrell resigned his position. Littrell had been at the school for 12 years, including serving as the head coach since 2013. Former Louisburg coach Gary Griffin returned as co-interim coach along with Jeff Lohse and the two stabilized the situation. Louisburg won its first five games — four by 28 or more points — and was two points away from a 7-0 start with the lone hiccup in that stretch a 28-27 loss to rival Spring Hill. The only other loss aside from the playoff defeat to Miege came to Ottawa in district play, but the Wildcats bounced back to thump Paola to reach the playoffs and then knocked off one-loss Independence in the playoff opener. The program now is in the hands of Robert Ebenstein, an assistant at the school for the past five seasons after previously serving as an assistant for four years at Washburn Rural. He’ll inherit a team which returns just 12 lettermen and only four starters. To get his power offense up and running Ebenstein will need to plug some big holes up front and in the backfield. Graduation claimed four of five starters on the offensive line, including first-team All-Frontier League picks Mason Koechner and Dustyn Rizzo. Senior Garrett Lowry, an honorable mention allleaguer last year, will serve as the anchor for the rebuilt unit this year. Backs Grant Harding and Thomas San Agustin also have graduated after earning first-team all-league honors and leading an offense which averaged 30 points per game. Senior Will Ridley and junior Auston Moore return to the backfield, but will have much bigger roles this season. 8-3 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-I Frontier League Coach: Robert Ebenstein (1st year) Assistants: Jeff Lohse, Joel McGhee, Drew Harding, Ty Pfannenstiel, Pete Skakal, TJ McKiearnan Offense: Power Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 4 Defense Garrett Lowry, OL/DL, 6-5, 265, Sr.; Dez Doles, WR/ CB, 6-3, 185, Sr.; Will Ridley, RB/LB, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Auston Moore, RB/LB, 6-0, 195, Jr. Brent Maycock


It may be an ambitious statement, but McPherson’s defense has a chance to be the best in 4A-Division I, if not in consideration for tops in the state. The Bullpups feature eight starters mixing back in from a unit that allowed only 11.8 points per game, second in 4A-I to only state champion Bishop Miege’s 11.0. Many of the athletes received postseason praise for their efforts. Defensive back Drew Labertew, linebacker Jayse Alexander and lineman Wyatt Seidl were first-team selections in the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III. Defensive back Ben Nikkel and linebacker Kollin Goering were second-teamers. Lineman Michael Mendez was an honorable mention. Every unit can lean on multiple veterans. McPherson’s coaching staff can sleep easy in terms of defense. What may keep them up at night is formulating solutions for an offense that lost eight starters, including distinct talents in quarterback Casen Hoover, do-everything Jack Reifschneider and lineman Jared Ruth. Head coach Jace Pavlovich spent nine years as a defensive coordinator for the Bullpups – this season will test his offensive creativity. “Our goal is simple, we want to play good football toward the end of the year,” Pavlovich said. “We want to get deeper into the playoff scene.” McPherson started 2016 at 0-2, but ripped off eight straight wins to smash into the 4A-I quarterfinals. The Bullpups gave a valiant effort, but were eliminated

by Maize South, 35-27. McPherson can dish up a measure of revenge when it visits the Mavericks in week two. While it may not have been a surprise that the Bullpups won their district, it was impressive in how they cruised to the title with relative ease. McPherson defeated Hays, Wamego and Abilene each by 21-ormore points, including road victories over the latter two. McPherson will know exactly where it stands in the class after week one, when the Bullpups make the short drive over to face bitter rival and state runner-up Buhler. 8-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-I Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III Coach: Jace Pavlovich (3rd year, 13-7) Assistants: Chet Harlin, Scott Davis, Heath Gerstner, John Montgomery, David Goerzen, Patrick Corcoran, Matt Sandbo Offense: Spread I Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 26 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 8 Defense Wyatt Seidl, DE; Michael Mendez, DL; Jayse Alexander, LB; Kollin Goering, LB; Tyson Stites, DB; Drew Labertew, DB; Ben Nikkel, DB; Gunnar Reiss, DB; Jace Kinnamon, TB; Gabe Hoover, WR; Thomas Diggs, TE. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


The Price is Right for one more year in Mulvane – but to advance to more postseason Showcase Showdowns, the Wildcats must quickly fill out the rest of the starting 22 around its dazzling quarterback. Buzz has begun to build around Jayden Price as he receives Division I offers entering his final season. Price was named the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV Offensive Most Valuable Player as a junior, throwing for 1,800 yards, sprinting for 1,300 more and totaling 41 touchdowns. He is no one-hit wonder, either – as a sophomore, he roasted defenses for 2,300 yards and 28 scores. Price, however, is one of only two returning starters to an offense that revved up for 42.4 points per game. Wideout Drew Ellis is the only other familiar face among starters. Mulvane must completely rebuild its fortress of an offensive line, one where every lineman received some level of league recognition. “Obviously we have a lot of holes to plug. Losing our entire offensive line from last year, where all were two-year starters, is an area we have to focus on immediately,” said Mulvane coach Dave Fennewald. “We have a very dynamic QB in Jayden, but we have to find people in a hurry who can give him some daylight and time to pass.” Defensive back Brett Nelson will act as a quarterback out of the secondary. He cashed in 77 tackles, six tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. Lineman Jeret Plummer showcased the makings of a formidable pass rusher, motoring his way to 2-1/2 sacks as a sophomore. 8-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-I Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV Coach: Dave Fennewald (26th year, 138-110; 31st overall, 165-127) Assistants: Randy Fox, Daniel Myears, Dustin Rhodes, Steven Nelson, Taylor Zeka, David Deiker Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 2 Offense, 4 Defense Jayden Price, QB, 6-1, 180, Sr.; Brett Nelson, DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Dalton Miller, DB, 5-9, 155, Sr.; Isaac Comer, LB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Drew Ellis, WR, 5-8, 160, Jr.; Jeret Plummer, DL, 6-0, 200, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


It wasn’t a complete case of deja-vu, but the 2016 season sure had a familiar feel to it for Miege. An early-season loss to Blue Valley hardly slowed the Stags on their way to the 2015 Class 4A Division I state title and another setback against the Tigers proved to be no hindrance for the Stags in their bid for a three-peat last year. Instead, Miege quickly put a 35-28 loss to Blue Valley in the season opener in the rear-view mirror and steamrolled the remainder of their schedule on its way to a third straight crown. Is a fourth title in order? Plenty of firepower returns. Senior quarterback Carter Putz has thrown for more than 3,000 yards each of the past two seasons and needs just 2,410 yards this year to become the state’s all-time leading passer, surpassing SM North’s Will Schneider (8,901). He had a state-record 50 touchdown passes last year and needs only seven to overtake Silver Lake’s Shannon Kruger (92) for the career record. No returning receiver caught more than seven passes last year, but while the new corps gets up to speed, Miege can rely on a ground game which returns sophomore standout Brison Cobbins, who ran for 841 yards as a freshman, and senior Cameron Clark, who added 344 yards. Few teams in the state will be able to match the linebacker tandem of senior Joe Watskey and junior Dylan Downing, each of whom made just more than 100 tackles last year. The Stags return four of their top-six tacklers overall.


On the verge of a breakthrough season in each of Rob Hedrick’s first three years as coach, Ottawa rode a stellar senior class to such a campaign in 2016. The Cyclones’ 8-3 mark was its best in more than a decade and they reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs before losing 48-14 to Basehor-Linwood. The key to the breakthrough was navigating a district loaded with perennial 4A powers Paola, Louisburg and Fort Scott. Ottawa was more than up to the challenge, sweeping all three with ease, the closest of the district games a 48-28 rout of Louisburg. The question facing the Cyclones in 2017 is can they back it up with another strong showing after graduation hit hard? Only two starters return on offense and just three are back on defense, giving Hedrick a relatively young squad to start the season. Nowhere will the Cyclones be greener than in the trenches. Ottawa already had the huge task of replacing All-Class 4A I pick Drew Bones (now at Illinois State) but two projected starters left school during the offseason leaving senior Dawson Bruce as the lone returner up front to either unit. If the new-look lines can come together quickly, the Cyclones have a playmaker in the backfield ready to run wild. Senior Devion Bethea moved into the feature back role midway through the season and came on strong, finishing with 1,096 yards rushing and 16 TD yards — the bulk of it coming from Week 6 on. Replacing Isaac McCullough at QB will be a challenge after he threw for 1,638 yards and 21 TDs. But senior Kaleb Shaffer spent most of 2015 under center when McCullough missed the season with an injury and could wind up there again. He’ll battle junior Jackson Allen for the job with whoever doesn’t win the job likely winding up at tight end. 8-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-I Frontier League Coach: Rob Hedrick (5th year, 24-16) Assistants: Pat Boeh, Evan Shaffer, Blake Lasley, Jake Huddlestun, Kendal Thompkins, Cliff McCullough Offense: Wing T Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 13 Returning starters: 2 Offense, 3 Defense Devion Bethea, RB/DB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Dawson Bruce, OL/DT, 6-3, 265, Sr.; Kaleb Shaffer, LB/QB, 6-0, 190, Sr. Brent Maycock


To say 2016 was a bit bizarre for Paola might be an understatement. A fixture in the Class 4A playoffs for the bulk of Mike Dumpert’s first 15 years as head coach, the Panthers failed to reach the postseason for the first time since 2000. Needless to say, Paola will enter the 2017 season with a bit of a chip on its shoulder. Not only did a loss to rival Louisburg deny the Panthers a 16th straight playoff berth, but they also lost to Ottawa for the first time in more than a decade at the start district play — each of the losses by 28 or more. The lopsided losses were somewhat of an aberration compared to the rest of the season where Paola hung tough with playoff qualifier KC Piper (23-13) and Frontier League rival Spring Hill (18-12) and beat 5A Bonner Springs (33-6) and perennial 4A power Fort Scott (34-26). Though 12 lettermen do return, Paola will have virtually a completely new look, especially on the offensive and defensive lines where no starters are back. The Panthers return just three offensive starters overall, running backs Drew Smith and Colton Gleghorn and receiver Brandon Wilkes, and just two defensively, Smith and Gleghorn. Not only will the Panthers be green up front, but no linebackers return either. Gleghorn and Smith were both honorable mention all-league selections last year in the secondary, but developing a front seven will be a huge key for the Panthers’ success. Dumpert admits the program “took some steps back last season” and hopes to recapture the tradition Paola has enjoyed for decades as one of the top programs in Class 4A. 4-5 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Frontier League Coach: Mike Dumpert (17 year) Assistants: MIke Smith, David Kane, Todd Weaver, Darvin Willard, Steve Gorsuch Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 2 Defense Drew Smith, RB/DB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Colton Gleghorn, RB/DB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Brandon Wilkes, WR, 6-3, 190, Sr. Brent Maycock


Page 81

Buoyed by a cache of returning starters, Rose Hill hopes to make a splash with its first postseason berth since 2013. The Rockets come off a 3-6 season. “We will return good experience on both sides of the ball and believe we can be great this season,” said Rose Hill coach Ray Boese. “We have two very quality kids that can play quarterback, and think our offensive line is pretty solid. Our defense should be improved, and should be able to contribute more this season.” The offense slots back in eight, but quarterback is unsettled after the graduation of Grant Moore. Senior Nolan Ast and junior Tyce Carlson are vying for the role. Their learning curve can come steadily as they rely on four returning offensive linemen and running back JJ Carney. Carney carried 71 times for 284 yards as a junior, and will be in line for a feature back workload now. The Rockets need more explosive players for the offense to lift off, held to single digits on four occasions in 2016. Rose Hill’s defense made tremendous strides. After being gut-punched for 409 total points over nine games in 2015, the Rockets clamped down to scrape that number to 249 in 2016. One of the standouts in the turnaround was Cody Wallis, who wrestled 76 tackles out of the secondary. Lineman Owen Kimbell contributed 36 tackles. “Our weakness will be depth and having to play several kids both ways. If we get too many injuries, it could be a huge issue for us,” Boese said. The schedule will be bookended by premier foes. Rose Hill starts with Wichita Collegiate and rival Mulvane, then wraps the final two weeks of the regular season in district play against Maize South and Augusta. All four opponents produced winning records. The five-game stretch in between is less daunting – four of those five come off seasons below the .500 mark, including district foe Andover Central.

3-6 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-I Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV Coach: Ray Boese (5th year, 10-27) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters 8 Offense, 6 Defense Owen Kimbell, OL/DL, 6-0, 210, Sr.; Cody Wallis, WR/SS, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Braden Bischler, OL, 6-2, 235, Sr.; Luke Culbertson, OL, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Peyton McNeil, OL, 6-0, 245, Sr.; JJ Carney, RB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Dylan Sapp, TE/DE, 6-3, 200, Sr.; Broc Heiskell, champion Miege. Throw in the always tough Frontier LB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Chandler Flanagan, LB, 6-0, 205, League slate and few teams have as tough of a road Sr.; Dalton Rapp, WR, 6-3, 185, Jr.; Rylan Hingst, LB, 5-10, 200, Jr. to navigate as the Broncos do. Kyle McCaskey 5-4 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Frontier League Coach: Jason Feeback (3rd year, 7-11) Assistants: Morgan Abel, Ben Gehring, Brian Hogan, Jerry Hunsaker, Nic Madelen, Alex Winkler, Tucker Woofter Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 15 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 5 Defense Mason Bell, SB/DB, Sr.; Keegan Crotchett, OL/DL, Sr.; Nathan Ewing, WR/DB, Sr.; Jacob James, OL/ LB, Sr.; Hunter King, WR, Sr.; Trajan McCormick, DB, Sr.; Brennen Feeback, TE/SB, Jr. Brent Maycock


The 2016 season will go down as the streakbusting year in Spring Hill. The 5-4 record marked the first time in two decades the Broncos had finished with a winning record. A 5-1 Frontier League record gave the Broncos a share of their first league title since 1990. About the only thing missing on Spring Hill’s ledger was a berth in the Class 4A Division II playoffs and it was right there for the taking. A 14-13 loss in the district opener not only kept the Broncos out of the playoffs but also denied them the outright league title. Still there was plenty to be satisfied with a year ago as Spring Hill improved by three wins in Feeback’s second year as coach. He’ll enter his third season looking to build on last season’s breakthroughs and will have a solid group of returners to carry over the momentum gained. Unfortunately for Feeback, the holes he must fill are big ones. Four first-team all-leaguers are among the departed including standout lineman Sam Arnold, leading tackler Justyn Kyner, 1,000-yard rusher Tyshaun Straw and 1,000-yard passer Jacob Letellier — all of whom are playing collegiately. Where Spring Hill will find its offensive production this year will be the biggest question facing the Broncos going into the season with no proven performer in the backfield. Senior Nathan Ewing 12-1 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-I was the team’s top receiver a year ago with nearly Eastern Kansas League 600 yards and could factor into the backfield mix Coach: Jon Holmes (6th year, 53-10) while returning slotbacks Mason Bell and Brennen Assistants: Justin Hoover, Tim Grunhard, Steve Feeback could change roles and take on more of the Koesterer, Kevin Mulvany, Mitch Wille, Jim Giokaris, backfield load and coach Feeback likes the explosive Travis Grosdidier, Zach Mann, Mike Galvin, Joe potential of his team. Kobilarcsik, Matt Eshelbrenner Despite losing Arnold, the line should remain Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 solid, returning two starters including senior Keegan Returning lettermen: 24 Crotchett, who was a first-team all-league defensive Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense lineman but is the only returner to that front. The Carter Putz, QB, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Jack Burns, OL, 6-3, secondary will be strong, but rebuilding the front 290, Sr.; Joe Watskey, LB, 6-0, 230, Sr.; Cameron seven will be a priority and will require young players Key, DB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Connor Dumit, DL, 5-9, 235, to grow up quickly. Sr.; Dylan Downing, LB, 6-1, 210, Jr.; Josh Meurer, Any time the schedule includes the two semifinalOL, 6-4, 270, Jr.; Cameron Clark, RB, 5-8, 165, Sr.; ists from the east side of Class 4A Division II as part Brison Cobbins, RB, 5-6, 155, So.; Jalen Williams, of the non-league slate, you know it’s tough. Spring DL, 6-3, 215, Jr. Hill gets both, an early test with Basehor-Linwood Brent Maycock and a district contest with three-time reigning


Long-time coach Al Troyer is in the middle of his fourth decade on the football sidelines and his sixth in charge of the Tonganoxie program, which could see some big returns this fall. The Chieftains went 5-4 last season despite suffering some serious injuries and with their renowned toughness and scrap, a lot of returners means potentially big things for Tonganoxie in the final year of Kaw Valley League play. That could mean a first playoff trip since 2013 as Troyer believes his team’s experience and having nine starters back on both sides of the ball mean potentially big things this campaign. LeeRoi Johnson is a returning 1st Team All-State defensive end and at 6-2, 255 pounds, he is a man amongst boys on almost all snaps. He, along with Zac Morgan (2nd Team All-KVL) at free safety, are the two highlighted mainstays, while a number of players with experience are back to make things difficult for Chieftain opponents this year. Tonganoxie will host Eudora (Sept. 8), Bonner Springs (Sept. 22), Kansas City Turner (Oct. 6), Kansas City Piper (Oct. 20) and Basehor-Linwood (Oct. 27) while taking to the road for battles against Spring Hill (Sept. 1), Bishop Ward (Sept. 15), Lansing (Sept. 29) and Atchison (Oct. 13). The schedule is

manageable to hold hopes of making it to the Class 4A-I playoffs that eluded them once they fell, 28-0 at Piper and Basehor-Linwood, 27-12, last year in district play. With so many players back from those experiences, a senior-dominated squad could flip the script in 2017. 5-4 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Kaw Valley League Coach: Al Troyer (6th year) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 9 Offense, 9 Defense Mason Beach, QB/P, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Dalton Bock, RB/ LB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Grayson Gilbert, C, 6-1, 260, Sr.; LeeRoi Johnson, TE/DE, 6-2, 255, Sr.; Lucas McCoy, OT/DE, 6-2, 200, Sr.; Zac Morgan, RB/FS, 5-9, 180, Sr.; Eric Neas, WR/CB, 6-1, 180, Sr.; Korbin Reidel, SS, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Conner Searcy, LB, 6-1,185, So. ; Sammy Sigourney, G/DT, 6-1, 285, Sr.; Kyle Snyder, T, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Mac Thompson, WR/CB, 6-3, 180, Sr.; Keith Willis, DT, 6-1, 245, Sr. Alan Dale

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Full Service Financial Institution ULYSSES, KS 2718 West Oklahoma Ave. | Toll Free: 800-356-3460 | 620-356-3460

Good Luck Tigers!


Logan Clothier takes over the Circle program, replacing Heath Henderson, who spent three seasons leading the Thunderbirds. Clothier is a Topeka High graduate who went on to play wide receiver at Emporia State. Clothier steps in at a program coming off a 1-8 season. Circle has struggled to find the win column recently. The T-Birds have fewer wins combined in the past six seasons (four) than they did during a 5-5 campaign in 2010. A 28-14 triumph over Winfield in week two of this past season cracked a 36-game losing streak, but Circle enters 2017 with seven consecutive defeats. As Clothier listed team goals, he noted a team that is not slumping its shoulders thinking about the past. “To get better each and every day. Our kids are extremely coachable. For our kids to continue to get better both offensively and defensively,” Clothier said. “For our kids to compete day-in and day-out, to work hard, and build a strong team unity.” The T-Birds have a developing passing attack. Quarterback Lane Coulter tossed for over 1,000 yards with seven touchdowns as a junior while adding more than 500 yards in the ground game. Wideout Hunter Lies is his primary recipient. But while Circle learns to hold its own on offense, it is the defense that must salve its wounds. Circle conceded 43.9 points per game a year ago, the worst rate in 4A-I. Circle has made the playoffs seven times in its history, with the most recent visit coming in 2011. The T-Birds have labored in district play since, dropping 15 consecutive district games. There may not be much reprieve on the horizon, with 4A-Division I runner-up Buhler, powerhouse Andale and rising El Dorado on the docket.

Ulysses 112 E. Grant 1.800.825.7661


Member NCUA

Jason Kenny, in his 17th year as head coach and 24th year overall, called this team the youngest he has had. In 2016, Ulysses had 24 seniors on the roster, but 12 juniors. Ulysses returns five offensive and three defensive starters with just three of them seniors, including quarterback Zak Anderson. Ulysses graduated standout lineman Harrison Creed, who signed with Kansas State. Last season, the first without star running back/ linebacker Ian Rudzik, Ulysses tumbled back from 8-2. It marked the Tigers’ first non-winning season since a 5-5 mark in 2008. The Tigers opened with a 30-13 road victory against Liberal and then lost 15-14 to Hugoton and 52-0 at Holcomb. After a 35-21 home win versus Colby, the Tigers dropped three straight at Scott City (53-7), versus Goodland (26-17) and versus Mulvane (28-14). Ulysses did qualify for the playoffs with a 33-3 road win against Winfield and a 34-13 home victory versus Wellington before a 63-14 road playoff loss to Maize South. The Tigers are one of the state’s most consistent programs and have made the playoffs every year since 2002. Ulysses has never won a title but finished as runner-up three times, most recently in ’05. Kenny said he wants the team “to improve everyday” and compete for league and district championships and “make a run in the playoffs.” “Our kids must grow up in a hurry,” Kenny said.


For the second straight year, Wamego finished one game under .500. But unlike 2015 when the Red Raiders reached the second round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs despite going into the postseason with a losing record, Wamego missed the playoffs last year and finished 4-5. The season still ended on somewhat of a high note. Relegated to spoiler status after opening district play with losses to Abilene and McPherson, the Red Raiders played the role well, knocking off Hays 30-13 in the season finale to deny the Indians a playoff berth. Despite losing some key performers from last year’s squad, third year coach Lee Weber feels he has a special group of kids ready to lead the turnaround, most found in a large senior class which make up the bulk of the 18 returning lettermen. After the Red Raiders endured a three-game losing streak early in the season in which they managed just 17 points, Weber tinkered with his offense, moving returning starting quarterback Dillon Blain to receiver and Justin Ebert from receiver to quarterback. The move paid off as Wamego exploded for 41 and 35 points in its next two games and Ebert finished the season throwing for 599 yards and nine touchdowns in just five starts. Blain finished with seven touchdown grabs in five games, but has graduated as has leading receiver Jace Ward. Junior Ty Cooper is the lone returner from the receiving corps with significant stats (21 catches, 173 yards), but the unit will get a boost with the return of senior Jayson Ebert, who missed all of last season with an injury after having seven touchdown catches as a sophomore. Leading rusher Alex Vontz also returns, but he had just 476 yards and only one other player had more than 80 as Wamego managed just 859 yards total on the ground. An improved ground game will be a big emphasis as Weber made some fundamental changes to the offense a year ago and will look to exploit returning linemen Dawson Delforge and Tylar Patrick, both of whom are drawing college interest. Transfer Wyatt Patterson had an immediate impact for the defense a year ago, ranking second on the team in tackles to departed Tyson Loewen with 53 stops. Eight starters return overall on defense with Delforge an honorable mention All-North Central Kansas League pick last year. As excited as Weber is for the upcoming season, the future holds even more promise. Wamego passed a $20 million bond last year which will upgrade the Red Raiders’ facilities with a new weightroom, fieldhouse and artificial turf.

4-6 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-I Great West Activities Conference Coach: Jason Kenny (17th year, 134-52) Assistants: Rick Cue, Jack Wolf, Matt Cox, Kyle Shryock Offense: Wing T Defense: 5-3 Returning lettermen: 16 1-8 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-I Returning starters: 5 Offense, 3 Defense Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III Connor Beims, C, 5-11, 250, Sr.; Marcus Brollier, OG, Coach: Logan Clothier (1st year) 6-0, 230, Sr.; Zak Anderson, QB, 5-0, 175, Sr.; Julius Assistants: Matt Ingrim, Les Zoch, Steven Reed, Joe Sifuentes, WR, 5-11, 165, Jr.; Javian Bencomo, Zinn, Reese Richards RB, 5-7, 165, Jr.; Andrew Nagel, DB, 5-11, 185, Jr.; Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Darwin Maxwell, DT, 5-8, 210, Jr. Returning lettermen: N/A Conor Nicholl 4-5 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Returning starters: N/A North Central Kansas League Kyle McCaskey Coach: Lee Weber (3rd year, 9-11) Assistants: Travis Graber, Curtis Eckart, Jordan Irsik, Nick Johnson, Tegan Nusser, Dylan Graves Offense: Spread Option Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: N/A Offense, 8 Defense Jayson Ebert, WR/S, Sr.; Justin Ebert, QB/LB, Sr.; Alex Vontz, LB/RB, Sr.; Dawson Delforge, OL/DL, 813 W Oklahoma St Sr.; Tylar Patrick, OL/DL, Sr.; Wyatt Patterson, LB/ RB, Sr.; Matt Keller, S/WR, Sr.; Ty Cooper, CB/WR, Jr. Brent Maycock


Page 82

With a dearth of returning starters and a new coach stepping in, the 2016 season was projected to be a difficult one for Wellington. The statistics exposed that. The Crusaders’ 9.3 points per game was the worst rate in 4A Division I. The defense had its woes, too, caving for 36.1 ppg, third-worst in 4A-I. It culminated in an 0-9 record, leaving Wellington as the only 4A-I program to go winless. The Crusaders enter 2017 on an 11-game skid. Those burdensome stats sting, but Wellington had to endure a grim season to reach 2017, a year where improvement should come readily under second-year coach Zane Aguilar with most of the starting lineups returning. Consider, too, that two of Wellington’s losses came by one point. The Crusaders may not have been world-beaters, but there were signs of promise. The defense has valued protection in the last line of defense. Safeties Joe Ybarra and Julian Jimenez were honorable mention selections in the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV. DeAndre Washington offers a reliable threat at wide receiver, also earning a league honorable mention accolade. The schedule comes in waves, but it is conducive to a fruitful start. Wellington opens at Clearwater, followed by home dates with El Dorado and Rose Hill. Those three opponents were each 3-6 in 2016, and may offer an opportunity for Wellington to rid itself of an irritating losing streak. Three perennial powers follow, with contests at Andale, against Wichita Collegiate and at Scott City. District play starts at Winfield (1-8). Wellington likely needs that win for postseason aspirations to live on. Home games against Mulvane (8-3) and Ulysses (4-6) round out the schedule. Wellington has missed out on the playoffs since 2010, which capped a run of 19 consecutive berths. Aguilar is at his alma mater, where he was a linebacker and quarterback for state title teams in 2001 and 2002. He was an assistant for nine years prior to accepting the head coaching position. 0-9 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-I Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV Coach: Zane Aguilar (2nd year, 0-9) Assistants: Ryan Elder, Tony Ybarra, Nick Wellington, Tim Lira, John McComb, Ross Foley, Rick Phelps Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 9 Offense, 9 Defense Cade Phelps, QB, 6-1, 185, Sr.; Ian Groom, OL, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Logan Jones, OL, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Aaron Schoemann, DL, 6-4, 195, Sr.; DeAndre Washington, WR, 6-0, 165, Jr.; Joe Ybarra, S, 5-10, 180, Jr.; Julian Jimenez, S, 5-9, 170, Jr. Kyle McCaskey



Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


The first season of the Linn Hibbs coaching era in Winfield was taxing. The Vikings’ 1-8 record was their lowest mark in the past decade. Winfield has surpassed five wins in a season only once in the past 10 years, a seven-win campaign in 2013. Identifying a more eruptive offense is a clear need. Winfield averaged 10.8 points, ranking as the third-lowest weekly performance in 4A Division 1. The Vikings failed to climb into double digits five times, including three shutouts. Though much of the talent in that offense is gone, there are ample qualified targets in the receiving corps. Senior wideouts Kyle Sawyer and Jayden Tate are back, as is tight end Austin Tapia. Izzy Amezcua, a 5-foot6-inch, 195-pound bruiser out of the backfield, is a senior leader, as well. On defense, Sawyer, Tate and Landon Davis provide Winfield with three veteran defensive backs. “Excited about the upcoming season,” Hibbs said. “We need to protect the ball and be more physical.” The Vikings start district play in week seven at home against Wellington. Hibbs previously enjoyed success coaching at Wellington. In his first season leading Winfield, his lone victory came against Wellington, 21-20 in overtime. Week eight brings a lengthy road trip out west to challenge Ulysses. Winfield wraps the regular season at home against

Mulvane, the defending district champion. The non-district schedule will test Winfield early and often. The Vikings square off with a state runner-up in Buhler, a semifinalist in Maize South, a quarterfinalist in McPherson and a playoff qualifier in Augusta. Winfield made back-to-back trips to the postseason in 2012 and 2013, but has been left on the outside looking in since. The Vikings’ best season in program history was a runner-up trophy in 1977. 1-8 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-I Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division III Coach: Linn Hibbs (2nd year, 1-8; 20th overall, 124-76) Assistants: Andrew Brenn, TD Buck, Lelin George, Zach McDowell, Casey Phillips, Kyle Westerman, Joe Vargas Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: 21 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 5 Defense Kyle Sawyer, WR/DB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Jayden Tate, WR/DB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Gavin Crowe, DL, 5-11, 195, Sr.; Izzy Amezcua, RB, 5-6, 195, Sr.; Austin Tapia, TE, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Sebastian Morrissey, LB, 6-0, 180, Jr.; Landon Davis, DB, 5-10, 160, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Brent Maycock For Kansas Pregame When Class 4A split into two divisions in 2014, the architects behind the proposal hoped its creation would merely be a short-term solution. Turns out, it was. After the adoption of classification changes by the KSHSAA in June, Class 4A will go back to one 32-team division in football and the teams currently in Division II will make up the top two-thirds of a new-look 3A. That makes the 2017 season the final one for Class 4A Division II and this year’s champion the ultimate answer to the trivia question as to who won the last 4A Division II title. If history holds true, the team holding that distinction will come from the west. Pratt continued the west’s dominance of 4A Division II, following Andale and Holcomb as state champions in the division. The Greenbacks may not have entered the 2016 season with much acclaim, having gone just 4-5 in 2015. But starting the 2016 season with a 31-16 victory over Larned — a team the Greenbacks lost to in the final game of 2015 — Pratt hit the ground running and never really stopped. The only hiccup on the way to the title game was a 32-14 loss to Class 3A semifinalist Hoisington and the Greenbacks knocked off defending champion Holcomb not just once, but twice, the second a 21-14 win in the state semifinals that put Pratt in its first state championship game since capturing the 1995 4A state title. Facing perennial power Hayden in the title game, Pratt turned an early Wildcat turnover into a quick touchdown and never looked back. Powered by 261 yards and four touchdowns from sophomore back Travis Theis, the Greenbacks rolled to a 48-14 rout to cap a 12-1 season. “It’s been a work in progress,” Pratt coach Jamie Cruce said after the championship, which followed a three-year start where his teams went just 11-17. “These guys weren’t alive the last time that this program won a state title (1995). This is something that we’ll cherish forever and hope that the process has just begun.” Was the 2016 an aberration or the start of something at Pratt? That’s the big question facing the Greenbacks and one they’ll have to spend the year trying to answer. Repeating is never easy and Pratt faces some major hurdles to get back into a position to go after a second straight title. Not only is the schedule daunting with three teams which won at least one playoff game a year ago, but the Greenbacks will be as green as their uniforms in terms of starting experience. Pratt graduated a whopping 10 starters off its defense with standout Travis Theis the lone returner. He’s also one of just four returning starters on offense. Theis had a monster season a year ago in leading Pratt to the championship, rushing for 1,975 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’ll have a solid backfield complement in returning senior quarterback Landon Studer, who had nearly 1,500 yards of total offense last year, but the Greenbacks have to replace every other skill starter including Kansas signee Hunter Kaufman. Two starters do return on the offensive line, but both lines will miss All-4A Division II pick Traik Peltier. Pratt will rely heavily on a talented junior class to fill the many holes, but Cruce is hoping last year’s title serves as the impetus for future Greenbacks to have their expectations at the highest level. Hayden rebounded from a 1-4 start a year ago to reach

Page 83

the title game but with the Wildcats records never seem to matter much when it comes to their viability as a title contender. Cutting its teeth in the 6A-5A Centennial League, Hayden typically takes some lumps during the regular season but find their stride once 4A play begins. Last year was no different in Hayden’s first year in Division II. The Wildcats knocked off Holton to win their district and in the footsteps of departed teammate Cooper Root, who then topped Holton again, 20-8, in the state semifinals to will be a tough player to replace both ways after starring at return to the title game for the second time in three years, linebacker and end a year ago. Copeland is one of three returning lineman starters who will clear the way for arguthe 2014 runner-up finish coming in Class 4A Division I. ably the top quarterback in 4A Division II, Cody McNerney. Hayden will have to replace All-4A Division II lineman Jake Heit and the bulk of its ground game production from A year ago, McNerney threw for 2,295 yards and 32 a year ago. But senior linebacker Brent Peavler is one of touchdowns while also leading the Spartans in rushing with the best in the state and made 172 tackles and 11 sacks 791 yards and five touchdowns. Five players who caught at least 25 passes all graduated leaving McNerney having to last year. Sampson Huston took over at quarterback a year ago find a new cast of complements to go with his dual-threat and performed solidly, throwing for 842 yards and 10 touch- abilities. If not for Pratt, Holcomb very easily could have repeated downs and has his top target back in Deshawn Hanika. as state champions after taking the 2015 title with a win Holton also overcame a slow start to put itself in a position to play in the championship game for the second straight over Holton in the championship game. The Longhorns’ year, taking second to Holcomb for the 2015 crown. The only two losses came to Pratt, each by a touchdown, and Wildcats started the season 0-3, but were in position to win they finished 10-2 and one game short of reaching a seceach game in the fourth quarter and two of the losses came ond straight state championship game. In order to put itself in that position again this year, in the final minute of play. The only losses the Wildcats suffered the rest of the way Holcomb will have to find a way to replace the heart and came to Hayden and in the quarterfinals, Holton knocked soul of its program the past two years. Leading tackler and off undefeated Frontenac 32-28, rallying from a 21-0 deficit rusher Dillon Williams and end Conner Vancleave were in the fourth quarter and getting the game winner with 13.5 stalwarts on both sides of the ball, earning All-4A Division II honors for two straight seasons. seconds left. Holton’s powerful ground game will need some re-tool- Veteran coach Kent Teeter does have a serious weapon ing after losing two 1,000-yard rushers in Spencer Baum back in Trey Gilbert, who in his first year under center threw and Miles McClintock-Strozier. All-4A lineman Brandon for 1,888 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also ran for 487 Lenherr is also gone, but the Wildcats return good size and yards and Kaden Tichenor added 402 and Tichenor also is depth along the line both ways and leading tackler Dylan the leading returning tackler for the Longhorns, who must replace 14 seniors overall off last year’s team. Aeschliman. Frontenac was poised to enjoy a dream season and its Many wondered just how Scott City would fare without first state title since 1994 before its late collapse against coach Glenn O’Neil who left for Seaman. But the transition Holton ended things prematurely. The Raiders have re- was smooth under first-year head coach Jim Turner as the turned as a state power under former Colgan All-Stater Beavers went 7-3 with two of the three losses coming to Mark Smith, going 10-1 last year, but the program’s staying Holcomb. The Beavers were relatively young a year ago after power will get a major test this year. graduating a strong 2015 senior class. Scott City’s ground A big, talented senior class from a year ago graduated, game should be in good hands with junior Wyatt Hayes taking with it 10 offensive starters and five on defense. The biggest loss of them all was three-year starting quarterback and senior Jarret Jurgens with Hayes topping 1,000 yards Brandon Mlekus, who had more than 2,400 yards and 27 last year as a sophomore. The Beavers’ top linemen were touchdowns, but the likes of lineman AJ Lusker and end underclassmen as well and after finishing runner-up in 3A in 2014, Scott City could find itself challenging for a title Dylan Flora also leave major holes for Smith to fill. State runner-up in 3A in 2015, Wichita Collegiate enters again this year. continued on page 93 the season with the best cast of returning players to make a run at the state title this year. The Spartans reached the quarterfinals a year ago, falling 44-29 to Holcomb to end a 7-4 season in which the 1. Topeka Hayden other losses came to Class 2. Wichita Collegiate 4A Division I playoff quali3. Columbus fiers Mulvane and Andale and Class 3A semifinalist 4. Holton Hoisington and the Spartans 5. Holcomb beat 4A Division I state runOthers: Colby, Frontenac, ner-up Buhler. Spartan lineman Mac Nickerson, Pratt, Scott City, Copeland has already comSmoky Valley mitted to Kansas, following



Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 84

Home of the 2017 KSHSAA 5A State Championship 2018 Kansas Shrine Bowl 2018 NJCAA Football National Championship Carnie Smith Stadium • Pittsburg, Kansas

The Football Capital of Kansas


V i s i t Cr aw fo r d Co u n t y.c o m

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

(Photo by Derek Livingston,


By Mark Schremmer For Kansas Pregame Columbus coach Dan Grundy said he always knew Keenan Stanley possessed enormous potential as a running back. But when Stanley began his prep football career as a freshman, all-state running back Jace McDown had already taken ownership of the Titans’ tailback position. Still, Grundy knew he needed to get Stanley’s talent on the field. Used as a wide receiver and a return man, Stanley grabbed 15 receptions for 254 yards and four TDs during his freshman season in 2014 to help the Titans post an 11-2 record and reach the Class 4A-II state championship game. Despite the 49-6 loss to Andale, Stanley said he still considers playing in the state title game as his most memorable moment of his high school sports career thus far. Stanley’s role in the offense grew during his sophomore season. He caught 20 passes for 342 yards and six TDs, while mixing in 29 carries for 283 yards (9.8 yards per carry) and three TDs as a change-of-pace back for McDown. As a junior, however, Stanley seized the moment after McDown graduated. Taking over as the Titans’ running back and top offensive weapon, Stanley rushed for 1,307 yards and 16 touchdowns on only 164 carries. He also contributed 19 receptions for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Grundy said Stanley’s success wasn’t surprising, and that he possesses the athleticism to help the Titans in a variety of ways. “He is phenomenal as a running back, and he was phenomenal as a receiver,” Grundy said. “Too be honest, I’m not sure which one he’s better at.” With that said, expect to see Stanley in the backfield almost exclusively for the Columbus offense in his senior season. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds and a 40-yard-dash time around 4.5 seconds, Stanley should be one of the most imposing running backs in the state. Stanley’s 6-and-a-half-minute highlight video on shows the Columbus standout exploding through the line of scrimmage and accelerating past defenders. Stanley displays the ability to get to the edge, as well as a talent for lowering his shoulder and running over a would-be tackler. Grundy said McDown’s aggressive running style left an impression on Stanley. “We started working him into the backfield as a sophomore to give McDown a rest,” Grundy said. “As athletic as he is, we always knew he’d be able to do some great things in the backfield. And he’s really worked in the weight room to get stronger. “Keenan has tried to be more like Jace. Keenan’s always had the speed, but he’s had to work on the physical aspect. Jace always had the physical aspect but had to work more on his speed. Both guys are hard to tackle. They never seem to take the big hit. They’re both elusive. Keenan definitely has that trait.” Stanley’s increased physicality was on display from the start of the 2016 campaign. In the season-opener against the Riverton Rams, Stanley took the handoff out of the I-formation, ran to his right before cutting left, breaking three tackles and sprinting for a 43-yard touchdown. During the same game, Stanley scored on an 85-yard kick return. He finished the night with 194 yards and four TDs on only 18 carries as the Titans topped the Rams 57-20. He also chipped in with three receptions for 44 yards. Stanley scored a rushing touchdown in every game last season, and he broke the 100-yard mark for rushing yards in six of his 10 outings. His best performance came during a 45-6 district game against the Parsons Vikings as he ran for 233 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts. continued on page 86

THE STANLEY FILE Hobbies: “Playing basketball at the park, playing video games and hanging out with family and friends.” Favorite subject: History Favorite food: Chicken and Chinese Favorite musician: Kodak Black and 2Pac Favorite pregame song: “Turn on the Lights” by Kanye West Most memorable high school football moment: “Being able to play in the state championship game while I was a freshman.”

Page 85


Brought to you by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to

Downtown Pittsburg With over 80 stores and storefronts to enjoy, there is something for every member of the family. Downtown Pittsburg also has a vibrant nightlife offering a variety of social opportunities, including live music, outdoor movies and more. In the fall of 2018, Downtown Pittsburg will open Block 22, a student housing, business development and retail project carved out of some of the most historic and iconic buildings in Pittsburg.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 86

Keenan Stanley/from page 85_________ named Stanley one of five all-state running backs in 4A-II, joining Holton’s Spencer Baum, Clearwater’s Collin Ellis, Santa Fe Trail’s Peyton Newton, and Pratt’s Travis Theis. Stanley, who plans to play football in college, also received unanimous first-team all-Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League honors at running back. He has been recruited by Northern Iowa, as well as several NCAA DII universities, Grundy said. The attention should only grow as Stanley appears poised for a huge senior season. Grundy said Stanley has packed on the muscle, now weighing 215 pounds. Stanley entered his sophomore season listed at 170. He also could receive more carries after the graduation of fullback Peyton Hale, who carried the ball 91 times for 573 yards and six touchdowns last year. “It’s been fun to watch him develop,” Grundy said. “Blake Burns, our offensive line coach, has put together phenomenal weight programs for the kids. Watching the kids develop has been awesome.”

FRONTENAC FOOTBALL: Hitting yo u like a ton of bricks!

A. Lusker Masonry, LLC Frontenac, Kansas

620-231-9899 office

Proud to support area schools!

Let’s go RAIDERS






FOOTBALL 307 E 18th St, Concordia, KS 66901

(785) 243-7233

Proudly supporting Raider football!

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Mark Schremmer For Kansas Pregame A true three-sport athlete, Frontenac’s Broc Ginavan earned All-Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League honors in football, basketball and baseball last year. Frontenac football coach Mark Smith can relate. Smith excelled in the big three sports at St. Mary’s-Colgan High School before going on to receive All-America honors as the quarterback at NCAA Division II’s Pittsburg State Gorillas. “Broc’s just a tremendous athlete,” Smith said. “He loves all three sports, and he’s like I was in that he’s focused on that sport for whatever season it is. He’s a great kid to have at Frontenac. He’s a player the kids look up to.” Ginavan and Smith both represent the Raiders on the 2017 cover of Kansas Pregame. A 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end, Ginavan enters his senior season with big expectations. He’s coming off a successful junior campaign, receiving first-team all-league honors on the defensive line and an honorable mention for Class 4A Division II by The Topeka Capital-Journal. “He set the tone for us on defense last year,” Smith said. “I think he can be even better this year.” Ginavan brings a good size-speed combination that allows him to flourish against the run and the pass. “I’ll take him one-on-one against any tight end in the league,” Smith said. “And his athleticism makes it tough for any offensive tackle. His confidence keeps getting better each year.” Smith said Ginavan was limited to about 30 tackles last year, but the number wasn’t reflective of the problems he created for opposing offenses. Often, Ginavan was double-teamed, or offenses ran to the opposite side of the field. “Toward the end of the season, I started receiving a lot of double teams,” Ginavan said. “But I’m OK if I don’t get the tackle. If I can take up two blockers to free up linebackers, I’m happy.” Ginavan’s best game may have been during a 35-14 victory over league rival Galena in Week 2, Smith said. “The game was postponed and played on Saturday,” Smith said. “He had a tremendous afternoon. He took away their sprint package and all of their best plays. He was a dominant player on defense, and he continued by controlling the line of scrimmage all year long.” He helped the Raiders to a 10-1 record, winning league and district championships before falling in the second round of the 4A Division II playoffs. As a senior, Ginavan is expected to receive an expanded role on offense. Smith said he plans to use Ginavan as a tight end, as well as split him out as a wide receiver. “He has good size and athleticism,” Smith said. “We will use him on bootlegs to get him involved in the offense. He has good hands, and he’s a big target.” He certainly possesses the genes to be a good receiver. Broc’s father, Steve Ginavan, was an all-state wideout at Emporia High School in 1985. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders on the Kansas Top 11 squad that year. Ginavan went on to earn all-conference honors at wide receiver for Pittsburg State in 1989. “My dad had really good hands,” Broc said. “Luckily, that was carried down to me. I have pretty good hands. My dad always sets goals for me like the number of catches or yards to get in a game. He really motivates me. He knows what I’m capable of.” Ginavan has also excelled as a center in basketball and as a pitcher in baseball. He said he’s hoping to pitch in college. “Right now, I’m leaning toward baseball,” Ginavan said. “But depending on how things go, I may give football a look.” Being standouts in three sports isn’t the only thing Ginavan and his coach have in common. Both are also following in the footsteps of their fathers. Smith’s father, Chuck Smith, recently retired as one of the most successful football coaches in Kansas high school history. Smith compiled an impressive record of 346-80, winning Class 2-1A state championships with the St. Mary’s-Colgan Panthers in 1984, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. “Whenever I have a big decision, I think about what my dad would do in that situation,”

Page 87


continued on page 93


THE GINAVAN FILE Hobbies: “Play Xbox and hang out with my friends on the weekends.” Favorite subject: History Favorite food: Cheese pizza Favorite musician: Drake Favorite pregame song: “Rise and Shine” by J. Cole Most memorable high school football moment: “There has been a lot of memorable moments but I think the one I will remember the most is senior night this year. “

Brought to you by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to

Chicken Restaurants Crawford County is has been known for its fried chicken restaurants since the early 1930’s. The county is home to six locally owned and operated restaurants all with a rich and unique history. This group of restaurants has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Food Wars, as well as being named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine. You can’t come to Crawford County without stopping to eat some fried chicken!

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 88


Insurance Store 437 Marshall Chapman, KS 67431 785-922-6402 BALDWIN

Sitting winless going into Class 4A-II district play last year, many might have written Baldwin off as a playoff team. But really, was anyone surprised when the Bulldogs went 3-0 to win the district and advance to the postseason? Not only did Baldwin win its district, it dominated, winning two of the three games by 28 or more points. The only close call was a 42-33 win over Prairie View in the district finale. Of course, by the time Baldwin reached district play, it was well tested by a rigorous Frontier League slate — a league in which Baldwin is the lone 4A-II school. Despite a winless league mark, Baldwin was competitive in most of those contests and the Bulldogs showed how solid it was in pushing perennial power Holton in the playoffs, falling just shy of the upset in a 20-14 loss. Mike Berg’s tenure as Baldwin coach ended after the season and Doug Kerr takes over. The former Iola coach inherits a team which returns plenty of experience in 10 starters and 25 total lettermen. After operating out of a mixture of offenses last year, Baldwin will switch to the single wing this year. How quickly returning senior QB Luke Laskowski picks up the new offense could determine what strides the offense takes this year. As big of a key, however, will be the development up front. The Bulldogs were overmatched in the trenches by league foes a year ago and don’t return a ton of size, though senior Trystan Schweda is a three-year starter at tackle and tight end Garrett Borth is a strong edge blocker at 6-2, 240 pounds. Baldwin enters 2017 on a 12-game league losing streak after challenging for the league crown for much of the 2000s. Picking off at least one of its league rivals would be a good sign for the Bulldogs, who once again should be a heavy favorite to win its district and return to the playoffs in the final year of split 4As. 3-7 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-II Frontier League Coach: Doug Kerr (1st year) Assistants: Jay King, Jeff Melcher, Paul Musselman, Jesse Austin Offense: Single Wing Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 25 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Luke Laskowski, QB, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Garrett Borth, TE/ DE, 6-2, 240, Sr.; Jayden Irey, FB/LB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Hunter Rameriz, RB/DB, 5-8, 155, Sr.; Ethan Temple, WR/DB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Trystan Schweda, OL/DL, 6-0, 225, Sr.; Andy Kite, OL/DL, 5-10, 220, Sr.; Cy Hockey, LB, 5-9, 170, Jr.; Zach Flowers, LB, 5-10, 200, Jr.; Chris Wilkes, LB, 5-9, 170, Sr. Brent Maycock




The Baxter Springs Lions have made great strides since Tim Parrish took over as head coach in 2014. After finishing with a combined record of 3-15 in the first two seasons, the Lions went 5-4 last year. It was Baxter Springs’ first winning season since 2009. However, Parrish doesn’t want his players to rest on their laurels. “We have to continue to get better,” Parrish said. “We are coming off a great season for our standards, but we cannot be satisfied. We expect to outwork our opponents. By doing this, this will help give us an advantage on the field, but hopefully this work ethic will spill into their days after football.” The Lions will try to replace some talented players after the graduation of running back Doug Dardenne, lineman Matt Miles, and running back Korben Frisbie. All three players earned all-league honors. The Lions will need to find some new ball carriers for their Diamond I offense. The Lions do return some talent as well. Defensive lineman Jace Flood (5-11, 285, Sr.) is back after receiving second-team All-CNC honors. A.J. Himes (5-9, 210, Sr.) earned all-league honorable mention as an o-lineman. The offense will also return junior QB Trey White (6-1, 165) and senior center Kenny Herrenbruck (5-9, 255). Along with Flood, Baxter Springs’ returning starters on defense will be Himes and senior Narisco Ortiz (5-9, 175) at linebacker, and senior Spencer Barnard (5-9, 150) in the defensive backfield. Baxter Springs has 15 returning lettermen. “Our keys to our success will come from our upperclassmen,” Parrish said. “We lost a great group of seniors who contributed heavily. But our players learned from those seniors, and they want to keep the success going. We will have to be physical and find three new running backs. “At the same time, we will need to fill a secondary that can defend the pass. Our work is cut out for us, but our players are excited. We should have a large freshman class to build upon. Things are looking better and better each year for Lion football.” 5-4 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-II Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League Coach: Tim Parrish (4th year, 8-19) Assistants: Russell Burr, Chris Swartz, Tim Yeargain Offense: Diamond I Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 15 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 4 Defense A.J. Himes, OG/LB, 5-9, 210, Sr.; Kenny Herrenbruck, C, 5-9, 255, Sr.; Trey White, QB, 6-1, 165, Jr.; Narisco Ortiz, LB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Spencer Barnard, DB, 5-9, 150, Sr.; Jace Flood, DL, 5-11, 285, Sr. Mark Schremmer


Clay Center’s 5-5 record in 2016 pretty much encapsulates Todd Rice’s tenure with the Tigers. In eight years under Rice, Clay Center has posted a 3939 mark — never finishing better than 6-4 or worse than 3-6 — and has made the playoffs six times. All five of last year’s losses came to playoff teams, including a 35-7 loss to Wichita Collegiate in the playoff opener. The Tigers were dominant in their five wins, however, outscoring those opponents 175-19. Clay Center fell just short of capturing the district title, falling 30-28 in overtime to Smoky Valley in the district finale. A whopping 20 lettermen return to give Rice one of his more experienced squads, five of them starters on offense and six on defense. The Tigers won’t be blessed with much size with no returning starter bigger than 210 pounds, and standout lineman Parker Folks will be missed after he earned All-North Central Kansas League honors. Defensive back Peyton Lane is the lone returning first-team all-leaguer and was the state’s top pole vaulter last year, capturing his second straight 4A title. He also was the Tigers’ top receiver, making 11 catches for 247 yards and four TDs with departed allleague QB Kade Wallace only attempting 71 passes. Instead, the Tigers were committed to the run and led the NCKL with 2,617 rushing yards. Levi Pfizenmaier paced the way with 821 yards out of his fullback position and is back, but Clay Center graduated four of its next five top ground gainers.

Senior Caleb Mendum averaged 9.5 yards per carry and had 219 total in a backup role and should see his production jump significantly this season. Lane led the team in tackles with 126 last year but is the only returner who had more than 50 with Gavin Ware, an honorable mention all-leaguer, getting 47. While the defense performed phenomenally in Clay Center’s wins, it gave up at least 28 points or more in all five losses. Once again, Clay Center gets a tough test to start the season in Phillipsburg, which last year was coming off a Class 2-1A state title. The district will again be up for grabs with Clay Center battling Chapman, Rock Creek and Smoky Valley for the playoff berths. 5-5 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II North Central Kansas League Coach: Todd Rice (9th year, 39-39) Assistants: Ben Last, JD Lane, Marc Henry, Phil Kasper, Christian Johnson Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 20 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 6 Defense Anthony Atkinson-Enneking, WR/OLB, 6-4, 190, SR.; Holden Heigele, OL, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Peyton Lane, WR/ DB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Levi Pfizenmaier, FB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Gavin Ware, OL/DL, 6-1, 205, Sr.; Garrett Craig, DL, 5-9, 210, Sr.; Jonathan Cramer-Rainbolt, DL, 5-10, 210, Sr.; Caleb Mendum, DB, 5-8, 165, Sr. Brent Maycock


Jarad M. Waite, O.D.


We want to be YOUR bank!


Despite going 5-4 overall and 2-1 in district play, Burlington missed out on the playoffs, coming up on the short end of the points tiebreaker. A 33-12 loss to Iola to start district play proved to be costly and wins over Girard (43-41) and Anderson County (52-28) weren’t enough to get the Wildcats into the postseason. Still, it was a solid debut for first-year coach John Petrie as he led Burlington to its first winning record since 2011 (the Wildcats were 5-5 in 2014). Burlington were streaky all year, getting off to an 0-2 start, then winning three straight before dropping two straight and winning its last two games. Burlington finished .500 in its debut season in the Pioneer League as well, finishing 3-3. With 21 total lettermen returning, including 10 starters on offense and nine on defense, the Wildcats fully expect to be in the hunt for the league crown this season. Only five players were lost to graduation, the biggest of those tailback-linebacker Colby Johnson who ranked second on the team in rushing (621 yards) and in tackles (62). Junior Connor Jeffers flourished in Petrie’s new single wing offense, amassing more than 1,300 yards of total offense, including a team-high 877 yards and 13 TDs on the ground. Though he’ll miss Colby Johnson as a running mate, but will have a solid counterpart in Johnson’s younger brother, Cael, who ran for 387 yards as a freshman. A big, experienced o-line led by all-leaguers Tate Petrie and Kevin Birk should provide plenty of running room for the Wildcat backfield. Burlington averages 235 pounds across the line and returns both tight ends. Jeffers also led Burlington in tackles with 63 and three other players who had at least 40 tackles return to a unit that should make strides after giving up 30 or more points in five games last year. 5-4 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II / Pioneer League Coach: John Petrie (2nd year, 5-4) Assistants: Tim Johnson, David Gilman Offense: Single Wing Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 21 Returning starters: 10 Offense, 9 Defense Connor Jeffers, QB/MLB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Jake Davies, CB, 5-11, 160, Sr.; Garrison Fiedler, WR, 6-4, 180, Sr.; Jacob Jasper, RB/OLB, 5-5, 155, Sr.; Tucker Whitworth, OLB/RB, 5-10, 155, Sr.; Jayden Payne, RB/FS, 5-9, 140, Sr.; Kevin Birk, OL/LB, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Tate Petrie, OL/DL, 6-0, 240, Sr.; Cody Collins, C/DL, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Shelby Murray, DL/OL, 5-11, 250, Sr.; TJ Lang, DT/OG, 6-0, 275, Sr.; Harison Rohrer, DL/OL, 6-1, 250, Sr.; Brannon Nordstedt, CB/ RB, 5-9, 150, Jr.; Tegan Hess, CB/WB, 5-10, 155, Jr.; Jarred Lutz, RB/DE, 5-10, 170, Jr.; Shane Wright, RB/DE, 5-10, 185, Jr.; Cole Siebuhr, TE, 5-10, 175, Jr.; Jacob Hawkins, TE, 6-2, 225, Jr.; Cael Johnson, FS/RB, 5-10, 155, So. Brent Maycock

202 NW 15th St, Abilene, KS 67410 (785) 263-2020


After going 4-5 in Dan Sell’s first year as coach, Chapman regressed last year. The Irish won their opener against Jeff. West, but then dropped their final eight games. Sell is gone after a two-year stint and Kurt Webster takes over. The 29-year-old spent five years as an assistant under Tim Callaghan at Shawnee Mission West and was on staff when the Vikings won the 6A title in 2012. Webster inherits a program that does have plenty of experience with 17 returning lettermen, but is short on seniors. Of the 10 total returning starters, only two — linebackers Trenton Hodson and Erik Lemon — are seniors. A strong junior class should improve after several started as sophomores. Increasing offensive production is key in the turnaround Webster hopes to orchestrate. The Irish scored more than one touchdown in only one game last year, a 30-14 loss to Concordia, and on the season Chapman scored just 44 points, getting shut out four straight games. The Irish lost leading rusher Dakota Davis, who had just 422 yards, but do return almost everyone else. Junior Izek Jackson threw for 524 yards stepping in as the starting QB as a sophomore and has two of his top-three targets back in juniors Brandon Colston (225 yards) and Malik Watkins (105 yards), though Watkins likely will fill Davis’ role as feature back. A defense which gave up 25 or more points in all eight losses will have to improve without the benefit of last year’s top-three tacklers, Davis, Trevin Thurlow and Tanner Hettenbach. Hettenbach led the North Central Kansas League with 136 tackles and Davis added 100. Webster said an emphasis on the weight room will be a big key to turning around Chapman’s fortunes. The Irish haven’t posted a winning season since 2007 and is only four years removed from ending a 25-game losing streak for the program. 1-8 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-II North Central Kansas League Coach: Kurt Webster (1st year) Assistants: Tom Smith, Brian Sweet, Ridge Foster, Wade Chamberlin, Ben Karlin Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 17 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 7 Defense Trenton Hodson, LB/FB/TE, 6-1, 180, Sr.; Erik Lemon, LB/OL, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Izek Jackson, QB, 6-4, 180, Jr.; Malik Watkins, RB/CB, 5-9, 145, Jr.; Dalton Harvey, FB/LB, 5-10, 195, Jr.; Brandon Colston, WR/FS, 6-2, 180, Jr.; Kobey Stroud, OL/DL, 5-11, 235, Jr.; Chance Hayden, DL, 5-10, 190, Jr.; Cole Martinez, OL/DL, 5-9, 200, Jr.; Austin Carter, DB/RB, 5-8, 175, Jr. Brent Maycock


An offense that found its groove toward the end of the 2016 campaign could be the centerpiece of Clearwater’s hopes of earning an invitation to the postseason after a year away and a 3-6 season. Nine returning starters fill out Clearwater’s offense, including four linemen, led by Brit Demel. Veteran quarterback Corbin Lill will appreciate that experienced shield, providing him precious time to identify open targets. The pressing concern, however, is finding someone to jolt the running game after the graduation of sensational back Collin Ellis. Ellis’ exit will also be felt on defense, where he was a standout LB, as well, but that should still be Clearwater’s strength. Journey Schule and Brant Huckaby spearhead that unit, each coming off solid seasons that netted them honorable mention league honors. Gelling the secondary will be a priority with several new contributors. Bryce Wiens is the lone veteran in the secondary. The defense lost its luster as the season went on – Clearwater held its first four opponents under 21, but gave up at least that to its final five. District 5 remains challenging but manageable. Wichita Collegiate (7-4) is the returning district champion. Nickerson (6-4) was the runner-up. Clearwater fell to both those programs a year ago, and will need

to flip at least one into the win column. Sandwiched between is a game against Wichita Trinity (3-6). Clearwater defeated Trinity in overtime in 2016. Clearwater has muscled its way into the postseason four times under coach Dirk Ankerholz, now in his ninth season. That included back-to-back trips as recently as 2014 and 2015. Ankerholz’ teams have hovered between three and five wins in seven of his eight years. Clearwater’s last winning season came in 2013 at 5-4. 3-6 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-II Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV Coach: Dirk Ankerholz (9th year, 35-42) Assistants: Tyler Hampton, Jim Frickey, Chuck Schrader, Nate Bailey, Joe Hubener Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 9 Offense, 6 Defense Dan Schule, OL; Brit Demel, OL; Justin Nahrendorf, OL; Michael Rowland, OL; Corbin Lill, QB; Cody Layton, WR; Denton Demel, FB; Taylor Gibbs, TE/WR; Abram Avelar, TE/WR; Brant Huckaby, LB; Journey Schule, LB; Nolan Streit, LB; Thomas Corder, DL; Luke Stuever, DL; Bryce Wiens, DB. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 89


980 S. Range Ave


COLBY, KS 405 W. Horton Ave. | Toll Free: 800-532-6529 | 785-462-3391

Good Luck Eagles!



CITIZENS NATIONAL Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery BANK 785-462-8206



Since an 0-9 season four years ago, the Eagles have three straight playoff appearances with 3-7, 4-6 and 5-5 showings. In ’13, Colby scored 17.6 points and permitted 29.4. In ’14, Colby scored 21.3 and allowed 22.8. Last year, the Eagles had a significant offensive improvement to 31.5 points a contest but permitted 31.2. First-year coach Rees McKinney, who spent one season as the Moscow head coach, listed “winning a playoff game” as the goal and “weight room” as the key. Last year, Colby lost, 49-26, to eventual state champion Pratt in the first round. In ’15, the Eagles fell 20-14 to Hugoton. In ’14, Colby lost 35-6 to Holcomb. Junior Jordan Schippers had another standout season with 112 carries for 919 yards and 16 rushing scores. He also caught 41 passes for 784 yards and 11 TDs, all team bests. As a freshman, Schippers had 83 offensive touches for 797 yards and 10 offensive scores. Zach Hart returns at QB after he completed 100 of 171 passes for 1,513 yards with a 20/10 TD/INT ratio. Colby collected just six turnovers and finished minus-9 in turnover margin.

The Eagles, after a 2015 district title, took the runner-up spot with a 42-12 home loss to Scott City, a 28-27 road win against Concordia, and a 54-18 road victory against Goodland. Colby has won three straight versus Goodland. Colby opened the season with Oakley, its normal Week 1 game. The Eagles won 41-9. From ’06-15, Colby was 1-5 against Oakley, including three straight losses.

The Titans bring back seven starters on offense, and eight on defense. Five of Columbus’ returning starters earned first-team league honors. Two more returns received either second-team all-league recognition or an honorable mention. “I’d say our expectations are very high,” Columbus coach Dan Grundy said. “Getting to the state championship is a goal for us this year. We have two seniors (Keenan Stanley and Sam Eddington) who started in the state championship game as freshmen. So I think that’s a realistic expectation for these guys.” Stanley (6-2, 215, Sr.), a running back, and Eddington (6-2, 245, Sr.), an offensive lineman, both earned Kpreps All-State honors last year. As a junior, Stanley rushed for 1,307 yards and 16 TDs. He also caught 19 passes for 307 yards and three scores. He also received unanimous first-team all-league honors. Eddington, who has been a starter on the o-line since the fourth game of his freshman season, was a unanimous first-team all-league pick on offense and a second-team pick on the defensive line. The offense also returns first-team all-CNC wide receiver Kale Smith (6-3, 170, sr.), who caught 21 passes for 407 yards and six TDs, as well as senior QB Ridge Smith, junior WR Shawn Robinson, and linemen Tyler Stice and Tucker Coble. Ridge Smith passed for 1,166 yards and 13 TDs with only two INTs last season.

“He didn’t throw an interception until the seventh or eighth week of the season,” Grundy said. “He takes control of the offense and knows where everyone is supposed to be. He makes good decisions and takes care of the ball.” Defensively, the Titans return unanimous first-team all-league linebacker Zach Porter, as well as firstteam all-league d-back Cameron Mitchell, Eddington and Coble, an all-league honorable mention. Other returning starters for the defense include Kale Smith and Stanley in the defensive backfield, and Ridge Smith and Dakota Sears at linebacker.

Class 4A-I/from page 75_

dividends this year as Tom Audley looks for his team to bounce back though a loaded schedule will make things tough. Senior safety Clark Schoonover is the first four-year starter in program history who also could factor in offensively and in the kicking game. Augusta went 6-4 a year ago but will have to do without the heart and soul of its defense for the past three seasons, All-4A linebacker Dallin Marlnee. Abilene has been a fixture in the playoffs as well, but also has big holes to fill with the loss of lineman Sam Burt and both leading rushers from a year ago. Traditional powers Fort Scott and Paola will look to bounce back from rare down seasons a year ago with Paola missing the playoffs for the first time since 2000 and Fort Scott posting just its second losing season in Bob Campbell’s 21 years as head coach. Of the two, Fort Scott appears most ready to return to its customary position as a 4A contender with six starters back each way led by standout lineman Andrew Callahan and 1,000yard rusher Zerek Fewell. Brent Maycock is a veteran sportswriter with the Topeka Capital-Journal.

5-5 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II Great West Activities Conference Coach: Rees McKinney (1st year; 2nd overall, 5-4) Assistants: Brad Wildeman, Matt Sims, Ed Schmitt, Travis Betz Offense: Power I Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 20 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Isaac Rosales, LB, 5-10, 160, Jr.; Zach Hart, QB/DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Tucker Branum, RB/LB, 5-5, 185, Jr.; Jordan Schippers, RB/LB, 6-1, 180, Jr.; Kyler Britt, DL, 5-11, 190, Jr.; Carter Stanley, OL/DE, 6-0, 180, Jr.; Sean Rall, OL/DE, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Xavier Slavens, OL/DT, 6-0, 200, Jr.; Bryson Metcalf, WR/DB, 5-9, 140, So. Conor Nicholl


Louisburg survived a bit of turmoil to start last season when head coach Kyle Littrell resigned just weeks before the start of the season. The Wildcats bounced back well enough to go 8-3 and reach the quarterfinals before losing to Miege. Former assistant Robert Ebenstein takes over the program this year and inherits a team which has wholesale replacements to be made in the backfield and on the line with graduation taking a heavy toll. Graduation also hit hard at Independence, which went 8-2 a year ago. Along with two-time All-Class 4A defensive lineman Peyton Usher-Pearson, the Bulldogs must replace the backfield combination of quarterback Colan Snodgrass and tailback Will Schabel, who combined for nearly 3,000 yards a year ago. After playing for the state title in 2015, Andover Central couldn’t fill its huge holes a year ago and slipped to a 2-7 mark. The Jaguars lost three Division I players off their state runner-up team and already faced with the task of new faces, injuries took their toll as well. That could pay

8-2 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League Coach: Dan Grundy (10th, 68-30) Assistants: Troy Haraughty, Blake Burns, Matt Crain, Heath Perry Offense: Spread Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 8 Defense Keenan Stanley, RB/DB, 6-2, 215, Sr.; Sam Eddington, OT/DT, 6-2, 245, Sr.; Kale Smith, WR/FS, 6-3, 170, Sr.; Cameron Mitchell, DB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Zach Porter, OLB, 5-9, 180, Sr.; Ridge Smith, QB/ ILB, 5-10, 185, Sr.; Dakota Sears, ILB, 5-8, 165, Sr.; Shawn Robinson, WR, 5-8, 145, Jr.; Tyler Stice, OL, 5-7, 175, Jr.; Tucker Coble, OL/DE, 5-11, 230, Sr. Mark Schremmer

We want to be YOUR bank!

407 W 6th • Concordia, KS • 785-234-4068



Concordia slipped from 6-4 to 1-8 in the second year under coach Austin Kingsbury. The Panthers averaged just 12.4 points per contest, second-fewest in the NCKL. As well, the Panthers committed 16 turnovers and finished minus-3 in turnover margin. The offense has dropped from 27.6 to 17.5 to 12.4 in the last three seasons. The biggest difference from 2015, though, came on the defensive side. In ’15, Concordia led the league with just 207 yards allowed per game and permitted just 15.2 points, second-best in the league, according to NCKL statistician Kevin Johnson. Last year, the Panthers permitted 323 yards a contest and 28 points a game. The pass defense struggled, allowing opponents to complete 58 percent of passes for 9.4 yards an attempt, 130 yards a game and just three total INTs. In ’15, the Panthers permitted just 68 yards passing a contest and five yards an attempt. Standout Ian Nordell, a Kansas State signee, graduated after he finished second all-time in school history for career TFLs. In ’15, Nordell set the single season record for TFLs with 21. As a senior, he finished with 32 tackles and four TFLs. Eight offensive and seven defensive starters are back, including senior Brent Beaumont, who led the team with 80 tackles, eight for loss. Senior Billy Bechard returns after 74 tackles, eight TFLs. Concordia’s lone victory was a 30-14 win in Week 3 at Chapman. “The main goal for our team this year is to get better at competing everyday and to challenge each other to focus on doing the little things right,” Kingsbury said.

There’s no other way to say it. The end to the Frontenac Raiders’ 2016 season was a heartbreaking one. Frontenac entered the fourth quarter of the 4A-II quarterfinals with a 21-0 lead but eventually fell to Holton 32-28. Holton scored the game-winning touchdown with 13.5 seconds left. Now, the Raiders will try to regroup and make another run after graduating 15 seniors from last year’s team that finished with a 10-1 record. “It was a heartbreaking ending last year,” Frontenac coach Mark Smith said. “I know the kids felt bad. This year, we have a goal to get past that second round and see what we can do. Maybe we can get to the championship this year. If we do the things we’re supposed to do, I think we can match up with all those teams.” Frontenac graduated Brandon Mlekus, a two-year starter at QB who was named the 4A-II Offensive Player of the Year in 2016. The Raiders will also be without many of the offensive skill players who helped them average 43 points per game last season. Frontenac’s only returning starter on offense will be senior guard Nathan Kaufman (5-9, 205, Sr.). Senior Peyton Brown (5-11, 170, Sr.) is expected to take over as Frontenac’s starting QB. “Peyton has a great arm,” Smith said. “Once he gets comfortable with the reads and running the offense, I think we’ll be able to throw well. Our strength will be our offensive line.” Jake Wilbert (6-0, 175, Sr.) is slated to be one of the running backs, while Broc Ginavan (6-4, 230, Sr.) is athletic enough to split out at wide receiver or play tight end. Broc’s father, Steve Ginavan, was an all-conference performer at WR for the Pittsburg State Gorillas in the late 1980s. 1-8 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-II Frontenac boasts a lot more experience on defense North Central Kansas League with six returnering starters. Coach: Austin Kingsbury (3rd year, 7-12) Defensive line will be the strength with Ginavan, Assistants: Ken Meyer, Scott Coppoc, Doug Thoman, Cal Strand, Andrew Mays and Trey Harris back, while John Hake, Herm Dominguez Jordan Ishimura returns at linebacker and Wilbert will Offense: Pistol Defense: 3-4 start again at strong safety. Returning lettermen: 11 Smith will no longer have to face his father, Chuck, Returning starters: 8 Offense, 7 Defense who retired from St. Mary’s-Colgan after finishing a Rope Dorman, RB/LB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Billy Bechard, career of nearly four decades and a 346-80 record. RB/LB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Brent Beaumont, G/DT, 5-8, Frontenac’s win last year gave Mark a slight 3-2 edge 240, Sr.; Austin Higbee, T/DE, 6-2, 250, Sr.; Garrett in the battle of the Smiths. Lawrence, TE/LB, 6-3, 200, Sr.; Matias Gutierrez, TE/ LB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Tyler Stupka, WR/S, 6-2, 185, Sr.; 10-1 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-II Blake Leiszler, WR/CB, 5-7, 130, Jr.; Paul Rundus, Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League C/DT, 5-10, 235, Jr. Coach: Mark Smith (6th year, 38-15) Conor Nicholl Assistants: John Palumbo, Bill Sullivan, Troy Morris, Brady Hill Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 20 Returning starters: 1 Offense, 6 Defense Nathan Kaufman, OG, 5-9, 205, Sr.; Broc Ginavan, DE, 6-4, 230, Sr.; Cal Strand, DE, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Andrew Mays, DT, 5-11, 195, Sr.; Jordan Ishimura, LB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Jake Wilbert, SS, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Trey Harris, K/DT, 5-11, 195, Sr. Mark Schremmer


After roaming the college sidelines for 12 years, Neal Philpot is taking his coaching abilities to the high school gridiron. But he’ll make the transition in a familiar area. Philpot, who spent 10 years on his alma mater’s coaching staff at Pittsburg State, inherits the Girard Trojans, which went 5-6 last season. Philpot, Ottawa University’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons, replaces Leon Miller, who left his post after nearly 10 years for the same position at Neosho, Mo. Miller, who led Frontenac to a Class 2 title in 1994, compiled a 49-47 record with the Trojans. Following a decorated playing career, Philpot was a PSU graduate assistant coach for two seasons before seven seasons as a full-time assistant (2008-14). A four-year starter at PSU, Philpot (‘04), a Norton native, was a two-time All-America honoree in his final two years under center. After earning honorable mention All-America accolades as a junior, Philpot received second-team honors for leading the Gorillas to a national championship berth. He led PSU with

a 38-8 record in his career, the second-highest win total in Division II history at the time, in addition to posting MIAA records in total offense (10,168 yards) and career rushing yards (4,337 yards) as a quarterback. 5-6 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League Coach: Neal Philpot (1st) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A

Adam Burns

2112 S. Lincoln

Concordia 785-243-2400

Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 90 1803 Cherry St.



Good Luck Cowboys!



1104 West Hwy 24 | Toll Free: 877-320-4020 | 785-890-7575

2611 West Jones Ave. | Toll Free: 800-475-4114 | 620-275-4114

Good Luck Longhorns!

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


Chase Topliff, a Goodland graduate and veteran assistant, is in his first season as the Cowboys’ head coach. He takes over for coach Jeff Savage, who posted 3-6 records in the last two falls. Goodland averaged 18.7 points a contest and permitted 31.9. It marked the Cowboys’ fewest points in five seasons. In ’15, Goodland scored 20.4 but permitted 39.6. In ’14, it was 24.6 a game and 41.7 allowed. The Cowboys opened the season with a 42-7 loss to Norton, then defeated Wray, Colo., 55-6. After losses at Clay Center (28-6) and Holcomb (34-6), Goodland fell to Hugoton (42-28) before a 26-17 win at Ulysses. In district play, Goodland defeated Concordia, 22-8, lost to Scott City, 56-0, and, with a playoff spot on the line, lost to rival Colby, 54-18. Goodland has dropped three straight to Colby, all by at least 36 points. From ’04-’15, Goodland had lost 10 straight to Ulysses. Topliff is the fourth coach in five seasons for the Cowboys, who have three straight 3-6 records. Before then, Kent Teeter, now at Holcomb, had just one losing season from 2010-13. Goodland had not won more than six games in a year since a 10-2 mark in 2004. That season yielded a quarterfinals berth; since then, the Cowboys are 0-6 in the playoffs. Quarterback Levi Archer is one of the state’s top dual-threat quarterbacks and is part of eight returning starters on both side. “Come together as a team, build a positive culture, compete for GWAC title, make the playoffs,” Topliff said of the team’s goals and keys. “Build, accept, and maintain a strong culture of accountability. Stay healthy.” 3-6 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-II Great West Activities Conference Coach: Chase Topliff (1st year) Assistants: Jeremy Stefan, Ron Wolf, Forrest Trachsel, Grant Wiegers Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 19 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense Levi Archer, QB/DB, 6-3, 190, Sr.; Chris Berls, LB, 6-1, 210, Jr.; Reyes Bustillos, OL, 6-2, 230, Sr.; Dawson Ensign, RB/LB, 5-7, 145, Sr.; Louie Ledesma, OL/DL, 5-10, 270, Sr.; Rafael Macais, OL/ DL, 5-10, 200, Sr.; Brandt Mull, TE/DE, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Evan Peter, WR/LB, 5-10, 195, Sr.; Dawson Raymer, DB, 5-8, 165, Sr.; Blaine Sederstrom, OL, 6-2, 295, Sr.; Lucas Wood, WR/LB, 6-2, 170, Sr. Conor Nicholl


Holcomb won the 4A-II state title in 2015 and entered last year ranked second behind Topeka Hayden, the eventual state runner-up. Holcomb lost twice to Pratt, in district play on the road (35-28) and again in the sub-state championship game at home (21-14). Pratt defeated Hayden for the state title. The first defeat ended Holcomb’s 16-game winning streak. Holcomb graduated Dillon Williams who, one of the most prolific tacklers in recent state history with more than 530 career stops, including 137 and six sacks last season. He also rushed for 1,152 yards and 13 scores. As well, all-state defensive end Conner Van Cleave, a Kansas baseball signee, graduated after he was all-state tight end with 570 receiving yards and seven scores. Michael Roth graduated after he was all-state defensive back with 10 interceptions. Holcomb’s average margin was 37-14. In the state title year, the Longhorns were at 35-10. Senior Trey Gilbert capably replaced Trey Teeter under center and completed 111 of 207 passes for 1,888 yards with a 24/8 TD/INT ratio. Holcomb did struggle with offensive turnovers (21), but the defense forced 37 turnovers for a plus-16 margin. In ’15, Holcomb had 16 turnovers and was plus-20 in turnover margin. Coach Kent Teeter said the team’s goals are a league, district and state titles. He listed the keys as staying healthy and player development. Holcomb has a challenging first three weeks with home against Cimarron, at Scott City and at Ulysses.


Certainly a 7-5 season and trip to the state semifinals is nothing to scoff at and Holton wasn’t completely dissatisfied with that performance in 2016 after having to plug a number of holes from its 2015 state runner-up squad. But standards at Holton are a little different and falling short of returning to the title game undoubtedly left a little bit of a bad taste in the Wildcats’ mouths heading into the offseason. Really, Holton wasn’t that far off from having another textbook Holton-type of season. An 0-3 start camouflaged two losses in the final minute of the game to Sabetha and Nemaha Central and the other two losses later in the season came to 4A II runner-up Hayden, which ended Holton’s season with a 20-8 win in the state semifinals. The holes to fill this year might be even greater than a year ago. Virtually all of the Wildcats’ offensive production from Brooks Barta’s wishbone offense graduated, including a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Spencer Baum (1,525 yards, 14 TDs) and Miles McClintock-Strozier (1,223 yards, 17 TDs). In all, Holton returns just 672 of last year’s 4,401 rushing yards with senior tailback AJ Haussler (296) and senior QB Mason Strader (129) accounting for the bulk of it. Line play has traditionally been a strength for Barta’s teams and despite the loss of All-4A II pick Brandon Lenherr and a handful of other starters, the unit has plenty of size and depth behind returning starters Clay Baumgartner (6-2, 270) and Kyler Tannahill (6-3, 260). Defensive consistency plagued Holton much of last 10-2 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II season, but the Wildcats should enter the season in Great West Activities Conference much better shape on that side of the ball. The topCoach: Kent Teeter (4th year, 33-6; 19th overall, two tacklers are back with senior Dylan Aeschliman 101-66) racking up 143 tackles and Haussler adding 112 Assistants: Jerry Johnson, Brandon Hill, Lance from his safety spot. Junior linebacker Jackson Cornelsen, Cary McFann, Luke Harrington Martin added 67 tackles as a sophomore starter and Offense: Spread Defense: 4-2-5 Tannahill had 47, giving Holton playmakers at each Returning lettermen: 24 level of the defense. Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense Low numbers in the senior class this year means Trey Gilbert, QB, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Brayden Ramirez, Holton will count heavily on underclassmen to step OL/DL, 6-0, 235, Jr.; Steven Crain, OL/DE, 6-4, 205, into big roles early. Sr.; Damon Kepley, OL/DE, 6-5, 210, Jr.; Chance Rodriguez, TE/OLB, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Kaden Tichenor, 7-5 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II / Big Seven League RB/OLB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Reece Morss, RB/ILB, 6-0, Coach: Brooks Barta (21st year, 209-41) 205, Jr.; Andrew Morss, WR/DB, 6-3, 195, Sr.; Carter Assistants: Joe Purcell, Mark Middlemist, Alex Bartel, Blackburn, WR/FS, 6-2, 180, Sr.; Brayden Goddard, Brian Meerpohl, Matt Hundley, LD Fletcher NG, 5-11, 185, Sr. Offense: Wishbone Defense: Odd Front Conor Nicholl Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 5 Defense Clay Baumgartner, OL/DL, 6-2, 270, Sr.; Kyler Tannahill, OL/DL, 6-3, 260, Sr.; Mason Strader, QB, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Dylan Aeschliman, LB/TE, 6-1, 200, more of a family on the field.” Sr.; AJ Haussler, RB/S, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Jackson Martin, Iola begins the 2017 season by hosting Chanute LB/RB, 6-0, 205, Jr. Brent Maycock Sept. 1 and traveling to league foe Prairie View in week two. Week three brings Wellsville to Iola, and the Mustangs wrap up September with two straight For the sixth time in the last seven years, Bishop road games. They travel to Santa Fe Trail Sept. 22 and Parsons on Sept. 29 to round out the first month. Ward went winless. It marked the third straight 0-9 season for the Cyclones, who will enter Kam Ridley’s second year as head coach mired in a 29-game 4-6 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II / Pioneer League losing streak — the longest current skid in the state. Coach: David Daugharthy (1st year) Ridley can only hope the Cyclones hit rock bottom Assistants: Dana Daugharthy, Cody Hager, Brad last year. Carson, Daniel Vaughn Ward was shut out in its first three games (four Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-2-5 overall) and were outscored 500-43 on the season. Returning Lettermen: 13 The Cyclones gave up at least 42 points in every Returning Starters: 6 Offense, 5 Defense game and scored more than a touchdown just once, Cale Barnhart, RB/S, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Evan Sigg, DE, 6-3, 215, Sr.; Isaac Vink, WR/CB, 5-9, 155, Sr.; in a 46-15 loss to Kansas City Turner. Ward will also enter this season in its final year Matt Karr, DE, 5-11, 240, Jr.; Kenyon Beasley, OL, 5-10, 205, Sr.; Matt Komma, OL, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Nick in the Kaw Valley League. The Cyclones will leave the soon-to-be-defunct league for the Crossroads Zimmerman, OL, 5-10, 240, Jr.; Caden Knavel, CB, League, which is comprised mostly of Missouri 5-9, 140, Sr.; Ethan Holloway, TE, 6-8, 195, Sr. Melanie McGee schools in the Kansas City metro area as well as Kansas school Maranatha.


The Mustangs will begin 2017 with a new head coach in David Daugharthy, but Iola does have 11 starters and 13 lettermen returning to the lineup. Daugharthy is not new to Iola as he graduated from IHS then went on to play collegiately at Bethel. Last year, he was the Mustangs’ defensive coordinator. Iola’s offense has six returning starters, including senior running back Cale Barnhart, senior receiver Isaac Vink, senior linemen Kenyon Beasley and Matt Komma, senior tight end Ethan Holloway, and junior lineman Nick Zimmerman. Defensively, the Mustangs can lean on defensive ends Evan Sigg, a senior, and Matt Karr, a junior, along with Barnhart, Vink and senior Caden Knavel in the secondary. Daugharthy said his team’s goals including beating nearby rival Chanute, winning the Pioneer League, and reaching the playoffs then winning a playoff game. “I firmly believe we have the talent to accomplish all of our goals,” he said. “Whether we reach them or not will be determined by whether or not our players can become mentally tougher, more physical, and

Bell Plumbing Inc. 417 E. 5th • Holton, KS Ph: 785-364-4434 GOOD LUCK WILDCATS!


In the preseason, Hugoton was considered one of the top-seven squads in Class 4A, Division II last season but missed the playoffs out of a tough district. The Eagles, 5-6 in ’15, went 5-4 last year. District 8 featured surprise state champion Pratt, sub-state runner-up Holcomb and Kingman, which went 0-3 in districts but was 3-3 out of district play. Hugoton opened 2-0 with wins at Lakin (42-14) and at Ulysses (15-14). Then, Hugoton fell to Colby (24-21) and Scott City (35-7). After wins at Goodland (42-28) and versus Southwestern Heights (62-13), Hugoton lost to Pratt, 31-28, when the Greenbacks kicked a last-second 37-yard field goal. Following a 42-17 road win versus Kingman, Hugoton lost 47-7 at Holcomb. Hugoton was 1-3 at home but 4-1 on the road. Hugoton graduated standout dual threat quarterback Valentino Degollado and all-state tight end Zack Leininger (629 receiving yards, 9 TDs). Degollado completed 126 of 218 passes for 1,990 yards with a 21/12 TD/INT ratio. He led the team with 170 carries for 693 yards and 11 TDs. Hugoton finished with 20 turnovers and was minus-7 in turnover margin. The Eagles have 37 turnovers the last two years. Coach Todd Fulton, in his ninth year as head coach including stints at Nickerson and Victoria, said the team’s goals are to get better each day, represent Hugoton as best we can and have each player take something from our program that will help them later in life. “We finished the year going 4-2 so we must continue to build on that and progress to the next level,” Fulton said. “We will strive to get better in offensive execution and continue to develop our tackling skills. Our kids have set high goals and it will take a ‘win the day’ attitude everyday from the start of the summer until the last game is played.” 5-4 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-II Great West Activities Conference Coach: Todd Fulton (4th year, 13-16; 9th overall) Assistants: Tommy McClure, Ross Addison, Cris Nelson, Jay Witt Offense: Spread Defense: 40 Multiple Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 2 Offense, 7 Defense Marcos Baeza, LB, 5-9, 170, Sr.; Mitchell Hamlin, DB, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Dawson Kerbow, DB, 5-9, 150, Jr.; Nick Gold, LB, 6-0, 195, Jr.; Peter Loewen, DE, 6-0, 190, Jr.; Jeff Persinger, OL/DL, 6-4, 215, Jr.; Bradan Slemp, WR/DB, 5-9, 150, Sr. Conor Nicholl


730 Arizona St


785-364-4168 Delivery available 5pm-9pm

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery

0-9 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-II Kaw Valley League Coach: Kam Ridley (2nd year, 0-9) Assistants: Richard Williams Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A

Brent Maycock

785-899-5011 • Fax 785-899-5201

600 E 11th

HUGOTON, KS 843 East Hwy 51 | Toll Free: 800-544-9833 | 620-544-4351

Good Luck Eagles!



Dine-in or Carryout

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 91

828 Ave D East/ E Hwy 54

450 N. Harrison St.





Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


Sometimes, a perfect storm formulates. A young team lacking seniors in leadership roles becomes more mature. Kingman builds off a 3-6 season with 16 returning starters. “We lose four seniors,” said Kingman coach Curtis Albin. “We return a ton of kids, and there will be competition for each position. This is something we did not have last year. We will have 13 seniors and 14 juniors.” The offense is on track to be more dynamic after producing only 12.3 points per game. Workhorse running back Payton Pickering must be replaced, but Kingman has five players with backfield experience. The Eagles must identify their next QB in the triple option, too, with Riley Krehbiel, Jaxson Reid and Logan Waldschmidt gunning for the job. Kingman also has an advantage with Luis Franco, one of the top kickers in the Central Kansas League. He chipped in four field goals as a sophomore. “We do return our entire offensive line, as well as another senior, Brant Harnden, that missed all but the first game of last season with a season-ending surgery,” Albin said. The defense is fronted by devastating end Adam Meng. He couples with Jack Govert, who lassoed double-digit tackles for loss as a junior. Waldschmidt gives Kingman a ball-hawking corner. Linebacker becomes an area of need after graduation. The Eagles will no doubt be a tougher out this year. Making a nest in the playoffs will require that. Kingman runs into defending champion Pratt, semifinalist Holcomb and a five-win Hugoton squad. Kingman completed back-to-back winning seasons as recently as 2013-14. The 2013 season was the Eagles’ most recent playoff berth. 3-6 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-II Central Kansas League Coach: Curtis Albin (7th year, 26-31; 14th overall, 6161) Assistants: Dusty Beam, Lance McGuire, Justin Reid, Ross Bruggeman Offense: Triple Option Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 9 Offense, 7 Defense Jack Govert, C/DE, 6-1, 205, Sr.; Adam Meng, OT/ DE, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Joe McGinnis, OT, 6-2, 170, Sr.; Logan Waldschmidt, WR/CB/RET, 5-9, 155, Sr.; Carter Oeding, WR, 6-3, 160, Sr.; Gage Pickering, RB/FS/RET, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Devin Williams, NT, 6-1, 230, Sr.; William Milford, SS, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Chris Ontiveros, CB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Logan Buehler, OG, 5-10, 195, Jr.; Kane Milford, OG, 5-11, 215, Jr.; John Molitor, FB, 5-11, 190, Jr.; Luis Franco, K, Jr. KM

Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery


Change is coming to Prairie View in several ways this year. The Buffalos have a new head coach, and eight new starters on both sides of the ball. An athletic group of upperclassmen will lead a mostly new lineup that includes just five returning lettermen. New coach Kyle Littrell said his team must, “be committed, disciplined, get better everyday, and work hard enough that when you step on the field you believe you are going to win.” Seniors Allan Ewalt, Dayton Snyder and Joey Weers are joined by juniors Sam Chambers and Gavin Cullor as the most experienced returning Buffaloes. Ewalt and Cullor split time at quarterback last season but Ewalt is expected to be a fullback/tight end while Cullor moves to running back in 2017. Snyder returns as one of the Buffalos leading receivers and Weers brings experience to the offensive line. On defense, the Prairie View secondary will be led by Cullor at free safety and Snyder at corner. Ewalt returns at linebacker and Chambers is back as a defensive end. Littrell listed commitment, discipline, toughness, and conditioning as keys to success, and added, “A little luck never hurts.” Prairie View opens the season by hosting Anderson County and Iola before traveling for three straight weeks. Those trips include Burlington, Wellsville and Columbus. The Buffaloes host Santa Fe Trail in the final tuneup for district action. They will open Class 4A Division II district play Oct. 13 at nearby rival Osawatomie, then host Bishop Ward in week eight and conclude the regular season Oct. 27 at Baldwin.


Mike Vernon was the freshman phenom in his first year at the helm in Nickerson in 2015. The Panthers, winners of only one total game the two years prior, smashed their way to a 4-6 mark, putting a scare in perennial power Andale in Nickerson’s first playoff appearance since 2006. Energy pulsed through the program, but naturally, outsiders rose questions of a potential sophomore slump for Vernon. Not so. The Panthers again rose to the occasion, securing a winning season with a 6-4 record. That nearly included a playoff victory, but Nickerson lost a 4A-II road game at Smoky Valley in overtime, 21-20. Nickerson’s four losses – Pratt, Hoisington, Wichita Collegiate and Smoky Valley – came to opponents with a combined 39-9 record. With seven seasoned producers back on both sides of the ball, year three could be the magic number for Vernon as the Panthers chase a sustained playoff run. “There are talented kids in the system, we just need to cultivate them into productive football players. In the end, though, it’s more about how hard we work and the toughness that builds,” Vernon said. The glaring evidence of the Panthers’ progression under Vernon can be found in the offense. Nickerson averaged a paltry 8.0 points per game in the final season before Vernon’s arrival. In 2015 – the first under Vernon’s vision of the flexbone – the Panthers rumbled to 25.1 ppg. This past year, they averaged 31.8. Explosive playmakers remain. Junior QB Tanner


Tim Lambert has piloted turnarounds at St. Francis and Concordia and now has done so at Smoky Valley. After a 2-7 record in ’15, Smoky Valley was a clear choice for 4A-II breakout team last fall. Smoky Valley averaged 25.1 points per contest and permitted 20.5 points a game. In ’15, SV tallied 10.6 points per contest and permitted 24.7. Last season, SV opened with a 36-6 road loss to Halstead, and then defeated Larned, which eventually won a Class 3A playoff game, 19-12. Then, the Vikings won at Haven (28-12) and versus Hillsboro (36-16) before a 35-0 loss at Hesston. SV reeled off four straight wins with Lyons (50-0), at Rock Creek (36-29) and at Chapman (44-0). A 30-28 overtime victory versus Clay Center gave the Vikings a district title, and a 21-20 overtime win against Nickerson came in the first round of the playoffs. The Vikings fell to eventual state champion Pratt, 38-6, in the second round. The quarterfinals showing was the furthest since ’98. SV rushed for 285 yards a game after 141 in ‘15. Senior quarterback Brett Heitschmidt completed 34 of 69 passes for 446 yards with a 5/6 TD/INT ratio. Every player who had a carry returns, including 212 carries for 1,436 yards and 16 scores from senior Kyle Anderson, and 161 carries for 889 yards and 10 rushing TDs from senior Riley Odell. SV committed 14 turnovers and was plus-4 in turnover margin after minus-2 in ‘15. Four of the top-five tacklers return, led by Anderson (63) and Odell (59). “We have a lot of experience returning and should have a lot more competition for starting spots than in the last two years,” Lambert said. “We should be much improved with everyone a year older and stronger than a year ago. Our depth will be much better also with solid sophomore and junior classes. 2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-II Keys to a winning season will be getting stronger in Pioneer League the weight room and limiting injuries throughout the Coach: Kyle Littrell (1st year; 7th overall, 44-25) season. If we stay committed in the weight room and Assistants: Will Shannon, Joe Cullor, David Heidrick, stay healthy we could be better than a year ago.” Aaron Law Offense: Pro-I Defense: 4-3 8-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-II Returning Lettermen: 5 Central Kansas League Returning Starters: 3 Offense, 3 Defense Coach: Tim Lambert (3rd year, 10-10; 25th year, Dayton Snyder, WR/CB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Allan Ewalt, 175-81) FB/LB, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Joey Weers, OG, 6-0, 230, Sr.; Assistants: James Henderson, Chris McClure, Ben Gavin Cullor, RB/DB, 5-10, 175, Jr.; Sam Chambers, Elliott, Chuck Peters, Allan Meier DE, 5-11, 185, Jr. Offense: I Defense: 4-3 Melanie McGee Returning lettermen: 23 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Kaj Sjogren, RB/DB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Riley O’Dell, FB/LB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Kyle Anderson, RB/LB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Brett Heitschmidt, QB, 6-1, 200, Sr.; Zach Able, WR/DB, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Jacob Adams, TE/DE, 6-4, 185, Sr.; Blake Heble, LB, 6-1, 180, Jr.; Ethan Wampler, OT/DT, 245, Jr. Schrag proved to be an opportunist, burning secondConor Nicholl aries over the top with precision deep balls. Peyton Kuhns and Trystan Isley can weave and rumble through openings on the ground. The offensive line gets them where they need to go, led by right tackle Camron Stewart, a second-team all-Central Kansas A 2-8 record suggests life after Riley England was League selection as a junior. “We’ll need to find a couple of younger linemen to pretty rough for Osawatomie. build depth along both sides of the line,” Vernon said. But a deeper look at the Trojans’ season tells a “Having a good summer and fall camp will help build different story. Even though the Trojans started the season 0-6, a play or two could have changed things competition for those groups.” considerably and Osawatomie weathered the early storm well enough to go 2-1 in district play and return 6-4 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II to the playoffs for the second straight year. Central Kansas League And darned if Osawatomie didn’t nearly pull off a Coach: Mike Vernon (3rd year, 10-10; 5th overall, shocker to start the postseason. The Trojans dug a 22-16) Assistants: Jeff Penner, Dalton Luce, Mike Nugent, big hole against Hayden early and then went toe-totoe with eventual Class 4A-II runner-up Wildcats in a Jon Wellman, Derek Racette, Bret Eckert 55-34 loss, gouging Hayden’s stout defense for 431 Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-2 yards of offense. Returning lettermen: 25 While the late-season surge might have served Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense as a shot of momentum heading into the offseason, Koalten Hornback, RG, 6-5, 296, Sr.; Trevor the carryover will be difficult. Osawatomie graduated Frederick, TE/LB, 6-0, 188, Sr.; Chance Gorges, C, 6-2, 191, Sr.; Camron Stewart, RT, 6-2, 211, Sr.; every starter off last year’s team and return just one letterman. In fact, numbers overall are considerably Trystan Isley, RB, 5-11, 171, Sr.; Peyton Kuhns, FB, 6-0, 192, Sr.; TJ Powell, SS, 6-2, 178, Sr.; Josh down and more than half of this year’s squad will be Salazar, CB, 5-10, 173, Sr.; Kolbi Schrag, DE, 6-0, freshmen. The holes to fill were big enough as it was with 218, Sr.; Hunter Brunson, NB, 6-1, 252, Sr.; Tanner Schrag, QB, 6-4, 191, Jr.; Chandler Eaton, OLB, 6-0, departing QB Chaseton Wylie throwing for 1,120 yards, tailback Cody Hazlett rushing for 899 yards 175, Jr.; Hunter Jones, LB, 6-2, 190, Jr. Kyle McCaskey and receiver Will Thompson grabbing 38 balls for


In 2014 and 2015, Jefferson West overcame a myriad of injuries to make the playoffs. Last year, it was plain-old youth that the Tigers had to deal with and in the tough Big Seven League and even tougher district the Tigers found themselves in, it was simply too big of a task. The result was a 1-8 mark, Jeff. West’s worst season since a winless campaign in 2005. The lone win was a 16-14 win over Hiawatha midway through the season, though the Tigers had close calls in the opener with Chapman (8-6 loss) and second week against Riverside (21-14). Despite returning 22 lettermen, West will still be extremely young again this year with only three of the team’s eight returning starters seniors — receivers Hunter Boyer and Kody Gibson and running back Caleb Middendorf. Even those guys haven’t been in feature roles. Middendorf logged only 27 carries for 111 yards last year while Boyer and Gibson combined for just 11 catches and 122 yards. The bulk of the offensive experience comes in the form of sophomores Quinn Neuenswander, Gavin Schwinn and Kauli Saili, who all started as freshmen last year. Neuenswander stepped in at QB to shift departed senior Hunter Dean to running back and he had moderate success, throwing for 441 yards and eight TDs while completing 42 percent of his passes. No returning receiver had more than Gibson’s eight catches, though and no returning back had more than Middendorf’s 111 yards. Middendorf had a bigger impact defensively for the Tigers last year, racking up a team-high 82 tackles. Saili was second on the team with 66, including a team-best 57 solos, while Gibson ranked third with 63 tackles. A year of maturity and offseason work in the weight room should allow West to be more prepared to take on the rigors of its difficult schedule. Opening games with Chapman and Riverside present an opportunity for the Tigers to show their progress before the beef of the schedule hits with games against Sabetha and Nemaha Central. 1-8 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-II Big Seven League Coach: Steve Johnson (12th year) Assistants: Doug Sidener, Dan Hypse, Jake Farrant, Chris Powers, Patrick Ross Offense: Spread Defense: 5-2 Returning lettermen: 22 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 8 Defense Caleb Middendorf, RB/LB, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Hunter Boyer, WR/DB, 5-10, 150, Sr.; Zeth Unruh, TE/ DE, 6-5, 180, Jr.; Kody Gibson, WR/DB, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Derek Mosher, DB, 5-10, 155, Jr.; Quinn Neuenswander, QB/DB, 6-2, 170, So.; Gavin Schwinn, OL/DL, 6-3, 240, So.; Kauli Saili, OL/DL, 5-10, 255, So. Brent Maycock


559 yards. Three of Osawatomie’s first six losses were by one score or less — 26-20 to Santa Fe Trail in the opener, 14-12 to Anderson County and 20-14 to Iola. 2-8 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 4A-II Pioneer League Coach: Rod Madden Assistants: Nate Seidl, Chad Jones, Clint Bailey, Jordan Degasse Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 1 Returning starters: 0 Offense, 0 Defense Brent Maycock

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 92

803 N. Main Pratt, KS 67124 620-672-9444

1228 E First



Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


The Vikings went 1-8 in Travis Hurley’s first year at the helm, but are hoping for better results this fall. To Hurley, there’s a reason to be optimistic. Despite last season’s struggles, the Vikings saw several young players gain valuable experience. “The best part of last season was seeing our young players develop and compete,” Hurley said. “We started six sophomores and two freshmen last year and they really improved as the season went along.” The Vikings dropped their first four games of the season before beating Iola 48-42 in Week 5 for their lone win. Parsons ended the season with four-straight setbacks, including all three contests in 4A-II’s District 4. The Vikings return 10 players with starting experience and 15 total returning letterwinners. Parsons has two capable QBs at its disposal, as junior Gage Friess and sophomore Daqaun Johnson both gained experience under center last year. Friess was honorable mention all-league at the position last season. Johnson took over the signal-calling duties late in the season after Friess suffered an injury. The athletic Johnson can also play running back or wide receiver. As a freshman, Johnson earned allleague honors at both receiver and kick returner. Senior Gavynn Larson, junior Davonte Yates and sophomore Dariq Williams are returning receivers, while senior Malik Robinson and junior Joel Schibi are returning running backs. Hurley noted the Vikings should be deep and talented at the skill positions. The team’s o-line development will be a key to success. Senior Cody Stephens returns at kicker and punter after earning all-league honors in 2016. Hurley expects junior LB Patch Loadholtz to lead the defense. Schibi also returns with experience at LB, while Larson, Yates, Johnson and Williams are d-backs. Anthony Lee and Robinson are returners at d-end. 1-8 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A-II Southeast Kansas League Coach: Travis Hurley (2nd year, 1-8) Assistants: Tim Endicott, Don Barcus, Mark Pound, Trevor Maiserolle, Barney Pontious Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 15 Returning starters: 10 Offense, 9 Defense Gavynn Larsons, WR/DB, 5-9, 145, Sr.; Malik Robinson, RB/DE, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Cody Stephens, K/P, 5-11, 140, Sr.; Anthony Lee, OL/DE, 6-0, 200, Jr.; Patch Loadholtz, TE/LB, 6-1, 210, Jr.; Joel Schibi, RB/LB, 5-10, 170, Jr.; Davonte Yates, WR/DB, 6-4, 180, Jr.; Gage Friess, QB, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Daqaun Johnson, QB/WR/DB, 6-0, 150, So.; Dariq Williams, WR/DB, 5-11, 155, So. Jason Peake


The first hint of Pratt’s 4A-II state championship in 2016 actually came with a losing streak to close 2015. Losses at Hesston, 14-7, to Hugoton, 14-7, at eventual champion Holcomb, 33-7, and a season-ending overtime loss to Larned, 15-14. Lesser programs fold, shaken by the heartbreak of 4-1 turned 4-5. Pratt coach Jamie Cruce did not waver. Optimistically, the results implied Pratt was close to a breakout. A true believer in his weights program, Cruce and the Greenbacks went back to work. The returns were plentiful. Pratt ripped through its schedule. Following a District 8 title, Pratt knocked out Colby, Smoky Valley and Holcomb to reach the championship rodeo. The Greenbacks left no doubt, lassoing Topeka Hayden 48-14 for Pratt’s second state title and first since 1995. Pratt’s meteoric rise was a coaching clinic from Cruce. Now comes a different challenge – a senior-laden team turns inexperienced, with only one defensive and four offensive starters back. “We will need to have a great summer as we break in 10 new starters on defense,” Cruce said. “How well we advance in getting the defense to play at a high level will be vital for our success. Replacing three starters on the offensive line will also be a focus.” That one defensive starter is a good place to start. Junior Travis Theis is a one-man wrecking crew on both sides of the ball. He hammered out 89 tackles from his safety post. Out of the backfield, he shredded defenses for 1,975 yards and 24 TDs on the ground. Senior quarterback Landen Studer excels as a game manager and complement to the run game. He threw for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 TDs, while also contributing nearly 500 more yards with his feet. Center Justin Lamatsch and guard Raiden Kohman were paramount to Pratt’s offensive prowess, as well. The Greenbacks hopped to 39.2 points per game, second to only Frontenac’s 43.6 in 4A-II. Meshing newcomers in with what is left of the championship guard must be done before an unforgiving and hungry district slate. Pratt hosts Hugoton in week seven before road games at Holcomb and Kingman. 12-1 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-II Central Kansas League Coach: Jamie Cruce (5th year, 23-18; 11th overall, 51-52) Assistants: Greg Enns, Tyler Strong, Steve Landry, Jason Gallagher, Larry Eisenhauer Offense: Flexbone Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 9 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 1 Defense Travis Theis, FB/SS, 5-9, 175, Jr.; Landen Studer, QB, 5-9, 150, Sr.; Justin Lamatsch, C, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Raiden Kohman, OG, 6-1, 240, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


A return to Class 4A-II didn’t change the fortunes for Rock Creek. Not only did the Mustangs fail to make the playoffs for the fifth straight year, but after going 3-6 in ’15 they slid back to 2-7. Part of Rock Creek’s issues a year ago came from its inability to finish close games. In an 0-5 start, the Mustangs played 3A champion Rossville tight in a 41-26 loss and suffered three other losses by 17 or less. In all, five of Rock Creek’s seven losses were by 17 points or less, including a 36-29 loss to Smoky Valley in district play that kept the Mustangs from the postseason. Veteran coach Mike Beam has tinkered with his traditional double-wing offense in recent years and the Mustangs will operate out of the shotgun this year. The running game will still be a mainstay for the Mustangs, particularly with first-team All-Mid-East League running back Skyler White back. As a junior taking over for the departed Carson Becker, White ran for 624 yards on 87 carries. He also led the Mustangs in receiving with 174 yards on 13 catches. He’s one of eight starters returning on offense with the bulk of the experience coming up front where all five starters are back, led by allleaguer Will Dulohery. Senior LB Tucker Gehrt was the anchor for the Mustang defense a year ago as a first-team allleaguer, but will be coming off a knee injury suffered during baseball. He should be ready to go for the

Proud supporters of Santa Fe Trail football!

season, which will be a big key after the defense lost all-league lineman Steven Tatum, who left school last year. Seven starters are back overall on defense and the unit will look to take some steps after allowing less than 18 points just twice last year. The season-opener with Wamego looms as a big contest for the Mustangs with the tough part of the Mid-East League schedule following in the next several weeks. The district lacks a traditional power, and Rock Creek should be motivated to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011. 2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-II Mid-East League Coach: Mike Beam (26th year, 137-111) Assistants: Butch Hayes, Joe Wilson, Garin Beam, Mark Oberkrom, Connor Nace, Jacob Koch Offense: Shotgun Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 29 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 7 Defense Skyler White, RB/DB; Taybor Vetter, RB; Will Dulohery, OL; Josh Feldkamp, OL; Tucker Gehrt, LB/FB; Sam Ringering, DB; Trevor Henning, TE/ LB; Alan Castaneda, DL; Joe Goodmiller, OL; Kadin Neimeyer, OL; Patrick Geyer, OL; Alan Bojorques, DL; Caden Churchman, DE; Logan Streit, DE. Brent Maycock


Santa Fe Trail may not have made the playoffs for the third straight season, but to classify 2016 as a step back for the program is flat-out incorrect. In fact, the argument could be made that the Chargers’ 7-2 showing was their best season in the three straight winning campaigns they’ve posted since pulling out of a more than decade-long funk. Trail opened the season with a tight win over Osawatomie (26-20) and finally beat Wellsville (26-21) to win the Pioneer League title outright — the program’s first league title since 1988. The Chargers won their first six games of the season before running into juggernauts Hayden and Holton in district play, pushing each of the powerhouses in 27-6 and 36-24 losses, respectively. Trail’s staying power has been put to the test during its three-year run, but this year might be the ultimate test of how far the program has progressed. Last year’s run was buoyed by a big, talented and experienced senior class which has graduated, including All-4A-II first-teamers Peyton Newton and Jake Hastings. Newton ran for nearly 1,700 yards and 20 TDs while Hastings was a four-year starter on the line. While the holes are plentiful, eighth-year coach Jayson Duncan, a Trail alum, feels his team is in a position to reload rather than rebuild. Only two starters return each way, but a handful of blowouts a year ago allowed plenty of young players to see time which should help the transition this year. The weight of the offense could fall on the shoulders of junior Will Herren, who was the team’s leading tackler last year as a sophomore with 81 stops. Herren saw some starts in the backfield at QB late in the season after departed starter Bryce Erickson broke his wrist and he finished as the team’s third-leading rusher with 406 yards and five TDs, more than half of that total coming in the final two games including a 123-yard performance against Holton. He’ll team with returning junior back Carter Greenfield, who had 314 yards and five scores to give the Chargers a solid presence in the backfield around sophomore QB Andrew Berckefeldt.

620-872-5503 Scott City, KS


Even with Holcomb’s state title in 2015, the GWAC balance of power remained with Scott City until last fall. Then, SC lost twice to Holcomb in the regular season (32-6 in Week 2) and again in the first round of the 4A-II playoffs (34-20). The first game came on the road, while the second was at home. It marked Scott City’s first season with fewer than 10 victories since ’07 and its earliest playoff exit since ’05. SC had won 12 of the previous 13 games versus Holcomb before the defeats. Additionally, Scott City lost 31-21 to Hays High, one of the state’s biggest 4A-I schools, in Week 1 when the Indians made a big comeback in the fourth quarter. Longtime assistant Jim Turner returns for his second year as head coach. He has coached 28 years overall, 22 with the Beavers. SC is always known for strong defense and permitted just 13 points a contest, second-best in the classification. Senior halfback/linebacker Jarret Jurgens and junior fullback/defensive end Wyatt Hayes are two of the team’s top returning players. SC has to replace quarterback Bo Hess, a two-year starter under center. “Be committed to the team,” Turner said of his goals for his players. “Accept that you are second to the team. Grow as an unselfish young man.” 7-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-II Great West Activities Conference Coach: Jim Turner (2nd year, 7-3) Assistants: Brian Gentry, Landen Frank, Todd Richardson, Alex Hutchins, Michael McEachern Offense: Wing T Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense Jordan Horn, FS, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Jarret Jurgens, HB/ OLB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Reid Brunswig, OT, 5-11, 85, Sr.; Nick Nowak, ILB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Baron Strine, OT, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Nic Cheney, DT, 5-11, 245, Sr.; Daniel Nolasco, DT, 6-2, 295, Sr.; Wyatt Hayes, FB/DE, 5-11, 180, Jr.; Marshall Faurot, SE/CB, 6-0, 165, Jr.; Chase Cupp, OG, 6-0, 240, Jr. Conor Nicholl

7-2 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 4A-II / Pioneer League Coach: Jayson Duncan (8th year, 25-44) Assistants: Don Herren, Bob Hug, Justin Duncan, Regan Erickson, Denver Ramsey Offense: Wing T Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 13 Returning starters: 2 Offense, 2 Defense Carter Greenfield, RGB, 5-5, 145, Jr.; Otis Costlow, OG, 6-0, 210, Jr.; Will Herren, LB/RB, 6-1, 190, Jr.; Scott Sheets, OLB, 5-6, 150, Jr. Brent Maycock


After spending the first two years of a split Class 4A challenging for state titles in Division I, expectations were for Hayden to find itself in a familiar position when it dropped to Division II in 2016. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. Despite a slow start to the season, Hayden found its groove against its fellow 4A competition and rode the late-season run all the way to the Division II state title game. The season ended with a 48-14 loss to Pratt for the state title, but the runner-up finish was the second in three years for the Wildcats, who took second to Miege in Division I in 2014. For the longest time, it looked like Hayden might simply be in for a down year. The Wildcats started 0-3 and through five weeks were sitting just 1-4. But a last-second 23-20 win over Shawnee Heights jump-started a seven-game win streak which included a pair of victories over Holton, including a 20-8 win in the semifinals that put Hayden into the state championship game. Graduation may have hit hard, but don’t expect Hayden to fall off too much. The Wildcats’ Centennial League schedule always toughens them for their 4A slate and enough returns to build around for another run at a state title. For starters, there may not be a better linebacker in 4A-II than Wildcat senior Brent Peavler. A first-team All-4A II pick last year, Peavler was in on a whopping 172 total tackles, including 11 sacks. Fellow senior linebacker Brandon VanBecelaere added 106 stops

to rank fourth on the team and give the Wildcats a strong nucleus to rebuild around with lineman Evan Prohaska the only other returning starter to the unit. Quarterback was a big question mark for the Hayden offense coming into the season after the offseason transfer of Dallas Crittenden to Free State. But Sampson Huston solidified the position and wound up throwing for 842 yards and 10 TDs. He’ll have his favorite target back in senior DeShawn Hanika, who had 34 grabs for 441 yards and six scores, but the Wildcats’ ground game will get a complete overhaul after the graduation of 1,000-yard rusher Tomas Stringer as well as the next two leading ground gainers. 8-5 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-II Centennial League Coach: Bill Arnold (11th year, 150-49) Assistants: Wes Meier, Charles Thompson, Eddie Kidd, Howard Tush, Troy Slusser, Jordan Mullin, Scott Simons, Raymond Gragg, Christian Ulsaker Offense: Wing T Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 30 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 5 Defense Brent Peavler, LB, 6-3, 220, Sr.; Sampson Huston, QB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; DeShawn Hanika, WR, 6-5, 220, Sr.; Brandon VanBecelaere, LB, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Kyle Meier, OL, 5-9, 235, Sr.; Daniel Hernandez, OL, 5-11, 195, Jr.; Evan Prohaska, DL, 6-1, 185, Jr. Brent Maycock

Fairleigh Feedyard

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

SCOTT CITY, KS 807 North Hwy 83 | Toll Free: 800-779-7244 | 620-872-7244

Good Luck Beavers!

Scott City, Kansas

620-872-2111 Perry Nowak, Manager


An offense that churned out 31.6 points per game was pieced apart by graduations, with only a few veterans to start the reload – but Mac Copeland, Cody McNerney and Jack Bendell make for a fine place to start. McNerney is a gunslinging senior quarterback who thrives in Wichita Collegiate’s spread offense under coach Mike Gehrer. McNerney was an honorable mention selection at QB, a stacked position in the AVCTL IV. Keeping him upright is Bendell, also an honorable mention honoree. Perhaps the most heralded – though at an unheralded position – is two-way lineman Mac Copeland, who owns the line of scrimmage in every facet. Copeland has verbally committed to the University of Kansas. For Collegiate to continue its championship-caliber aspirations, the Spartans must rediscover the defensive tenacity that sent them to the 3A title game in 2015. That season, opponents mustered only 10.1 ppg against the Spartans. That nearly doubled in full a year ago, with Collegiate allowing 20.0 ppg. Collegiate was cut up for more than 30 points four times – which coincided with the team’s four losses in a 7-4 season. McNerney and Copeland, along with linebacker Trey Charbonneau, will have to catch newcomers up to speed in a hurry to reverse that trend. “We will need to compete at a high level on the defensive side of the ball,” Gehrer said.

Page 93 “Know the difference between having a Bank and being part of one.”

A five-week stretch leading into district play will test the mettle of the Spartans. The Spartans step into the arena with Hoisington, Buhler, Mulvane and Andale in that timeframe, four programs coming off a combined 39-8 record. District play looks relatively easy by comparison, but it will no doubt be a minefield of its own. Collegiate challenges Clearwater (3-6), Nickerson (6-4) and Wichita Trinity (3-6) in 4A-II’s District 5. Collegiate went undefeated in the district in 2016. Collegiate has qualified for the postseason in 14 straight seasons, dating back to 2003. The Spartans scored a 35-7 victory over Clay Center in the first round of the playoffs this past year before succumbing at Holcomb, 44-29.


Ph: 620-872-2143 •


Wichita Trinity is steady. For nine years, the Knights have fell between three and six victories – a remarkably consistent 41-40 overall record in that span. As comforting as the middle may be, the Knights are anxious for a postseason berth that has proven elusive. “We have had great numbers all summer and our players have made a great commitment to preparation for the season,” said Trinity coach Jared McDaniel. “Even though we don’t have a lot of starters back, each of those young men played at some point and started games last year, so there is some returning experience.” The glaring hole is the graduation of all-galaxy lineman Ben Adler, now at Kansas State. More will be requested from senior quarterback Sammy Hardin, 7-4 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 4A-II who demonstrated flashes of his potential, throwing Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV for 15 touchdowns while completing 55 percent of Coach: Mike Gehrer (21st year, 171-50) his passes, as well as running for 600 yards and five Assistants: Troy Black, Bill Messamore, Rick Lee, scores. He returns a top target in the passing game, Brandon Russell, Cam Clark, Jason Ramsey, Brett Caden Williams, a recipient of one-third of Hardin’s Gehrer touchdown throws. Offense: Spread Defense: 4-2-5 “Caden makes catches that should not be made in Returning lettermen: 40 traffic,” McDaniel said. “He was our top WR last year Returning starters: 4 Offense, 3 Defense and has had a great summer and offseason getting Cody McNerney, QB/DB, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Mac ready for the year.” Copeland, OL/DL, 6-5, 245, Sr.; Jack Bendell, OL, Should Trinity sink or swim, the result likely part5-10, 195, Sr.; Trey Charbonneau, 5-10, 200, FB/ ners with the defense’s performance. The Knights MLB, Jr. Kyle McCaskey will depend upon eight returners. Ben Ralston, a

6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound senior, is the heartbeat of the unit. He produced 5-1/2 tackles for loss. “Ben is our leader on and off the field. He plays LB for us and will also play some offensive line,” McDaniel said. “He is explosive and very unselfish, and will lead us defensively this year.” There will be bumps along the way. Seven of Trinity’s opponents either finished with a winning record or made the postseason. A playoff bid out of Trinity’s district will be tough terrain, as the Knights challenge Nickerson, Clearwater and Wichita Collegiate. 3-6 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 4A Division II Central Plains League Coach: Jared McDaniel (6th year, 23-13; 9th overall, 30-33) Assistants: James Smith, James Jost, James Edwards, Jacob Ryan Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 5 Offense, 8 Defense Sammy Hardin, QB, 6-2, 190, Sr.; Caden Williams, WR, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Hillard Cozine, TE/DE, 6-4, 200, Sr.; Felix Johnson, OL/DL, 6-5, 340, Sr.; Ben Ralston, LB, 6-2, 220, Sr.; Tucker Trevett, OL/DL, 6-0, 180, Jr.; Nate Adler, LB, 6-2, 185, Jr.; Andrew Nordberg, LB, 6-0, 180, So.; Mark Hedstrom, DB, 5-11, 165, So.; Lawrence Dreiling, DB, 5-10, 165, So. Kyle McCaskey

Frontenac/from page 87___ 4A-II/from page 83____________________________ Mark Smith said. “I use a lot of what he ran at Colgan and what we did at Pittsburg State in my offense. He’s a great coach but an even better person.” While Mark Smith has a long way to go before he could match his dad’s success as a coach, he already owns an impressive resume. He was on four of his father’s state championship teams, helping the Panthers to a 54-0 record during his tenure. In college, he received All-America and All-MIAA honors at quarterback for the Gorillas in 2007 and 2008. Smith is fourth in Pittsburg State for passing yards in a career (5,190) and in a single season (2,348). Smith became Frontenac’s head coach in 2012 and helped rebuild the Raider program. Frontenac posted a 13-25 record in the four seasons before Smith became the coach. Since then, the Raiders are 38-15 with five consecutive trips to the postseason. He also finished with a 3-2 advantage over his father in games against Colgan. Last year, Smith directed the Raiders to wins in their first 10 games as they earned the No. 1 ranking in the state. They appeared poised to move on to an 11-0 record and a trip to the 4A Division II state semifinals. Frontenac entered the fourth quarter of their quarterfinal match-up with a 21-0 lead but eventually fell to the Holton Wildcats 32-28. Holton scored the game-winning touchdown with 13.5 seconds left. Now, Ginavan and Smith both enter the 2017 season determined to improve on last season. “That was a tough loss last year,” Ginavan said. “All of the underclassmen saw that. We don’t want that to happen again. We’ve been pushing ourselves over the summer and working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Mark Schremmer is a sportswriter from southeast Kansas who has covered teams in Kansas and Missouri since 2000. He currently lives in Overland Park.

Smoky Valley arguably was the surprise of 4A Division II last year, going from 2-7 in 2015 to 8-3 and a berth in the state quarterfinals last year. A pair of overtime wins — one to close district play and the other to start the playoffs — keyed the run, which ended with a loss to eventual champion Pratt. The only other losses the Vikings suffered came to 3A runner-up Hesston and playoff qualifier Halstead. Smoky Valley won’t sneak up on anyone this year, however, with seven starters back on offense and defense and 23 lettermen returning overall. Senior back Kyle Anderson had a breakout year, rushing for 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns and will lead an offense which returns its skill players in tact, but only has one lineman back, junior Ethan Wampler. Nickerson was an overtime loss to Smoky Valley away from replacing the Vikings as the surprise team in the class. The Panthers were 0-9 just four years ago and last year’s 6-4 showing was the first winning season for the program since 2012. Averaging 31.8 points per game a year ago, Nickerson should remain explosive with the return of quarterback Tanner Schrag and tailback Peyton Kuhns and four offensive linemen. Kuhns ran for 1,256 yards and 16 touchdowns while Schrag added nearly 1,700 yards of total offense. A mere five points separated Columbus from taking an undefeated record into the second round of the playoffs and the 8-2 season the Titans posted. Columbus lost 21-20 to Frontenac in district play and then was upset by Girard 28-24 in the first round of the playoffs for a disappointing finish after making deep runs the past three seasons, including a runner-up finish to Andale in 2014. The Titans haven’t missed the playoffs since 2006 and return eight starters on defense and seven on offense, in-

cluding the 1-2 punch of tailback Keenan Stanley (1,614 total yards) and quarterback Ridge Smith (1,166 yards, 13 TDs, 1 interception). With nine wins, the Titan senior class would become the winningest group in school history. Stuck in the toughest district in the state with Hayden and Holton, Santa Fe Trail didn’t get the postseason reward for an outstanding season. The Chargers won the Pioneer League title outright and finished 7-2 with the losses coming to Hayden and Holton in games the Chargers were in deep into the second half. Graduation claimed leading rusher Peyton Newton and All-4A lineman Jake Hastings as well as a host of other starters. But the Chargers have turned things around in the past three years and enough returns to make Charger coach Jayson Duncan optimistic. Clay Center and Colby each made the playoffs with 5-4 records, falling in the first round. Baxter Springs and Burlington also went 5-4, but missed the playoffs.

Proud to support Scott City schools!

1304 S Main

Scott City 620-872-5301

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery






INVESTMENT PLANNING • RISK MANAGEMENT • COLLEGE FUNDING RETIREMENT SAVINGS • DISTRIBUTION PLANNING John Webb ~ Kelli Webb ~ Jordan Webb ~ Eddie Balluch 120 S. Santa Fe Ave., Salina, KS 67401 P: 785-820-8161 Toll Free: 888-756-6670


Good Luck to all area teams Previously Webb & Associates

101 01 9 BULL tthe he he

Securities offered through OFG Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC

HaysPost-CatchItKansas.indd 3

7/2/15 3:47 PM

❖ Convenient hours include early mornings and evenings. ❖ Direct patient access. ❖ Ongoing patient education on diagnosis, treatment plans, and prescribed home exercise programs. ❖ Clear, consistent communication between therapist, physician, and patient regarding progress.

Stacia Brenneman, PT

Nate Lee, DPT

Gregg Root, PT

Steve Sjogren, PT

1945 S. Ohio Suites B1, B2 in the Parkwood Plaza

785.823.2215 SALINAORTHO.COM

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Conor Nicholl For Kansas Pregame Rossville head coach Derrick Hammes discussed several staples of his elite program, including winning close games, quarterback play and continued improvement from his offensive line, a few days before last year’s Class 3A state championship game between his Bulldawgs and Hesston. Those were big keys when Rossville won Class 3A state titles with back-to-back 14-0 marks in 2014 and ’15 with standout quarterback Tucker Horak. In ’15, Horak earned national media attention and the Dylan Meier Get Busy Livin’ award. He became the first Kansan to run and pass for 2,000 yards in the same season and finished sixth nationally on the all-time list with 12,834 yards of total offense. In ‘14, the Bulldawgs defeated rival Silver Lake and Scott City each by 21-14 scores in the season’s last two games. In ’15, Rossville beat Pittsburg Colgan, 42-32, in the playoffs before a 20-19 win against Wichita Collegiate in the championship game. Rossville rallied from 13 down to defeat the Spartans. Last year, Hoisington held down the top spot throughout the season in Class 3A. Silver Lake won the Mid-East League over Rossville, its War on 24 rival. But Rossville went 4-1 in games decided by eight points or fewer, starting with a 27-20 season-opening victory versus Marysville. “The expectations on the outside were a little bit lower than the expectations that we had for ourselves, and I thought there was a good upside for this football team,” Hammes said. “I knew we would have to be healthy. I knew that there would have to be some development that took place.” After a 36-28 loss to Silver Lake in Week 5, Rossville picked up three close playoff wins. The Bulldawgs defeated Sabetha, 34-28, in the second round, and beat Nemaha Central, 27-22, in the semifinals. NC held a 19-11 edge in first downs. Rossville trailed 22-21 in the fourth quarter before Jacob Bradshaw delivered a 64-yard touchdown run. Wyatt Dyche had a huge interception in the end zone with 1 minute, 51 seconds left. NC had one chance left and couldn’t advance further than the Rossville 37-yard line. In the championship, Rossville held off Hesston, 48-42, in overtime for another title. The Bulldawgs’ three crowns have all been won after trailing in the fourth quarter. Against Hesston, Rossville led 7-6 and then not again until overtime. “There have been players and great teams that have come through here that have really given this program a mindset that they believe that they are going to win,” Hammes said. Jacob Bradshaw stepped in with first team all-state numbers with a 72 percent completion rate for 1,774 yards, along with 2,734 rushing yards and 56 touchdowns accounted for. He graduated, along with all-state receiver Cole Schumacher (1,158 receiving) and all-state linebacker Dawson Hammes (172 tackles). “The quarterback makes a lot of decisions,” Hammes said. “Our system has developed, but it still gets down to some blocking fundamentals and I think a big part of it is a mentality that we want to be able to run the ball to be successful.” This season, with only four returning starters and 11 returning lettermen, Rossville will need to develop a number of key players to continue their stay at the top of the state’s only 64 team classification. Silver Lake finished 10-1 last fall and earned C.J. Hamilton his 400th career victory against just 90 losses with a first round 50-0 playoff win versus Mission Valley. SL lost 21-14 to Nemaha Central in the second round.

Page 95

Junior Wyatt Heiman and senior Keenan Baird return at receiver after combining for 73 catches and 15 receiving TDs. Three of the top-four tacklers are back, including seniors Joshua Boyd (127 stops), Will Boyd (83) and Baird (54). Baird picked off five passes to tie for the team high. Boyd and Baird were all-state picks. Nemaha Central went 10-1 in 2015 and 12-1 in 2016. The Thunder graduates two all-state players with quarterback/defensive back Ryan Hasenkamp and linebacker Trent Henry. Senior Eli McWilliams is back after an honorable mention all-state year on the line. Senior tackle Matt Feldkamp and senior cornerback Mitchell Henry are veteran returners. Phillipsburg, two years removed from a Class 2-1A title, went 11-1 and lost to Hesston in the quarterfinals. The Panthers return 10 offensive and nine defensive starters. Senior Kirk Coomes rushed for 1,312 yards, junior quarterback Trey Sides is back for his third year as the starter and the line features standout senior Chris VanKooten. Senior fullback/linebacker John Gower returns after 645 rushing yards and a team-high 139 tackles. “We feel like we have a pretty good chance with a good, strong returning senior and junior group and some upcoming freshmen and sophomores, but you can never really count on being that team, the No. 1 team in the state throughout the whole year and not suffer a loss sometime,” Coomes said. “So we just try to take it week by week and focus on the team that we are playing, not about who we might play first round of the playoffs or the second round.” Phillipsburg’s Mid-Continent League rival Norton went 7-4 in 2016 and returns senior quarterback Jace Ruder, a North Carolina commit. Ruder passed for 1,598 yards with a 14/8 TD/INT ratio, while he rushed for 746 yards and 16 TDs. Speedy senior Tevin Petrie tacked on 155 carries for 1,108 yards and 12 rushing scores. However, the top-six receivers graduated as did Jacob Green, the conference’s all-time leading tackler. Senior Collyn Auker returns with a team-high 21 TFLs. Norton did commit 18 turnovers but finished plus-9 in turnover margin. “We need people to step up and be leaders and we will have to have some younger athletes emerge as solid players,” Norton coach Lucas Melvin said. “We need to get stronger and fill in some much needed holes.” District 10 will again be competitive with Chaparral, Garden Plain, Conway Springs and Cheney. All four squads finished with winning records and three of the four (minus GP) return a dual-threat QB. Chaparral, GP and CS went 2-1 in district play, and Chaparral, 9-2 overall, won the district on points. Former Derby defensive line coach Shelby Wehrmanntakes

CLASS 3A over as Cheney’s head coach and has quarterback Micah Grover. Garden Plain senior offensive lineman Austin Youngers returns after an all-state year, while Chaparral junior Isaac Helms and Conway Springs senior Matthew Lange were honorable mention all-state up front. Chaparral dealt with tragedy this summer when junior Tanner Asper (53 tackles) passed away in a car accident. Senior Andrew Clark returns after he threw for 1,667 yards with an 18/5 TD/INT ratio. Conway Springs returns quarterback Colton Terhune for a team that Chaparral coach Justin Burke calls the Central Plains League favorite. An experienced Galena Bulldogs squad has its sights set on winning a CNC championship and making a run at the Class 3A title. While the goals are daunting, last year’s 8-3 Bulldogs are listed as returning 10 starters on each side of the ball and have at least 13 players with some starting experience. Galena advanced to the second round of the 3A playoffs last year with a team made up of mostly sophomores and juniors. “Our kids were young last year,” Galena coach Beau Sarwinski said. “We got lots of experience from last season. In a tough CNC, they played in a lot of big games. Our sophomores had to become juniors very early, and our juniors had to become seniors very early. I felt like they really progressed throughout the season. Hoisington (12-1) graduated a bevy of top performers, including Hunter Hanzlick, the school record holder for rushing yards, and lineman Landen Urban, top 11 for all classes. Sean Urban returns after 1,034 yards. The 10-4 Hesston Swathers bring back junior Parker Roth, who rushed for 1,270 yards, and junior end Cameron Cox (866 yards), who is expected to take over at QB. Gone are sensational quarterback Zach Esau and receiver Zach Vogt. So, too, is coach Clint Rider, now off to Blue Valley Northwest. Tyson Bauerle, who spent the past two seasons at Sterling, is tasked with pushing the momentum onward and preserving the standard of excellence. Hesston won 36 games in Rider’s four seasons, and has won at least eight games in six of the past seven. Conor Nicholl is a sportswriter from western Kansas who has covered teams across the state in a 10 year career.


1. Silver Lake 2. Nemaha Central 3. Phillipsburg 4. Hesston 5. Rossville Others: Beloit, Chaparral, Conway Springs, Garden Plain, Galena, Halstead, Hoisington, Norton, Marysville, Wellsville

Proud to support area schools and sports teams!

315 S. Ash Stockton, KS 785-425-6754

Best of luck to Kirk and the Panthers this season!

Proud to support the Phillipsburg Panthers and Thunder Ridge Longhorns!

Coomes Trucking

1697 E 250 Ln. • Phillipsburg, KS 67661 785-543-2759 • • 877-625-7872

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Conor Nicholl For Kansas Pregame Kansas annually sends athletes to top Division I schools, especially in the Big 12, Mountain West and Missouri Valley. Defending football national champion Clemson has a pair of Kansans on its roster. Even rarer is the Sunflower State product who signs to play at an Ivy League school. Yale women’s basketball has picked up Emmy Allen from Shawnee Mission South and Buhler’s Jessica Steffen in the last couple of winters. Princeton had the Smith brothers, Christian and Zack, and Christian was a solid four-year player who finished in 2015. Colby graduate Lissa Mazanec threw at Brown within the last decade. Collegiate’s Marcus Phox has arguably enjoyed the best success of any recent Kansas athlete in the Ivies. In 2016, Phox, a senior played in every game and started several at cornerback as Princeton won the Ivy League title. Phox won the Hank Towns Award, one of the most prestigious Princeton honors, given to the player “who has given the most back to Princeton football.” Phillipsburg senior running back/linebacker Kirk Coomes could join the exclusive club. He carries a 4.0 grade-point average and scored a 26 on the ACT, a result he looks to raise in the 28-30 range. Coomes has always had interest in the medical field and has earned his Certified Nursing Aide certification and works for Solomon Vally Manor in Stockton. On the gridiron, Coomes helped Phillipsburg capture its first state football title in a 30-29 championship win versus Troy in Class 2-1A two years ago. Last season, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Coomes rushed for 1,312 yards, accounted for 20 offensive scores and finished with 94 tackles. In late July, he attended Cornell’s camp in Ithaca, N.Y., about an hour away from where his uncle lives. “They are one of the best schools in the nation,” Coomes said. Cornell has recruited Coomes throughout the last year, and he greatly enjoyed the camp, surrounding area and the Big Red’s job placement after graduation. Yale and Princeton have shown interest along with multiple MIAA and NAIA schools. Coomes has helped Phillipsburg, always a solid program with veteran coach J.B. Covington, take a step up the last three years. Phillipsburg has raised its level through several factors, including a close-knit senior class that has played together since elementary days, a change in recent seasons to the flexbone offense and 3-4 defense and a more competitive nature in practice. Phillipsburg went 10-2 in 2014, the first sub-state advancement in school annals. In ’15, the Panthers won the state crown. Thenrunning back Conner Weinman went down with injury early in the state game. Kirk Coomes had 515 rushing yards entering state before he rushed 26 times for 243 yards versus Troy. “It was one of those phenomenal days for a young guy that we had been bringing along kind of slow,” Covington said. “We knew he had a lot of capabilities, but he stepped in and really picked up the pace for us. He was just determined not to go down that day. He took a lot of hard hits and got banged up a little bit, but he’s a good tough kid that runs hard and likes to get to the end zone.” Last year, Phillipsburg finished 11-1 and lost to Hesston in the Class 3A quarterfinals, which made a surprising run to the title game. Covington called the defeat “great motivation” for 2017. “We felt like we controlled the ball offensively,” Covington said. “We turned the ball over more than we had all year, and I felt like that was the game-changer.” The Panthers went 6-0 in Mid-Continent League play and had the team’s first perfect regular season since 1962. Against MCL rivals, Phillipsburg has won six straight versus Smith Center and 3-3 versus Norton, including a 36-13 district-clinching victory in 2016. This year, Phillipsburg graduated Kirk’s older brother, Mark, an all-state player, but return 10 offensive and nine defensive starters, arguably the deepest, most veteran-laden team Covington has had. “We will do pretty well this fall,” Coomes said. “We have a lot of kids coming back that have got great experience, and we are not missing too much from the previous senior class, and we have a lot of good incoming freshmen and sophomores that should get some playing time this season.” The Panthers enter this year on a 12-game regular season winning streak, dating back to a 34-32 home loss to Sedgwick on Oct. 9, 2015, a game that still resonates with Cardinal coach Jeff Werner. He



THE COOMES FILE Hobbies: Playing disc golf and reading. Favorite subject: Algebra Favorite food: “My mom’s roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy.” Favorite musician: Fleetwood Mac Favorite pregame song: “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac Most memorable high school football moment: “Winning a state championship by one point.”

(Photo by Derek Livingston,

Brought to you by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to

Pittsburg State University Pittsburg State is a comprehensive graduate-level state university with an enrollment of nearly 7,000 students. They offer more than 100 academic programs in four colleges. Pittsburg State offers a variety of entertainment options for everyone, rotating exhibits in the university’s art galleries, concerts and recitals, PSU Theatre productions, Veterans Memorial, and you can’t forget sports as Pitt State Football is the all-time winningest NCAA Division II team. labeled the contest “one of our biggest wins in school history.” Phillipsburg led 24-6 at halftime. “Coaches are a little bit like the kids, I needed to get my confidence back going into the summer,” Werner said. “That’s the game I watched on Hudl. … Kind of one of those evenings that a high school kid 20 years from now will be able to talk about.” From 2006-11, the Panthers went 36-21, scored 29 points a game and allowed 18.9 points per contest with zero playoff victories. In every year but one, Phillipsburg allowed more than 18 points a game. From ’12-16, the Panthers are 48-9 with 36.6 points scored and 13.3 permitted. In 2005, the Panthers lost to spread-heavy Southeast of Saline, 26-13, in the playoffs. The following year, Sacred Heart’s passing attack gave the Panthers problems in a 53-26 first round loss. In 2007, Phillipsburg lost 32-27 to Lyons and their spread look in the postseason first round. Longtime defensive coordinator Cory Jacobs has led the improvement with the change to the 3-4 to combat the spread. In practice, Covington said the Panthers have “more emphasis” on competition. “We have a lot of pride in our team, our community supports us a tremendous amount,” Coomes said. “A lot of time we will have more in our crowd at away games than a home game does, and we have really good teamwork together. We all know that we have to do our job.” Phillipsburg has continually had big and talented defensive linemen and returns senior defensive tackle Chris VanKooten at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, along with senior defensive ends Jordan Ford and

continued on page 101

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 98

320 N LL&G Rd



Dine-in or Carryout


The sign of a well-oiled program is one that can have an exodus of graduates with high-caliber talent, but still have elite players waiting in line for their moment in the spotlight. That defines Chaparral. The Roadrunners should be back in the 3A playoff conversation coming off a 9-2 season. Chaparral powered past Douglass to begin the postseason, but stumbled on the road to eventual state runner-up Hesston in the next round, 35-20. “Chaparral only lost five seniors from last year’s squad, but they were good,” said Chaparral coach Justin Burke. “However, six starters are back on offense and eight on defense. Last year’s defense was much improved.” Chaparral carried a reputation as a potent offense, but in 2016, defense became the calling card. The Roadrunners checked opponents for only 14.6 points per game. They benefitted from the motor of Jacob Jenkins, who was named the Central Plains League Most Valuable Player for his work on the defensive line. Replacing him is arguably impossible, but Chaparral still oozes talent. Defensive back Jake Burke picked off five passes. Andrew Clark administers pain with bone-pulverizing tackles. Clark threw for 20 touchdowns to spark the offense. Chaparral reached at least 27 points in every victory. “The Roadrunners’ usual high-flying offense lost some key parts, but will return Andrew Clark at QB, several offensive linemen – including Kavin Hess, Isaac Helms and Miguel Gerber – and solid receivers in Quinton Pfaff and Jarrett Shelton,” Burke said. “The key will be finding guys to fuel up a running game this season.” A minefield district includes Cheney (5-4), Garden Plain (10-2) and Conway Springs (7-2). The Roadrunners have an off-and-on relationship with the postseason, qualifying every even year since 2010. Chaparral could wreak havoc on its non-district schedule, with none of its first six opponents coming off a winning season. 9-2 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A Central Plains League Coach: Justin Burke (8th year, 40-29; 21st overall, 101-63) Assistants: Britt Whealy, Jody Iams, Justin Wilcox, Josh Inslee, A.J. Ybarra, Joel Gerber Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 21 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 8 Defense Andrew Clark, QB/DB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Kavin Hess, OL/ DL, 6-4, 195, Sr.; Haldo Escobar, K, 5-9, 140, Sr.; Isaac Helms, OL/DL, 5-11, 245, Jr.; Jake Burke, QB/ DB, 6-2, 185, Jr.; Miguel Gerber, OL/DL, 5-10, 210, Jr.; Drake Whealy, RB/LB, 5-11, 185, Jr.; Quinton Pfaff, WR/DB, 6-1, 185, Jr.; Bryce Cormack, WR/DB, 5-10, 165, Jr.; Jarrett Shelton, WR/DB, 5-6, 140, Jr.; Jaden Eslinger, OL/DL, 6-4, 280, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

High School Football Game of the Week Friday nights @ 6:40pm on KVSV AM 1190 & FM 105.5 and listen live at

110 W Main • Beloit, KS • 785-534-1111


The Vikings return 16 lettermen and have high hopes for the 2017 season despite an 0-9 record in 2016. Northeast will have an experienced offensive line as four starters return. Seniors Jared Napier and Kamryn O’Dell are joined by sophomores DJ Beaman and Keatyn O’Dell. The Viking offense also brings back senior receivers Ethan Balk and Arin Katzer along with junior running back Nathan Boswell and sophomore running back Hunter Jackson. On defense, Northeast returns Beaman, Napier, Kamryn O’Dell and Keatyn O’Dell on the front line of the 4-3. Other returning defensive starters are Jackson at linebacker and Balk, Boswell and Katzer in the secondary. Coach Phil Hobbs, now in his 9th year, says the team’s goals are to “win our league, win our district, and make the playoffs.” He added that the Vikings “will take the season one game at a time and improve every week. We have to maintain the proper attitude and expect nothing less than perfection in everything we do.” Keys to success for Northeast will include senior leadership, dedication to off-season workouts, and commitment to changing the culture, according to Hobbs. “Our players need to hold themselves and each other accountable. Our squad will be young,” he added. “We will have to get many of our sophomores ready to step into varsity roles and our freshman into backup roles.” The 2017 season opens Sept. 1 when the Vikings host Liberal, Mo. Northeast’s first road trip will be a week two journey to Yates Center. The week three home game against Uniontown will be the Vikings’ first Three Rivers League contest, and Northeast will follow that contest with a long road trip to Belle Plaine Sept. 22. To wrap up September, the Vikings host Oswego, and they will play at Baxter Springs on Oct. 6. That is the first of three straight road games as Northeast also travels to Jayhawk-Linn and Erie before hosting Humboldt in the regular season finale. 0-9 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A Three Rivers League Coach: Phil Hobbs (9th year, 18-64) Assistants: Tommy Leftwich, Joey McDowell Offense: Pistol Spread Option Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 5 Defense Nathan Boswell, RB/DB, 5-11, 160, Jr.; Keatyn O’Dell, OL/DL, 5-10, 175, So.;DJ Beaman, OL/DL, 5-10, 185, So.; Jared Napier, OL/DL, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Hunter Jackson, RB/LB, 5-10, 180, So.;Kamryn O’Dell, OL/DL, 6-3, 260, Sr.; Arin Katzer, WR/DB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Ethan Balk, WR/DB, 5-9, 180, Sr. Melanie McGee


Despite having to fill some major holes in the backfield, Maur Hill was able to post its third straight 7-3 season and win its district. The Ravens fell short of securing an elusive playoff win, but the 28 points they scored in a 62-28 season-ending loss to Sabetha in the first round of the Class 3A postseason was the most points any team outside of 3A champion Rossville scored on the Bluejays last year. Scoring never was a problem for the Ravens a year ago. Maur Hill averaged just more than 38 points per game and scored less than 25 just once — a 34-14 season-opening loss to Jefferson North. At that point, the Ravens were still trying to fully figure out their backfield personnel after graduating their entire cast of skill players from 2015, including standout back Harry Trotter, who now is at Louisville. Trotter’s eventual replacement as feature back, Ronald Faulk-Tindal, had just eight carries for 17 yards in that contest, but it didn’t take him long to take the job and run with it. After a 59-yard game in Week 2, Faulk-Tindal didn’t have less than 100 the rest of the season and had back-to-back monster games with 354 yards against ImmaculataMaranatha and 236 against Atchison County. Faulk-Tindal finished with a Trotter-like season, rushing for 1,492 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 13 yards per carry. Freshman Jack Caudle settled in at quarterback as well and threw for 1,535 yards and 19 touchdowns and with leading receiver Colten Kocour (28 catches, 474 yards, 5 TDs) also back, Maur Hill is loaded at the skill positions. Last year’s Raven unit had its most experienced line in Jermaine Monroe’s tenure. Though two starters from that group graduated, the Ravens return four linemen who started at some point, led by junior Cole Harris (6-4, 295), who was a first-team All-Northeast Kansas League pick last year. Faulk-Tindal is also Maur Hill’s leading returning tackler, making 61 a year ago. The Ravens will miss standout linebacker Luke Ervin, who had 112 tackles.


Belle Plaine has hit blackjack, but the Dragons are unhappy with the payout. The program’s pursuit of its first postseason visit since 1996 persists. “Belle Plaine is looking to go to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years,” said Belle Plaine coach Jason Jinkens. “Our second goal is to win districts.” For a once-moribund program, that goal could seem like wishes upon stars. However, the Dragons’ fan base witnessed newfound life in a 2-7 season. Two wins may not seem like much fodder to an outsider. Consider, though, that Belle Plaine entered the year on a 28-game losing streak. The skid climbed to 31, but in week four, the Dragons snapped it with a 48-0 clobbering of Northeast-Arma on the road. Punctuating a change in performance, Belle Plaine collected its first district win since 2012 by smashing Bluestem, 60-12. It may not have marked a wholesale worldview change in Belle Plaine, but the Dragons have cause for at least a sliver of optimism. The district delivers opportunity, with no team coming off a winning record. Belle Plaine opens districts at home against Douglass (3-7), then visits Bluestem (2-7) and Wichita Independent (3-7). Nate Menhusen is a physical presence on the lines. The 6-foot-2-inch, 315-pound senior earned second-team Central Plains League recognition on both sides of the ball. Bo Gooch was a second-team selection as a defensive back – he also handles quarterbacking duties. Gooch’s most dangerous playmaker is Caleb Stover, a flex in the offense. Belle Plaine’s offensive composure was hit-and-miss, held to single digits on five occasions. Stover also is pivotal to controlling field position. He garnered first-team CPL praise as a punter.

2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Central Plains League Coach: Jason Jinkens (5th year, 2-34) Assistants: Josh Corbett, Storm Scott Offense: Two-Back Spread Defense: 3-4 7-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A Returning lettermen: 12 Northeast Kansas League Returning starters: 5 Offense, 6 Defense Coach: Jermaine Monroe (6th year, 28-18) Caleb Stover, FLEX/DB/P, 6-3, 195, Sr.; Nate Assistants: Todd Caudle, Doug Bennett, Jake Coady Menhusen, OL/DL, 6-2, 315, Sr.; Adam Wrenn, LB, Offense: Power I Defense: 5-3 5-11, 165, Sr.; Bo Gooch, QB/DB, 5-10, 155, Jr.; Returning lettermen: 15 Taylor Douglass, WR/LB, 6-2, 185, Jr.; Dresden Ray, Returning starters: 9 Offense, 8 Defense TE/DL, 6-2, 195, Jr.; Luke Baker, LB, 6-1, 170, So.; Ronald Faulk-Tindal, RB/LB, 5-11, 195, Sr.; Cole Trevor Stanley, OL, 5-10, 200, So. Harris, OL/DL, 6-4, 295, Jr.; Colten Kocour, WR/ Kyle McCaskey FS, 6-4, 180, Sr.; Benedict Humberg, OL/DL, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Sean Mason, OL/DL, 5-11, 210, Sr.; Jack Caudle, QB, 6-3, 160, So.; Tate Vowels, RB/DB, 5-10, 175, So.; Abe Siebenmorgen, OL/LB, 6-2, 185, So.; Nathan Pelzer, WR/DB, Sr. Brent Maycock


Anyone still residing in their underground bunkers can emerge. Caney Valley is back to its typical self as a force in southeast Kansas, and all is well in the world. Long the royalty of the Tri-Valley League, the Greg Koenig enjoyed a successful 11-year run Three of the top-four rushers, including Hunter with Beloit before he left for Cimarron. Koenig, who Budke (1,283 yards) graduated. Senior Blaine Burks balance of power was briefly interrupted in 2015. Not often fought low numbers, finished 93-31, never had returns after he led the team with 19.5 TFLs. Beloit ones to allow any uprisings, the Bullpups stamped that out in 2016, romping undefeated through the a losing season and had nine straight postseason finished minus-1 in turnover margin. league schedule for the league title. appearances, including a Class 3A state runner-up to Gober said the team goals are to win league, The season started in the wrong direction, as Silver Lake in 2013. His double wing offense annually win district and make a run at the playoffs; key is Caney Valley opened with losses to Independence ranked among the state’s leaders in scoring, includ- improving on the defensive side and playing “solid and Olpe, where the Bullpups produced only 24 coming 41.6 points a contest last season. The Trojans fundamental football.” bined points. What followed was nine consecutive went 62-8 in league play, including a 28-game league victories and Caney Valley reaching at least 23 points winning streak. 6-3 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A in 10 straight contests. Bulldozing into the postseaBrad Gober takes over for Beloit. A Wamego grad- North Central Activities Association son, the Bullpups powered past Riverton and Osage uate, Gober last served five years as an assistant at Coach: Brad Gober (1st year) Augusta High School and defensive coordinator the Assistants: Kevin Harris, Casey Seyfert, Garry Lowry City before falling on the road in the quarterfinals to eventual three-time state champion Rossville. Caney last three. Offense: N/A Defense: 4-2-5 Valley concluded the season 9-3. Augusta enjoyed a solid turnaround, mainly behind Returning lettermen: N/A The key to a swift turnaround – the Bullpups were one of the stronger 4A-I defenses. In his first season Returning starters: 7 Offense, 8 Defense at defensive coordinator, Augusta went from allowing Zach Meier, DB/RB, 5-9, 175, Jr.; Hudson Smith, 44 points a game to 22 points a game. In his second WR/DB, 5-6, 130, Jr.; Paxton Harris, QB/DB, 5-11, season, the Orioles went 7-3 and permitted 14.5 145, Sr.; Blaine Burks, RB/LB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; K-14 & U.S. Hwy 24 points a contest, second-fewest in the classification. Braydon Conn, OL/DL, 5-11, 170, Sr.; River Paul, Last year, Augusta finished 6-4 and allowed 18.7 OL/DL, 5-8, 195, Jr.; Logan Kadel, OL/DL, 5-11, 235, points a game. Sr.; Colin Chandler, OL/DL, 6-0, 215, Jr.; Creighton 785-738-5706 The Orioles reached the playoffs each year from Johnson, OL/DL, 5-11, 205, So.; Devin Princ, OL/ ’14-16 after not reaching the postseason the previous DL, 5-9, 160, Jr. Delivery available 5pm-close four years. Beloit allowed 33.6 points a game last Conor Nicholl Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery season after 23.5 in 2015.


5-5 in 2015, their only season with less than eight wins in the past seven years – was a lively offense. Caney Valley churned out nearly eight more points per game in 2016 over 2015. Though Caney Valley is an annual smart wager to make the postseason, the Bullpups’ district can be tricky. League-mates Fredonia (7-3) and Neodesha (5-4) played Caney Valley within 10 and nine points, respectively, a season ago in district play. Eureka comes off a winless season. Caney Valley has qualified for the postseason seven consecutive times. 9-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A Tri-Valley League Coach: Criss Davis Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A

Kyle McCaskey


Quality Healthcare Close to Home

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


One of the masterminds of Derby’s dominion over the 6A state title scene makes his way to Cheney, hoping to fly the Cardinals into the top tier of 3A. New Cheney coach Shelby Wehrman was intrinsically involved in the crowning achievements of Derby football. He was a linebacker and fullback for the Panthers when they won their first state championship in 1994. He later walked on at Kansas State. Coaching as an assistant under Brandon Clark in recent years, Wehrman was part of three state titles over the past four seasons. Venturing into his first head coaching role, Wehrman finds an enticing position in Cheney. The Cardinals are repeatedly competitive, never finishing worse than 4-5 any year in the past decade. However, postseason ventures are tough to come by for Cheney in a gauntlet district. The Cardinals reached the playoffs in 2015, but prior to that, not since 2006. Cheney was 5-4 this past season, but winless in the suffocating District 10, which is filled out by Garden Plain (10-2), Chaparral (9-2) and Conway Springs (7-2). There is no room to breathe in the district. Wehrman mentions mental toughness and a desire to compete as goals for the program. He should find that in ready supply from longtime Cheney starting quarterback Micah Grover. Grover has developed chemistry with standout senior receiver Trent Scheer, who garnered first-team Central Plains League praise. The defense was good, but not quite great, as opponents averaged 24.4 points. That figure was boosted by the formidable district trio, which combined to average 35.7 in three showdowns against the Cardinals defense. Linebacker Jacob Howell and lineman Shane Gleeson will be counted on to bring those averages down. The build-up into districts may provide Wehrman an opportunity to install his schemes and philosophies with a sliver of tranquility. Five of Cheney’s first six opponents ended 2016 with three wins or less. 5-4 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A Central Plains League Coach: Shelby Wehrman (1st year) Assistants: Lee Baldwin, Darren SanRomani, Michael Brewer, Mario Martinez Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense Micah Grover, QB, Sr.; Trent Scheer, WR, Sr.; Shane Gleeson, OL, Sr.; Jacob Howell, RB, Sr.; Landen Gegen, OL, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


A young Southeast Lancers squad took its lumps in 2016. The Lancers finished 0-9 and were held scoreless in seven of their nine games. Overall, Southeast was outscored 483-20. But with eight starters returning on both sides of the ball, Southeast coach Jerrad Hansen has to hope the experience gained from last season can translate into some success in 2017. Five of Southeast’s top returners started as freshmen last year. Hansen listed his team’s goals as competing every day, working hard and striving for a winning season. He also said that a strong dedication in practice and in the weight room will play a big role in Southeast’s chances of improving. The Lancers are looking to snap a 21-game losing streak that dates back to the 2014 season. And the good news is that the Lancers have plenty of players familiar with Coach Hansen’s schemes returning. The offense features three returning starters on the offensive line in junior Noah Newcomb (6-0, 250), and sophomores Gage Oplotnik (5-10, 205) and Dan Cheney (5-8, 235). Jakob Tavernaro (5-8, 150) returns at running back for his sophomore season. The Lancers also have several skill players returning at wide receiver and wing back in senior Austin Hunt (5-5, 130), junior Jaret Brumback (6-3, 180), and sophomores Reese Jacobs (5-8, 130) and Bryce Petersen (6-1, 175). The defense will feature many of the same names. Newcomb, Oplotnik and Cheney will lead the defensive line. Hunt, Brumback, Tavernaro, and Petersen return at linebacker, while Jacobs is the lone returning starter in the defensive backfield. This will be Southeast’s final season in the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League as it has made plans to join the Three Rivers League beginning in 2018. The Lancers were one of the founding members of the tradition-rich CNC. One of the reasons for the move was that Southeast anticipates a continued decline in enrollment. The Three Rivers League’s current 11-man teams for football include Jayhawk-Linn, Oswego, Yates Center, Uniontown and Arma-Northeast. Southeast and Northeast have a history as rivals when both teams were competing in the CNC. Southeast’s most recent victory in football was a 27-20 win over Northeast on Oct. 10, 2014.


Cherryvale posted its fourth consecutive winning season in 2016, but the Chargers will try to get back to the postseason after a 5-4 campaign last year. Injuries hurt the Chargers after posting a 3-0 start. The lack of depth contributed to a 2-4 record the rest of the way. However, Cherryvale is excited about the 2017 season as it returns seven starters on offense and six on defense. “We have some seasoned players returning and some returning from injury,” Hester said. “The upperclassmen are doing a good job leading our younger players. This team will have good speed and will be senior-heavy. (The seniors) must come together and lead our team. The summer conditioning will prepare us for a tough district and league race. The Tri-Valley League should be very balanced which should make it exciting week to week. We will have to have some kids step up a level at all positions.” Offensively, junior Cade Addis is back to direct the Chargers’ spread offense. Sophomore Gavin Hooper is expected to get some time at quarterback as well. Addis received all-league and all-area honors last year. Wide receiver Ryan Robertson earned all-league and all-area honorable mention despite playing only the first six games. Senior Seth Carinder could be an important newcomer at wide receiver for the Chargers after placing fifth in the state in the 100 meters this past spring. Bryson Bennett returns to anchor the offensive line after earning all-league and all-area accolades. Kortland Verge, Wyatt Raida, Zaine Lantz and Wyatt Gillman all figure to be in the mix at running back. The defense will be led by senior cornerback Trevor Raida and senior Bryson Bennnett. Raida earned an all-state honorable mention, as well as all-league and all-area honors last year. Bennett, who can play on the interior d-line, defensive end, and linebacker was an honorable mention all-area performer. Hester said he’s expecting another competitive league race with three teams from the Tri-Valley advancing to the state playoffs a year ago.

5-4 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A / Tri-Valley League Harry Hester (15th year, 74-62) Assistants: David Smedley, Aaron Rehmert, Chad Knight, Alex Mese, Drew Charles Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 0-9 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A Returning lettermen: 14 Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense Coach: Jerrad Hansen (4th year, 3-24) Bryson Bennett, OL/DL, 6-4, 210, Sr.; Ryan Assistants: Nick Cheney, David Dainty Robertson, WR/LB, 6-2, 153, Sr.; Tim Allison, OL/DL, Offense: Spread Defense: 4-4 5-8, 230, Sr.; Cade Addis, QB, 5-11, 176, Jr.; Trevor Returning lettermen: 14 Raida, WR/CB, 5-10, 137, Sr.; Garret Hughes, OL, Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense 5-11, 310, Sr.; Josh Cunningham, OL, 6-1, 200, Sr.; Austin Hunt, WB/OLB, 5-5, 130, Sr.; Jaret Brumback, Kortland Verge, DB, 5-7, 143, Sr.; Dalton HestandWB/OLB, 6-3, 180, Jr.; Noah Newcomb, OL/DL, 6-0, Vail, DB, 5-9, 134, Sr.; John Essig, DB, 5-11, 133, Sr. 250, Jr.; Gage Oplotnik, OL/DL, 5-10, 205, So.; Dan Mark Schremmer Cheney, OL/DL, 5-8, 235, Soph.; Reese Jacobs, WR/ DB, 5-8, 130, So.; Jakob Tavernaro, RB/LB, 5-8, 150, So.; Bryce Petersen, WB/LB, 6-1, 175, So. If the 2016 season had a familiar feel to it for Mark Schremmer Council Grove, well, there’s good reason. For the fourth straight year, the Braves went 6-3. The good news is that’s four straight winning seasons for the program, including the last two under third-year coach Nate Teichgraeber. The only downrunning back, pairs with quarterback Colton Terhune er? Despite those winning seasons, Council Grove hasn’t made the Class 3A playoffs in any of those to lead a vaunted single wing attack. Biehler embarks on his ninth season in charge of seasons, leaving the Braves hungry to take the next the Cardinals, having lost more than two games in a step and try to return to the postseason for the first season only once. He benefits from staff continuity, time since making it in 2011 with a losing record. where all five assistants have been with the program To end that drought, Council Grove will have to retool the bulk of its offensive production from a year at least six years. ago. Second-leading rusher Treyse King does return, Conway Springs’ schedule has a pronounced line of demarcation. None of the Cardinals’ first five but no other player who logged more than 21 carries challengers won more than three games a year ago. is back and leading rusher/receiver Braden Reddick That suddenly flips in week six when Mulvane (8-3) and quarterback Blake Buchman have graduated. A bit more consistency from King will be a big key visits, followed by the ruthless district pathway. for the Braves’ offense this year. Though he finished with 696 yards and five touchdowns, a bulk of it came in two games. King burned Northern Heights 7-2 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A for 220 yards and four scores and also had a 112Central Plains League yard game against Central Heights, but also had four Coach: Matt Biehler (9th year, 77-14) games where he had 53 yards or less rushing and he Assistants: Brent Martens, Gregg Hullinger, Ryan didn’t find the end zone in seven games. King, Darrin Seiwert, Brent Andra While the Braves backfield will be relatively green, Offense: Single Wing Defense: 4-4 the guys paving the way are the strength of the team. Returning lettermen: 16 Led by senior Jacob Ziegenhirt, a two-way first-team Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Trenton Jones, RB/SS, 5-8, 160, Sr.; Colton Terhune, All-Flint Hills League pick, the Braves return four of QB, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Riley Akiu, FB/LB, 5-10, 210, Sr.; five starters to the offensive line and three across the Skyler Kunz, OL, 5-11, 240, Sr.; Matthew Lange, OL/ defensive front. Ziegenhirt and senior linebacker Carter Finch tied DE, 6-0, 230, Sr.; Brenden Pauly, LB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; for third on the team in tackles a year ago with 49 Daniel Becker, OL/DE, 6-1, 220, Jr.; Zach Mercer, each and end Ty Salas added 30. The Braves were DB, 5-10, 155, Jr.; Chase Ast, DT, 6-0, 240, Jr. Kyle McCaskey staunch defensively early in the season, allowing more than eight points just twice in the first seven


Page 99

Greg Koenig, who enjoyed success at Beloit, takes over at Cimarron this season. The Bluejays have consistently reached the Class 3A state playoffs but have not broken through with a first round victory. In February, Koenig resigned as the Trojans’ head coach after he finished 93-31 with a state runner-up showing in 11 seasons. Cimarron has had consistent coaching change. Last year, Chuck Dirks coached the Bluejays to a 7-3 record, including a District 16 championship behind standout dual-threat quarterback Nick Ast and fullback/d-end Jaylen Pickle. Ast, a senior last year, signed with Kansas State. While Pickle, one of the state’s top recruits, returns for his senior season, verbally committing to K-State this spring. Cimarron lost 35-0 to Larned in the first round of the playoffs. In 2014, Randall Rath led Cimarron to a 6-4 season before leaving for Hays High. In ’15, Jason Stithem also paced the Bluejays to a 6-4 mark. Shortly before the start of the ’16 season, Stithem resigned and Dirks took over. In ’14, Cimarron finished with an average score of 29-19. In ’15, Cimarron had an average score of 38-30. Last season, the Bluejays’ average score was again 29-19. Koenig, long known for his high-scoring double-wing offense, listed the team goals as: get better everyday, play for something larger than ourselves, league and district champions and win games in November. “We will need to develop strength and speed in our off-season program, and we will need to develop a tight-knit brotherhood,” Koenig said. “Learning a new offense and defense will be important as well.” 7-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A Hi-Plains League Coach: Greg Koenig (1st year; 20th overall, 119-79) Assistants: Mike Schartz, Ashley Seabolt, Iric Mawhirter Offense: Double Wing Defense: Even Front Returning lettermen: 25 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Derek Bogner, OL/DL, 6-1, 210, Sr.; Jaylen Pickle, FB/DL, 6-5, 270, Sr.; Josh Neuschaffer, OL, 6-3, 315, Sr.; Josh Seabolt, RB/LB, 5-9, 205, Sr.; Oscar Macias, LB, 5-10, 170, Jr.; Kyler Henry, OL/LB, 6-1, 185, So.; Payton Marshall, RB/TE/DB, 5-11, 150, So.; Jesus Aguilar, K, 6-0, 155, Sr. Conor Nicholl

Cimarron State Bank Good Luck to the Bluejays!



It is easier to list the seasons Conway Springs missed the playoffs in the past 20 years than the times they qualified. 1999. 2006. 2016. That is all. The Cardinals have more state titles (seven) in the past two decades than missed trips to the postseason. That makes this past season a rarity, and a reminder of how unforgiving 3A’s District 10 can be. Conway Springs, Chaparral and Garden Plain each wrapped district play at 2-1, but the Cardinals missed the playoffs by points. Conway Springs controlled its own destiny entering week nine, but a 33-8 loss to Chaparral placed the Cardinals outside the playoff window looking in. The qualification process does not change. Conway Springs starts districts on the road at Garden Plain before home dates with Cheney and Chaparral. Those four programs were 25-4 against non-district competition in 2016. Needless to say, two elite programs will likely be left out in the November cold once more. “Conway Springs returns a ton of experience for 2017. Several players will be starting for three years in a row,” said Conway Springs coach Matt Biehler. “We will need to develop depth early in the season to compete in one of the toughest districts in the state.” The Cardinals’ defense inserts two studs into the lineup. Matthew Lange is a powerful 230-pound defensive end. Trenton Jones is a proven security blanket at strong safety. Jones, who doubles as a

games and just 159 points total for the season. Both Mission Valley and Rossville, however, dropped 40-plus points on the Braves in the final two weeks, keeping them out of the postseason once again. The only other loss came to league champion Lyndon after a 4-0 start where Council Grove blew out West Franklin and Northern Heights before nipping Chase County and Osage City by a combined four points. 6-3 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Flint Hills League Coach: Nate Teichgraeber (3rd year, 12-6) Assistants: Zach Dreher, Steve Casey, Derron Reddick Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-2-5 split cover Returning lettermen: 15 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Jacob Ziegenhirt, OL/DT; Treyse King, RB/S; Wyatt Buchman, OL; Peyton Tischhauser, OL/DT; Ty Salas, OL/DE; Dedric Frese, RB/LB; Carter Finch, LB. Brent Maycock

15 N Union St

Council Grove


Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Peterson & Kasper, LLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law 221 N. Douglas Ellsworth, KS 67439

785.472.3155 DOUGLASS


Perhaps no one knows the importance of peaking in October as well as Douglass coach Kelley Sayahnejad. Through three previous seasons at Wichita North and now two at Douglass, his career coaching record may leave much to be desired. Sayahnejad, however, has a knack for coaxing maximum effort from his squads in district play. He once led perennially struggling North to the postseason. He managed the same at Douglass in 2016, where despite a 1-5 record entering districts, the Bulldogs won two of their next three to extend their season into November. This season becomes an important gauge for Douglass. The program comes off a playoff berth with a capable cadre of returning players. “I really like the progress Devon Anderson, Kolby Caster and Zachary Dressler have made,” Sayahnejad said. “All three players have gotten bigger and stronger from the year before. All three players had big years in 2016, so we will be looking for them to take the next step in their development.” Dressler shined as the lead back, while Anderson and Caster provided steady targets out wide. The majority of the line is intact, with Mylan Baker, Jacob Woody and Landon Ramey staking claim to starting roles. Having a seasoned mix of linemen and skill players will ease the transition to a new quarterback. “Depth is still a challenge,” Sayahnejad said. “We have to replace (honorable mention) all-state QB Hunter Chadic. He had a very productive year for us, so replacing him will be a key to our season.” To truly make strides in the Central Plains League, Douglass must do a better job of corralling opposing offenses. The Bulldogs ranked 59th out of the 64 teams in the class in points allowed per game. Caleb Eck, Kaden Dunham and Caster are capable of locking down the secondary, but development in the front seven must be done with urgency.

Pleasant Ridge coach Pat McCollim had no trouble pin-pointing his team’s biggest downfall in 2016. Mental mistakes. Despite finishing near the top of the Northeast Kansas League in rushing offense and defense, the Rams struggled to a 3-7 record, which included a six-game losing streak after a win in the opener. Pleasant Ridge lost three games in which it outgained its opponent by at least 100 yards with turnovers and penalties being a major bugaboo for the Rams all season. Pleasant Ridge’s overall youth played a factor into the mental miscues and McCollim hopes an offseason of growth and focus on details can get the Rams back on track. Even with the setbacks, the Rams qualified for the 3A playoffs thanks to a 46-20 win over Immaculata-Maranatha in the season and district finale. Injuries forced the Rams to move around some personnel in the backfield and in doing so they found a quarterback to settle in and replace departed fouryear starter Nick Holmes. Breydon Baragary began the year at receiver, but after an injury to starter Eli Schwinn he moved to quarterback for the last five weeks of the season and wound up rushing for 674 yards and seven touchdowns and threw for 250 yards and two scores. An offseason spent working at the position should lead to an even bigger senior season for Baragary and a healthy year from senior fullback Konner Walker also will help. Walker played in only four games and ran for 330 yards and five scores and will team with junior back Hunter Wagner (365 yards) to give the Rams’ flexbone a solid running game. Wagner also led the defense with 53 tackles as a sophomore and the secondary will be a strength with three of four starters back, including junior Colton Comer, who had a team-high four interceptions.

3-7 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A Central Plains League Coach: Kelley Sayahnejad (3rd year, 5-14; 6th overall, 7-40) Assistants: Phil Keys, Casey Dressler, Don Patterson, Darby Jones Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense Devon Anderson, WR/DB, 6-1, 215, Sr.; Kaden Dunham, WR/DB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Mylan Baker, OG, 5-10, 205, Sr.; Joey Nuzum, DE, 5-9, 180, Sr.; Zachary Dressler, RB/LB, 5-11, 185, Jr.; Kolby Caster, WR/DB, 5-9, 165, Jr.; Kyle Hurd, DE, 6-1, 210, Jr.; Jacob Woody, OT, 6-3, 180, Jr.; Landon Ramey, C, 6-0, 270, Jr.; Kaleb Hurd, TE, 6-2, 180, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

3-7 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A Northeast Kansas League Coach: Pat McCollim (6th year, 25-25) Assistants: Steve Watkins, Jim Clay, Dave Parrish Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 13 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Breydon Baragary, QB/DB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Konner Walker, RB/LB, 5-10, 190, Sr.; Seth Beying, OL/LB, 5-8, 170, Sr.; Zac Carnoali, OL/DE, 6-2, 200, Sr.; Hunter Wagner, RB/LB, 6-0, 220, Jr.; Clayton Richter, TE/DE, 6-3, 220, Jr.; Eli Schwinn, WR/DB, 6-1, 190, Jr.; Carson Bertrand, OL/DL, 6-2, 260, Jr.; Colton Comer, WR/DB, 6-2, 170, Jr.; Caulin Thompson, RB/ DB, 5-6, 125, So. Brent Maycock

Injuries took a heavy toll on Erie last year, but the experience gained by underclassmen should pay dividends in 2017. “We fought illness/injury problems most of the season, but our kids showed great courage and a lot of grit. Our two young quarterbacks learned a lot, and I figured out what we were better at offensively,” coach Sterling “Doc” Hudson said. “We have a chance to be decent if we mature.” The Red Devils return eight starters on offense, including five offensive linemen. Seniors Kaleb Beachner, Tallon Edwards, Jacob Stark, junior Chase Sexton and sophomore Seth Mahurin will anchor the line, while sophomores Jaden Gard and Matt Vail have experience at quarterback. Erie also brings back junior end Beau Kincaid. Defensively, the line will be led by Beachner, Edwards, Sexton, junior John Bettencourt and junior end Jordan Myers. Returning linebackers include Kincaid, Mahurin, and juniors Keaton Leiffring and Trent Taylor. Erie’s secondary will be led by senior Zach Wimp and sophomore Michael Winslow. Hudson’s team also returns senior linemen Jacob Linnenbur, Jameson Paulie and Cody Taylor, junior lineman Gage Jones, junior kicker/defensive lineman colton allen, sophomore receivers Jacob McReynold and Tyler Wimp, and sophomore running back Lane Taylor. “Hopefully with two years in the system we will see some progress,” Hudson said. “We seem to like each

other and still compete to make each other better. Leadership is going to have to be passed around, and I feel like we have capable people to do that.” Erie opens the season Sept. 1 against Cherryvale, then hosts Leon-Bluestem in week two. The Red Devils travel to Fredonia in week three then host Neodesha for Homecoming on Sept. 22. Those games are followed by trips to Caney Valley and Eureka. Erie’s district schedule begins with home games against Humboldt and Northeast-Arma, then concludes with a Thursday, Oct. 26 trip to Jayhawk-Linn.


2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Tri-Valley League Coach: Sterling “Doc” Hudson (3rd year, 5-14) Assistants: Sonny Mahurin, Ed Ramsey Offense: Veer Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 8 Offense, 6 Defense Jaden Gard, QB, 6-3, 180, So.; Matt Vail, QB/R, 6-9, 160, So.; Beau Kincaid, E/LB, 6-0, 170, Jr.;Tallon Edwards, OL/DL, 6-0, 205, Sr.; Kaleb Beachner, OL/ DL, 6-2, 230, Sr.; Chase Sexton, OL/DL, 6-1, 205, Jr.; Seth Mahurin, OL/LB, 5-9, 200, So.; Jacob Stark, OL, 6-1, 260, Sr.; Jordan Myers, DE, 6-3, 180, Jr.; John Bettencourt, DL, 5-8, 165, Jr.; Keaton Leiffring, LB, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Trent Taylor, LB, 5-9, 190, Jr.; Zach Wimp, DB, 5-9, 170, Sr.; Michael Winslow, DB, 5-8, 150, So. Melanie McGee

Page 100 512 Kunkle Dr.

Ellsworth 785-472-3134

Dine-in or Carryout


Fielding a team where two-thirds of the roster were freshmen or sophomores is tough in any league. In the ultra-tough Big Seven League, well, it’s simply overwhelming. So it wasn’t a huge shock when Atchison County posted a winless record in 2016. Despite having an experienced backfield, the Tigers were simply no match for the rigors of their early schedule and by the time they got to a manageable district, they were so beat up they couldn’t take advantage. For the season, Atchison County was outscored 516-104 with nearly half of the Tigers’ point total coming in a 60-44 shootout loss to ImmaculataMaranatha. Atchison County didn’t score more than 14 points in any other game, were shut out three times and allowed at least 52 points in all but one game, a 24-6 loss to Riverside. After spending three years trying to give the program some footing, Nick Fuemmeler stepped aside as coach. Corey Thomas takes over the program now and tries his hand at getting the Tigers back to being a playoff contender. Thomas won’t have the luxury of a proven go-to performer on offense now that Hunter Ostertag and Lane Bowen have graduated. Both were fouryear starters for the Tigers with Ostertag earning second-team all-league honors on offense and first-team honors on defense in the secondary. The lone returning starter in the backfield is sophomore Tucker Smith. Atchison County started all underclassmen on the line a year ago, so that unit should form the strength of the team this year. Senior Luke Miller is a threeyear starter and the unit has good size, averaging 245 pounds per man. Arguably, no team in the state had a tougher set of first two opponents than Atchison County did a year ago when the Tigers opened with 3A semifinalist and Big Seven champion Nemaha Central and followed with a clash against 2-1A state champion and Twin Valley League champion Troy. Though both suffered key graduation losses, they’ll be challenging tests for the new regime right away. 0-9 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A Big Seven League Coach: Corey Thomas (1st year, 0-0) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 4 Offense, 3 Defense Luke Miller, OT/DE, 6-3, 235, Sr.; Ryan Hanshaw, OT/DE, 5-10, 240, Sr.; Lane Scoggins, OG/DT, 5-10, 265, Jr.; Tucker Smith, RB/SS, 5-11, 195, So. Brent Maycock


Claflin native Josh Homolka, a former University of Kansas linebacker and Northern Illinois safeties coach, was announced as Ellsworth’s new head coach at a Feb. 13 board meeting. Homolka’s wife Jessica is the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce vice president. Homolka served one season as NIU’s safeties coach after he was Ottawa University’s defensive coordinator the previous seven years. In 2015, Ottawa ranked seventh in NAIA in total defense and 15th in scoring defense. Before Ottawa, Homolka spent two seasons at Dakota State, the first as the defensive backs/defensive line coach and the second as defensive coordinator. Homolka was assistant secondary coach at Pittsburg State University from 2004-05 after he completed his KU career. The Bearcats graduated speedy all-purpose threat Kaden Davis, who had 837 receiving yards and 20 total TDs, and averaged 43.8 yards per punt en route to Class 3A all-state punter honors. Luke Oberle (1,050 rush) graduated, too. Ellsworth enjoyed an explosive 2016 with an offense that tallied 38.2 points per contest and a defense that permitted 26.9 points a game in a 5-4 season. In ’15, Ellsworth finished 5-4 with 20.7 points per contest and 29.2 allowed. Senior quarterback Zac Schneider returns after he completed 60 of 126 passes for 1,316 yards with a 16/8 TD/INT ratio. He rushed 87 times for 553 yards and 10 scores. The Bearcats committed 19 turnovers and finished minus-5 in turnover margin. The Bearcats opened with road defeats versus Russell (28-20) and Beloit (58-52) before four straight victories. The first two, at home, came against Republic County (44-28) and La Crosse (42-22), teams that captured a Class 2-1A playoff game. In districts, Ellsworth lost 39-20 versus Hoisington in Week 7 before a 41-6 road win against Lyons. Ellsworth came up short of the playoffs after a surprising 42-21 home Week 9 loss to Larned, which opened the season 0-6 but eventually advanced to the second round of the postseason. The Bearcats lost in first round in ’07, ’10, ’11, ’12, and ’14 and are 3-9 all-time in the playoffs. Homolka replaces Brent Schneider, the coach the previous four years. 5-4 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A North Central Activities Association Coach: Josh Homolka (1st year) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A

Conor Nicholl


Things are going to have a whole new look at Mission Valley in 2017. After returning one of its most experienced teams a year ago, the Vikings saw graduation hit extremely hard. Though only eight seniors moved on, five earned All-Flint Hills League honors of some kind a year ago and played a large role in two straight winning seasons and Class 3A playoff berths. The biggest of those losses is at quarterback where Clay Phillips enjoyed arguably the best offensive season in school history. Phillips set a school record with 2,137 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns and also threw for 781 yards and five scores on his way to unanimous all-league honors. With Blake Roberts adding nearly another 1,000 yards on the ground from his tailback slot, Mission Valley’s offensive mission under Cody Witte was simple. Run, run, run. Witte left after three years and taking over the program is veteran coach Jeff Savage. In a handful of stops around the state, mostly at the eight-man level, Savage employed a spread offense with a dynamic passing attack, including state-record numbers when his son quarterbacked Central-Burden in the early 2000s. Savage’s most recent job was at Goodland where he spent two years, going 3-6 each year. He’ll have the luxury of returning Roberts, all-league defensive lineman Robert Phillips and a big senior class numbering 12 who also played key roles in the past

two seasons’ success. Mission Valley won five of its first six games a year ago and was one win away from capturing the league title, a lightning-delayed 41-32 loss to Lyndon the only blemish on the Vikings’ league slate. After going toe-to-toe with eventual state champion Rossville for more than a half in a 49-27 loss, the Vikings eked into the playoffs with a 1-2 district mark on the points tiebreaker and then fell 50-0 to Silver Lake in the first round to cap a 6-4 season. 6-4 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Flint Hills League Coach: Jeff Savage (1st year) Assistants: Rick Horton, Josh Parker, Matt Bisnett, Jordan Hysten, John Bergin Offense: Split Backs Defense: Multiple Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 8 Defense Blake Roberts, RB, 5-8, 185, Sr.; Robert Phillips, DT/OG, 6-2, 320, Sr.; Mateo Lisk, DE, 5-5, 155, Sr.; Trenton Marcotte, WR/CB, 5-10, 150, Sr.; Logan Brown, OLB/RB, 5-6, 155, Sr.; Cohle Phillips, OLB, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Chase Meyer, LB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Kyle Atwood, OL/DL, 5-11, 210, Sr. Brent Maycock

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


As Marc Svaty prepares for his second year at Fredonia, he is excited about the Yellowjackets’ potential despite graduating most of their skill position players from last year’s 7-3 team. “We had a really good season last year,” he said. “We graduate a lot of talent from that team. Our skilled kids have big shoes to fill.” Svaty said Fredonia does bring back four of five offensive linemen “from a really good group last year. They will be the strength of our team and we will rely on them for success early on.” The offensive line includes seniors Austin Howard and Brandon Lawrence along with juniors Jeremiah Cunningham and Bryar Hebb. Svaty added that familiarity between the coaches and players will be a big plus. “We know our kids much better now and have developed a plan that fits our talents for the 2017 season,” he commented. “This time last year we did not know what kids were going to play football until the season began. That made it very difficult to prepare for our talent and put our kids in the best situations possible. This was one of the biggest reasons that we struggled defensively early on last season.” Fredonia will also return senior quarterback/defensive back Devlin Hendrix, seniors Steven Conrady and Mikey Hendry at running back and linebacker, plus senior receiver/defensive back Joe Reyes and junior running back/linebacker Lorenzo Celani. “Our kids have performed really well in the weight room this off season. We have made tremendous strides athletically as a team,” Svaty said. The Yellowjacket offense will have to find a way to replace Isaac McPherson, a 2,000 yard rusher who was a Get Busy Livin’ Player of the Year finalist at the end of last season. “We will find ways to get the ball in multiple athletes’ hands throughout games and try to be diverse, both running and throwing the football,” Svaty noted. “We will also be more diverse this next year defensively and show multiple fronts and blitzes. We are very much looking forward to the 2017 season.” Fredonia opens the season by hosting Labette County, Douglass and Erie in weeks 1-3. The Yellowjackets travel to Cherryvale on Sept. 22 and Leon-Bluestem on Sept. 29 before hosting Humboldt in the final tuneup for district games. The district schedule begins with a trip to nearby Neodesha on Oct. 13, and Fredonia will play at Eureka in week 8, then host Caney Valley for the regular season finale on Oct. 26.

An experienced Galena Bulldogs squad has its sights set on winning a CNC championship and making a run at the Class 3A title. While the goals are daunting, last year’s 8-3 Bulldogs are listed as returning 10 starters on each side of the ball and have at least 13 players with some starting experience. Galena advanced to the second round of the 3A playoffs last year with a team made up of mostly sophomores and juniors. “Our kids were young last year,” Galena coach Beau Sarwinski said. “We got lots of experience from last season. In a tough CNC, they played in a lot of big games. Our sophomores had to become juniors very early, and our juniors had to become seniors very early. I felt like they really progressed throughout the season. “Hopefully, we can learn from that experience and make a long run in the playoffs and get to a state championship.” The Bulldogs graduated only one starter from each side of the ball, but they lost a good one in P.J. Sarwinski, who was a first-team All-CNC defensive back and second-team All-CNC quarterback. He was also named a Class 3A All-State defensive back by JC Shelton (5-9, 165, Jr.), who started as a running back and d-back last year, will take over at QB. “I think JC is going to be just fine,” Sarwinski said. “He’s a great athlete, and he will have a good supporting cast around him.” Trevor Little (6-3, 240, Sr.) leads the way for the Bulldogs on the offensive and defensive lines after earning Class 3A All-State honors on offense last year. He was also a first-team All-CNC pick on both sides of the ball. He will be joined on the offensive line by Connor Adams (6-0, 215, Sr.), Drake Adams (6-0, 215, Sr.), Dylan Watkins (5-10, 175, Sr.), and Austin Harshman (5-11, 230, Sr.). Senior running back Michael Helton (5-8, 170) was a unanimous first-team All-CNC performer as a junior. Other all-league players on offense were wide receiver Garrett Hall (6-3, 185, Sr.), Harshman, and JC Shelton. Other CNC standouts on defense were linebacker Joseph Helton (5-9, 180, Jr.), and defensive linemen Ethan Henson (5-10, 180, Sr.) and Connor Adams.

8-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League Coach: Beau Sarwinski (11th year, 78-31) Assistants: Derik Hunt, Ryan Byrd, Jacoby Martin, JC 7-3 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A / Tri Valley League Dawes, Dennis Outt Coach: Marc Svaty (2nd year, 7-3; 11th year overall, Offense: Wing-T Defense: 4-4 44-50 overall) Assistants: Mark Millar, Carl Dinkle, Returning lettermen: 13 John Boss Offense: Spread Defense: 50 Returning starters: 10 Offense, 10 Defense Returning lettermen: 18 JC Shelton, DB, 5-9, 165, Jr.; Blake Booth, WR, 6-2, Returning starters: 4 Offense, 3 Defense 175, Jr.; Garrett Hall, WR/DB, 6-3, 185, Sr.; Ethan Devlin Hendrix, QB/DB, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Steven Henson, WR/DE, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Michael Helton, RB/ Conrady, RB/LB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Lorenzo Celani, RB/ DB, 5-8, 170, Sr.; Joseph Helton, RB/LB, 5-9, 180, LB, 5-11, 195, Jr.; Mikey Hendry, RB/LB, 6-1, 160, Jr.; Kooper Lawson, RB/LB, 5-9, 185, Jr.; Connor Sr.; Joe Reyes, WR/DB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Bryar Hebb, Adams, OL/DL, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Drake Adams, OL/DL, OL/DL, 5-11, 315, Jr.; Brandon Lawrence, OL/DL, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Dylan Watkins, OL/LB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; 5-10, 225, Sr.; Jeremiah Cunningham, OL/DL, 5-10, Austin Harshman, OL, 5-11, 230, Sr.; Trevor Little, 215 Jr.; Austin Howard, OL/LB, 5-8, 210, Sr. OL/DL, 6-3, 240, Sr.; Weston Ward, DL, 6-4, 245, Jr. Melanie McGee Mark Schremmer

Coomes/from page 97__ Jack Pakkebier. The trio combined for 15 TFLs and two safeties last year. Last year, Phillipsburg faced Riley County, Hesston, Norton, Smith Center, Ellis and Plainville, a grouping that included five playoff teams, two state runner-ups and several of the state’s top dual-threat quarterbacks. Collectively, the Panther defense held the teams to 3.6 yards a carry, 48 percent completion rate and just 4.9 yards per play. Coomes and senior John Gower are back at linebacker. Gower paced the squad with 139 tackles. “He definitely has the most passion for the game out of anybody,” Coomes said. “And he just has a nose for the ball, he knows where it’s going all the time.” Covington said Gower probably watches as much film as the coaches and calls the senior the “heart and soul of our defense.” “The amount of energy that he brings to

Page 101


the game is phenomenal,” Covington said. “He just studies the game.” Senior Trey Thompson returns at WR/DB, while the offensive line, a question mark entering last season, played very well. Junior Jaret Shelton earned first team all-league at center. Covington called VanKooten, a returning tackle, the team’s best offensive lineman. Junior Kasen Keeten and senior Colby Wells return at guard. In the backfield, junior quarterback Trey Sides returns a three-year starter, along with fullback Gower, and junior running back Treylan Gross. All three players had between 510 and 645 yards. Kirk Coomes leads the returners with 167 carries. And the list of top returners is rounded out by one of the top kickers in the state. Junior to be Jonathan Hunnacutt converted on 50 of 59 extra point attemps and made 4 of 5 field goal tries. He accounted for 14 total points in a regular season win over Larned.

Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery

785-827-8500 2935 S. 9th St.


Carryout or Delivery


7793 E. K-4 Hwy • Gypsum, KS 67448 (785) 536-4288

1200 S. Santa Fe


Grain & Material Handling Specialists Serving the Ag Industry Since 1949


Step one for Garden Plain – and maybe step two, three and on and on – is to replace the skill sets of quarterback Nate Pauly and running back Marty Landwehr. Together, the duo pummeled through defenses to the tune of 2,500 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns. The Owls notched at least 20 points in every regular season game. This is Garden Plain, however. Names come and go, leaving their imprinted legacy on the program, but the next man up is never too far away. Garden Plain has won 80 percent of its games in the past decade, reaching double-digit win totals in half of those years. Garden Plain’s name has been stamped on the state bracket in 32 seasons, second in Kansas only to Silver Lake’s 34. The defense will be predictably mean behind sturdy senior linebacker Nick Dooley. Dooley, however, will be asked to carry a heavier load in the offense amid the departures. Last year he toted the rock 77 times for 393 yards and four TDs as a complementary piece. Drew Wilson is dangerous in the aerial attack, securing 224 yards and two scores as a junior. Lineman Austin Youngers is a jackhammer on both sides of the ball. Though Garden Plain seems a sure bet to make the playoffs every year, 3A District 10 remains one of the most cruel in the state. No team should feel assured a berth. Chaparral, Garden Plain and Conway Springs each finished 2-1 in the quadrant, with the first two securing the district playoff bids. Though Cheney was winless in districts, the Cardinals still produced a winning record on the year. The Owls get an early test in preparation, opening 2017 against 3A state runner-up Hesston. Garden Plain eliminated Wichita Independent (127) and Halstead (34-20) in the 3A postseason before dropping a quarterfinal game to Hoisington (49-8). Hoisington was the only team to score more than 27 points on the Owls all season.


Southeast of Saline has reached four straight postseasons, five of the last six and seven times since ’08. However, the Trojans have lost in the first round each time. A state champion in ’05, SES has not gone past the first round since ’06. Last season marked the fourth straight 7-3 record. Last season, SES scored 37.4 points a contest and permitted 19.8. In ’15, it was 31.5 points and 16.8 a game. The Trojans graduated its standout tandem of quarterback Bryce Banks (2,081 yards, 19/8 TD/INT ratio) and wide receiver Ben Murray (1,339 all-purpose, 21 total scores). Senior Hunter White earned all-state honorable mention with 95 carries for a team-high 566 yards and eight scores, along with 21 catches for 342 yards and a TD. Defensively, he recorded 60 tackles, 12 for loss and forced three fumbles. Junior lineman Dylan Marks was all-league and honorable mention all-state after he recorded 87 tackles, 16 TFLs, both team-highs. “We must work to get better all season,” coach Mitch Gebhardt said. “We have to have a great summer. We have to replace some key players; it will take a lot of work from the entire group to compete. We must play as a team.” 7-3 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A North Central Activities Association Coach: Mitch Gebhardt (8th year, 43-25) Assistants: Chance Ptacek, Trenton Douglas, Kent Jacobson, Todd Baird Offense: Spread Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Hunter White, RB/LB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Grant Tillberg, WR, 6-0, 150, Sr.; Damon Douglas, WR/DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Dylan Marks, OL/DL, 6-0, 215, Jr.; Gavin Adams, OL/DL, 6-1, 220, Jr.; Rudy Rodriquez, LB, 5-9, 175, Jr. Conor Nicholl

10-2 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A Central Plains League Coach: Ken Dusenbury (3rd year, 19-4) Assistants: William Bergkamp, Greg Gegen, Kody Kasselman, AC Poynter, Eric Rockers Offense: Shotgun Wing T Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Joel Benson, CPA Returning starters: 6 Offense, 5 Defense Mary Benson, CPA Drew Wilson, SE/DB, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Jared Becker, WB/DB, 5-10, 150, Sr.; Nick Dooley, RB/LB, 6-0, Specializing in small businesses 185, Sr.; Jonny Becker, OL/DL, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Austin Youngers, OL/DL, 6-0, 240, Sr.; Brady Klein, OL, 5-10, 185, Jr. 1929 S. Ohio Office: (785)827-3157 Kyle McCaskey Salina, KS 67401 Fax: (785)827-3159

Benson Accounting


Year one of the Jason Grider coaching era in Halstead, the Dragons shocked the 3A scene with a program rise turned into a semifinal run. Year two, the Dragons confirmed they were more than one-hit wonders, storming to the semis again. Year three, Halstead stated its case one more time for any lingering doubters. “The Dragons are averaging 10 wins a season, going 31-6 the past three seasons with three district titles, a regional runner-up and two sub-state runner-ups playing in the always-tough Central Kansas League,” Grider said. “The Dragons should be very solid again this season.” Expectations have risen in Halstead. Once a steady four, five and six win program, the Dragons turned up the temperature, breathing a blistering fire that demands respect from their counterparts. Halstead comes off a 9-2 season, thwarted in the championship chase by a 34-20 loss to Garden Plain. Paired with a loss to 4A-Division II state champion Pratt, Halstead’s two defeats came to opponents with a combined 22-3 mark. A stout defense can lean on a secondary that returns safety Dalton Kraus and corners Noah Mendez and Kameron Freeman. Halstead kept six of its opponents in single digits a year ago. Halstead’s offense, bruising and brilliant, needs to identify new playmakers. Kraus is expected to shift from tight end to quarterback this season, which

robs Peter to pay Paul – Kraus was the team’s leading receiver. Tailback Aric Propst is in line for a much heavier workload after receiving limited exposure as a freshman. Filling out the backfield is a priority, but no one shakes loose without seams to wiggle through. Halstead’s offense will benefit from seasoned leaders in the trenches. “The offensive line looks to be a strong point for the Dragons this season with senior guard Drew Blaylock and center Vinton Robuck, as well as junior tackle David Schulte, all returning to the starting lineup,” Grider said. Halstead is pursuing its fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs. 9-2 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A Central Kansas League Coach: Jason Grider (4th year, 31-6) Assistants: Chris Wilson, Ryan Voran, Jesse Mueller Offense: Veer Option Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Dalton Kraus, QB/S, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Noah Mendez, TE/ CB, 5-10, 155, Sr.; Kameron Freeman, CB, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Drew Blaylock, OL/DL, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Vinton Robuck, OL, 6-0, 215, Sr.; David Schulte, OL/DE, 6-0, 185, Jr.; Kaden Kraus, RB/LB, 5-9, 170, So. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 102 1308 Vine



720 E Lincoln Blvd



Jason Cauley took another step forward in his first season as Monarch head coach. Known for his no-huddle spread offense, Cauley went 2-7 last fall after TMP finished 0-9 and 1-8 the last two seasons. Cauley, 10-17 overall in his career as head coach, listed “winning record and make the playoffs” as the team’s goals and “sound defense and run blocking” as the keys. The Monarchs opened 0-5 in 2016 including a 42-32 loss to Ellis in Week 2 and 14-0 to Cimarron in Week 5. Ellis eventually went 4-5, while Cimarron finished 7-3. In Week 6, TMP held on to beat Oakley, 21-20, on the road. The Monarchs also defeated Russell, 33-14, on the road in Week 8. TMP’s last five victories have all come on the road. The Monarchs have not won a home game since a 36-26 win versus Russell in Week 7 of the 2012 season. TMP has not captured more than two wins in a season since a 5-4 year in 2011. The Monarchs have not reached the playoffs since 2002. Seven starters return on both sides, including juniors Gavin Schumacher and Creighton Renz, who earned honorable mention all-league honors at running back and wide receiver, respectively. Last year, the Monarchs scored 166 points but permitted 370. In 2015, TMP scored 113 points but allowed 365. Assistants-wise, this year, the Monarchs added alum T.J. Gottschalk, who played at Wyoming. He tallied 1,596 rushing yards in 1999, still the most in Monarch history, and rushed for 891 in ’98. Gottschalk ranks second on the all-time list with 2,694 career rushing yards. Parker Cox is on staff two years removed after he won a state powerlifting title at TMP. Traditionally, TMP has picked up several assistants who were former FHSU players. Isaiah Maxi and Garrison Hendricks each played at FHSU. Maxi started 31 games in his Tiger career and caught 62 passes.

1-8 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A Central Kansas League Coach: Michael Hill (2nd year, 1-8) Assistants: Drew Thalmann, Thomas Cooperider, Cody Dick, Mark Mock, Eric Long, Nick Schnider, Kendall Snyder Offense: Single Wing Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 7 Defense Kodi Dale, OL, 5-11, 183, Sr.; Hunt Davis, TE/LB, 6-0, 184, Sr.; Dalton Dick, OL, 6-3, 209, Sr.; Stephan Montaldo, FB/LB, 5-10, 210, Sr.; Haxton Smith, WR/ DB, 5-10, 131, Sr.; Thane Unruh, RB/DB, 5-10, 172, Sr.; Wyatt Boese, DL, 6-1, 200, Sr.; Tristan Nisly, DL, 5-7, 185, Sr.; Corby Nisly, OL/DL, 6-3, 265, Jr.; Ryan Williams, OL, 6-1, 220, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Mid-Continent League Coach: Jason Cauley (2nd year, 2-7) Assistants: T.J. Gottschalk, Isaiah Maxi, Garrison Hendricks, Parker Cox, David Veikune Offense: Spread No Huddle Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Kaleb Hagans, OG/MLB, 5-11, 220, Jr.; Alex Patel, OL/DL, 6-2, 315, Sr.; Jason Kepka, OL/DL, 6-1, 250, Sr.; Creighton Renz, WR/DE 6-3, 192, Sr.; Tate Garcia, WR/DB, 5-6, 150, Sr.; Gavin Schumacher, RB/LB, 5-7, 168, Sr.; Karl Rack, WR/DB, 5-6, 150, Sr.; Luke Ruder, QB/WR/DB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Conor Nicholl

Hillsboro, in a revival, showed some spunk after a winless 2015. The Trojans picked off the occasional win in a competitive 3-6 season, the first under new coach Devin Metzinger. “We have a great group of kids who are putting a lot of time in over the summer to get better. We have a lot of kids coming back this year with experience and another year under their belt ready to see that hard work pay off with success on the field,” Metzinger said. “We feel really good about those players in skill positions maturing, getting faster and stronger.” The offense can become a vertical threat due in part to the return of two elder playmakers. Jacob Funk, a senior with a 6-foot-5-inch, 190-pound frame, was a second-team Central Kansas League pick at wide receiver. Fellow wideout Elliot Ollenburger is a diminutive 5-foot-8-inch, 130-pounder, but he sneaks through gaps, securing 270 yards receiving and 5.5 yards per carry - but it may be late in the season before the Trojans see the return of Ollenburger who broke his leg this offseason. Quarterback Kaden Kleiner will continue to orchestrate the offense. “Up front, with having three starters return to anchor our offensive line, we feel very confident in them,” Metzinger said. “Defensively, we have some tough kids that have a nose for the ball. It’s just a matter of getting them coached up and ready for a very tough week in and week out schedule in the

CKL.” Indeed, Hillsboro’s slate is a minefield. Collectively, the Trojans’ opponents were 57-38 a season ago, with six foes reaching at least seven wins. The district leaves no margin for error. The Trojans host 3A state runner-up Hesston (10-4) in week seven, and are home again for Marion (7-2) the next week. The Trojans visit Southeast of Saline (7-3) in the regular season finale. There are likely to be some bumps for Hillsboro along the way, but the Trojans proved to be a frisky squad that can catch a team by surprise – they capped their 2016 season with a 30-28 upset of Southeast of Saline. Hillsboro has qualified for state on 20 occasions, but the most recent came in 2012, the last of seven straight berths.




Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery Haven almost turned the corner in 2016. Secondyear coach Mike Hill is keenly aware that the ledger only reflects wins and losses, not almosts. Haven wrapped up at 1-8. “We need to finish games this year. Last year our record did not reflect our competitiveness,” Hill said. “In three of our games, we scored first. In four more of our games, we were either ahead at halftime or within one touchdown or less.” There were not expectations for Hill to turn Haven into a title contender in a few short months. Haven has won only 15 games in the past decade, and that includes a standout 5-5 season in 2012 that matches the Wildcats’ only playoff berth in that span. This is year two back at the alma mater for Hill. He embarks on another run with 15 returning starters to pencil in. This will be a better indicator of strides in the program, a measure of the heart and want-to of the Wildcats. “The goals for the Haven Wildcats for the 2017 season are very simple. We are going to continue to build our program by focusing on us,” Hill said. “We will become better teammates and we will keep moving forward with the experience we gained last year. Last year, we paid our dues, so to speak.” The offense was hit-and-miss, but showed potential averaging 350 yards per game. That line needs only refinement, not rebuilding, with four starters back in the mix. Spinner back Thane Unruh will be depended upon to not only sustain drives, but shimmy loose as a home-run threat. “Wyatt Boese and Corby Nisly will anchor an experienced defense, as well,” Hill said. “You always want to be strong up the middle. Bringing back linebacker Hunt Davis provides experience from day one.” Haven carries a 12-game home losing streak dating back to 2014 – there are four opportunities to change that this fall. The Wildcats also have lost 12 consecutive district games.

903 East D St.



Last season, Hesston football became a walking advertisement for the ‘don’t ever give up’ mantra. From a frustrating 1-3 start to an overtime period away from the 3A state title, the Swathers’ eye-opening surge through the second half of the season was book-worthy. Hesston fell to three-time champion Rossville, 48-42 in overtime. The cast is changing. Gone are sensational quarterback Zach Esau and receiver Zach Vogt. So, too, is coach Clint Rider, now off to Blue Valley Northwest. Tyson Bauerle, who spent the past two seasons as the head coach at Sterling, is tasked with pushing the momentum onward and preserving the standard of excellence. Hesston won 36 games in Rider’s four seasons, and has won at least eight games in six of the past seven. “Last year’s deep run to the 3A state championship game was the most recent example of what the program is capable of,” Bauerle said. The defense only pencils in three returners, so the high-octane offense will be depended upon to maintain its pace. A fireball out of the backfield, rising junior running back Parker Roth will receive all the workload he can handle after gashing defenses for 1,270 yards and 21 touchdowns on 196 carries. Cameron Cox shined as a wideout, collecting nearly 900 yards, but he is likely to step in at quarterback. That promotes Reese Nebel from the No. 3 target to the primary receiver, a responsibility he can handle after grabbing 21 receptions for 339 yards and four scores as a junior. “Roth and Cox in the backfield will have big-play potential. Four returning offensive linemen will be a key factor in the success of the offense,” Bauerle said. “Replacing key starters to graduation on defense will be a large key to the success of the season. Players will need to step up within the linebacking and defensive back corps.” The Swathers have reached the postseason in seven consecutive tries. The build-up to district play will feel like the playoffs – Hesston’s first five opponents were all state qualifiers, and four won at least one playoff game. 10-4 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A Central Kansas League Coach: Tyson Bauerle (1st year; 3rd overall, 10-9) Assistants: Doug Broadfoot, Phil Unruh, Parker Broadfoot, Jamison Unruh Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 14 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 3 Defense Reese Nebel, WR, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Jesus Ramirez, OL, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Cameron Cox, WR, 5-10, 173, Jr.; Parker Roth, RB/LB, 5-11, 200, Jr.; Sean Duerksen, OL/DL, 6-1, 235, Jr.; Alex Koehn, OL, 6-0, 230, Jr.; Tyler Mason, OL, 6-3, 315, Jr.; Blake Martin, DE, 6-6, 220, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


Dine-in or Carryout


All things considered, Ted Brown’s debut season as Hiawatha’s coach has to be deemed a successful starting point. After posting just one win in the previous two seasons combined, the Red Hawks bounced back to go 4-5 in Brown’s first season as coach replacing Chris Diller. How well Hiawatha follows up its turnaround season will depend largely on how quickly the Red Hawks’ young players can grow up. After graduation claimed a good-sized and productive senior class, Hiawatha enters the 2017 season with just two seniors on its roster. That leaves Brown with a young squad, though 11 lettermen and five starters do return and Brown believes his team will be stronger and more athletic overall. At least five sophomores are expected to start, including two — receiver/cornerback Mike Moreno and running back/defensive end Manuel Flores — who started last year as freshmen. Flores ended up as the Red Hawks’ third-leading rusher with 324 yards and three touchdowns and had over 100 yards against Atchison County and just under 100 against Holton. Junior Andrew Woods was Hiawatha’s leading receiver last year with 385 yards and five touchdowns, but will miss departed quarterback Joseph Kunkel, who led the Red Hawks not only in passing with 764 yards but also rushing with 803 yards. Fellow junior Kaiser Isaac could move from his starting receiver spot to quarterback to replace Kunkel and is battling Tyler Brockhoff and Sage Myers for the job. Only two linemen return, but the Red Hawks will be big up front with junior Lucas Salecedo (6-0, 315) and sophomore Mathew Shaffer (6-1, 290) stepping into starting roles along side returning juniors Hunter Pavlish (6-2, 240) and Caleb Pilcher (6-0, 195). A defense which gave up at least 54 or more points in three of the last four games lost its top-two tacklers, but Flores made 34 tackles as a freshman starter on the defensive line and Isaac added 31 stops. Hiawatha won three of its first four games last year, but dropped four of its last five with the lone win in that stretch a 27-14 victory over Riverside. 4-5 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Big Seven League Coach: Ted Brown (2nd year, 4-5) Assistants: Curtis Myers, Mike Downard, Gordon Gundersen, Andrew Eckert Offense: Spread Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 11 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 5 Defense Caleb Pilcher, OL/DL, 6-0, 190, Jr.; Hunter Pavlish, OL/DL, 6-2, 240, Jr.; Andrew Woods, WR/DB, 5-6, 145, Jr.; Kaiser Isaac, WR/DB, 5-10, 170, Jr.; Mike Moreno, WR/DB, 5-9, 145, So.; Manuel Flores, RB/ DL, 5-10, 215, So. Brent Maycock


Year one of the Jason Grider coaching era in HaHoisington first enjoyed the best season in school history in ’15 and then bettered it last season. The Cardinals, which lost in the first round of the playoffs in ’12 and ’13, advanced to the Round of 16 in ’14, the quarterfinals in ’15 and sub-state in ’16. Hoisington spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in Class 3A with a great resume. In Week 2, the Cardinals defeated Wichita Collegiate, 31-22, at home. In Week 5, Hoisington won at Pratt, 32-14, the eventual Class 4A-II state champion. However, in the playoffs, the Cardinals beat Lakin (56-13), at Norton 3-6 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A (20-0) and versus Garden Plain (49-8) before a 35Central Kansas League 19 road loss to Hesston and its great passing game. Coach: Devin Metzinger (2nd year, 3-6) The Cardinals took heavy graduation losses. Assistants: Scott O’Hare, Dennis Boldt, Darrel Knoll Hoisington lineman Landen Urban, a Washburn Offense: N/A Defense: N/A signing, earned Top 11 for all classes. Running back Returning lettermen: N/A Hunter Hanzlick, the Cardinals’ all-time leading Returning starters: N/A rusher, signed with Baker. Elliot Ollenburger, WR/DB, 5-8, 130, Sr.; Kaden For the 3A all-state team, Hoisington had three Kleiner, QB/DB, 6-0, 155, Sr.; Jacob Funk, WR/DB, players who graduated: Hanzlick was selected at 6-5, 190, Sr.; Colin Settle, OL/DL, 5-10, 220, Sr.; running back (1,493 yards, 25 scores), Urban was an Wesley Shaw, OL/DL, 6-2, 250, Jr. Kyle McCaskey offensive lineman and Cam Davis at return specialist

(394 return yards, 1 return TD, 1,318 rush, 19 rush TDs). Veteran quarterback Tyler Specht graduated after he passed for 467 yards with a 6/5 TD/INT ratio and rushed for 586 yards and 12 TDs. Senior Sean Urban returns after he rushed 115 times for 1,034 yards and nine scores. Sean Urban was second with 67 tackles, while Wyatt Pedigo had a nice season with 59 stops. Coach Zach Baird said the team’s goals is “continue to work each day to get better.” 12-1 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A Central Kansas League Coach: Zach Baird (4th year, 32-4) Assistants: Matt Koelsch, Kyle Haxton, Bob Brungardt, Robert England Offense: Flexbone Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 9 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 5 Defense Sean Urban, RB/LB, 5-8, 185, Sr.; Jake Curtis, RB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Jared Curtis, DL, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Eric Barrett, LB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Wyatt Pedigo, RB/LB, 6-0, 185, So. Conor Nicholl

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12



Page 103


The script flipped on Royal Valley in 2016. After going 6-3 behind a strong senior class in 2015, the Panthers struggled to fill the holes a year ago and wound up 3-6 in its first year in Class 3A after dropping down from Class 4A Division II. There are plenty of holes to fill again this year, particularly at the skill positions, but fourth-year coach Jake Lott is hoping the lessons learned a year ago will pay off in the transition this year. The Panthers only return four starters on offense and production from that unit was a big factor in their woes a year ago. Royal Valley was shut out in each of its first two games and wound up with a goose egg on the scoreboard in four of its six losses. Though the Panthers averaged 36 points per game in the three wins, they only managed 15 points in the six losses and wound up getting outscored 287-123 for the season. Leading rusher Dillon Smith returns at tailback and will look to help turn things around for the Panther offense. Three of the other four returning starters are up front and the Panthers will have good size to work with on the line with the average weight for the projected starters right at 230 pounds, led by senior center Brian Shane (6-0, 260) and tackle Doran Rupnicki (6-2, 245). Rupnicki was an honorable mention All-Big Seven League pick last year. The strength of the defense can be found at linebacker where three starters are back. Junior Brandon Rodewald is the Panthers’ leading returning tackler and will team with Shane and senior Blake Chance to form a solid nucleus for six returning defensive starters to build around. A season-opening tilt with Hiawatha will be a good barometer for how much progress the Panthers have made in the offseason. Royal Valley fell 21-0 to the Red Hawks in last year’s opener, but Hiawatha has some big holes to fill as well this season. Three of the next four games form the toughest part of the Panther schedule with Nemaha Central, Sabetha and Holton all traditional Big Seven League powers who will vie for the title again this year.

Humboldt appears loaded for a good season with 22 returning lettermen and nine starters back on both sides of the ball, and coach Logan Wyrick is excited about his team’s potential. “A year ago, we really didn’t know what we had coming into the season. I believe we had around 6 total carries on offense with no one on roster returning that had a single reception,” he said. “But now, going into the 2017 season, we return our entire offensive production from a year ago, and the majority of it on defense.” The Cubs bring back All-League running back Jacob Barker and All-League lineman Noah Johnson on offense, along with All-State linebacker Dagen Goodner, All-League defensive end Tucker Hurst and All-League lineman Johnson to lead the defense. Humboldt’s offense also returns two QBs – senior Hesston Murrow and junior Kyler Allen – senior lineman Zach Korte, senior receivers Colin Gillespie and Wyatt Seufert and junior tight end Teryn Johnson. “The experience is there for us now and we hope to take advantage of that throughout the season,” Wyrick noted. “We have some talented skill players to get the ball to, but just like every other team, our success will hinge on how well our offensive and defensive lines play through the season.” On defense, Humboldt can lean on Hurst and Johnson up front, while seniors Lance Daniels and Brent Yost join Goodner to make up an experienced group of linebackers. In the secondary, the Cubs return Allen, Barker, Gillespie and Murrow. “We’ll take the season one game at a time, but with a good group coming back for us in 2017 we are aiming our sights towards a very productive year,” Wyrick said. Humboldt’s season opens Sept. 1 against Leon-Bluestem and the Cubs host Cherryvale in week two. They travel to Neodesha, host Caney Valley and play at Eureka to round out September. October starts with trips to Fredonia and Erie, and in week eight, the Cubs host Jayhawk-Linn, before closing at Northeast-Arma.

With three returning offensive linemen entrenched, led by senior Connor Wolfe, Hutchinson Trinity hopes its hogmollies create the running room needed for its playmakers to shake loose. “There are several returning players that received varsity playing time for the first time last year and have continued to grow in all facets of their game,” said Trinity coach Jordan Bell. “The offense will continue to operate out of multiple formations and a no-huddle look. The coaching staff is extremely happy with the way the summer has gone for the offense as the installation of the offense continues to grow.” The offense made tremendous strides in 2016, piling up nearly 12 more points per game than 2015. Still, another leap is paramount to match the Celtics’ stout defense – Trinity’s offense was slowed for 14-or-less points in five games. Trinity’s underrated defense has been reliable and sound in Bell’s tenure. “The defensive unit will play fast, physical and with great effort,” Bell said. It is also time for Trinity to prove its mettle against the area’s best. The Celtics were 5-0 against programs with losing records, but 0-4 in contests against opponents with winning records. That, of course, must change for Trinity to squeak into the postseason. Halstead (9-2) snared the district crown, though Trinity played the Dragons within 14 points. Sterling (6-4) was the runner-up, but installs a new head coach. Haven (1-8) was Trinity’s lone district victory. Trinity has a sharp recent track record. The Celtics have finished above .500 in eight of the past 10 seasons. They also reached the playoffs 11 times since 2000, with the most recent coming in 2014, Bell’s first season. The Celtics won a state title back in 1979.

3-6 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Big Seven League Coach: Jake Lott (4th year, 11-16) Assistants: Dave Barta, Kyle Porter, David Boucher, Andy Gower Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 15 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 6 Defense Doran Rupnicki, LT/DE, 6-2, 240, Sr.; Blake Chance, TE/OLB, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Dillon Smith, RB/DB, 5-9, 155, Sr.; Brian Shane, C/ILB, 6-2, 260, Sr.; Ninahii Frisby, RB/DB, 5-10, 150, Sr.; Brandon Rodewald, RB/ILB, 6-2, 210, Jr. Brent Maycock

4-6 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A / Tri-Valley League Coach: Logan Wyrick (3rd year, 8-11) Assistants: Dave Taylor, Jeremy Weilert, Jason Weilert Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-2-5 Returning Lettermen: 22 Returning Starters: 9 offense, 9 defense Teryn Johnson, TE, 6-0 190, Jr.; Hesston Murrow, QB/SS, 6-1 180, Sr.; Wyatt Seufert, WR, 6-0 155, Sr.; Dagen Goodner, FB/LB, 5-11 185, Jr.; Lance Daniels, LB, 6-1 170, Sr.; Colin Gillespie, WR/FS, 6-3 165, Sr.; Kyler Allen, QB/CB, 5- 170, Jr.; Jacob Barker, RB/ CB, 5-10 185, Sr.;Noah Johnson, OL/DL, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Tucker Hurst, OL/DE, 6-1 185, Jr.; Zach Korte, In 2013, coach A.B. Stokes led Larned to its first OL, 6-1 200, Sr.; Brent Yost, LB, 5-9 155, Sr. MM playoff game since 1985 with a 7-3 record. Last fall, Stokes piloted the Indians to its first postseason win and first home playoff contest since ’85. Larned went 3-8 against 3A’s hardest strength of schedule but enjoyed a great finish to the season. “We would like to be competitive in the regular The Indians opened 0-6 including a 50-0 loss to season, play well through districts and have a Phillipsburg in Week 6. chance to play football in November,” Bamberger In Week 7, Larned opened district play with a 49-0 said. “It will be key for us this season having a large number of seniors on the team. This will be our third road win versus Lyons. In week 8, a 56-27 home loss to Hoisington (then No. 1 in 3A) led to a 42-21 road year working together so it is our hope that we can be more efficient and productive in practice and as a win against Ellsworth (which finished 5-4) and put the result be better prepared. Our team’s participation in Indians in the playoffs. In the first round, Larned upset Cimarron, 35-30, on our summer program will also play a large role in on the road. Larned recovered from an early 14-0 deficit. team’s success.” It marked the school’s first postseason victory since ’85 when the Indians defeated Haven, 10-6, in the 5-5 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A / Hi-Plains League 4A playoffs. In the second round, the Indians faced Coach: Chris Bamberger (3rd year, 7-12; 8th year, Phillipsburg again and lost 14-7 in a game that was 42-22) Assistants: Chris Pollart, Colby Hamel, decided late in the fourth quarter. Andrew Homer Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-3 In the second half of the year, Larned went back to Returning lettermen: 13 a downhill running game, which led to the upsets verReturning starters: 8 Offense, 9 Defense sus Ellsworth and Cimarron. Since-graduated Nate Dawsen Shalberg, RB/LB, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Coy Adams, DB, 6-2, 140, Sr.; Hunter Kirby, QB, 6-0, 148, Williams, who didn’t play offense as he recovered from injury in the first Phillipsburg contest, led the Sr.; Kaydan Christiansen, LB, 5-8, 148, So.; Khai Hernandez, WR/DB, 6-3, 175, Sr.; Diego Davila, WR/ ground attack. Late in the game, Larned had a first DB, 5-11, 155, Sr.; Clay Michel, RB/LB, 6-0, 165, Sr.; down at the Panther 12-yard line after a successful Johnney Perez, RB/LB, 5-7, 160, Sr.; Hadley Panzer, fake punt but couldn’t score. “Compete as close to our full potential as OL/DL, 5-11, 228, So.; Jacob Ezquivel, OL/DL, 6-2, often as we can,” Stokes said of the team goals. 234, Sr.; Logan Gugelmeyer, OL/DL, 6-2, 247, Jr.; “Continuously search for ways to get better in hopes Juan Banuelos, WR/DB, 5-8, 155, Jr.; Fernando Chavez, RB/DB, 5-8, 150, Sr. Conor Nicholl of playing our best football in districts, giving us a

United Ag Service

785-637-5481 Gorham, KS

2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Hi-Plains League Coach: Matt Scripsick (7th year, 15-48; 12th overall, 45-65) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A Conor Nicholl

5-4 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Heart of America League Coach: Jordan Bell (4th year, 16-12) Assistants: Sean Racette, Mike Miller, Brad Hollinger, Jonathan Burkhart Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 11 Returning starters 6 Offense, 5 Defense Connor Wolfe, OL, Sr.; Joel Hamby, DB, Sr.; Nolan Clarke, WR, Jr.; Kaleb Hammeke, QB, Jr.; Alex Hammersmith, TE/DL, Jr.; Landon Neufeld, OL, Jr.; Zane Schroeder, OL/LB, Jr.; Aaron Guerrero, LB, Jr.; Jack Neal, DL, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

Carryout or Delivery

620-662-7788 123 W. 4th

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery

620-662-0571 930 E. 30th




Lakin was expected to make a sizable jump in 2016. The Broncs moved from 2-7 to 5-5 under Chris Bamberger, now in his third season. The ’15 year marked the first losing season under Bamberger, who had achieved great success, including a state title, at Ness City. In ’15, Lakin went 0-4 at home and 2-3 on the road. The Broncs scored 14.5 points a contest and permitted 31.1. Last season, Lakin went 2-2 at home and 3-3 on the road. The Broncs scored 29.4 points a game and permitted 24.6. Senior Hunter Kirby completed 26 of 59 passes for 435 yards with a 7/7 TD/INT ratio. Lakin returns 82 percent of its rushing yards, and senior Dawsen Shalberg had 591 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs, both team-highs. He also led with 16 catches for 354 yards and five scores. The Broncs have not won more than five games since a 6-4 year in 2009. The Broncs opened 0-2 with losses to Hugoton (42-14) and Meade (52-6) before a 28-13 win against Elkhart, an eventual 2-1A playoff team. After a 78-0 win versus Sublette and a 40-0 victory against Stanton County, Lakin fell 47-14 to Holcomb and 3614 to Cimarron in its district opener. However, Lakin earned a playoff spot with wins against Southwestern Heights (46-0) and Syracuse (43-0). In the playoffs, Lakin fell at Hoisington, 56-13.

Southwestern Heights had a two-win decrease after a 4-5 season in 2015. The Mustangs have not been over .500 since an 8-2 mark in 2007. Southwestern Heights opened with a 62-6 home win against Sublette before losing five straight contests. SWH was competitive in a 23-0 Week 2 home loss versus Elkhart and 21-18 loss at Stanton County in Week 4. In Week 7, SWH won at Syracuse, 22-12, for its other victory. SWH is 3-11 in its last 14 contests after a 3-1 start in 2015. The Mustangs will again be in competitive District 16 with Lakin and Cimarron. Junior Efren Mercado completed 40 of 113 passes for 652 yards with a 8/9 TD/INT ratio last year. He is the top rusher with 108 carries with 239 yards and three rushing scores. However, Mercado lost eight fumbles for a team that committed 23 turnovers and was minus-8 in turnover margin. Seven of the eight tacklers return, including senior Pepo Jimenez (126 stops).


301 E. 9th St. • Hoisington, KS 620-653-2806 • OPEN 7AM-10PM

West Hwy 4

Hoisington 620-653-4976

Dine-in or Carryout

chance at post season play. Great leadership from our seniors combined with maximum effort from everyone involved in the program, regardless of circumstances, will be our keys to success this year.” 3-8 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A Central Kansas League Coach: A.B. Stokes (6th year, 21-27) Assistants: Tad Remy, Mike Hensley, Alex Nuss, Rustyn Kerbs, Cory Johnson Offense: Multiple I Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 23 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 7 Defense Anthony McConnell, RB/DB, 5-5, 184, Sr.; Damontay Phillipss, WR, 6-2, 190, Sr.; Carson Smith, QB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Shevin Martin, WR/DB, 5-9, 170, Sr.; Austin Gladow, DB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Mason Perez, DB, 5-10, 155, So.; Wes Davis, LB, 6-1, 200, Sr.; Tim Gardea, OL, 5-8, 200, Sr.; Jeremiah Slattery, OL/DL, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Jordan Taylor, OL, 5-9, 210, Sr.; Kelton Barrett, OL/DL, 5-10, 215, Sr. Conor Nicholl

126 W 14th St



Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 104


It was an infectious scene in Leon this past spring. Bluestem baseball became local celebrities, lauded for their run through the 2-1A state bracket as the No. 6 seed to be crowned state champions. Athletic success, at least by wins and losses, has not been akin to the Lions. The football team has won 13 games in the past decade. Baseball broke that barrier. If other athletic programs can catch and harness the momentum, it may signal a tide change. “Our goal for the offseason was to recruit the hallways to give us better depth,” said Bluestem coach Jordan Echer. “Our goals for the season are to take the season one week at a time, focusing on doing the little things correctly. Overall, our team goal is to make it to the playoffs, and have a winning record.” The process begins with closing the scoring gap. Bluestem’s defense conceded at least 40 points five times. The offense scored 109 total points, but more than half came in a 56-21 triumph over Eureka in week four. Six other weeks, the Lions were kept to single digits. “Senior QB Coy Moran will be looked at as our go-to guy this fall,” Echer said. “We will look for Coy to lead us on offense and defense.” Health played a role, as it often does. Running back Blake Bevan missed this past year with a knee injury suffered in a preseason scrimmage. Tight end Brian Elsen was forced inside to the line to help cover teammates’ injury woes. He will shift back to end this year. There is a silver lining in an injury-riddled season, though. Underclassmen were thrust into pivotal roles, earning valuable experience. Safety Nic Laidler pulled down three interceptions in the final three games of his freshman season, and set a program record with a 98-yard kick return. Bluestem’s only two playoff berths came in 2011 and 2014. The Lions have a manageable district that includes Wichita Independent, Belle Plaine and Douglass, none of which amassed more than three wins. This is Bluestem’s second season under Echer, and second year as a member of the Tri-Valley League.

1166 Pony Express Hwy

Marysville 785-562-5428

Delivery available 4pm-9pm

Marysville (785) 562-2186 LYONS

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


After operating independently since starting its program in 2014, Maranatha joined a co-op agreement with Immaculata last season with both programs struggling with numbers. The end result was a 2-7 season with both wins coming in back-to-back weeks late in the season. The co-op moved Maranatha up to 3A for the current cycle and the Eagles will remain there this year despite the absence of a co-op after Immaculata shut down at the end of last school year. Already a program low on numbers, that will be a huge battle for Maranatha this season. Graduation claimed only four seniors and 13 lettermen do return, including seven starters, but few teams in the state will be as young as the Eagles will be in 2017. Only one of the returning starters is older than a sophomore — junior linebacker Zach Pelham. The rest of the returners are all sophomores as Maranatha played 11 freshmen a year ago. Nate Burdette, son of coach Bryan Burdette, had the biggest impact of that group a year ago, stepping into the starting quarterback job and throwing for 748 yards and nine touchdowns. He also ranked second on the Eagles in tackles with 74, 10 behind departed standout Micah Webb, who also ran for 1,095 of the team’s 1,731 yards. Brock West was Burdette’s favorite target a year ago, catching 31 of his 47 completions for 671 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also had five of the team’s seven interceptions on defense as well as three fumble recoveries. Maranatha’s offense was slow to come around a year ago with the Eagles scoring just six points 2-7 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A / Tri-Valley League in their first three games combined, getting shut 0-9 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A Coach: Jordan Echer (2nd year, 2-7) out twice. Eventually, however, Maranatha got up Central Kansas League Assistants: Ethan Haworth, Wade McHone Coach: James Johnston (6th year, 11-35) KM to speed and scored 40 and 60 in its two wins, the Offense: Option Defense: 3-5-3 second of those a 60-44 win over Atchison County to Returning lettermen: 16 start district play. Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Maranatha went into last year’s season finale with Coy Moran, QB/LB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Brian Elsen, TE/ a shot at making the playoffs, but fell 46-20 to PleasDE, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Maverick Herring, OL/LB, 6-1, 215, ant Ridge. If the Eagles can survive the numbers 1020 W. Main Sr.; Braedan Haworth, NT, 6-1, 340, Sr.; Hunter Clift, game and the sophomores continue to mature, they QB/WR/RB/S, 6-1, 170, Jr.; Hazen Benton, CB, 5-9, could find themselves in a similar position this year. 140, Jr.; Austin Harryman, OL/DL, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Nic 620-257-5644 Laidler, WR/RB/S, 5-10, 155, So.; Luke Simon, FB/ 2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in districts / 3A Delivery available 5pm-Close LB, 5-7, 140, So.; Eathan Elliott, OL/DL, 5-10, 180, Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery Crossroads League So. Kyle McCaskey Coach: Bryan Burdette (5th year, 10-33) Assistants: Alfredo Bahena II, Brian Chiles Offense: Wing T Defense: 3-5 A year ago, Marysville’s biggest offensive question Returning lettermen: 13 Marysville followed up its breakthrough 2015 season with a validating 7-3 2016 in which the Bulldogs mark was at quarterback. This year, the position is Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense proved they’d returned as a contender in Class 3A. the most settled on the unit as senior Jack Blumer Nate Burdette, QB/LB, 5-9, 170, So.; Brock West, took the reins of the offense and directed it to 27.8 Marysville opened the season with a last-minute WR/DB, 6-1, 160, So.; Andrew Fortin, RB/LB, 5-11, 27-20 loss to eventual 3A champion Rossville and points and 346.4 yards per game. Blumer threw 180, So.; Logan Gourley, OL/LB, 5-10, 170, So.; Jack followed with a two-point, 14-12 loss to NCKL champ for 1,372 yards and 16 TDs and though he’ll miss Porter, OL/DL, 6-1, 200, So.; Nic Higginbothem, OL/ Abilene. The Bulldogs then didn’t lose again until a leading receiver Jayton Haggard (789 yards, 10 TDs) DL, 6-1, 205, So.; Zach Pelham, LB, 6-0, 150, Jr. BM tough 28-20 playoff loss to Norton. he does return solid targets in seniors Gabe Pieschl, The first winning season for the program since a basketball standout, and Brennan Wetter, who 2009 should only serve as added fuel for the combined for 19 catches and more than 300 yards. After a surprise 8-4 season and run to the Class 3A returning Bulldogs who were in reality just a handful Roever returns in the backfield after rushing for quarterfinals in 2014, the Lions slipped back to 0-9 of plays away from enjoying a truly special season a 262 yards and will take on a bigger role after Hunter and 1-8 in the last two years. Minneapolis ended a year ago. The enthusiasm surrounding the program Warnick (1,398 yards, 16 TDs) graduated. 12-game losing streak with a 22-13 home win versus as Dustin Heuer enters his fifth year as coach is Lyons in Week 3. The Lions were competitive in a evident as Marysville returns 31 lettermen from 7-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A 31-21 road loss to Russell in Week 4 but all the other last year — almost as many as made up the entire North Central Kansas League losses came by at least 20 points. program a few years ago. Coach: Dustin Heuer (5th year, 11-27) This season, fourth-year coach Jhon Haehn beA staunch defense which allowed just 11.5 points Assistants: Mitchell Shepherd, Bert Lord, Chris lieves the Lions can take a step forward. Minneapolis and 161.6 yards per game (league best) keyed Butler, Landon Wright, Lucas Packett, Kyle Goracke open at home versus Sacred Heart in Week 1. Ten Marysville’s success a year ago as the Bulldogs Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 offensive and nine defensive starters return. gave up more than 16 points just twice. Though five Returning lettermen: 31 “We are trying to win our league and get into the starters return to the unit, Marysville must replace Returning starters: 6 Offense, 5 Defense playoffs,” Haehn said. “We are at a point now where its top-six tacklers and four first-team all-leaguers, Jack Blumer, QB, 6-2, 175, Sr.; Gabe Pieschl, WR/ we have the experience and ability to compete. We including All-3A lineman Greg Martin and leading DB, 6-3, 165, Sr.; Bryson Meinhardt, OL/LB, 6-3, 215, just have to believe we can do it. Staying healthy and tackler Adam Lindhorst. Junior Derek Roever (53 Sr.; Seth Mooradian, OL/DL, 5-10, 230, Sr.; Brennan beating the psychology of losing. We have the ability tackles) and senior Bryson Meinhardt (48 tackles) will Wetter, WR/DB, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Derek Roever, RB/DB, to win and compete at a high level we just have to serve as the anchors for the rebuilt unit. 5-10, 165, Jr. Brent Maycock believe in ourselves and go make plays. The parts Lyons faces an extremely challenging assignment. The Lions are tasked with rejuvenating a program while doing so in the ruthless Central Kansas League, where seven of the league’s 11 teams made the postseason, six won at least one playoff game, two played for state titles and one (Pratt) brought home a championship. Without question, there are easier avenues to rebuild a program in Kansas. First on the menu for the Lions is to kick a pesky 11-game losing streak. The Lions’ offense hamstrung the team. Lyons was shut out four times and only reached double digits twice. Lyons was in the bottom five of the 64-team 3A classification in offensive output. The defense struggled to bail out its partner, conceding 46.9 points per game. Lyons’ only contest within 30 points in 2016 was a 22-13 non-league loss at Minneapolis in week three. This past season marked a low point in the winloss column for coach James Johnston’s first five seasons. Johnston guided the Lions to a winning record, 5-4, back in 2013. In 2015, he led the team to the playoffs. While Lyons has yet to be a title contender under Johnston, the winless campaign was uncharacteristic. Residing in District 15, Lyons faces an uphill battle. Hoisington, the defending district champion, has become a behemoth, marching to a 32-4 record over the past three years. Larned’s 3-8 record was deceiving, as the Indians not only made the playoffs, but picked off a postseason win in the process. Ellsworth was on the outside looking in, but the Bearcats come off a respectable 5-4 season.



A stalwart in the coaching community, Grant Thierolf begins year No. 30 at Marion. The pairing has been positive, with Thierolf amassing 177 victories in that span, an average of nearly six wins a season. The Warriors, however, are eager to return to the playoffs, now on a two-year hiatus. This past season’s team appeared destined for a postseason appearance, opening the season 6-0 and capturing the Heart of America league title, but district losses to Southeast of Saline (48-6) and Hesston (57-24) humbled Marion. A foundational core is back from that squad, and with the sour ending to an otherwise superb season still lingering, motivation should not be a concern. “We should have a fairly experienced team for the 2017 season,” Thierolf said. “The key for a successful season will be whether we can play as one team and devote the time and energy it takes to challenge for league, district and state titles. We have some very talented athletes, and it will be fun to see if we can mold them into a team that plays with one heartbeat.” Quarterback Jack Schneider affirmed himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the HOA with a bulldog mentality in his junior campaign. There is continuity with three of his linemen back. “We return some very good players on our offensive line, led by Tyler Palic, who has a chance to be one of the best linemen we have coached,” Thierolf said. “Antone Vinduska has been a very valuable lineman.” 7-2 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Heart of America League Coach: Grant Thierolf (30th year, 177-100) Assistants: Jerry Smith, Shaun Craft, Simon McKee Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: 19 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense Jack Schneider, QB/FS, 6-2, 181, Sr.; Corbin Wheeler, SB/SS, 5-10, 185, Sr.; Zachary Stuchlik, SB/CB, 6-3, 174, Sr.; Garrett Hoffner, WR/LB, 6-0, 196, Sr.; Antone Vinduska, OT, 6-3, 248, Sr.; Tyler Palic, OG/LB, 6-1, 222, Sr.; Jarret McLinden, C/DT, 6-3, 285, Sr. Kyle McCaskey



Perry Owens

Go Lions! Scott Ausherman Agency

308 W 2nd St • Minneapolis, KS 67467 (785) 392-3111 •

are all there we just have to make it happen now.” 1-8 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A North Central Activities Association Coach: Jhon Haehn (4th year, 9-21) Assistants: Zach Humphrey, Travis Shaft, Vincent Burchard Offense: Triple Option Wishbone Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 21 Returning starters: 10 Offense, 9 Defense Clay Goddard, OLB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Dalton Wilson, OL, 5-10, 250, Sr.; Kaden McCulick, WR, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Keagan Williamson, OL/LB, 5-9, 185, Sr.; D.J. Green, WR/DB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Evan Keating, RB/ SS, 6-0, 195, Sr.; Gaton Heald, OL/DL, 6-1, 210, Jr.; Trenton Brubaker, QB/DB, 5-8, 145, Sr.; Tristin Hauck, OLB, 5-8, 160, Jr.; Tyson Villalpando, FB/LB, 5-9, 200, Jr.; Tre’vaughn Thomas, RB/DL, 6-0, 195, Sr. Conor Nicholl


1444 Mulberry Rd. Minneapolis, KS

Office785-392-2184 Cell 620-874-1078

717 Laurel St.

Minneapolis 785-392-3511

Dine-in or Carryout

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


The 2016 football campaign was quite a revolutionary one for the boys of Mound City-Jayhawk Linn as head coach Randy Leach saw the team turn a corner. After struggling in recent years, Leach saw the program take steps in 2015 with a 5-5 mark and then a year ago, explode onto the scene with a 9-0 regular season record, which included a 4-0 ledger in Three Rivers League play to claim the crown. They also eased to a 3-0 mark in District 6 play sweeping Humboldt, Erie and Northeast-Arma. Four shutouts and eight double-digit wins later, it all came crashing down in a 20-14 loss to Osage City in a playoff opener on J-Linn’s own home field. Now year three of Leach’s tenure with the Jayhawks will be about maintaining the program’s same goals: Win the conference, have a winning record and make the playoffs. It’s worked, as they have recorded the only .500 or better seasons since 2010 in Leach’s first two years. That could be possible again with the talents of senior TE/DE Brandon Gray back in the fold and four other veterans – Hayden Broyles (WR/DB), Zach Nickelson (OG/LB), Harley Stone (RB/SS) and Joe Whitley (OL/D) – returning to lend an important hand. Gray brings that special dichotomy of talents, being a top defensive lineman that can also put on a show as one of the Jayhawks’ wide receivers. Leach notes the team’s success will depend on “good attitudes and health” as the team will look to take a step forward with a number of inexperienced players moving into key roles with only nine lettermen returning. The schedule is flipped from last year and so the same challenges will present themselves in new venues. The hope could be to see more tests from the opposition as the Jayhawks steamrolled to four league wins over Neodesha, Uniontown, Yates Center and Northwest-Arma by a combined 148-12 score. A few more competitive battles can only help as the Jayhawks try to take that next step into the next round of Class 3A football. The Jayhawks will play home games against Neodesha (9/1), Yates Center (9/22), Drexel, Mo. (10/6), Northeast Arma (10/13) and Erie (10/26), while road games beckon at Uniontown (9/8), Oswego (9/15), Pleasant Ridge (9/29) and Humboldt (10/20). 9-1 in 2016 / 6-0 in district / 3A Three Rivers League Coach: Randy Leach (third year, 14-6) Assistants: Jason Casner, Clint Johnson and Joe Wunderley Offense: Veer Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 9 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 4 Defense Hayden Broyles, WR/DB, 6’1”, 175, Jr; Brandon Gray, TE/DE, 6’4”, 200, Sr; Zach Nickelson, OG/LB, 5’9”, 185, Jr; Harley Stone, RB/SS, 5’11”, 175, Sr: Joe Whitley, OL/D, 5’9”, 200, Sr. Alan Dale

Joel Benson, CPA Mary Benson, CPA

Specializing in small businesses

Benson Accounting 1929 S. Ohio Office: (785)827-3157 Salina, KS 67401 Fax: (785)827-3159


Expectations were high for Neodesha in 2016, but the Bluestreaks finished just 5-4, so they’ll be looking to improve on that in 2017. Coach John Black’s team returns 10 lettermen, including 8 starters on the offense. Four of those starters – senior Trenton Adee, Bryce Bell, sophomore Blaze Grimes and Dominic Skinner - will anchor the offensive line. Junior running back Randall McKinnis, tight end Peter Spoon and receivers Michael Shinkle and John Wallace are also back in the starting lineup. Defensively, the Bluestreaks bring back six starters. Grimes and Skinner return to lead the defensive line, while McKinnis and junior Floyd Reynolds are the top returners at linebacker. In the secondary, Neodesha returns McKinnis, Shinkle and Wallace. The Bluestreaks will need to find replacements for top graduates, lineman Jordin Linn - a Shrine Bowl slection and Pittsburg State commit - and running back Izzy Johnson. Black, now in his 8th year at Neodesha, said keys to success for his team include becoming a team and playing like a team. He also said the Bluestreaks must “be a family that puts each teammate first.” The 2017 season will kick off Sept. 1 at JayhawkLinn, and Neodesha hosts Oswego for its home opener on Sept. 8. In week three, the Bluestreaks will travel to Tri-Valley League rival Humboldt, and they wrap up September by hosting Cherryvale. October begins with a trip to Leon to face the Bluestem Lions in the final tuneup for district play. Neodesha’s district schedule kicks off by hosting Wilson County neighbor Fredonia on Oct. 13, and the Bluestreaks travel to Caney Valley in week eight before hosting Eureka in the regular season finale on Oct. 26.


W. US Hwy 36



Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


Norton quarterback Jace Ruder made significant recruiting news through the state and country when he announced a commitment to the University of North Carolina in late June. Ruder had previously committed to Tulsa and then opened back up his recruiting in the spring when he continued to receive scholarship offers from Power 5 programs. Ruder, a three-star recruit and the top-ranked Kansas quarterback for 2018, completed 96 of 189 passes for 1,598 yards with a 14/8 TD/INT ratio. In his career, he has thrown for 3,585 yards with a 32/18 TD/INT ratio. Senior running back Tevin Petrie also returns after he rushed 155 times for 1,108 yards and 12 scores. Petrie saw his recruiting interest pick up this offseason culminating with offers from Emporia State and Missouri Western. Petrie posted a 4.4 forty at the KU camp. The top six receivers all graduated along with standout Jacob Green, statistically one of Kansas’ best defensive players in recent history. Green, moved to linebacker last season, had a team-high 178 tackles and 11 TFLs. Green finished his career with 438 stops and 76 TFLs. Senior Collyn Auker, the defending 3-2-1A 285-pound state titlist, returns after he had 85 tackles with a team-high 21 TFLs. Norton was ranked No. 3 in 2016 Class 3A preseason, but lost 20-14 to Plainville, 20-17 in overtime to Smith Center, 36-13 to Phillipsburg and then 20-0 to Hoisington in the playoffs. “To improve each day and take the season one game at a time,” coach Lucas Melvin, in his 21st season at the school, said. “We need people to step up and be leaders and we will have to have some younger athletes emerge as solid players. We need to get stronger and fill in some much needed holes.”

Page 105

A four-game slide after a 2-1 start could have spiraled into a lost season for Osage City. Instead, the Indians righted themselves in time to not only make the Class 3A playoffs, but advance to the second round. The biggest victory in that stretch was a 20-14 win over previously undefeated Jayhawk-Linn to start the playoffs before the season ended in the next round with a 43-16 loss to Caney Valley. Osage City wound up a game under .500 at 5-6, but with a shot of momentum heading into the offseason. Adding to the anticipation for the 2017 season is the fact that Osage City returns a bulk of the key contributors to last year’s run. The loss of All-Class 3A linebacker Brett Sage (225 tackles) will be a blow — he also was the Indians’ leading rusher with 668 yards — but only three other players graduated, leaving ninth-year coach Andrew Gantenbein with arguably his most experienced team. Senior Tucker Kimball emerged in his first year as starting quarterback replacing Ryan Haskins, throwing for 1,221 yards and 12 touchdowns and adding 456 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. He’ll miss leading receiver Jason Cooley (429 yards, 6 TDs), but has his next three pass-catching threats back led by Carter Swindale (18 catches, 391 yards) and Trenton Plinsky (22 catches, 325 yards). Swindale ranked second to Sage on the team in tackles with 90 and defensive lineman Brant Dayhoff was third with 80 stops. Four other players who had at least 60 tackles also return. Once again, the Indians will be undersized up front with no returning starter bigger than 195 pounds. Their ability to hold their own against bigger teams could be the key to Osage City’s success in 2017. Close games were the norm for Osage City in 2016 with four games decided by six points or less, including a wild three-game stretch early in the season where the Indians rallied for a wild 35-33 win over Olpe after being down 33-7 in the fourth quarter before losing nailbiters to Council Grove (21-20) and Mission Valley (38-36 OT).

5-6 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A Flint Hills League Coach: Andrew Gantenbein (9th year, 36-41) Assistants: Jordan Tice Offense: Spread Defense: 3-5 5-4 in 2016 / 1-3 in district / 3A Returning lettermen: 16 Tri-Valley League 7-4 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense Coach: John Black (8th year, 45-26; 19th year Mid-Continent League Tucker Kimball, QB/OLB, 6-3, 195, Sr.; Carter overall) Coach: Lucas Melvin (11th year, 82-35) Assistants: Jeff Piatt, Mike Casteel, Justin Price Assistants: Tony Fiscus, Jeremy Hawks, Kevin Jilka, Swindale, TE/WR, 6-3, 195, Sr.; Peyton Pearson, WR, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Trenton Plinsky, WR/DB, 5-5, Offense: Flexbone Defense: 4-3 Ben Gordon Offense: I Defense: 5-2 135, Jr.; Brant Dayhoff, OL/DL, 6-1, 195, Jr.; Derrik Returning Lettermen: 10 Returning lettermen: N/A Cooley, OL, 6-0, 195, Jr.; Coleton Mitchell, OL, 5-7, Returning Starters: 8 Offense, 6 Defense Returning starters: 4 Offense, 5 Defense Blaze Grimes, OL/DL, 6-3, 220, So.; Bryce Bell, Hayden Wiltfong, TE/DE, 6-5, 185, Jr.; Jace Ruder, 160, Jr.; Ean Couch, OL, 5-10, 180, Sr.; River Davis, OL, 5-9, 205; John Wallace, WR/DB, 6-0, 165, Jr.; QB/DB, 6-3, 205, Sr.; Tevin Petrie, RB/DB, 5-10, 180, LB, 5-9, 170, Jr.; Krimzyn Clark, DB, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Randall McKinnis, RB/DB/LB, 5-10, 180, Jr.; Floyd Sr.; Collyn Auker, OL/DL, 6-2, 250, Sr.; Matt Vacura, Colton Prunty, DB, 5-6, 140, Jr.; Weston Littrell, OLB, Reynolds, LB, 5-6, 135, Jr.; Trenton Adee, OL, 5-10, OL/DL, 6-1, 240, Sr.; Carter Leibbrandt, OL/DL, 6-2, 5-8, 165, Sr.; Cameron Gragg, DB, 5-9, 165, Sr. Brent Maycock 190, Sr.; Dominic Skinner, OL/DL, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Peter 205, Jr. Conor Nicholl Spoon, TE, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Michael Shinkle, WR/DB, 5-10, 160, Sr. Melanie McGee The drop from Class 4A Division I to 3A a year ago ground gainer, rushing for 100 yards last year. The went reasonably well for Perry-Lecompton. Despite lone returning starter is senior lineman Kyle Bonham, posting a sub-.500 record, the Kaws still made the an honorable mention All-Big Seven League pick. The return of senior Heath Knopp will help bolster playoffs, finishing with a 4-6 mark. Dalton Kellum was a defensive starter in the seca line which graduated two-way first-team all-leaguer The final record was mostly the product of an ex- ondary as a sophomore and registered 38 tackles. Cooper Thurston but returns two other starters. tremely tough back half of the schedule, one that saw Junior Blaine Pattin wasn’t a starter, but saw enough Knopp was lost for the season after suffering a two of the losses come to teams which went on to time to rank fourth on the team in tackles with 54. knee injury in the second game a year ago and his win state championships — 25-22 to 2-1A champion With a back-loaded schedule once again, Perry’s presence also will only strengthen what’s already the Troy and 41-14 to eventual 3A champion Rossville in new faces will get a chance to somewhat ease into defense’s strong suit, the linebacking corps. Leading the first round of the playoffs. The Kaws also nearly the season and get accustomed to their new roles. tacklers Miller (61) and senior Tristan Hopkins (63) picked off perennial 3A power Silver Lake to start The Kaws will be looking for a little revenge in the both are back. district play, falling 21-19, and suffered another loss opener against Riverside, the only team with a losing Oskaloosa finished tied for third in the Northeast to 3A semifinalist Nemaha Central. record to beat Perry last year. Kansas League with a 4-2 mark. The Bears pulled In all, five of Perry’s losses came to teams which out tight wins over Horton and McLouth to start last finished 9-2 or better and in the four wins, the Kaws 4-6 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A season and getting wins in those games again this outscored their opponents 175-15. Big Seven League year could provide some momentum heading into It will be a complete rebuilding job this year as Coach: Mike Paramore (17th year, 73-71) big league clashes with Jefferson North and Jackson Perry only returns one starter on each side of the ball Assistants: Jared Swafford, Caleb Denton, Jordan Heights, which were the top-two teams in the league and 13 lettermen total. A number of seniors are ready Allen, Mitch McPherson, Mike Kelley a year ago. to step in and take their turn leading the program, Offense: Multiple/Spread Defense: Even front but most haven’t seen key minutes on Friday nights, Returning lettermen: 13 4-5 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A leaving veteran coach Mike Paramore with plenty of Returning starters: 1 Offense, 1 Defense Northeast Kansas League question marks heading into the season. Kyle Bonham, OT, 5-10, 260, Sr.; Dalton Kellum, DB, Coach: Scott Whaley (12th year, 71-63) The law firm backfield of Kellum, Kellum and Kel- 6-0, 160, Jr. Assistants: Rod Stottlemire, Matt Johnson lum is down to just one, junior Dalton who will step Brent Maycock Offense: Open Wing Defense: 4-3 into the starting quarterback job after seeing spot Returning lettermen: 11 duty there a year ago as a backup to departed starter Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Jordan Spreer. He only attempted three passes Jared Miller, RB, 5-8, 185, Sr.; Heath Knopp, OL, 6-0, and ran for 52 yards but will be counted on heavily 205, Sr.; Tristan Hopkins, E/DB, 5-7, 140, Sr.; Colby as Paramore traditionally has centered his offense Peck, OL/DL, Sr.; Zach Harvey, C/NG, 6-0, 180, Sr.; around a dual-threat quarterback. Hunter Reed, WR/DB, 5-9, 145, Jr.; Lucas Hatfield, Leading rushers Cole and Michael Kellum have E/DB, 5-8, 145, Jr.. both graduated after combining for nearly 1,700 Brent Maycock yards and 21 touchdowns with Cole scoring 16 of those. Senior Taylor Erickson is the leading returning



Sitting 4-2 heading into Class 3A district play, Oskaloosa couldn’t finish things off strong and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Not only did the Bears go winless in district play, they were outscored 149-14 after being paired with perennial power Silver Lake and 4A-turned-3A Royal Valley and Perry-Lecompton. A second straight 4-5 season saw Oskaloosa struggle in all five defeats with none by less than 39 points. The Bears only surrendered 38 points combined in their four wins, but none came against a team which won more than four games. Starting all underclassmen in the backfield a year ago, Oskaloosa figured to be in great shape to increase its offensive production against the better teams on its schedule this year. Then two-year starting quarterback Jaxson Webb transferred to Free State last spring, leaving a major void in the backfield. Webb threw for 903 yards and eight touchdowns last year as a sophomore and also ran for nearly 300 more yards on his way to first-team All-Northeast Kansas League honors. Finding his replacement will be a major key as no other player took a snap under center for the Bears a year ago. As one develops, the offensive burden will be put on the shoulders of senior back Jared Miller, who made the move from the offensive line to the backfield last year and ran for 412 yards in the last six games. No other returning back had double-digit carries for the season but receiver Hunter Reed returns after catching 55 passes for 555 yards and six touchdowns last year.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 106 950 State St

Phillipsburg 785-543-2139

Delivery available 4:30-8:45pm

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


A year after winning the 2-1A state title for its first football championship in school history, Phillipsburg enjoyed another great season with an 11-1 record and a Class 3A quarterfinals run. Phillipsburg finished 6-0 in MCL play with wins against Smith Center (29-16), 2-1A runner-up Plainville (31-16) and at Norton (36-13) in district play. In the playoffs, Phillipsburg defeated Riley County, 49-27, at Larned 14-7, and a home loss, 38-26, to Hesston. The Swather loss ended an 18-game winning streak. In early season, Phillipsburg coach J.B. Covington had malignant melanoma return to his face, 18 months after the spot was first removed. He had a surgery before a Week 5 road win, 56-14, at Ellis. Phillipsburg had a new-look offensive line in ’16 and many of those players return. The Panthers graduated Mark Coomes, but brings Kpreps all-state running back Kirk Coomes (167 carries, 1,312 rush, 17 rush TDs, 94 tackles) and quarterback Trey Sides (19 TDs accounted for). Kirk and Sides are both three-year starters in the backfield. Jaret Shelton was a first team all-league center, while John Gower (645 yards, 139 tackles) was a first team all-league linebacker. Chris VanKooten, Jordan Ford and Coomes combined for 19 TFLs, while Jon Hunnacutt, a first-teamer, went 44 of 52 on XPs and 4 of 5 on FGs. “We feel like we have a great chance to compete with the best teams in this class if we stay healthy,” Covington said. “Our young men had a tremendous off-season and summer. Last year our young players got much needed varsity experience throughout the regular season and gained confidence during the post season. Last year’s team set the bar a little bit higher so this year’s team seems to have the desire to take it to the next level in 3A.”


The third coach in three years when he took over at Central Heights, Richard Mobley knew he had some work to do. He inherited a program which went winless in 2015 and returned only a handful of starters. The Vikings avoided the goose egg in 2016, going 1-8 in their first year in the Flint Hills League after leaving the Pioneer League. But much of the season was still a struggle as Heights scored nearly as many points in its only win — a 47-6 rout of Eureka — as it did in the other eights games combined (52). Losing only four seniors to graduation should give Heights much more experience for Mobley’s second season. Numbers are up overall with the Vikings expecting at least 10 more players than a year ago. Heights will have seven seniors this season, including returning starting quarterback Seth Burroughs, running backs Kyle Brotherton and Devon Weber and lineman Brec Furst. There is good balance in the other classes as well and Mobley will call upon several young players to fill key roles as he tries to rebuild the program with four sophomores expected to start each way — three of them on the offensive and defensive lines. Outside of the lone win, two of Heights’ more productive offensive outings came in the final two district games. If the Vikings can build on that late-season momentum, picking up another win or two this year could be within reach with many teams in the league suffering heavy graduation losses.

1-8 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A Flint Hills League Coach: Richard Mobley (2nd year, 1-8) Assistants: Brad Huber, Mike Bellinger, Mark Hermann Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 9 Offense, 9 Defense 11-1 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A Seth Burroughs, QB/LB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Brec Furst, Mid-Continent League OG/LB, 6-1, 200, Sr.; Devon Weber, RB, 5-8, 145, Coach: J.B. Covington (15th year, 118-40; 20th year, Sr.; Kyler Brotherton, RB/LB, 5-8, 175, Sr.; Matt 161-63) Cubit, WR/DB, 6-0, 145, Jr.; Danny Kirkland, C/LB, Assistants: Joe Buresh, Cory Jacobs, Kendall Fiscus 5-9, 210, Jr.; Josh Thompson, OG/DL, 5-8, 190, So.; Offense: Pistol Flexbone Defense: 3-4 Jonathan Fox, OT/DL, 6-0, 250, So.; Timmy Smith, Returning lettermen: 24 OT/DE, 6-0, 215, So.; Abby Brown, DB/WR, 5-3, Returning starters: 10 Offense, 9 Defense 125, So. Chris VanKooten, 6-2, 235, OT/DT, Sr.; Kasen KeeBrent Maycock ten, OG, 5-11, 190, Jr.; Jaret Shelton, C, 5-10, 260, C, Jr.; Colby Wells, OG, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Jordan Ford, TE/DE, 6-3, 175, Sr.; Kirk Coomes, RB, 6-2, 220, Sr.; Treylan Gross, RB, 6-0, 190, Jr.; John Gower, FB/LB, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Trey Thompson, SE/DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Josh Lenker, DB, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Trey Sides, QB/DB, 6-0, 160, Jr.; Nathan Moon, DB, 5-5, 160, Jr.; Jon Hunnacutt, K, 5-10, 180, Jr. Conor Nicholl

“Your Independent Agency”

383 F Street P.O. Box 249 Phillipsburg, KS 67661

785-543-6481 FAX # 785-543-2929 1-800-569-0118


Since going 8-3 in 2011, Riley County has pretty much hovered right around the .500 mark, never finishing more than one game above the break-even mark nor more than two games under. Last year, it was the third 5-5 mark in the five-year stretch as veteran coach Steve Wagner won his 225th career game. On the strength of a strong ground game powered by three-year starting tailback Garrett Staten and quarterback Wes March, the Falcons were more than competitive in all five losses. Only two of the five losses were by more than 20 points — 50-25 to Rossville early in the season and 49-27 to Phillipsburg in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs — and all five wins were by 17 points or more with four of them by at least 33 points. Wagner will have to revamp his backfield with Staten and March both having graduated. No returning player had more than 139 yards rushing and no returning receiver had more than 131 yards. Senior fullback Tyler Halstead accounted for both of those leading returning totals and likely will take on a feature role in the offense this season after serving as a complement to Staten and March last year. Where the Falcons went into last season with a ton of questions up front, there are a lot more certainties this time around even with the graduation of two-way first-team All-Mid-East League selection Clay Reed. Three starters return, though size is still an issue with none of the returning starters bigger than 200

pounds. A defense which gave up more than 28 points just twice should be the strong suit for the Falcons this year. Halstead and linebacker Mikey Waggoner are returning first-team all-leaguers with Waggoner leading the team with 101 tackles and Halstead recording 69. Senior Ty Nelson was a first-team all-league punter and could also play a more prominent role in the offense from his flanker spot. Riley County has been a fixture in the Class 3A playoffs for much of Wagner’s 34-year tenure and after whipping both Minneapolis and Beloit in district play a year ago should be a favorite to return to the postseason this year. 5-5 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A Mid-East League Coach: Steve Wagner (34th year, 225-112) Assistants: Erik Willimon, Danny Grater, Derek Winter, Jason Klein, Ian Peters Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 5 Defense Tyler Halstead, RB/DB, 175, Sr.; Nathan Rignell, C, 185, Sr.; Ty Nelson, WR/DB, 180, Sr.; Trystin McCoy, OG/DT, 200, Jr.; Brett Halstead, OT, 210, Jr.; Westyn Claar, WR, 180, Jr.; Tregan Thomas, OLB, 175, Sr.; Mikey Waggoner, LB, 175, Jr. Brent Maycock


Even after capturing two straight Class 3A state titles, the argument could be made that Rossville entered the 2016 season with something to prove. In winning the first two state titles in program history, the Bulldawgs rode the talents of not only two-time All-State quarterback Tucker Horak — who enjoyed one of the best high school careers in state history — but also a pair of loaded senior classes. With Horak and Co. gone, many wondered if Rossville could reload and make another title run. The answer was an emphatic one. Another strong senior class stepped up and delivered the program’s third straight state title as Rossville outlasted Hesston 48-42 in overtime in a wild 3A state championship game to cap a 12-1 season and keep the Bulldawgs’ reign alive. Perhaps no Bulldawg had more pressure on him than Jacob Bradshaw, who followed in Horak’s footsteps at quarterback. Not only did he fill the void competently, he did a pretty darn good impression of his predecessor, putting together a remarkable season that saw him rush for 2,734 yards and 31 touchdowns and throw for 1,774 yards and 25 scores on his way to an All-State Top 11 selection.

While replacing him is a challenge enough — the job falls to senior Sheldon Hulbert — there are other huge holes to fill. Receiver Cole Schumacher (61 catches, 1,158 yards, 21 TDs) and linebacker/fullback Dawson Hammes (172 tackles, 589 yards, 14 TDs) were both All-Class 3A picks and all five starting offensive linemen are also gone. What’s in store for the drive for four? Well, just two starters are back on offense and only three return on defense. Senior back Perry Foster emerged in the backfield while Hammes recovered from a broken thumb early in the season and ended up rushing for 724 yards and nine scores. All eyes will be on Hulbert and whether he can continue the Bulldawg quarterback legacy. Though he played sparingly on offense last year (48 total yards), he racked up 129 tackles on defense. Senior lineman Nathan Dohrman is the only other returning starter who was a significant contributor last year, leaving a slew of new faces eager to carve their own place in Rossville history. Perhaps the biggest trait of last year’s title team was the ability to make plays in the clutch, and it began with a fourth-quarter comeback win over Marysville in the season-opener. The Bulldawgs pulled out tight wins over Sabetha (34-28) and A familiar face returns to the Riverton sideline, as streak in district games, while Southeast-Cherokee Nemaha Central (27-22) in the playoffs and then rallied from 15 points down in the second half of the Johnny Mallatt attempts to perform a second act of (0-9) has lost 11 consecutive district contests. a Rams turnaround. Mallatt coached Riverton in the Despite the excitement stemming from a postsea- title game to secure the three-peat. The only hiccup during the season was a 36-28 1980s, taking the program to new heights with its son appearance, Riverton must shore up its units. loss to Silver Lake which denied the Bulldawgs a first-ever Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League title in Both the offense and defense rated in the bottom 1983 that coincided with a playoff berth. quarter of the classification in points per game aver- fourth straight Mid-East League title. Though in time Mallatt departed Riverton, football ages. The defense conceded more than 40 points in 13-1 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A continued to pulse through him. He made various eight of 10 games. coaching stops, including at his alma mater, Galena, Riverton has a strong history. The Rams won state Mid-East League and as an assistant at Missouri Southern. The titles in 1990 and 1993, and was a runner-up in 1991. Coach: Derick Hammes (5th year, 53-2) Assistants: Dan Schneider, Jeremy Stephenson, MAPES & MILLER LLP coaching cycle now comes full circle. Riverton has six playoff berths in the past decade. Todd Reeves, Eammon Bradley Riverton will hope Mallatt can offer some stability Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-3 to a program that has now carouseled through five 2-8 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A Tax Service•Accounting•Computer Services•Estate & Financial Planning coaches in nine years. H.T. Kinney held the position Returning lettermen: 11 Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League Returning starters: 1 Offense, 3 Defense this past year, compiling a 2-8 mark and a playoff Coach: Johnny Mallatt Denis W. Miller, CPA Perry Foster, RB/DB, 6-0, Sr.; Reed Miller, LB, 5-10, Assistants: N/A Rebecca A. Lix, CPA • Melba L. Witt, CPA berth in his one season. Sr.; Nathan Dohrman, OL/DL, 5-11, Sr.; Sheldon Riverton’s 17-14 triumph over Cherryvale (5-4) in Offense: N/A Defense: N/A PO BOX 266 • 711 3rd • PHILLIPSBURG • 800-543-6561 Hulbert, LB, 6-2, Sr. week eight clinched a playoff berth for the Rams. Returning lettermen: N/A “It’s Not What You Make...It’s What You Keep” Brent Maycock That showdown may be for a playoff bid again in Returning starters: N/A 2017, as Galena (8-3) rolls on with a 14-game win Kyle McCaskey


We Proudly Support the RUSSELL BRONCOS!

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 107 1312 S. Old 75 Hwy


785-284-2117 Delivery available 5pm-9pm

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


Russell slipped back from 3-6 to 2-7 last year. The Broncos scored 17.8 points per contest and allowed 38.7 points a game. Russell graduated senior Alex Windholz, who stepped in for dual-threat quarterback Reshean Holloway and posted a solid season. In ’15, Holloway had 921 passing, 1,058 rushing and 23 TDs accounted for. Windholz passed for 689 and rushed for 935 with 17 scores accounted for. Senior Brooks Nichols returns after he led the team with 82 tackles, 38 more than any other player. Russell struggled with turnovers with 14 and was minus-4 in turnover margin. Russell has made four playoff appearances in school history, none since 2006. Coach Jeff Brull’s motto for the season is “Your Best is The Standard.” “It is our goal to train, practice, and live everyday by those words to reach our full potential as student-athletes,” Brull said. “Furthermore, our team will strive to demonstrate our C.O.R.E. values in everything we do. Character/Commitment, Ownership/Optimism, Responsibility/Resiliency, Effort/Enthusiasm. We believe that if we train, practice, and live according to these values and standards, we can accomplish great things this season.” “The key to our success in 2017 will be player development and becoming a football family that lives by our C.O.R.E. values,” he added. “Our players and coaches must hold each other accountable for our success by expecting the best out of each other everyday and by meeting or exceeding expectations.” 2-7 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A North Central Activities Association Coach: Jeff Brull (4th year, 7-20) Assistants: Deonta Wade, Bryan Kofford, Cade Albert Offense: Spread Defense: Hybrid 3-4 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 3 Defense Austin Price, QB/DB, 5-8, 160, Jr.; Brooks Nichols, OG/LB, 6-1, 235, Sr.; Chris Pummell, WR/FS, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Travis Tammen, TE/DE, 6-2, 190, Jr. Conor Nicholl

785-637-5481 Gorham, KS SENECA-NEMAHA CENTRAL

The argument could be made that the only thing standing between Nemaha Central and two straight Class 3A state titles is Rossville. The only losses the Thunder have suffered the past two seasons came to the three-time reigning champions in the playoffs — a 61-20 loss in the second round in 2015 and a 27-22 defeat in the state semifinals last year. Last year’s playoff loss was a heartbreaker. Nemaha Central led 22-21 in the fourth quarter of the monumental semifinal clash and after the Bulldawgs rallied for the lead, the Thunder saw the season end with a late interception in the end zone. It was a crushing end to one of the best seasons in school history. Nemaha Central captured its second straight undefeated Big Seven League title and posted the most wins and deepest playoff advancement since 1975. Don’t expect Nemaha Central to drop off too much despite graduating some top-notch talent, namely AllClass 3A linebacker Trenton Henry (115 tackles) and three-year starting quarterback Ryan Hasenkamp (2,100 total yards, 30 TDs). The cupboard is far from bare for the Thunder with 21 lettermen back and six starters on offense and five on defense. An offense which averaged 44.6 yards per game under Hasenkamp now will be run by senior Mitchell Henry, who moves in from a utility back starting role where he amassed more than 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His shift to quarterback leaves Nemaha with its most glaring hole as to who will surround him in the backfield with 1,000-yard rusher Jacob Koelzer also having graduated. Whoever fills that void should find plenty of space 9-2 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A / Big Seven League with the Thunder returning four of five senior starters Coach: Garrett Michael (9th year, 45-40) to the offensive line, including two-way all-league Assistants: Nathan Bauman, Aaron Frey, Alex pick Eli McWilliams (5-10, 270). A defense which McAfee, Kaleb Moeller, Josh Wertenberger posted four shutouts and gave up more than two Offense: Splitback Veer Defense: 6-1 scores just three times will miss Trenton Henry, but Returning lettermen: 19 returns second-leading tackler Mitchell Heiman (106 Returning starters: 2 Offense, 6 Defense tackles), all-league linemen in McWilliams and Eli Isaac Sunderland, TE/DL, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Cole Oehm, Wilson and all-league free safety Mitchell Henry. TE/DE, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Wyatt Beyer, RB/DB, 6-0, 175, The Thunder enter the season riding a 20-game Sr.; Tanner Ukele, OL/DL, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Blake Frey, regular-season win streak. Since the consolidation of WR/DB, 6-2, 180, Sr.; Elliott Strahm, OL/DL, 6-2, Nemaha Valley and Baileyville B&B in 2014, Nemaha 240, Jr.; Cauy Rokey, OL/LB, 6-0, 180, Jr.; Joe Gru- Central is 29-4 overall. ber, RB/DB, 5-11, 170, Jr.; Braden Cox, K/WR/DB, 5-10, 165, Jr.; Gabe Garber, QB/LB, 5-10, 160, So. 12-1 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A / Big Seven League Brent Maycock Coach: Warren Seitz (7th year, 50-14) Assistants: Mark Mayberry, Terry Stueve, Cory Bass, Kelly Williams, Jason Hajek Offense: Spread Defense: 4-4 selection. Schoenfeld (60), Jonathan Brase (48), Matthew Cruickshank (38) and David Hutley (33) all Returning lettermen: 21 had at least 30 tackles with Schoenfeld also picking Returning starters: 6 Offense, 5 Defense Mitchell Henry, RB/DB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Mitchell off three passes. Wins over traditional 2A powers Olpe and Centralia Heiman, LB, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Luke Haverkamp, WR, 6-1, 180, Sr.; Eli Wilson, DT, 5-10, 260, Sr.; jump-started St. Marys’ three-win improvement a year ago and the Bears will open with both again be- Eli McWilliams, OG/DT, 5-10, 270, Sr.; Bryant fore starting league play against defending champion Stallbaumer, C, 6-1, 180, Sr.; Caleb Henry, OT/DE, Silver Lake. Though three-time defending 3A cham- 5-11, 180, Sr.; Matt Feldkamp, OG, 5-10, 190, Sr. Brent Maycock pion Rossville awaits in district play, St. Marys should contend for its first playoff berth since 2013 with both Council Grove and Mission Valley having to replace large, talented senior classes from a year ago. Two years removed from a fruitless 0-9 campaign, Sterling was back in the playoff picture in 2016. The 4-5 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 3A / Mid-East League Black Bears’ re-emergence came under the direction Coach: Myron Flax (3rd year, 5-13) Assistants: Troy Biladeau, Casey Flax, Mark O’Halloran, Kevin of Tyson Bauerle, who spent two seasons at the helm. Bauerle has departed, shifting the head coachVanderbilt Offense: Spread Defense: 4-2-5 ing position to former assistant Derek Schneider. Returning lettermen: 15 Schneider has a history of success on the hardwood, Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense guiding Sterling’s boys basketball program. David Hutley, OL/LB, 5-9, 183, Sr.; Peter Trausch, Sterling football can score like a basketball squad. OG/DE, 6-1, 183, Sr.; Jonathan Brase, TE/LB, 5-11, 182, Sr.; Mitchel Flanagan, QB, 5-11, 176, Sr.; Tae- The Black Bears scratched their way to 37.6 points gan Schoenfeld, RB/FS, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Trevor Acker, per game, one of the top marks in 3A. The trepidation WR/SS, 5-9, 167, Sr.; Austin Rieschick, WR/K, 5-9, will come from whether Sterling has answers for 176, Sr.; Matthew Cruickshank, NG, 6-0, 197, Sr. BM slowing the opponent down. In all four of Sterling’s losses, the defense caved for at least 35 points. Schneider is stressing accountability and following through on scheme assignments as goals. Most of the roster returns, another year older and expected to make another step in their development. The starting lines are intact, as well as offensive perimeter targets Blake Richter and Lucas Briar. Halstead (9-2) remains the class of 3A’s District 11 (620) 278-2244 Sterling, Ks. until proven otherwise. Sterling picked up fairly comfortable triumphs over Hutchinson Trinity and Haven


St. Marys took a big step in Myron Flax’s second year as coach, jumping from one win in 2015 to a 4-5 mark last year. Now in year three and with an experienced senior class which cut its teeth as sophomores in 2015, the Bears hope to take another one this season. Such progress would come within the context of the Mid-East League. Last year, the Bears went 0-4 against league foes (they didn’t play Wabaunsee) and were outscored 190-21 in those contests. The closest league game was a 35-7 loss to Rock Creek and the Bears gave up at least 41 points in the other three. Outside of league play, St. Marys flourished a year ago, going 4-1. The lone loss came to Council Grove in the start of district play, a loss that ultimately kept the Bears out of the playoffs after they finished the season with a 45-28 upset of Mission Valley. Improved offensive production was the biggest key to St. Marys’ turnaround season as the Bears nearly doubled their scoring output from the 2015 season, averaging just more than 20 points per game. Taegan Schoenfeld became a force and workhorse at tailback, rushing for 1,041 of the team’s 1,435 yards and scoring 11 of its 15 touchdowns on the ground. A starter since his freshman year, Schoenfeld returns to lead the St. Marys offense and should have plenty of help. Senior quarterback Mitchel Flanagan missed two games and should improve on his numbers after throwing for just 429 yards and four scores, though he only attempted 61 passes. His top-two receivers also return, but neither had more than nine catches or 150 yards. Five of the Bears’ top-seven tacklers return defensively, led by junior strong safety Trevor Acker, who had 91 tackles and was a first-team all-league


The Bluejays hit the ground running in 2016, literally, and rode a punishing ground game to a 9-2 record in which both losses were by six points and came to 3A semifinalist Nemaha Central and 3A state champion Rossville. Coach Garrett Michael called the team the most unselfish he’d ever been around and a senior class of 14 advanced to the regionals for the third time in four years. Only two starters return to an offense which ran roughshod all season long, producing a pair of backs who topped 1,350 yards — Blake Plattner (1,365 yards, 27 TDs) and Trae Snyder (1,352 yards, 18 TDs) — and averaged 358.2 rushing yards and 44.7 points per game while turning it over just four times. Plattner and Snyder are gone and so are standout linemen Greg Remmers and Peyton Strahm, both first-team All-Big Seven League picks. A number of blowouts allowed reserves to get plenty of varsity snaps, but no returning rusher had more than 215 yards with junior Joel Hackney’s 214 yards and five touchdowns leading the way. The defense returns six starters, but the departed starters were key ones who helped the Bluejays to a plus-15 turnover margin with 19 takeaways including 14 interceptions. Eric Renyer was an All-Class 3A pick on the line and Snyder was the second-leading tackler. Junior linebacker Cauy Rokey led the Bluejays in tackles as a sophomore with 88 and senior Cole Oehm was in on 56 stops to rank fourth on the team. With 19 lettermen returning and Sabetha’s junior varsity going 6-1 in ‘16, the Bluejays are hopeful to simply reload and make another run.

United Ag Service

S. Hwy 281



Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


Already the state’s all-time winningest coach, Silver Lake’s CJ Hamilton hit another major milestone in 2016, becoming the first high school coach in state history — and just the 20th ever nationally — to win 400 games. Hamilton finished the 2016 season right on the number as the Eagles went 10-1, pushing his career record to an astounding 400-90. A 21-14 loss to fellow unbeaten Nemaha Central in the Class 3A state quarterfinals denied Silver Lake a shot at the program’s ninth state title and was the only hiccup on the ledger a year ago. The Eagles handed eventual state champion Rossville its only loss of the season, a 36-28 win which secured the Mid-East League title for the first time since 2012, and only two other wins were by less than 23 points — a 27-14 win over Riley County and 21-19 squeaker over Perry-Lecompton to start district play. An explosive offense directed by quarterback Dalton Dultmeier averaged 35 points and just more than 400 yards per game a year ago with the Eagles scoring less than 36 just three times and topping 50 on four occasions. Dultmeier finished with 2,714 yards of total offense and led the Eagles in passing (2,089 yards, 19 TDs) and rushing (625 yards, 11 TDs), but has graduated leaving the offense in the hands of junior Mason Griffin. Griffin saw plenty of time in the Eagles’ numerous blowouts and wound up throwing for 364 yards and nine touchdowns. The return of three starting receivers led by senior Keenan Baird (42 catches, 554 yards, 6 TDs) and Wyatt Heiman (31 catches, 605 yards, 9 TDs) will make the transition an easy one, as does the return of tailback Mason Jones, who ran for 516 yards and 7 touchdowns. As good as Silver Lake’s offense was a year ago, it’s defense was as strong or stronger. The Eagles pitched four shutouts and held six of their 11 opponents to a touchdown or less, allowing just 12 points and 175 yards per game. All-Class 3A linebacker Josh Boyd spearheaded the unit, making 127 tackles to lead the Eagles for the second straight season Three of the top-four tacklers from a year ago return overall with Will Boyd in on 83 tackles and Baird on 54. Baird and cornerback Trent Byers each had five interceptions as both joined Josh Boyd as first-team all-league selections. Silver Lake will have holes to fill on both lines with senior all-league tackle Josh Dallman and senior offensive guard Tyler Griffin the lone returners. 10-1 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A / Mid-East League Coach: CJ Hamilton (42nd year, 400-90) Assistants: Warren Bledsoe, Travis Hamilton, Nick Hamilton, Loren Ziegler, Mike VandeVelde Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 20 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Josh Boyd, LB, 5-11, 210, Sr.; Keenan Baird, WR/S, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Mason Jones, RB/S, 5-9, 170, Sr.; Josh Dallman, OT, 6-1, 240, Sr.; Jordan Priddy, LB, 5-6, 140, Sr.; Will Boyd, LB, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Trent Byers, CB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Tyler Griffin, OG, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Wyatt Heiman, WR, 6-2, 160, Jr.; Dillon Byrne, WR, 6-2, 170, Jr. Brent Maycock


to place itself as the district runner-up and earn its ticket to the playoffs. Sterling visited the playoffs each year from 2006 to 2013. The program won a state title in 1982, the Black Bears’ only journey past the quarterfinals in their history. Sterling placed third in its first season assigned to the eight-team Heart of America League, compiling a 5-2 record against HOA competition. 6-4 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 3A / Heart of America Coach: Derek Schneider (1st year) Assistants: Wes Laudermilk, Eric Wenzel, Brian Richter Offense: Split Back Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 9 Offense, 9 Defense Trent Jones, OL/DL, 5-11, 230, Sr.; Eli Miller, OL/ DL, 5-10, 195, Sr.; John Schweizer, OL/DL, 6-5, 195, Sr.; Brady Ravenstein, OL/DL, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Blake Richter, WR/DB, 6-1, 165, Sr.; Lucas Briar, WR/DB, 6-4, 190, Sr.; Hans Anderson, RB/LB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Dylan Stewart, OL/LB, 6-0, 175, Jr.; Conan Ball, RB/ DB, 5-10, 165, Jr.; Brady Myers, QB/LB, 5-11, 170, So. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


In 2015, Syracuse reached the playoffs for the first time since ’04 and just the second occasion since 1999. The Bulldogs fell, 45-6, to Oakley in the first round of the Class 2-1A postseason before they moved to 3A this past fall. Syracuse opened with a 40-6 loss to Ellis, then defeated Beaver (Okla.), 3512, and Stanton County, 44-0. Syracuse fell, 32-20, at Elkhart and 58-0 at Meade before a 64-13 home win versus Sublette. Syracuse finished 0-3 in district play with a 22-12 home loss against Southwestern Heights, a 56-0 road defeat to Cimarron and a 43-0 home loss to Lakin. The Bulldogs will again have the same teams in district play. John Guerrero, in his 14th year at the school and fifth as head coach, has helped make Syracuse competitive the last several years. Syracuse had its 28-game losing streak snapped in ’14 and posted 3-6, 4-6 and 3-6 records the last three seasons. Eight offensive and nine defensive starters return. Four seniors: linemen Hayden Bezona and Jake Mitchell, end Christopher Lozar, and running back/linebacker Ty Vernon are all going to be 3-year starters “Establish a winning season and to make the playoffs and not go one and done when we get there,” Guerrero said of the team’s goals. And the key to achieving those goals? “How well our JV players from last year adjust to bigger roles on varsity this year.” 3-6 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A Hi-Plains League Coach: John Guerrero (5th year, 10-26) Assistants: Brent Parks Offense: Double Wing Pistol Defense: 5-3 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 9 Defense Ty Vernon, RB/LB, Sr.; Christopher Lozar, TE/DE, Sr.; Payson Hawkins, RB/DB, Jr.; Josh Griffen, RB/ CB, Sr.; Jake Mitchell, C/DL, Sr.; Austin Damson, OL/DL, Jr.; Hayden Bezona, OL/DL, Sr.; Clayton Wharton, TE/DE, Sr.; Reece Hart, DE, Jr. Conor Nicholl



Looking to build of its 2015 playoff berth, Riverside instead saw key early injuries decimate any hopes of getting back to the postseason. The Cyclones lost their top-two returning offensive players by week four and never recovered, winning just once in their final five games after a 2-2 start to finish 3-6 overall. The big blow was the loss of running back Gaige Olivero, who not only was the heart of the Cyclones defense, but also had rushed for nearly 700 yards as a junior and had already gained 401 yards and six touchdowns in three games before tearing up his knee. Adding insult to injury, literally, starting quarterback Andrew Miller went down the next week after having thrown for more than 900 yards as a sophomore starter. Riverside turned to sophomore Auntonio Jones and freshman Bradley Libel to fill his void, but neither finished with more than 115 yards passing or 79 rushing. The 1-2 punch was a huge blow, though Riverside could benefit from the adverse conditions this year. In Olivero’s absence, Dawson Dick emerged as the Cyclones’ workhorse back, rushing for 885 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore. He’ll return as the feature back and Miller will be back as well under center, giving Riverside a pair of known commodities in the backfield. Whereas line play was a strength going into last season with four of five starters back, it’s a weakness for this year’s squad. Junior Brock Blair is the only returning starter up front and the unit won’t have a senior or much size with junior Caleb Liechti the only projected starter over 200 pounds. Defensively, the front seven will have to rebuilt with just two of the five returning starters not coming from the secondary.

Another year, another deep postseason run for Wellsville. Though the Eagles couldn’t quite return to the Class 3A semifinals like they did in 2015, they still extended their streak of not only making the playoffs, but winning at least one postseason game every year since 2010. Last year’s 10-2 season ended with a quarterfinal loss to undefeated Nemaha Central as the Thunder rolled to a 42-14 win. It was the only game Wellsville surrendered more than 26 points last year as once again a stout defense carried the Eagles throughout the season. Only two other teams managed more than 12 points — Galena in a 27-22 loss to the Eagles in the second round of the playoffs and Santa Fe Trail in a 26-21 win over Wellsville which denied the Eagles the Pioneer League title. Few programs have matched Wellsville’s consistency over much of the past decade. That consistency will get a major test this year as Wellsville graduated the bulk of last year’s offensive production which helped the Eagles average 35.6 points and 360 yards per game. Graduation claimed 1,500-yard passer Trajen Smith and 1,200-yard rusher Reece Williams, who also was the Eagles’ leading receiver with just under 600 yards. So what’s left to work with for fifth-year coach Brad Burkdoll? Well, line play will be a strength with senior center Aaron Mosher a two-time first-team all-league selection and junior tackle Dalton Purdham (6-4, 270) emerging as one of the top linemen in 3A. Junior Zach Vance takes over at quarterback after attempting just six passes as Smith’s backup a year ago. With the top-four rushers gone, senior Anthony Geist (127 yards) and sophomore Chase Farley (35) are next in line to take on the backfield load.

3-6 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 3A / Big Seven League Coach: Scot Koranda (6th year, 35-22) Assistants: Dave Losey, Bryce Paden, Dustyn Holland Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 5 Defense Andrew Miller, QB/SS, 6-4, 170, Sr.; Drew Trump, LB/TE, 5-8, 225, Sr.; Scott Resler, SB/DL, 5-8, 145, Sr.; Dawson Dick, RB/FS, 6-0, 170, Jr.; Cornelious Anderson, WR/DB, 6-0, 160, Jr.; Brock Blair, C/DE, 6-0, 180, Jr. Brent Maycock

10-2 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A / Pioneer League Coach: Brad Burkdoll (5th year, 37-11) Assistants: Duane McCarty, Mark Messer, Eric Sayler, Jason Spradling Offense: N/A Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 11 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Anthony Geist, RB/MLB, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Ryan Larsen, LT/LB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Aaron Mosher, C/DE, 6-1, 245, Sr.; Briar Jackson, DE, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Dalton Purdham, RT/DE, 6-4, 270, Jr.; Zach Vance, QB/S, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Chase Farley, RB/OLB, 5-9, 180, So. Brent Maycock

Page 108


Wichita Independent enters 2017 with its third coach in four years. Eric Swenson steps up from a previous role as a Panther assistant. He is also the school’s track and field coach. “My main focus for the offseason was to improve our overall numbers, which we have done,” Swenson said. “Now we need to develop playmakers out of our numbers.” Independent welcomes eight returners back on both sides of the ball, with a few particularly notable standouts. Defensive lineman Gunnar Jensen makes life miserable for opposing ball carriers, collecting 59 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries as a junior. Helping lock down the pass defense is Matt Daughtery, who stole three interceptions from his secondary post. On offense, Aveon Hodge will handle an increased workload after averaging more than six yards per carry and punching in five touchdowns. “Talented, but depth could be an issue. We have some good, skilled players, including a good group of underclassmen and newcomers to the program, and a veteran group of linemen,” Swenson said. “We have to replace a linebacker group that led the defense this past season. However, our size, strength and team speed will be much improved from last season. Offensively, there has been quite a bit of change.” The Panthers’ district remains open for the taking. Independent, Bluestem, Douglass and Belle Plaine all come off seven-loss seasons. The Panthers started 2016 on a six-game losing skid, but swept through district play to storm into the playoffs. There, they nearly pulled off a shocker, placing a scare in Garden Plain before succumbing 12-7. 3-7 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 3A Central Plains League Coach: Eric Swenson (1st year) Assistants: James Todd, Ulysses Deshazer, Cedric Payne, Zach Villalpando, Charles Wise Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense Gunnar Jensen, OL/DE, 6-2, 190, Sr.; Grant Burmeister, OL/DE, 6-2, 250, Sr.; Ethan Chandler, OL/DE, 6-1, 185, Sr.; Aveon Hodge, RB/DB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Levi Newman, OL/DE, 6-1, 225, Jr.; Waylon Chance, RB/QB/LB/FS, 5-11, 175, Jr.; Matt Daugherty, QB/WR/DB, 6-3, 165, Jr.; Karson Little, TE/DE, 6-4, 245, So. Kyle McCaskey

TROY TROJAN FOOTBALL 4 Straight Winning Seasons 4 Straight Playoff Appearances 4 Straight Seasons With At Least One Playoff Victory

2016 State Champions (13-0) 2015 State Runner-up (10-2) 2014 Semi-Finalist (10-2) 2013 Quarter-Finalist (7-4) Monday - Saturday 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM Sunday 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM 325 E. Locust St. Troy, KS 66087

(785) 985-2141

Proud supporters of the Troy Trojans!

Troy Recreation Association providing opportunities for the youth of Troy, Ks

Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 5pm-Midnight; Fri., 5pm-2am; Sat., 11am-2am; Sun. 11am-8pm 412 W Locust St • Troy, Kansas • (785) 982-1721

Proud supporters of the Troy Trojans!

T h e T roy Booster C lu b prou dl y su pports T rojan Football

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Conor Nicholl For Kansas Pregame Sedgwick coach Jeff Werner has talked with his coaching staff and players about the open possibilities for Class 2-1A this fall. Titlist Troy and runner-up Plainville each took significant graduation losses, including all-state signal callers Reid Greaser and Hayden Friend. “It’s truly the most wide-open that I can remember going into a season not being able to pin down who the top teams were going to be,” Werner said. “I think really it could be some outstanding games.” Smith Center (9-3) returns multiple key starters, including all-state lineman Dalton Kuhn (15 TFLs) and all-state defensive back Colton Hutchinson (99 tackles), who also spent much of the year as the quarterback. SC has lost in the sub-state title game in each of the last two years. The Redmen led the classification in scoring defense last year at 10.6 points permitted a game, but did graduate Kaden Meitler, a three-sport standout and a 1,000-yard rusher as a junior. Pittsburg Colgan, which fell to Troy in the eastern substate title game and went 8-4, has a new coach after legendary Chuck Smith retired after 37 years as Panther head coach and a 376-80 overall record. Halstead defensive coordinator Shawn Seematter took over as Colgan’s coach for a program that leads Kansas in all-time winning percentage and has won seven state titles. Seematter is just the third Colgan coach since 1961. The Panthers return all-state senior tight end Jeremiah Buche (538 yards). Meade, a traditional 2-1A power, lost coach Scott Moshier to Wichita North. Moshier was the architect of the Meade single wing success that yielded 107 wins and two state titles in 11 years. The Buffs easily led 2-1A in scoring offense each of the last two years at 47.8 and 50.6 points per contest, respectively. Assistant coach Justin Powell served on Moshier’s staff all 11 falls and is now the head coach. No Buffs player returns with more than 219 rushing yards. Three of the topfour tacklers graduated. “The expectations are always high here to carry on the great tradition of Meade football,” Powell said. “We wouldn’t want it any other way.” Lyndon, 9-2 last season and 26-7 in the last three years under coach Brent Hoelting, does return electrifying senior all-purpose threat Dexton Swinehart (2,151 offensive yards). However, the Tigers, on a streak of six straight playoff berths, has lost in the quarterfinals the last three falls and has not made a title in school annals. Washington County went 18-4 in ’15-16 but graduated all-stater Hunter Kier, the team’s leading rusher. Similar to Ell-Saline in 2014 and Plainville last year, EllSaline, Jefferson County North and Chase County could be among the surprises this fall. “It’s going to be really who the unknown kids that now get their chances – who steps up really well,” Werner said. “Smith Center had some young kids. We played them a couple of years ago, so they should still be pretty tough. But several of those schools, they had some outstanding players graduate, so it will be interesting to see what happens.” Werner returns as Sedgwick’s head coach after taking a year off. He coached Sedgwick from 2006-14, easily the

Page 109

best football run in Cardinals’ history. Werner, one of the early Kansas architects for the wide-open spread offense, resigned after the ’14 season once his son, Nate, graduated. Nate signed on to play at Southwestern College in Winfield, and Werner wanted to see him play. Former assistant Doug Mabry took over as head football coach and kept Sedgwick going with a 7-3 record, an undefeated district title and 34.2 points a contest. Sedgwick has six straight perfect district records and has made the playoffs eight of the last 10 years with a winning mark each time. As well, the Cardinals have averaged at least 34 points a contest for nine straight falls. Werner against assisted Mabry in the spring with baseball and enjoyed going to practice and games. On the bus rides, Mabry and Werner discussed a plan. Werner thought he could balance football and life and decided to come back. Mabry went back to assistant football coach, and Sedgwick’s staff is the same as 2015. Both Mabry and Werner have been at Sedgwick since they were hired in 2006. “We had our coaches meeting, and I just said, ‘Guys, it kind of feels like we’re just kind of starting a new season,’” Werner said. “‘I was just injured last year. I was out for the season.’ So we’ve just kind of picked up, and it’s just a natural feeling to kind of be back together again. Our team will look different than we have looked in the past. We are going to be awfully young in a lot of spots, and awfully small in all the spots.” Sedgwick returns all of its top skill players and just one offensive linemen from a team that lost 24-21 to Republic County in the first round of the playoffs and went 7-3. Since moving to Class 2-1A, Sedgwick is 23-4 in the regular season but 0-3 in the playoffs. Junior Hooper Schroeder is back at quarterback after seeing significant time as a freshman and starting as a sophomore. Senior Brayden Francis returns at wide receiver after he had an all-state year with 15 receiving scores. Sedgwick did have 25 turnovers and finished minus-3 in turnover margin. In 2015, the Cardinals had 14 turnovers and were plus-11 in turnover margin. Smith Center has won 19 games in the last two years, second among 2-1A teams to Troy’s 23. The Redmen have seven offensive and six defensive starters back from a team that opened 0-2 before nine straight wins. The senior class is veteran-laden with Kuhn, Hutchinson, ends Brett Meyer and Avery Hawkins and linemen Camden Dietz and Austin Hobelmann, along with running back Jesse Staples and linebacker Trace Haven.

CLASS 2-1A “We again have some good experience returning at many positions,” fifth-year coach Darren Sasse said. “If we can stay healthy and have a good summer preparing, we can be successful.” Ell-Saline, 3-6 the last two seasons after a surprise state final run in ’14, have a veteran offensive line returning and Nick Davenport, a returning starter at quarterback. “We should be a much-improved competitive team this coming season,” coach Terry King said. “Based on the number of returning quality starters on both sides of the ball. Our entire offensive line will be returning, which should be huge for us.” Plainville (11-2) finished as the No. 2 scoring defense with 11.5 points per contest. The Cardinals’ defense, which finished plus-21 in turnover margin, should again be solid behind all-state senior Hayden Gillum and sophomore Jared Casey, the team’s two leading tacklers. Third-year Jefferson County North coach Jeff Schneider has enjoyed a big turnaround. JCN had just one winning record from ’07-14 before 6-4 and 8-2 records the last two years. The Chargers finished sixth in scoring offense (34.6 points/game) and had a major defensive improvement from 25.6 points allowed in ’15 to 12.7 last year, fifth-best in the classification. Also in District 3, Chase County went from 2-7 to 6-3 in the first fall with coach Brody Vandergrift, an assistant on several successful Victoria programs in the mid-2000s. Chase County was 0-9 against Olpe from ’04-15 before a 14-7 win last fall. Olpe has made the playoffs every year but one since ’05, including the last five straight. The Eagles won the 2014 title. Last season, Lyndon, Olpe and Chase County each went 2-1, but Lyndon (plus-28) won the district over Olpe (plus-20) and Chase County (plus-15). Conor Nicholl is a sportswriter from western Kansas who has covered teams across the state in a 10 year career.


1. Smith Center 2. Pittsburg-St. Mary’s Colgan 3. Lyndon 4. Sedgwick 5. Jefferson County North Others: Elkhart, Ell-Saline, Chase County, Jackson Heights, Meade, Olpe, Plainville, Troy, Valley Heights

Simmons-Rentschler Mortuary

116 W 1st St Smith Center, KS 785-282-6691

“Our family serving your family!�

Western Area Eastern Area

Proud to support Republic County schools! 1806 M Street | Belleville, KS 66935 | (785) 527-2146 | 1-800-443-5409

Caring Pharmacists. Caring for you.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Alan Dale For Kansas Pregame A year ago, the Lyndon Tigers made their way into the postseason on the merit of a strong 8-1 regular season which included a 2-1 mark in District 3 play – good enough for a three-way tie for the top spot. The Tigers ended up making it to the round of 16, losing to eventual Class 2-1A champs, Troy, but none of it came before all-purpose back Dexton Swinehart was able to make quite the impression. Swinehart, now a senior and 2-1A All-State pick a year ago, finished the 2016 campaign with 1,493 rushing yards, 658 yards receiving and over 2,000 combined yards along with 26 total touchdowns. Now, Swineheart, who also plays strong safety, is back and ready to do even more as his final chapter of prep football is set to be written. “I love competing with my teammates on Friday nights, and the grind that comes with it in the off-season,” Swineheart said. ”It’s fun working with your teammates towards a common goal. “I am working on becoming the best leader I can be and also making sure I’m the hardest worker in every practice session and every game that I can be. As far as team goals, we always prioritize winning our league and, just like anyone else, the ultimate goal is a state championship.” According to head coach Brent Hoelting, Lyndon – the defending Flint Hills League champions – will rely on the multiple talents of Swineheart to make things happen. “Dex is a great kid, all the way around,” Hoelting said. “He’s a real hard worker, he works his rear off in the weight room and does everything you ask him to do. He’s the kid that makes us go and we put a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. “He plays quarterback, he plays running back, he plays receiver, we kind of move him all around to keep other teams off balance. We asked him to do a little bit of everything and he does it. Offensively and defensively as well.” Swineheart posts impressive marks in the weight room for his size, benching 225 pounds, squatting 335 and cleaning 260. But his speed and explosiveness are his vital assets. His best vertical leap is 32 inches while he can run a 4.56 40-yard dash. “I weigh 160 and can deadlift 405,” Swineheart added. Hoelting notes that in order to do this kind of work all over the field, an athlete has to be very sharp and understand all the different skill sets one must possess. “You have to be very smart and he picks up stuff pretty quick,” Hoelting said. “He knows our offense inside and out. You can put him anywhere and he can go anywhere. We can transition to whatever look we want and it’s not a problem since he is such a smart kid.” Hoelting says that Swineheart hasn’t rested on his laurels as he continues to try to build his game trying to take that next step. “He has really worked on his strength, he is much stronger,” Hoelting said. “He has worked on his route running and his footwork, those little things that get you open. He has really committed to that and…the speed in and out of breaks.” Swinehart caugh 36 balls for 658 yards and seven scores from quarterback Rylan Burns last year, who finished with 1,286 yards passing and 13 scores. With Burns gone via graduation, Swinehart may take over at quarterback this year and run the offense in the same way his older brother, Dawson, did in leading Lyndon to a 9-2 season in 2014. When he does throw, he’ll have solid targets in returning ends Jaden Hielscher and Jamie Reed, who combined for 26 catches and 499 yards last year. The biggest holes for Lyndon to fill are up front where two-time All-Class 2-1A lineman Trystan Pringle and two other starters have graduated. Mason Slusher moved from the backfield to the line a year ago to help solidify the unit and returns after also leading the Tigers in tackles for the second straight year with 100 stops a year ago. “My most memorable football moment is winning our seventh straight league title (last year),” Swineheart said. Hoelting says that Swineheart could open up games at slot back and then begin to move around depending on what the defense shows. “Depending on what we need, what we see, we try to disguise him as much as possible so other teams have trouble game planning,” the coach said. “During a (big) drive I’d put him everywhere. Running-wise, we like to run counters and powers from the quarterback position with him back there. We run jet sweeps and we love to put him in motion on pass routes.” Whatever his role, Swineheart will be looked upon to provide the catalyst for yet another playoff appearance for the Tigers. Lyndon is looking for their seventh consecutive trip to the postseason, and their 11th trip in the last 12 seasons.

(Photo by Derek Livingston,Page 111


THE SWINEHEART FILE Hobbies: “I like to lift and hang out with my friends and family.” Favorite subject: Weight Training and Math Favorite food: Wings Favorite musician: Chance the Rapper Favorite pregame song: “Refuse” by New Noise Most memorable high school football moment: “Winning our seventh straight league title last year.”

Brought to you by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to

PSU Veterans Memorial Amphitheatre Since it was dedicated on Memorial Day in 2004, hundreds of thousands of visitors have walked through the impressive tribute to all veterans. The threeacre site on the southeast part of the PSU campus is extensively landscaped including many trees to create a park setting that contributes to the serenity of the area. The Amphitheater is open 24 hours a day, year round with no admission fee and is ADA accessible.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 112 Joel Benson, CPA Mary Benson, CPA

Specializing in small businesses

Benson Accounting 1809 N St • Belleville, KS • 785-527-2226


Coming off its first winning season since 2010, Northern Heights hoped to build on that success in 2016. Instead, the holes left by graduation proved too big and the Wildcats slipped back to a 2-7 mark last year. The biggest battle Heights faced a year ago might have been depth, which could also be the case this season. Only seven lettermen return and six of them were starters a year ago. A strong passing game has been a forte for Heights since veteran coach Greg French switched to his shotgun spread offense and last year was no different. Mason French threw for 1,321 yards and 14 touchdowns in taking over as the starter under center. This year, the job will fall to senior Justin Redelfs, who saw spot duty last year and threw for 133 yards. Sophomore end Tee Preisner should give Redelfs a go-to target after he had 25 catches for 571 yards and four scores as a freshman starter last year. But French’s graduation leaves a big void as he accounted for 1,475 of Heights 2,017 yards of total offense a year ago. No returning back had more than 36 rushing yards and Heights only managed 512 total yards on the ground last year, unable to provide a balance for the offense after losing 1,000-yard rusher Trent Burd from the 2015 playoff squad. Senior Michael DeWeese had a big year from his defensive tackle spot, leading the Wildcats with 96 tackles and 8 sacks. Preisner added 77 tackles as a freshman starter at linebacker and Marcus Waters (57) and Avery Lupkes (39) also had strong years. But stopping opposing offenses was problematic for the Wildcats a year ago. Allowing just six total points in the two wins over Yates Center and Central Heights, Northern Heights gave up 28 or more in all seven losses and at least 38 in its final five games. Heights opens the season with rival Osage City and again faces an extremely tough district with Lyndon, Chase County and Olpe.

Marysville (785) 562-2186


Republic County continued its massive turnaround and enjoyed the first playoff appearance in school history since the consolidation of Belleville and Hillcrest in the mid-2000s. Belleville had last made state in 1995, while Hillcrest last made state in ’99. Last fall, La Crosse and Republic County became the first 2-1A teams to enter the playoffs with a losing record and win a postseason contest since 2010. Republic County opened 1-4 including two losses by a combined 24 points. Then, RC won at Russell, 2114, and beat Ell-Saline, 42-12. After a 40-7 road loss to Smith Center, RC defeated Sacred Heart, 35-10, on the road to move into the playoffs. The Buffs faced Sedgwick in the first round and won 24-21. Republic County took an 18-6 lead in the fourth quarter before the Cardinals led 21-18 with 1:32 left in the contest. Then, quarterback Trey Kuhlman hit Trevor Lowell with a 45-yard touchdown pass to give RC the winning score with six seconds left. Second-year coach Kevin Couture listed the team’s goals as to get out of districts and back to the play offs. RC will again have to matchup with Smith Center and an improving Ell-Saline team. Senior Nick Allsman returns after he had 141 carries for 969 yards, both team-highs, and tied for the lead with eight rushing scores. “Having a very young offensive line progress,” Couture said of the team’s keys, “lost all starters to graduation.”

1929 S. Ohio Office: (785)827-3157 Salina, KS 67401 Fax: (785)827-3159


Coming off a playoff berth in 2014, Valley Heights was tremendously disappointed in the 2-7 showing in 2015. That served as motivation for the Mustangs in 2016 and the result was a huge turnaround. Heights went 7-3 with two of the three losses coming to eventual Class 2-1A state champion Troy — the first in the season opener and the second a 42-16 loss in the first round of the playoffs. In between, the Mustangs reeled off seven straight wins in which they scored at least 34 points six times before a 42-36 shootout loss to Washington County denied them a district title. The Mustangs only graduated four seniors off last year’s squad. The bad news is those four seniors were big-time performers for the Mustangs and a class veteran coach Tony Trimble deemed the best leaders and character kids he’s had. Tailback Hunter Stevenson was an All-Class 2-1A first-teamer after rushing for 1,662 yards and 23 touchdowns while quarterback Logan Woodyard was a two-year starter who directed the offense to 37.7 points per game a year ago. Linemen Garrett Link and Will Yungeberg were multi-year starters who earned All-Twin Valley League honors. If Trimble can fill those holes, Heights should challenge for league and district titles behind an experienced cast of returning starters. While Stevenson did a lot of the heavy lifting in the backfield a year ago, senior Jordan Yungeberg wasn’t that far behind, rushing for 913 yards. He’ll be the workhorse this year as new faces step into the vacated holes. The strength of both the offense and defense will be up front. Senior center Dalton Joseph and senior tight end Harrison Blaske were first-team all-leaguers and the Mustangs return five of seven starters along the line offensively and six of its front seven defensively.

5-6 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 2-1A North Central Activities Association Coach: Kevin Couture (2nd year, 5-6) Assistants: Nate Larkins, Brad Wilkinson Offense: Spread Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 8 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 3 Defense Nick Allsman, RB/S, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Deon Dyke, RB/ 7-3 in 2016 / 3-1 in district / 2-1A LB, 5-7, 140, Sr.; Mckenzie Cromwell, RB/LB, 5-10, Twin Valley League 180, Sr. Conor Nicholl Coach: Tony Trimble (13th year, 60-55) 2-7 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 2-1A / Flint Hills League Assistants: Lew Whitson, Ron Lee Coach: Greg French (20th year) Offense: Triple Option Defense: 4-3 Assistants: Darwin Sweetman, Brett Barnett Returning lettermen: 11 Offense: Shotgun Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense COVER C NORTH WE Returning lettermen: 7 Harrison Blaske, TE/DE, 6-2, 180, Sr.; Jordan CENTRAL KANSAS N Returning starters: 4 Offense, 6 Defense Yungeberg, LB/FB, 5-7, 180, Sr.; Dalton Joseph, C/ B • CONCORDIA • CLAY CENTER DL, 5-10, 195, Sr.; Bryan Yungeberg, SB/DB, 5-11, Michael DeWeese, DT/OG, 6-2, 200, Sr.; Moses • BELLEVILLE • GREENLEAF Guerrero, OL/DT, 5-10, 225, Jr.; Tee Preisner, TE/ 150, Sr.; Brady Trimble, OL/LB, 6-0, 175, Jr.; Allen THE LB, 6-2, 200, So.; Marcus Waters, RB/S, 5-8, 145, Tryon, OL/DL, 5-10, 200, Jr.; Jeremy Reed, TE/DE, Jr.; Avery Lupkes, DE, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Layne Combes, CITIZENS 6-2, 180, Jr.; Payden Yungeberg, LB, 5-7, 155, Jr.; We want to be WR/S, 5-10, 150, Sr. Brent Maycock NATIONAL Trey Martin, DB, 6-0, 165, So. Brent Maycock YOUR bank! BANK MEMBER FDIC


The 2016 season must have felt like a trip to Bizarro World for Centralia. One of the state’s top small-school programs for the last two decades — a stretch that included 20 straight playoff berths and three Class 2-1A state titles — Centralia had one of those years where everything got turned upside down. Injuries hit early and often. The schedule was an absolute beast. And a young team struggled to continue the tradition. It all added up to a scratch-your-head 1-8 season in the Panthers’ return to Class 2-1A after a two-year stint in 3A. The lone win was a 49-13 romp past Doniphan West, but it wasn’t enough to put any kind of positive spin on the program’s first losing campaign in more than 20 years. Veteran coach Larry Glatczak hopes the season to forget was a one-year anomally and his program will return to its usual position as one of 2-1A’s best. Centralia will return 19 lettermen and seven starters each way to right the ship. Of all the injuries the Panthers endured last year, losing quarterback Trenton Flentie early in the season was the killer. His departure forced Glatczak to move leading receiver and freshman Kamble Haverkamp into the backfield and though he did a solid job filling in for Flentie, it was a baptism under fire. Flentie is back and healthy and should stabilize a backfield which returns virtually in tact. Haverkamp will move back out to a slot position where he had 250 receiving yards last year, while Nathan Rempe

and Isaac Gore return to flank Flentie with Gore leading the team in rushing last year with 850 yards. Four of five who saw starting time return along the offensive line as Centralia juggled pieces last year trying to find the right fit. Defensively, Flentie still earned all-league honors in the secondary despite missing a bulk of the season. The schedule once again won’t give the Panthers any breaks. Centralia opens with a pair of 3As in Sabetha and St. Marys before beginning Twin Valley League play against defending 2-1A and league champion Troy. A district which was loaded a year ago won’t get any easier and the warm-up to district play is a clash with 3A power Nemaha Central. 1-8 in 2016 / 0-4 in district / 2-1A Twin Valley League Coach: Larry Glatczak (12th year, 105-34) Assistants: Roger Holthaus, Jim Kramer, Dusty Thompson Offense: Single Wing Defense: 4-4 Returning lettermen: 19 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Trenton Flentie, QB/FS, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Nathan Rempe, RB/CB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Brennan Carver, OT/ LB, 5-10, 235, Sr.; Josh Hasenkamp, C/LB, 5-11, 165, Sr.; Justin Ferron, OT/DE, 6-1, 185, Sr.; Caleb Durland, OG/DG, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Kamble Haverkamp, SB/CB, 5-10, 165, So.; Derek VanDorn, OT/DE, 6-3, 265, Jr.; Ethan Becker, E/CB, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Ethan Snowbarger, DG, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Isaac Gore, TB/ OLB, 5-10, 170, Jr. Brent Maycock


After a surprising 9-4 record and 2-1A runner-up showing in ’14, Ell-Saline went 3-6 the last two seasons. The Cardinals went 3-2 in league and 0-4 in non-league last fall. Before ’15, the Cardinals posted three straight winning records. This year, veteran coach Terry King believes Ell-Saline “should be a much-improved competitive team” with an undefeated J.V. team in ’15, eight returning starters on both sides and all five linemen returning. Guard Avery Bradley was a first team all-league selection, while guard Brandon Headlowe was second team all-league. Center Mason Farrell, a solid player, was injured the last three games. Bradley and Farrell have started on both sides of the ball each of the last two years, while Headlowe started both ways last year. Spencer Came is solid at tight end as a pass catcher and blocker. Senior defensive back Zaide Korb started both ways as a sophomore before a preseason injury in ‘16. Junior quarterback Nick Davenport has a year and a half of varsity experience. King said Ell-Saline needs to find some linebackers and develop some defensive backs. “We will open up our offense more this year as I believe Nick will have learned enough to utilize his ability to spread the ball around the field and use our speed and quickness,” King said. “We have the talent on board to have a successful season. The key to our success will be the preparation, commitment, and togetherness we obtain as a team in the summer. I do feel a higher level of commitment and excitement for the game in our boys returning and expect a higher level of summer preparation. Our young men know we have ability to have a great season and I feel they are gaining confidence.” 3-6 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 2-1A Heart of America League Coach: Terry King (18th year) Assistants: Kevin Patrick, Joe Roche, John Ludes, Brandon Toll Offense: Spread Defense: 5-2 Shell Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense Mason Farrell, C/DE, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Avery Bradley, G/ DT, 5-11, 230, Sr.; Brandon Headlowe, G/DT, 6-0, 230, Sr.; Jared Walsh, OT/DT, 5-11, 210, Sr.; Caleb Hammonds, DE/OLB, 6-2, 185, So.; Spencer Came, TE, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Nick Davenport, QB/LB, 6-1, 205, Jr.; Bryce Lange, RB/CB, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Clayton White, OT, 5-10, 225, Jr.; Reis Jennings, C, 5-10, 230, Jr.; Joel Came, DB/LB Conor Nicholl


They cycle broke for Chase County in 2016. And that was a mighty good thing. After four straight years of 2-7 seasons, the Bulldogs reversed their fortunes in Brody VanDegrift’s first year as head coach. Chase County matched their previous year’s win total in two weeks and won four of their last five games to finish 6-3 — the program’s first winning season since 2011. About the only downer in the turnaround season was that it didn’t produce Chase County’s first playoff berth since 2009. The Bulldogs tied Olpe and Lyndon with 2-1 district marks, but the Bulldogs ended up the odd man out for the Class 2-1A playoffs via the points system and Olpe and Lyndon advanced to the postseason. It hardly diminished from the job VanDegrift did in his first year with the program. Chase County boasted one of the stingiest defenses in 2-1A, allowing just 104 points in nine games. A stout defensive front played a key role in that unit’s success, namely the emergence of defensive end Joseph Stout. An All-Class 2-1A and first-team All-Flint Hills League pick, Stout made 81 tackles (12 for loss) and had eight sacks in leading a defensive front that also produced second-team all-leaguer Troy Conley. Both are back to maintain a solid front as Chase County looks to rebuild behind them with only two other starters in the back eight returning. Both Stout and Conley were all-leaguers on the offensive line as well with Stout a unanimous selection after helping clear the way for an offense which scored 20 or more points in six games last year. Leading rusher Kraig Hatcher (1,394 yards, 14 TDs)

has graduated, turning the feature back duties over to senior Ryan Kohr while sophomore Kale Budke steps in at quarterback for the departed Colton Potts. Only nine lettermen total return, leaving a slew of new faces to step into the vacated starting roles. But coming off a season where the Bulldogs posted the most wins in a single season since the 2000 team went 7-2, there’s a buzz around the program entering VanDegrift’s second year. 6-3 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 2-1A Flint Hills League Coach: Brody VanDegrift (2nd year, 6-3) Assistants: Derick Budke, Jerrod Barett, Brady Stout, Cade Witte Offense: Split Back Defense: 3-5 Returning lettermen: 9 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 4 Defense Joseph Stout, OL/DL, 6-3, 240, Sr.; Troy Conley, OL/ DL, 6-4, 275, SR.; Ryan Kohr, RB/LB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Jacob Tubach, WR/CB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Kale Budke, QB/S, 5-10, 165, So. Brent Maycock Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery

785-827-8500 2935 S. 9th St.

Carryout or Delivery

785-825-4422 1200 S. Santa Fe


Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


A pass-happy offense during a 4-5 season in 2015, Doniphan West changed its offensive identity when Rob Randall took over as head coach last year and instilled a run-first mentality. The transition was a 620-697-4555 somewhat bumpy one as the Mustangs dropped their first five games and finished with a 2-7 mark. A full year of familiarity should help the Mustangs Dine-in or Carryout as they try to improve on that starting point this year. Doniphan West returns the bulk of its starters on offense and enough on defense to build upon a Ellis opened 3-0 with a 40-6 win against Syracuse, strong finish to the season where it won two of its last a 42-32 victory versus TMP and a 50-2 win against four games. Having a four-year starter at quarterback is always Sublette. Then, the Railroaders lost five in a row. a big plus no matter what type of offense. And though Ellis fell, 41-26, to Valley Heights, 56-14 to senior signal caller Levi Watts didn’t have as big Phillipsburg, 52-0 against Smith Center and 44-12 of a season as he did in 2015 when he threw for to La Crosse. The Railers lost 48-0 at Plainville before ending the season with a 61-40 victory versus more than 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns, he still managed to have a solid showing as the Mustangs Oakley. evolved into a more run-oriented style of offense. Ellis suffered massive graduation losses, notably The biggest beneficiary of that switch was senior quarterback Easton Smith and running backs Clay back Clayton Ridout, who was an even bigger factor Feik and Dalton Hensley. Smith was a three-year defensively where he led the Mustangs in tackles starter and one of the most prolific passers in and earned first-team All-Twin Valley League honors. Mid-Continent League history. Hensley started all Ridout was a second-team all-league pick on offense four years. Ellis had 24 players, 10 seniors, on the and also was the first-team all-league punter. 2016 team. While Doniphan West entered last year with a ton Now, four seniors, Joseph Eck, Bryce Younger, Ryan Herl and Geoffrey Soneson, will move into key of questions on the line, the unit should be far more leadership positions. Eck was selected to all-league settled going into this season. Four starters return up front and there’s good size in senior Remington teams the last two years and might transition to a Powell (6-1, 246) and junior Norman Miller (5-8, 260). different position. Eck, an explosive player, had 70 Shoring up a defense around Ridout will be a carries for 369 yards and three scores. He recorded big priority for Randall this season after Doniphan 16 catches for a team-high 304 yards and three West gave up 34 or more points seven times in nine receiving TDs. Eck led the team with 63 tackles. games and only held one opponent to less than 20. Coach Craig Amrein said he looks “for Joseph to A thrilling 36-34 win over four-win McLouth a year have a lot of production on the offensive side of the ago was the highlight for the Mustangs. ball.” Younger is expected to step up on offense. Amrein expects Soneson and Herl to be solid at tight 2-7 in 2016 / 2-2 in district / 2-1A end. Ellis is again in District 7 with Plainville, Twin Valley League La Crosse and Oakley. Coach: Robert Randall (2nd year, 2-7) “Defense will be really deep with some talented Assistants: Marty Allen, Aaron Limon DBs,” Amrein said. Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: 11 4-5 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 2-1A Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Mid-Continent League Clayton Ridout, FB/MLB, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Luke Coach: Craig Amrein (3rd year, 10-9) Blevins, WR/CB, 5-8, 145, Sr.; Levi Watts, QB/OLB, Assistants: Jake Dreiling, Jacob Kinderknecht 5-10, 185, Sr.; Newt Smith, OL/DL, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Offense: Power Run Defense: 4-4/3-4 Tucker Holzhey, OL/DL, 5-10, 175, Jr.; Remington Returning lettermen: N/A Powell, OL/DL, 6-1, 246, Sr.; Norman Miller, OL/DL, Returning starters: 3 Offense, 4 Defense Joseph Eck, RB/DB, Sr.; Geoffrey Soneson, TE/LB, 5-8, 260, Jr. Brent Maycock Sr.; Ryan Herl, TE/LB, Sr.; Bryce Younger, DB, Sr. Conor Nicholl

E Hwy 56


ELKHART, KS 364 US Hwy 56 | Toll Free: 800-445-5917 | 620-697-2182

Good Luck Wildcats! ELKHART

Elkhart returned to the playoffs with a 6-4 season last year. The Wildcats lost 49-6 to Plainville in the first round. Elkhart is 7-3, 4-5 and 6-4 in the last three falls. The Wildcats have made the playoffs three times in the last four seasons but lost in the first round each time. Elkhart’s biggest need is replacing veteran quarterback Tyler Sklenar, who started for three years under center and signed to Kansas Wesleyan. Sklenar enjoyed a solid year with 96 of 196 passing for 1,382 yards with a 13/6 TD/INT ratio. Senior Joshua Salazar was the team’s top rusher with 114 carries for 632 yards. He had four rushing scores, while Sklenar led the team with 12. Junior Javier Gomez (33 catches, 688 yards, five scores) and Salazar (27 catches, 215 yards, one TD) were the team’s top receivers. The top four tacklers were all seniors, while Gomez (43 stops) is the top returning tackler. Gomez, Senior Caleb Orth (43 tackles, six TFLs) and junior Lane Whisennand (34 tackles, three INTs, four passes defended) were all first team all-league. Second-year coach Chris Hattabaugh said the team’s goal is to win districts. Meade and Elkhart should again be the District 8 favorites. “We need to develop a quarterback,” Hattabaugh said. “We have a very solid offensive line and receiver crew. Defensively we should be very good returning seven guys from a squad that held four teams scoreless last season. We have very good numbers as we should have between 35-40 kids out this season.” 6-4 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 2-1A Hi Plains League Coach: Chris Hattabaugh (2nd year, 6-4; 8th overall, 34-31) Assistants: Thane O’Hair, Kerry Overmiller, Alan Hibdon Offense: Pistol Option Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 13 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 7 Defense Javier Gomez, WR/LB, 6-0, 185, Jr.; Caleb Orth, OL/ DL, 6-0, 205, Sr.; Lane Whisennand, WR/DB, 5-10, 160, Jr.; Elian Prieto, WR/DB, 5-8, 150, Jr.; Chace O’Hair, RB/LB, 5-10, 170, So.; Tomas Mendoza, OL, 5-9, 305, Sr.; Brady McCabe, OL/DL, 5-9, 220, Sr.; Westin Boaldin, OL/DL, 5-10, 185, Jr. Conor Nicholl



A postseason drought continues for Inman, though the Teutons verified they were making strides toward snapping the skid with a 3-6 record in 2016. Inman was 2-2 in district play, falling victim to points tiebreakers as their season concluded. Inman has only six playoff appearances in the program’s history, with the most recent coming in back-back-back showings in 2002 and 2003. “We are excited about getting back going this season. We ended the season well, finishing 3-2 in our final five games,” said Inman coach Lance Sawyer. “Our focus will be to getting back to the basics, sound tackling and aggressive blocking.” Sawyer, formerly the coach at Hillsboro, enters his second year at the reins of the Teutons. Inman saw a two-win improvement under Sawyer in 2016. Inman found an uptick in offensive production. Payton Froese became a fill-in at quarterback and did so valiantly, throwing for 1,021 yards in five games. He takes the position full time as he starts his junior year. The Teutons have several veteran linemen to keep him upright. It is the defense, however, that must hunker down for Inman to continue its progression. The Teutons were dissected for 35.3 points per game. “Defensively, we return a lot of experience,” Sawyer said. “Caleb Hendricks, our new (defensive coordinator), brings to the table a ton of energy and enthusiasm, which will be seen on the field.” The Teutons’ began 2016 with an 0-4 start, though that was likely schedule induced, and may be again this season as Inman challenges Hutchinson Trinity, Marion, Sterling and Ell-Saline in the first four weeks. Inman’s District 5 competition includes Medicine Lodge, Moundridge, Remington and Sedgwick. The Teutons scored wins over the first two, but losses to

the latter two, a year ago.


Page 113

After going winless in 2015, Horton only managed one win last year as the rebuilding process continued. Tenth-year coach Nick Dowell is looking for a bigger step this year with the return of 13 lettermen and the addition of some new faces. A big improvement offensively will be essential to further strides. Horton scored more than one touchdown in only two games last year. The Chargers’ lone offensive explosion was a 64-12 win over winless Immaculata-Maranatha and they scored more points in that game than they scored in the other eight games combined (53). The good news is almost everyone who contributed offensively a year ago is back and year stronger and more experienced. In fact, every bit of last year’s 1,426 yards gained on the ground returns led by senior back Conner Dean who ran for 603 yards and six touchdowns. The Chargers will have to replace quarterback Cameron Smith, who threw for only 334 yards, but junior Matthew Lobdell began to transition into the role last year and will take over full time this year after ranking second to Dean with 328 rushing yards. Horton’s biggest question offensively is up front where senior Cole Gormley is a three-year starter, but is the only returner to the unit from a year ago. The addition of senior Conner Winter (6-2, 24) gives the Chargers a big body to help plug some holes and back Lane Selle could also change positions to solidify the front. Senior Craig Wahwahsuck leads five returning starters on defense after leading the team in tackles for loss with eight, finishing with 43 overall. Gormley, Dean and Selle all return at linebacker to give the Chargers a strong middle. Horton returned to Class 2-1A a year ago, but with a young team couldn’t make much noise. The Chargers were winless in district play, but it was one loaded with eventual state champion Troy and co-Northeast Kansas League champion Jefferson North. 1-8 in 2016 / 0-4 in district / 2-1A Northeast Kansas League Coach: Nick Dowell (10th year, 23-49) Assistants: Mark Ross, Max Macunas Offense: Spread Defense: 4-Front Flex Returning lettermen: 13 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Conner Dean, RB/LB, 5-9, 190, Sr.; Matthew Lobdell, QB/DB, 5-9, 155, Jr.; Cole Gormley, OL/LB, 6-0, 220, Sr.; Nathan Isaacs, TE/K/P, 6-5, 215, Sr.; Lane Selle, RB/LB, 5-9, 185, Sr.; Craig Wahwahsuck, RB/DL, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Marshall Randall, RB/DB, 6-0, 160, Jr. Brent Maycock


A year ago, Jackson Heights went into the season knowing full well what it had in the backfield but un3-6 in 2016 / 2-2 in district / 2-1A sure of just how it would piece together an offensive Heart of America League line which lost four starters. Coach: Lance Sawyer (2nd year, 3-6; 11th overall, In 2017, the Cobras will enter the season with the 33-58) script flipped. Graduation claimed virtually every skill Assistants: Dale Sprunger, Billy Garst, Caleb position starter from a year ago, while all but one Hendricks starter on the line returns. Offense: Spread Defense: 4-4 Heights was able to fill its holes on the line last Returning lettermen: 12 year with a young group that grew up quickly enough Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense that the Cobras didn’t fall too far from its 9-2 mark Ethan Stubbs, OL/WR/LB, 5-11, 165, Sr.; Taiten in 2015. Opening the season with four straight wins, Winkel, K/P, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Payton Froese, QB, 6-0, Heights ended up with a 6-3 record and an undefeat165, Jr.; Jaxon Eddy, WR/DB, 6-1, 165, Jr.; Wyatt ed Northeast Kansas League title. Meier, OL/DL, 5-9, 275, Jr.; Mason Thiessen, OL/DL, A three-game losing streak to start district play de6-6, 200, Jr.; Jack Doerksen, RB/DB, 5-9, 175, Jr.; nied the Cobras a second straight playoff berth, but Jayden Martin, OL/RB/DB, 5-6, 185, So. detracted little from a strong follow-up season to one Kyle McCaskey of the best in program history. Their ability to keep things rolling will hinge on the continued development of a still young line — Heights started two freshmen and two sophomores up front last year — and finding the right fit to the new pieces in the backfield. Graduation claimed two-year starting quarterback Wyatt Olberding and all-league backs Mason Thomas and Mason Hamilton. The trio combined for nearly 1,600 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground with Olberding adding another 420 yards of offense through the air. Senior back Brady Holliday is somewhat of a known commodity for the backfield, having led the Cobras with 625 yards and 11 scores last year. But he could move to quarterback to replace Olberding and no other returning back had more than 200 yards last year. All-league lineman Kaleb Keehn was the lone

returner up front a year ago and is the only departure from the group this year. The group performed well enough a year ago for Heights to average 33.2 points per game and another offseason in the weight room should only make them more prepared for the upcoming season. Defensively, cornerback Cooper Williams was a first-team all-league pick as a freshman and had six interceptions, while Holliday added three picks and also was a first-teamer. Heights wasn’t that far away from a return to the playoffs. Each of its three losses was by 14 points or less, including a 22-14 loss to Washington County and 26-22 defeat to Valley Heights. A rare win over Centralia finished off the season and sent the Cobras into the offseason on a high note.

6-3 in 2016 / 1-3 in district / 2-1A Northeast Kansas League Coach: Caleb Wick (6th year, 31-17) Assistants: Toby Cowdin Offense: Bone Defense: 4-3/4-4 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 8 Defense Brady Holliday, QB/LB, Sr.; Tyler Wendorff, OL/DL, 5-9, 225, Sr.; Jason Parker, OL/DL, 5-10, 190, Sr.; Lane Thomas, TE, 6-1, 160, Jr.; Curtis Niehues, OL/ DL, 6-0, 230, Jr.; Carson Williams, OL/DL, 6-2, 210, So.; Riley Watkins, OL/DL, 6-0, 180, So.; Braden Dohl, TE, 6-3, 215, Sr.; Sebastian Butto, RB/DB, 5-8, 140, Sr.; Garrett Hartman, LB/RB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Cooper Williams, DB/RB, 5-6, 145, So. Brent Maycock

Fowler State Bank

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 114



Good Luck to the Buffaloes!

Dine-in or Carryout



In 2015, La Crosse went 3-6 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Last year, La Crosse returned to the postseason as the runner-up out of District 7 behind eventual state runner-up Plainville. The Leopards went 4-5 in the regular season after an 0-4 start with losses at Elkhart (18-12), versus Colby (55-0), at Washington County (36-14) and at Ellsworth (42-22). Then, La Crosse shutout Sublette (70-0) and Stanton County (51-0) before district play. In a key Week 7 district contest at Ellis – a team that La Crosse lost to in ’15 for the first time since ’03 - the Leopards played well and won 44-12. A Week 8 win against Oakley (48-10) clinched a playoff berth before a 46-12 loss to Plainville. In the playoffs, La Crosse again matched up with Meade and won 44-29 on the road. It marked the most points Meade allowed in the 11-year Scott Moshier era. La Crosse ran 66 plays, 15 more than Meade, and tallied 451 yards, including 327 on the ground. The following week, La Crosse, who struggled with turnovers throughout the season, had a key fumble in the third quarter against Smith Center and lost 42-20. Against SC, La Crosse held a 59-44 play advantage, and had 352 yards, just 26 fewer than the Redmen. Conor Nicholl However, the Leopards had three turnovers and finished minus-2 in turnover margin. La Crosse had 18 turnovers for the season and was plus-3 in turnover margin. The Leopards had multiple key graduates, including Clayton Herdman (Washburn signee, 1,144 passing, 1,096 rushing) and Jasey Woods (Ottawa signee, 963 rushing). “To improve everyday and be playing our best football in districts and playoffs,” coach Jon Webster said of his team’s goals. “Our offensive and defensive lines will have to lead the way for us, especially early as our skill positions gain experience. We will need to stay healthy.”

Stanton County went 10-2, 9-2 and 8-2 from 2010-12 before 3-6, 0-9, 1-8 and 2-7 marks the last four years. The Trojans permitted 77 points and allowed 350 last season. SC lost 19-15 at Beaver (Okla.) in the season opener and earned its only win, 21-18, versus Southwestern Heights in Week 4. In the last five weeks, opponents shutout SC four times. But the Trojans beat Sublette, 41-6, on the road in Week 8. The previous season, the lone win was a 38-0 Week 7 home win versus Sublette, a team that has now lost 14 games in a row and allowed at least 38 points in 13 straight contests. The two lowest scoring defeats in that stretch were to Stanton County. 2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 2-1A Hi-Plains League Coach: David Bowen (2nd year, 2-7) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A

5-6 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 2-1A Central Prairie League Coach: Jon Webster (9th year, 69-21) Assistants: Chris Delimont, Gabe Dierksen Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 5 Defense Jacob Showalter, OL/DL, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Kadin Trower, OL/DL, 6-3, 225, Sr.; Kale Mongue, OL/DL, 6-2, 240, Sr.; Brett Herrman, WR/DB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Hunter Morgan, DB, 5-10, 165, So. Conor Nicholl


One of the biggest offseason coaching moves involved Scott Moshier leaving Meade and traveling to Wichita North. Moshier and his wife, Lori, are both 1983 Wichita East graduates. North has won 37 games in the last 22 years. At Meade, Moshier went 107-19 in 11 years and won state titles in ’10 and ’12. Justin Powell, who served as an assistant all 11 years in Moshier’s tenure, takes over. Meade finished 8-2 last season and again collected a district championship. In Week 4, Meade lost, 20-14, at Cimarron. It marked the first Cimarron loss since ’05. In the first round of the playoffs, Meade fell to rival La Crosse, 44-29, at home. The Leopards, who entered the game with a losing record, scored the most points off Meade in the Moshier era. Meade is 0-3 against La Crosse dating back to ’12. Quarterback Lawson Luetters graduated after

Hwy 281/Jnct 160

Hwy 54 West

he posted back-to-back outstanding seasons. He passed for 941 yards with a 16/9 TD/INT ratio and rushed 159 times for 1,294 yards and 25 TDs in ‘16. Senior Blaise Saucedo is the leading rusher after he had 35 carries for 218 yards and four TDs. Senior Caden Godfrey led the team with 69 tackles and was second with 16 TFLs. He is the only one of the top-four tacklers back. “We like to set high expectations that consist of football, academics, and community,” Powell said. “The expectations are always high here to carry on the great tradition of Meade football. We wouldn’t want it any other way. Every year it seems like we graduate several seniors that have contributed in big ways. Our team’s key to success will be determined by our young kids stepping into new roles.”

Medicine Lodge

203 North Fowler • P.O. Box 250 • Meade, KS 67864 (620) 873-2123



Supporting all area athletes! LYNDON

Over the past seven years, few teams in the state can match the consistency that Lyndon has enjoyed, first under Rod Stallbaumer - now the BasehorLinwood coach - and now under Brent Hoelting. The Tigers have won seven or more games every year since 2010 and advanced at least two rounds in the playoffs the past six years. Last year’s 9-2 record marked the sixth straight year with at least eight wins and also included the program’s seventh straight Flint Hills League title. Hoelting has been head coach for three of those seasons and enters year No. 4 with a 26-7 record. The expectations are high once again in 2017 and for good reason. Despite graduating a strong senior class, Lyndon showed its ability to reload in 2015 and has much more to work with starting off in 2017. The Tigers may have the most dynamic player in Class 2-1A and one of the most versatile players in the state in senior Dexton Swinehart. After lining up at almost every skill position as a sophomore and producing more than 2,000 combined rushing, receiving and passing yards, Swinehart settled into more of a running back role last year as a junior and ran with it. Literally, he ran with it, racking up 1,493 yards and 19 touchdowns on just 174 carries. Swinehart remained a dangerous threat in the passing game as well, catching 36 balls for 658 yards and another seven scores from quarterback Rylan Burns, who finished with 1,286 yards passing and 13 scores. With Burns gone via graduation, Swinehart could take over at quarterback this year and run the offense in the same way his older brother, Dawson, did in leading Lyndon to a 9-2 season in 2014. When he does throw, he’ll have solid targets in returning ends Jaden Hielscher and Jamie Reed, who combined for 26 catches and 499 yards last year. The biggest holes for Lyndon to fill are up front where two-time All-Class 2-1A lineman Trystan Pringle and two other starters have graduated. Mason Slusher moved from the backfield to the line a year ago to help solidify the unit and returns after also leading the Tigers in tackles for the second straight year with 100 stops a year ago.

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


Starting nine freshmen in 2015, it wasn’t much of a shock when McLouth went just 1-8. It was a rough way to lay the groundwork for future success, but Bulldog coach Gary Freeman knew if his team could survive that first year, good things lied ahead. Sure enough, McLouth came back stronger in 2016. Still young with mostly sophomore starters, the Bulldogs improved by three wins to 4-5 and were two plays away from finishing with a winning record. An eight-point loss to Oskaloosa in the opener and a two-point loss to Doniphan West in week eight denied McLouth a shot at a 6-3 mark, but the season was nonetheless a big one. Needless to say, expectations are even higher for 2017. Though only nine lettermen return, eight of them are returning starters with most of them entering their third year in such roles. The biggest strides last year came defensively. After giving up more than 40 points per game in 2015, McLouth allowed just 23.4 points per game last year and had five games where it surrendered 15 points or less. The unit will miss All-Class 2-1A lineman Mystikal Randel and All-Northeast Kansas League picks Tanner Zink and Brody Troupe, but senior linebacker Zach McCowan is the heart and soul of the team, according to Freeman, and will anchor the defense this year. Junior quarterback Jeremy Carlton enters his third year starting under center and last year threw for 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns while only getting picked off five times. His development helped the Bulldogs increase their scoring production by 74 points and with weapons such as McCowan and receivers Caleb Richardson and Garrison Pope around him, the Bulldogs could be more explosive this season. While experience is a huge plus, McLouth will have to play bigger than their physical stature to continue the upward surge. McCowan is the only returning starter bigger than 170 pounds and the average weight of the returning linemen is around 150 pounds.

4-5 in 2016 / 1-3 in district / 2-1A Northeast Kansas League 9-2 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 2-1A Coach: Gary Freeman (3rd year, 5-13) Flint Hills League Assistants: Rodney Carlton, Tony Kuckleman Coach: Brent Hoelting (4th year, 26-7) Offense: Veer/Power Pistol/Spread Defense: 3-5 Assistants: Toby Baker, Scott Jones Returning lettermen: 9 Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-3 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense Returning lettermen: 8 Jeremy Carlton, QB/CB, 5-8, 145, Jr.; Caleb Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Richardson, WR/OLB, 6-0, 160, Jr.; Zach McCowan, Mason Slusher, OG/LB, Sr.; Dexton Swinehart, RB/ FB/LB, 5-11, 240, Sr.; Garrison Pope, WR/S, 5-10, DB, Sr.; Jaden Hielscher, WR/LB, Sr.; Garrett McCoy, 135, Jr.; Jacob McCowan, OL/DL, 5-8, 145, Jr.; OT/DT, Sr.; Jamie Reed, TE/DB, Sr. Trustyn Wilks, OL/DL, 5-8, 150, Jr.; Travis Brauer, Brent Maycock OL/LB, 5-7, 170, Sr.; Nicky Harmon, OL/LB, 5-9, 140, Jr. Brent Maycock


Needless to say, Medicine Lodge’s winless 2016 fell far short of its potential. It sits well with no one, doubly so after a 4-5 mark the year prior appeared to deliver the promise of progress. “Last season was a grind and we believe that we are a smarter and better team because of what we went through last season,” said Medicine Lodge coach Josh Ybarra. “Now we have to show that we are better and show that we know how to win games.” Adding to the torment of an 0-9 season was just how close Medicine Lodge came to several victories. The squad dropped four games by seven points or less. One offender was the defense that ranked fifth-worst in 2-1A. Six veterans will be penciled into the lineup to help 8-2 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 2-1A rid the taste of a burdensome losing streak. Four are Hi-Plains League multi-year starting seniors that will be expected to set Coach: Justin Powell (1st year) the standard for the program – Drew Honas (wide Assistants: Bryan Luetters, Chad Rudzik, Mike receiver, defensive back, kicker), Taylor Paxson (lineWilhelm Offense: Single Wing Defense: 4-2-5 man), Garrett Randels (running back, linebacker) and Returning lettermen: 9 Blake Winter (lineman). The Central Plains League Returning starters: 4 Offense, 4 Defense selected Winter as a first-team honoree on the Blaise Saucedo, DB, 5-9, 140, Sr.; Devon Waters, offensive line. Randels was an honorable mention TE/LB, 6-2, 185, Sr.; Aidan Miller, WR/DB, 5-10, 170, linebacker, and Honas an honorable mention kicker. Sr.; Caden Godfrey, OL/LB, 5-10, 205, Sr. “The most important key to our success will be Conor Nicholl to have a great summer in the weight room and at

workouts and camps. Those opportunities will help us to figure out what we are needing to work on early in the season,” Ybarra said. “Another big key to our success will be learning from our season last year. That will be a big part of our success. We must also have kids step up as leaders.” Medicine Lodge has a chance for a quick rebuild. Sedgwick (7-3) likely maintains its position as the class of District 5, but Moundridge (3-7), Remington (2-7) and Inman (3-6) will tussle with Medicine Lodge for the district’s second playoff bid that appears to be in reach for anyone. Medicine Lodge has not made the playoffs since 2011. 0-9 in 2016 / 0-4 in district / 2-1A Central Plains League Coach: Josh Ybarra (5th year, 8-28) Assistant: Shane Hahn Offense: Mix Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Drew Honas, WR/DB/K, 5-10, 145, Sr.; Taylor Paxson, OL/DL, 6-1, 250, Sr.; Garrett Randels, RB/ LB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Tanner Wedel, RB/LB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Blake Winter, OL/DL, 5-9, 200, Sr.; Dakota Bayliff, WR/DB, 5-4, 140, Jr.; Garrett Burden, QB/DB, 5-9, 145, Jr. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 115

Hennick Lumber & Supply Co. OAKLEY, KS

Phone 785-852-4245 • Fax 785-852-4233 108 E. Second St. • PO Box 220 • Sharon Springs, KS Mike and Jason Hennick •

3670 US Hwy 40 | Toll Free: 800-209-4001 | 785-672-3272

Good Luck Plainsmen!


The road map to a 2-1A playoff berth out of District 5 was straightforward in 2016. Sedgwick, whose postseason acumen preceded it, was expected to take one of the two slots. The Cardinals did so, earning the district crown. The other four programs were left to stake their claim to their own slice of playoff territory. Moundridge (3-7, 2-2 in district) crawled out from the heap with the help of mathematics. Moundridge’s district wins over Remington (34-30) and Medicine Lodge (33-0) sandwiched losses to Inman (17-14) and Sedgwick (24-20). The Wildcats wrapped district play in week eight, challenging Prue, Okla. in the final week of the regular season while awaiting results from elsewhere. Inman and Remington finished 2-2 in district competition, as well, but Moundridge captured the final bid through the points tiebreaker, benefitting in the calculations from playing tight, competitive games. The Wildcats were back in the postseason for the first time since 2011. Though it ended with a 52-6 loss to longtime power Smith Center, the extended season was a jolt of happiness and a building block for coach Jeremiah Meeks as he sets goals for his second year. “Continue to improve each week and play our best ball at the end of the season,” he said. “Goals are to win districts and return to the playoffs for the second consecutive year.” Moundridge found its offensive identity midway through the season. After combining for only 20 points in their first three weeks, the Wildcats were held to less than 20 only two times in their next seven games. Eight starters filter back into the rotation on offense, and seven spots can be refilled on defense. 3-7 in 2016 / 2-2 in district / 2-1A Heart of America League Coach: Jeremiah Meeks (2nd year, 3-7) Assistants: Courtney Moddelmog, Bret Lange Offense: Spread Option Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 15 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 7 Defense Mason Dyck, SS, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Hunter Emerson, WR/RB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Jerod Kaufman, RB/LB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Damian Calderon, RB/DB, 5-4, 125, Sr.; Luke Ratzlaff, LT/DE, 6-1, 205, Sr.; Bryant Olson, RG/DL, 6-0, 285, Sr.; Jonah Spore, RT/DL, 6-0, 260, Sr.; Noah Eichelberger, WR/DB, 6-3, 190, Sr.; Trevor Kohl, C/DL, 5-10, 265, Jr. Kyle McCaskey


Jeff Hennick moved 50 miles up Highway 40 from his alma mater Wallace County to Oakley. Hennick was the quarterback on WC’s ’07 state title team, then served as the assistant coach in ’12. He was the Wildcats’ head coach the last three seasons, went 30-6 and led WC to three straight sub-state championship games (losses to Victoria twice, and Dighton last year). Hennick takes over a Plainsmen program that quickly descended the Class 2-1A ranks after years as a powerhouse. Before last season, Oakley had four straight quarterfinal appearances. The Plainsmen, under Randall Rath for many years and then Ty Pfannenstiel for the last two, had made the playoffs every year but ’10 from ’04-’15. Last year, Oakley lost 41-10 at Colby and then earned its lone win with a 62-14 win at Sublette in Week 2. Oakley lost 55-16 to Norton, 49-0 to Phillipsburg and 43-14 to Smith Center. “We want to be able to put a better team on the field every Friday night, and we want to be able to compete at a high level,” Hennick said. TMP ended a 12-game losing streak with a 21-20 win versus Oakley, and the Plainsmen clossed the season with a 51-0 defeat against Plainville, a 48-10 loss at La Crosse, and a 61-40 season-ending defeat at Ellis. Against TMP, Oakley went 99 yards in 16 plays and scored on a 15-yard run with 35 seconds left. Instead of kicking to tie, Oakley went for the twopoint conversion and the win, but TMP stopped the Plainsmen. Oakley is again in a district with Plainville, La Crosse and Ellis. Oakley, traditionally known for strong defense, permitted 42.6 points a game and scored 19.1. In 2015’s district-title winning 7-4 season, Oakley scored 24.8 points a game and permitted 15.9. Oakley graduated lineman Cory Mead, end Jace Ochs and defensive back Auston Holzmeister, both second team all-league players. Mead was an honorable mention defensive selection. The Plainsmen will also miss standout lineman Chris Cox, one of the top defenders in 2A in ‘15 as a sophomore, who transferred to Hoxie. “Building team chemistry and keeping kids healthy week in and week out,” Hennick said of the team’s keys.

back for the Pittsburg State Gorillas’ option offense when the team won a national championship in 1991. “Bryce has been doing very well,” Seematter said. “I’m very pleased with how he’s been picking stuff up. He’s reading the option very well.” Five returning starters – running backs Max Wilson (6-0, 175, Sr.) and Jacob Dellasega (5-8, 180, Sr.), wide receiver Jerimiah Buche (6-0, 165, Sr.), and linemen Sam Green (6-0, 200, Sr.) and Garrett Bolinger (5-11, 235, Jr.) -- will join Hutchins on offense.

Dine-in or Carryout

Olpe went into the final game of the 2016 season with its back against the wall. In order to keep a streak of four straight playoff appearance going, the Eagles needed an upset of undefeated Lyndon. And that’s exactly what they got. Olpe knocked off the Tigers 26-20 and found its way into the Class 2-1A playoffs via the points tiebreaker after they tied with Lyndon and Chase County for the district title. The postseason was short-lived as the Eagles fell 42-21 to Colgan in the opening round and they finished with a 5-5 mark overall. It just as easily could have been another seven, eight-win season for the Eagles. All four regular-season losses were by 13 points or less with three decided by one score. Olpe blew a 33-7 fourth-quarter lead against Osage City in a 35-33 loss and lost by six to St. Marys in the opener and by seven to Chase County in the district opener. The 5-5 mark was the worst under coach Chris Schmidt, who is 87-28 entering his 11th season. With seven starters back on offense, expectations are for Olpe to return to that level in 2017. The strength of the unit will come up front where three of five starters are back. A week five switch at QB helped spark Olpe’s late-season surge where the Eagles won four of their last five games. Damon Schmidt moved in from receiver and Garrett Pimple shifted to wide out and the Eagles averaged nearly 40 ppg to close the year. Schmidt wound up throwing for 611 yards and seven touchdowns. The backfield lost Dylan Redeker, who ran for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore and 765 last year, but senior Justin Dieker and junior Blaine Hinrichs return after combining for 988 yards and 16 touchdowns with Hinrichs scoring 11 of them. Schmidt already is a proven force defensively, picking off 10 passes in the past two seasons combined, including six last year.

The Oswego Indians made positive strides in Justin Hurley’s first year at the helm, finishing 3-7 in 2016, and runner-up in Class 2-1A’s District 4 to St. Mary’s-Colgan to earn a playoff berth for the first time since 2009. Oswego’s season came to an end with a 56-12 first-round playoff loss to Lyndon. “We had great seniors who helped us become successful and accomplish things that people thought we couldn’t do,” Hurley said. “And we had some younger players step in and gain valuable experience.” Oswego began last season with four-straight losses, but the Indians went 3-3 in their final six games to finish second in both the Three Rivers League and in district play. Hurley noted the team made big strides late in the season. “We learned by districts that when we play disciplined and fundamental, we’re a tough team to beat,” Hurley said. Oswego returns six starters on both sides of the ball. Seniors Jake Walker, Damon Simmons and John Young, junior Paidon Kite and sophomore Chris Goddard all return with starting experience on both sides of the line. Walker earned first team all-league recognition last year, while Simmons was an honorable mention pick. Senior tight end and defensive end Anthony Smith also returns with starting experience, while sophomore running back/defensive back Jace Wilson is another returning letterwinner and juniors Ethan Evans (WR/LB) and Dathan Gray (OL/DL) are other players to watch. A pair of freshmen are expected to be in big roles for the Indians, as Chase Evans is the team’s probable quarterback and classmate Isaac Elliott is a running back candidate. “We’ll have several young starters on both sides of the ball,” Hurley said. “We’ll need our seniors to lead the younger guys.”


300 N.W. 3rd Plainville 785-434-7104


3-7 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 2-1A Three Rivers League Coach: Justin Hurley (2nd year, 3-7) Assistants: Steven McBrien, J.D. Walker. Offense: Pistol Flex Defense: 4-2-5 Returning lettermen: 7 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Jake Walker, OL/DL, 6-0, 265, Sr.; John Young, OL/ DL, 6-1, 240, Sr.; Damon Simmons, OL/LB, 5-10, 185, Sr.; Anthony Smith, TE/DE, 6-1, 180, Sr.; Paidon Kite, OL/DL, 5-10, 195, Jr.; Chris Goddard, OL/DL, 5-10, 195, So. Jason Peake


Second-year coach Grant Stephenson led a massive turnaround for the Cardinals. Plainville had posted back-to-back 3-6 seasons, including allowing 36 points a game in ’15. Then, Stephenson, with some guidance from two Hall of Famers - his former high school coach, Little River’s Shane Cordell, and Plainville’s Larry Friend – made some defensive tweaks. Entering state championship Saturday, Plainville had the No. 1 scoring defense in 11-man football. Overall, the Cardinals finished 11-2, advanced to 8-4 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 2-1A the 2-1A state championship game and permitted Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League just 11.5 points per contest. Plainville’s defense Coach: Shawn Seematter (1st year) forced 34 turnovers and finished plus-21 in turnover Assistants: Brad Snow, Stuart Jeck, Clint Heffron margin. Two new players helped key the turnaround: Offense: Option Defense: 4-4 senior Riley Nyp, a one-year transfer from Palco, and Returning lettermen: 11 freshman Jared Casey. Senior Hayden Gillum led the Returning starters: 5 Offense, 3 Defense team with 97 stops and 14.5 TFLs, while Casey was Max Wilson, RB/LB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Bryce Hutchins, second with 96 tackles. Nyp collected 10.5 TFLs. LB, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Sam Green, OL/DL, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Planville lost 28-24 to Troy in the championship. The Jacob Dellasega, RB, 5-8, 180, Sr.; Jerimiah Buche, Cardinals are 2-1 all-time in title games with wins in WR, 6-0 165, Sr.; Garrett Bolinger, OL, 5-11, 235, Jr. ’80 and ’85. Mark Schremmer




go GOplainsmen! WILDCATS

5-5 in 2016 / 2-1 in district / 2-1A Lyon County League Coach: Chris Schmidt (11th year, 87-28) Assistants: Terry Smith, Stephen Jowers Offense: I-backs Defense: 5-2 Returning lettermen: 11 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 5 Defense 1-8 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 2-1A Damon Schmidt, QB/SS, 6-5, 185, Sr.; Garrett PimMid-Continent League ple, WR/CB, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Justin Dieker, RB, 5-8, Coach: Jeff Hennick (4th year, 30-6) 175, Sr.; Blaine Hinrichs, RB/LB, 6-0, 195, Jr.; Cody Assistants: Jeff Dennis, Mike Rains, Drew Siruta Wright, OL, 5-11, 180, SR.; Jacob Heins, OL/DL, 6-0, Offense: Option Defense: 4-4 Conor Nicholl 170, Sr.; Caleb Vogts, OL, 5-10, 220, Sr.; Chance Redeker, CB, 5-10, 170, Sr. Brent Maycock


Coaching turnover hasn’t been a problem for the St. Mary’s-Colgan football program. From 1961-2016, the Panthers had only two head coaches. Frank Crespino directed the team from 1961-1979, winning two state championships and compiling a record of 153-37-4. Chuck Smith took over for Crespino in 1980 and led the Panthers to five state titles and a 343-75 record before retiring in the offseason. Shawn Seematter takes over the Panther program after serving as Halstead’s defensive coordinator the past three seasons. Seematter attended a retirement party for Smith in April, and he said it was easy to tell how much pride the community had in the team. More than 100 of Smith’s former players, as well as other members of the community, were in attendance. “It was really incredible to see that many people come out for it,” Seematter said. “It really speaks to the tradition of Colgan and how much it still means to the guys who played there. I can see why the program has been so good for so long.” A former quarterback for Royal Valley High School, Seematter said he will take over Colgan’s offense, which will be based out of an option scheme. Longtime Colgan assistant Brad Snow will take over as defensive coordinator for Kyle Wolf, who left to become the head baseball coach at Joplin (Mo.) High School. “I was a defensive coordinator the past three years, but I’ve always been an offensive-minded guy,” Seematter said. Senior Bryce Hutchins (5-11, 190) is poised to run Colgan’s new offense at quarterback. Hutchins is the son of Brian Hutchins, who served as the quarter-

514 S. Freeman Ave.

Doors & Windows • Gates All building materials Posts & Fence supplies

Hayden Friend, a four-year starter, graduated after he set multiple Mid-Continent League offensive records. A Fort Hays signee and Hays Daily News Offensive Player of the Year, Friend threw for 2,039 yards with a 28/8 TD/INT ratio. Nyp rushed for 1,539 yards, while Friend tallied 1,268. The duo combined for 40 rushing scores. The top-five receivers also graduated. Stephenson listed the team’s goal as “to be prepared for every game we play.” 11-2 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 2-1A Mid-Continent League Coach: Grant Stephenson (3rd year, 14-8) Assistants: Justin Casey, Ryan Becker Offense: Spread Defense: 4-2 Returning lettermen: 11 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Hayden Gillum, OL/DL, 6-3, 260, Sr.; Jared Casey, OL/DL, 6-0, 215, So.; Jaron Rathbun, OL/LB, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Chandler Cellmar, WR/DB, 5-10, 155, Sr.; Nolan Jones, OL/DL, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Noah Hansen, WR/LB, 5-10, 185, Sr Conor Nicholl

611 S. Washington

Plainville 785-434-7232

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery

Land Development Inc

Oakley, KS Ph: 785.672.4319

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12 Joel Benson, CPA Mary Benson, CPA

Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery


Specializing in small businesses

2935 S. 9th St.

Benson Accounting

Carryout or Delivery

785-825-4422 1200 S. Santa Fe

1929 S. Ohio Office: (785)827-3157 Salina, KS 67401 Fax: (785)827-3159

SALINA-SACRED HEART Sacred Heart had long been a solid small-school program but went through multiple injuries last year and dropped from 5-5 to 3-6. Then, coach Bruce Graber, who coached for 43 years overall and SH for eight, retired. He led the Knights to a 40-29 record. Garrett Galanski takes over as head coach. Galanski is from Bakersfield, Calif., went to Ridgeview (Calif.) High School and Bakersfield junior college. He transferred to Ottawa University where he collected first team all-league honors as an offensive linemen. Galanski served as a student assistant once he was done playing. Galanski went to Saint-Etienne, France and played football for the Giants. Galanski, hired at 25, is in his first full-time head coaching position. Galanski learned about the job from Travis Adamson, an assistant last year and again in 2017, and one of Galanski’s best friends from Ottawa. Galanski listed his keys as “to have fun, stay healthy, and win some games” and said the key to success is “cardiovascular endurance.” Jacob Faerber set a school record with 1,537 rushing yards as a sophomore, and played in just seven games as a junior. He finished with 95 carries for 531 yards and eight rushing scores, all team-highs. Abel Alvarez, a talented fullback and defensive lineman, played in just six contests and recorded 221 rushing yards, but graduated. Sacred Heart has struggled with quarterback play the last two seasons and posted a cumulative 3/12 TD/INT ratio last fall. The Knights had 22 turnovers and were plus-1 in turnover margin. Four of the top-six tacklers return, including senior Kyler Junk (61 tackles, second-most), Faerber (50 stops) and junior Trace Leners (41 tackles, 10 TFLs). SH is 4-5, 5-5 and 3-6 the last three seasons.



After one year away from the program, Jeff Werner reassumes the head coaching role for Sedgwick, marking his 11th year in that capacity. Doug Mabry, who steered the Cardinals to a 7-3 record and a playoff berth, remains on staff as an assistant, a role he held previously under Werner. Sedgwick confirmed it can close tight games in 2016. The Cardinals were 4-1 in showdowns decided by five points or less. The one, however, came in the first round of the 2-1A playoffs against Republic County, 24-21. It is a frustrating trend for the Cardinals – after quarterfinal runs in 2012 and 2013, they have been bounced out in the first round the past three years, all home games. “A focus on not only getting into, but winning games in the postseason,” Werner said of the team’s goals. “Playing at a faster pace will be (a) big key in how we do this season.” Sedgwick’s defensive strengths waned in 2016, giving up 100 more points than it did in 2015. It should return to form behind eight veterans. Defensive back Neal Bever showcased a proclivity for thievery, swiping 10 interceptions as a junior. Linebacker Riley Bogunovich is the team’s top returning tackler, collecting 68 as a junior. Senior lineman Drew Mullen dropped eight runners for loss. Brayden Francis announced himself as one of the top wideouts in south central Kansas in his junior campaign. The lightning bug receiver lit up corners for 808 yards and 15 touchdowns. Along with Kale Schroeder and Bever, junior quarterback Hooper Schroeder has three of his four most reliable receivers back to help pile up points in the spread. Running back Colton Smith offers balance, coming off a 795-yard, seven-touchdown season.

7-3 in 2016 / 4-0 in district / 2-1A Heart of America League 3-6 in 2016 / 2-4 in district / 2-1A Coach: Jeff Werner (11th year, 75-28) North Central Activities Association Assistants: Doug Mabry, Dwight Wilkes, Travis Coach: Garrett Galanski (1st year) Francis, Tim Hendrickson Assistants: Jordy Webb, Travis Adamson Offense: Spread No-Huddle Defense: 4-3 Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 19 Returning lettermen: 15 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 8 Defense Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense Brayden Francis, WR/DB, 5-9, 150, Sr.; Neal Bever, Luke Krajicek, OL/DL, Sr.; Kyler Junk, Utility, Sr.; WR/DB, 5-11, 160, Sr.; Johnny Longbine, DL, 6-0, Chase Kasier, OL/DL, Sr.; Jacob Faerber, RB/SS, Sr.; Cade Cochran, OL/DL, Sr.; Trace Leners, Utility, 210, Sr.; Walker Burkholder, OL, 5-11, 220, Sr.; Riley Bogunovich, LB, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Drew Mullen, Jr.; Blaze Kaizer, FB/LB, So. Conor Nicholl DL, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Corbin Ramsey, DB, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Colton Smith, RB/LB, 5-11, 175, Jr.; Hooper Schroeder, QB, 5-10, 160, Jr.; Kale Schroeder, WR/ DB, 5-9, 165, So. Kyle McCaskey


The near-miss and heartbreak of 2015 is just a distant memory for Troy. A year after coming up just one point shy of the Class 2-1A state title, Troy finished off the dream season in Hays in 2016. After running rough-shod through the regular season and playoffs to return to their second straight title game, the Trojans finished off the perfect season with a thrilling 28-24 victory over Plainville. An 82-yard touchdown pass from Reid Greaser to Brody Winder with less than three minutes left gave Troy the come-from-behind win for the title and capped a 13-0 season which also saw the Trojans win their first Twin Valley League title. It was a season for the ages at Troy, not to mention a senior class for the ages. Receiver-safety Cuttar Huss earned first-team All-State honors after amassing nearly 1,700 combined rushing and receiving yards last year, while Greaser and lineman Wil Smith were first-team All-Class 2-1A picks. The 13-member senior class was anything but unlucky for Troy, producing four straight playoff berths, three straight district titles and the first state championship in program history. A class like that is impossible to replace and the job will be a tough one with just two starters back. Both are linemen, senior Kohlbe King and junior Marcus Martinez, leaving sixth-year coach Derek Jasper plenty of question marks heading into the season. Last year’s offense averaged more than 42 points per game and racked up more than 5,100 yards of total offense. The reins to the new-look offense will belong to Jasper’s son, Kipp, a sophomore who

attempted just 10 passes in a backup role to Greaser last year. He’ll likely be flanked in the backfield by junior Tysen Williams and sophomore Jacob Moore, who combined for just 63 yards and 24 carries last year. Defensively, as big as the personnel losses on the field are, losing coordinator Don Cash is just as big. The former Trojan head coach spent the last four years running the defense, but retired after the championship season. Martinez has a shot at being one of the top linebackers in 2-1A, but will need others to step up and allow him to roam sideline-to-sideline to make plays. Though 18 lettermen do return, the bulk of them are young and have virtually no varsity experience. Troy has only two seniors on its roster this year, King and slotback Chance Jones. The newcomers will get an immediate test in the opener against Valley Heights, a team the Trojans beat twice last year. The schedule doesn’t give the Trojans many breaks, either. The league is always tough and Troy’s streak of district titles will be challenged by both Washington County and Jefferson North. 13-0 in 2016 / 4-0 in district / 2-1A Twin Valley League Coach: Derek Jasper (5th year, 40-8) Assistants: Cody Israel, Heath Whetstine Offense: Multiple Defense: 5-3 Returning lettermen: 18 Returning starters: 2 Offense, 2 Defense Kohlbe King, OL/DL, 5-11, 205, Sr.; Marcus Martinez, OL/LB, 5-8, 190, Jr. Brent Maycock

Garen L. Kuhlmann

Page 116


120 E. Court, PO Box 265 Smith Center, KS • 785-282-6867


Smith Center, ranked No. 1 in Class 2-1A in the preseason, suffered three losses, two to Plainville, which surprisingly made a run to the 2-1A state championship game. The Redmen finished No. 3 in the final poll behind champion Troy and Plainville. SC opened 0-2 with a pair of road losses to Plainville (20-16) and Phillipsburg (29-16). Following a 62-0 home win versus TMP, SC defeated rival Norton, 20-17, on the road in overtime. Then, SC rolled through the softer part of its schedule with wins against Oakley (43-14), Ellis (52-0) and at Sacred Heart (33-0). The Redmen defeated Republic County, which won a 2-1A playoff game, 40-7, and then defeated Ell-Saline, 39-0. In the postseason, SC won versus Moundridge, 52-6, at La Crosse, 42-20, and then lost at Plainville, 14-0, in the sub-state game. In ’15, SC went 10-2 and lost twice to Phillipsburg, including in the substate title game. SC graduated eight seniors, most notably quarterback Thayne Benoit and running backs Kaden Meitler and Chase Ryan. Standout lineman Dalton Kuhn, a four-year starter, anchors a veteran line that also includes senior tight end Avery Hawkins, a three-year starter. Kuhn earned Kpreps all-state honors along the defensive line after 85 tackles and 15 TFLs. Senior Colton Hutchinson was an all-state selection at defensive back after 99 tackles and six pass breakups. Hutchinson played QB for most of the season after Benoit was injured. He and senior end Brett Meyer will be three-year starters. “We again have some good experience returning at many positions,” fifth-year coach Darren Sasse said. 9-3 in 2016 / 3-0 in district / 2-1A Mid-Continent League Coach: Darren Sasse (5th year, 32-12) Assistants: Mike Rogers, Brock Hutchinson, Shawn Stansbury, Matt Haack Offense: Wishbone Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense Dalton Kuhn, OL/DE, 6-2, 230, Sr.; Avery Hawkins, TE/LB, 6-2, 240, Sr.; Brett Meyer, SE, 6-5, 180, Sr.; Colton Hutchinson, QB/DB, 5-10, 160, Sr.; Camden Dietz, OL, 6-2, 230, Sr.; Austin Hobelmann, OL, 6-2, 230, Sr.; Jesse Staples, RB/DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Trace Haven, LB, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Colby Benoit, DB, 5-10, 140, Jr. Conor Nicholl

SUBLETTE, KS Hwy 56 West | Toll Free: 800-464-2691 | 620-675-2691

Good Luck Larks!


The Larks struggled mightily in 2016 with losses in every game. The closest contest was a 41-6 Week 8 loss to Stanton County. Opponents shutout Sublette three times, and the Larks never scored more than 14 points in any contest. Coach Matt Fox is in his third year as head coach and seventh total. Fox has served as head wrestling coach. The Larks enter this season on a 14-game losing streak dating back to a 13-12 home win versus Lakin in Week 4 of the 2015 season. Sublette went 0-3 in district play last year, 0-4 in ’15 and 1-3 in ’14. The Larks last made the playoffs in 2009. 0-9 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 2-1A Hi-Plains League Coach: Matt Fox (3rd year, 2-16) Assistants: N/A Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A

Conor Nicholl

Hwy 36

Smith Center 785-282-3571

Dine-in or Carryout We Buy, Sell & Trade Daily 935 E. Hwy 36 Smith Center, KS 785-282-3000



The 2016 season marked a return to 11-man football at Uniontown. Relying on underclassmen in big roles, the Eagles suffered some growing pains in a 2-7 campaign, missing out on the playoffs. Now, the Eagles will look to turn the corner in 2017 under the direction of a new head coach. Jeremy Neville has taken over the reins of the program, replacing Chad Hays, who resigned after just one season at the helm. A former assistant, Neville is a Uniontown grad who played collegiately at Pittsburg State. Neville hopes to return Uniontown to a consistent winner. “We are looking to build a football program that is consistently organized, disciplined and competitive,” Neville said. “Uniontown has had a number of good football teams throughout its history. We want to add to and enrich that proud tradition.” After losing a talented senior class that delivered a 9-1 record in 2015, the Eagles went with a youth movement a year ago. Uniontown started the season by winning two of its first three games, but the Eagles lost six-straight to end the year. This fall, Uniontown returns five starters on both sides of the ball—one senior, one junior and three sophomores. The lone senior is running back and linebacker Gavin Fry, who contributed 78 rushing yards with two touchdowns and 51 tackles a year ago. Junior Hayden Miller returns after earning first team all-league honors at wide receiver. A dual threat, Miller hauled in 22 passes for 200 yards while also running for 348 yards and three scores. Defensively, Miller made 27 tackles from the linebacker position. Sophomores Andrew Reed, Ty Davidson and

Colt Eck all made solid contributions last year as freshmen. Reed returns at quarterback after compiling 1,630 yards of total offense in 2016. The 5-foot-10 Reed completed 64 passes for 697 yards and three touchdowns while also recording 933 rushing yards with eight scores. Reed also earned honorable mention all-league honors as the team’s punter. Davidson caught 15 passes for 320 yards and two scores last season while also recording 23 tackles and two interceptions from the defensive back position, while Eck caught 14 passes for 88 yards at wide receiver and also made 59 tackles from the linebacker position. Using multiple formations, the Eagles will strive for balance offensively and Uniontown will use a 5-3 defense. The Eagles will once again compete in Class 2-1A’s District 4 with St. Mary’s-Colgan, Yates Center and Oswego. Neville noted his team still has some work to do if it wants to make a return to the postseason. “We need to improve physically and mentally in order to compete at a higher level,” Neville said. 2-7 in 2016 / 0-3 in district / 2-1A Three Rivers League Coach: Jeremy Neville (1st year, 0-0) Assistants: Clint Johnson, Dustin Miller, Jean Cook Offense: Multiple Defense: 5-3 Returning lettermen: 9 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Gavin Fry, RB/LB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Hayden Miller, WR/ LB, 6-0, 170, Jr.; Andrew Reed, QB/DB, 5-10, 170, So.; Ty Davidson, WR/DB, 5-5, 140, So.; Colt Eck, WR/LB, 5-11, 145, So. Jason Peake

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 117




Wins in three of its final four games wasn’t quite enough to get Wabaunsee into the Class 2-1A playoffs for the second straight season. Instead, a 34-28 loss to Valley Heights in the district opener put the Chargers in a must-win situation for the rest of district play and a 28-15 loss to Washington County in week eight denied them the postseason berth. Wabaunsee still finished 4-5, posting its most wins since 2013. The Chargers picked up a rare Mid-East League victory, beating Rock Creek 28-13 early in the season and also beat perennial power Centralia and spoiled Jackson Heights’ bid for the postseason. While the Chargers say goodbye to a senior class which served as the building block for one of the best back-to-back seasons in recent history, plenty returns to give them hope to match or improve on last year’s showing. The biggest question facing Wabaunsee will be how it will piece together its offensive and defensive lines. Four of five starters graduated on offense with junior Noah Mills the lone returner to a unit which helped clear the way for more than 2,000 rushing yards — a high during Brian Henry’s 10-year tenure as coach. If Henry can fill the holes around Mills, he’s got the skill players to take advantage. Senior back Kolby Droegemeier, a four-year starter, ran for 1,230 yards and 13 touchdowns last year and was an All-Class 2-1A pick. No other back who had more than two carries returns and the Chargers must also replace quarterback Kameron Wurtz, who threw for 565 yards. Returning senior end Chase Nelson will move into the backfield to replace Wurtz and if he can provide balance to Droegemeier’s ground game, the Chargers could continue to match the scoring output of a year ago when they averaged 24 points per game. None of Wabaunsee’s graduation losses were bigger than linebacker Mitchell Wertzberger, a twotime first-team All-Class 2-1A selection, and Shrine Bowl selection, who had a team-high 118 tackles last year. Droegemeier is tops among the returners with 69 tackles. The schedule is always a challenge for Wabaunsee, which opens with four straight league games. But traditionally, if the Chargers can survive the league play they’ve had success in 2-1A districts, though theirs is loaded once again with Valley Heights, Jackson Heights and Centralia all returning most of their squads and Washington County always a tough out.


Dropping back down to Class 2-1A after a 10-1 season in 3A in 2015, Washington County figured to immediately join the fray as a title-contending team. Sure enough, the Tigers were right in the mix and reached the 2-1A quarterfinals before a 29-20 loss to Colgan ended an 8-3 season. The only other losses came to Class 3A semifinalist Hoisington (47-6) and Class 2-1A state champion Troy (20-6) and the Tigers won arguably the toughest district in 2-1A with four wins each by 13 points or less. Washington County’s mettle will be tested fully this year as almost everyone responsible for an 18-4 mark over the past two seasons is graduated. Last year’s departures included All-Class 2-1A running back/linebacker Hunter Kier and five other players who earned All-Twin Valley League honors of some kind. That leaves the cupboard pretty bare for third-year coach Doug Thompson. Making matters worse, Thompson doesn’t exactly have enough stock to refill it either as he expects less than 20 players out this season. Only three of those are returning lettermen and returning starters. Senior linebacker Riley Moore is the only defensive starter back and was a second-team all-league selection last year as a complement to Kier. On offense, senior Carson Talkington returns at quarterback and senior Schuyler Zenger is back on the line. A second linemen, senior Evan Jones, was a starter the past two years but is not playing this year due to concussions. Beyond that, however, there are a bunch of question marks Thompson hopes to answer before the opener with Doniphan West — the lone victory the Tigers had a year ago by more than 22 points. Washington County’s schedule after that won’t offer many, if any, breaks as their district looks to once again be a tough road to the postseason and non-league tilts with Riley County, La Crosse and Hoisington will also pose stiff challenges. After winning the Twin Valley League in 2015, Washington County finished runner-up to Troy last year.



We want to be YOUR bank!


There was no sophomore slump in Jeff Schneider’s second year as head coach at Jefferson North. In fact, it was just the opposite. Not only did the Chargers equal the 6-4 record they posted in Schneider’s debut season, they bettered it. By two wins, finishing 8-2 and with the program’s first league title since 2001. Jefferson North finished Northeast Kansas League play undefeated, sharing the league title with fellow unbeaten Jackson Heights (the two didn’t play in 2016 and won’t again this year). North was flat-out dominating in league play, winning all six league tilts by 16 points or more. The only losses the Chargers endured were 38-12 to eventual Class 2-1A state champion Troy in district play and 18-0 to Washington County in the playoff opener. So what will year three bring? Well, expectations are for nothing less than a third straight playoff berth and runs at league and district titles. The Chargers should be well-equipped to chase those goals with eight starters returning on offense and seven on defense. The biggest graduation loss, literally and figuratively, was All-Class 2-1A lineman Braden Schneider, who signed with South Dakota. A first-team all-leaguer both ways, Schneider was the anchor for both lines and a driving force behind an offense which averaged 34.5 points per game and racked up 3,279 yards of total offense and a defense which allowed just eight rushing touchdowns all season and 12.7 points per game. 2-7 in 2016 / 2-2 in district / 2-1A Two other players who earned all-league honors of Heart of America League some kind also graduated, but everyone else is back, Coach: Ben Wertenberger (2nd year, 2-7) including North’s entire starting backfield. Assistants: N/A Ridge Robertson took over as feature back last Offense: N/A Defense: N/A year and ran for 724 yards and 15 TDs before breakReturning lettermen: N/A ing his leg in the seventh game of the season. When Returning starters: N/A Kyle McCaskey he went down fellow senior Samuel Larson stepped up and finished the year with 772 yards and 10 TDs. Receiver Brayden Summers didn’t have another monster year like he did as a sophomore in 2015, but still put up solid numbers (21 catches, 418 yards, 7 TDs) as the top target for returning quarterback Boston Lane, who threw for 852 yards and 15 touchdowns. Four of five linemen also return, giving 8-3 in 2016 / 4-0 in district / 2-1A North an offense capable of scoring with anyone in Twin Valley League Class 2-1A. Coach: Doug Thompson (3rd year, 18-4) Seven starters return on defense with Larson and Assistants: Robert Smith, Scott Romeiser cornerback Anthony Cahill both first-team all-league Offense: Multiple Defense: 4-4 picks a year ago. North didn’t give up more than 14 Returning lettermen: 3 points in a game until the loss to Troy and their battle Returning starters: 2 Offense, 1 Defense this year should once again decide the champion in Riley Moore, LB, 5-7, 190, Sr.; Schuyler Zenger, DE, a district which also includes Doniphan West, Horton 4-5 in 2016 / 2-2 in district / 2-1A 5-10, 180, Sr.; Carson Talkington, QB/S, 6-0, 180, Sr. and McLouth. Mid-East League Brent Maycock Coach: Brian Henry (10th year, 22-64) 8-2 in 2016 / 3-1 in district / 2-1A Assistants: Jess Rutledge, Kolby Harris Northeast Kansas League Offense: Power Option Double Dive Defense: 4-3 Coach: Jeff Schneider (3rd year, 14-6) Returning lettermen: 8 Assistants: James Tweed, Brett Robertson Returning starters: 4 Offense, 4 Defense Offense: Spread Option Defense: Multiple Base Kolby Droegemeier, RB/LB, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Chase Returning lettermen: 14 Nelson, TE/S, 6-1, 160, Sr.; Noah Mills, C/DE, 6-3, Returning starters: 8 Offense, 7 Defense 185, Jr.; Josh Wurtz, TE/CB, Sr. Ridge Robertson, RB/DB, Sr.; Jacob Schrick, OL/LB, Lyndon and the Wildcats host Northeast-Arma in Brent Maycock An athletic group of starters return to lead Yates Sr.; Anthony Cahill, RB/CB, Sr.; Brayden Summers, Center as the Wildcats look to improve on a 2-7 week two. Their first road trip will be Sept. 15 to WR/LB, Sr.; Samuel Larson, RB/LB, Sr.; Boston record from 2016. Northern Heights. September wraps up with a trip Lane, QB, Sr.; Knox Tweed, OL/DL, Sr.; Caden Yates Center will have new leadership in co-head to Jayhawk-Linn in week four and a Sept. 29 home Worthington, CB/WR, Sr.; Caden McAfee, OL/DL, Jr.; coaches Tanner Davis and Ryan Panko. Davis has game against St. Marys. Kyle Budy, OL/DL, Jr. been an assistant for the past several years and is In October, Yates Center alternates home and Brent Maycock the Wildcats’ head basketball coach. away games by traveling to Olpe, hosting St. Marys The Wildcats bring back seven starters on both Colgan, making the drive east to Uniontown, then sides of the ball, including four offensive linemen. hosting Oswego in the regular season finale. Seniors Devon Hathaway and Julius Hodges are joined by sophomores Trent Burton and Tytan Smoot 2-7 in 2016 / 1-2 in district / 2-1A up front while senior John Righini and juniors Quin Three Rivers League Lowder and Thayne Smith return to the backfield. Co-Coaches: Tanner Davis/Ryan Panko (1st year) Defensively, Yates Center returns Burton, Hodges Assistant: Brad Edwards and Smoot up front and Hathaway, Lowder, Righini Offense: N/A Defense: N/A and Smith at linebacker. Returning Lettermen: 11 Four more lettermen are also back on the roster. Returning Starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Davis said the team’s goals are “simply to get John Righini, RB/LB, 5-7, 145, Sr.; Devon Hathaway, better each day and to improve on last year and to OL/LB, 5-9, 170, Sr.; Julius Hodges, OL/DL, 5-10, Serving North Central Kansas for over 100 years make a run at the playoffs.” 220, Sr.; Thayne Smith, RB/LB 5-8, 145, Jr.; Quin Locations in Washington, Mankato and Clay Center He added, “We are going to need our older guys to Lowder, RB/LB, 5-8, 140, Jr.; Tytan Smoot, OL/DL, step into key leadership roles and for the young guys 6-2, 165, So.; Trent Burton, OL/DL, 5-10, 200, So. to step up and play a huge role.” Melanie McGee Yates Center’s season begins Sept. 1 against Patching up the defense will be a focal point for Remington if the Broncos intend to build off this past season. Remington was rocked for 47.7 points per game, second worst in 2-1A behind only Sublette. Every opponent produced a minimum of 30 points against the Broncos. Offensively, Remington was formidable, reaching double digits in six showdowns. All told, it equaled a 2-7 mark in coach Ben Wertenberger’s first season. Remington opened the year with six consecutive losses, but rebounded to pick off wins over Inman and Medicine Lodge before the season concluded. The exhausting, arduous climb to pull off a winning record continues for Remington. The Broncos were 7-3 in 2010, but have topped out at four wins in every campaign since. The 2010 season also denotes the Broncos’ most recent playoff visit. Prior to that, it was back-to-back showings in 2004-05. Remington has twice reached the state quarterfinals. Though its overall record may not have been sterling, Remington was inches away from a postseason berth in 2016. The Broncos finished 2-2 in districts, creating a three-way tie in the standings, but they were left out on points criteria. Sedgwick is the defending District 5 champion, undefeated in the fiveteam field. But the rest of the lineup – Moundridge, Inman, Medicine Lodge and Remington – all finished with three victories or less for the season. The playoff chase could be wide open.



G ood lu ck to allarea athletes!

Bulldog Supply

G & L Health Mart Pharmacy 207 S Penn Avenue, Ness City, KS 67560 • (785) 798-2897 Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-6pm, Saturday: 8:30am-12:30pm


210 N Main. • Attica, KS 620-254-7540

Proud supporters of the Ness City Eagles!

Good Luck to the Herington Railers in the Upcoming Season! Member FDIC

Proud to support the Madison Bulldogs

Good Luck in 2017! WELL SERVICE INC.


1006 SW Blvd • Madison, KS



PROUD SUPPORTERS of MADISON ATHLETICS! 117 N 3rd St. Madison, KS 66860 (620) 437-2356

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Conor Ncholl For Kansas Pregame Last season, five Eight-Man, Division I teams earned double-digit wins: Osborne, Spearville, Burlingame, St. Francis and Central Plains. Osborne went 13-0 and scored 764 points, which broke the former eight-man scoring record of 760 set by the Bulldogs in 2013. The Bulldogs, like the start of last year, will be a team that will open hovering around the top-5. Burlingame (11-1), Spearville (11-1), St. Francis (11-1) and Central Plains (10-1) are considered the top of the class for 2017. The Bearcats lead the way on the east, while the other three reside in the west. “In the east, a lot of people are excited about Burlingame and talking about them and the talent that they have returning,” Spearville coach Matt Fowler said. “Of course, the job that Coach (Jeff) Slater does, he does an awesome job really making football exciting in Burlingame.” Burlingame, on its best run since the early ‘70s, has lost in the sub-state title game each of the last two seasons. The Bearcats return senior quarterback Dalton Sporing, who holds 24 school records. Sporing suffered an injury in basketball and will miss part of the fall. He accounted for 63 total scores as a junior. “One of the top overall players in eight man,” Slater said. “Everything goes through Sporing in the run game and pass game.” Senior guard/defensive end Tristan Lee will be a four-year starter and, like Sporing, collected first team all-state honors. Junior defensive end Jake Thompson tallied 74 tackles and 10 TFLs. Senior Colton Noonan was the team’s top receiving threat with 36 catches for 570 yards and 12 scores, along with five interceptions, all team-highs. “Noonan has big play ability and did a great job blocking in the running game,” Slater said. In the offseason the Bearcats welcomed 6-5, 185 pound Rossville transfer Caiden Musick, who is an intriguing addition at wide receiver. For the west, Spearville is 2-1 against Central Plains in the last three years in the second round of the playoffs. “They are going to be very, very tough,” Fowler said of the Oilers. Last year, St. Francis defeated Spearville, 36-30, in the sub-state title game for its first state berth in school annals. Then the Indians lost 38-24 to Osborne in the championship. Spearville captured the ’15 title, and CP did so in ’14. Spearville’s consistent single-wing offense has to replace its entire offensive line but does return junior quarterback Kolby Stein and senior Bailey Sites. Spearville has averaged at least 50 points a game in each of the last four years and lost just four contests in that span. Stein took over for all-stater Nathan Stein, and despite some nagging injuries, accounted for 26 scores. “The beat kind of went on,” Fowler said. Sites, hurt for part of 2016, has 23 offensive scores on 99 career offensive touches. Several years ago, Fowler believed Sites could be one of the best players to ever wear a Spearville jersey. This summer, Fowler kept the prediction entering Sites’ senior year. Fowler’s four-year-old son considers Sites a big role model. Sites, during baseball, hit a home run, and, on his own, went out, got the baseball, signed it and gave it to Fowler’s son. “Oustanding, talented kid,” Fowler said. “Even a better young man.”

Page 119

St. Francis is 21-2 in two years with coach Rodney Yates, and he returns another deep team this year. The Indians return 10 players who started at least one game on defense for a unit that has collectively permitted 10.9 points per game the last two seasons, best in eight-man football. Spearville is second at 11.2 and Central Plains third at 12.6. The Indians return their three leading tacklers with junior linebacker Jordan Raby, senior linebacker Dalton Straub and senior lineman Trayton Doyle. SF graduated its all-state tandem of quarterback Quinton Cravens and running back Taylor Rogers, though sophomore Brady Dinkel is expected to step in at quarterback and Raby will shift to feature back. “We will have about 30 players out for football, returning 22 from last year and might struggle to find playing time for all of the upper classmen,” Yates said. “Our spring and summer off-season program will determine our ability to compete for a state championship. We return a wealth of speed and athleticism.” Central Plains, 9-2, 13-0, 9-2 and 10-1 in the last four years, returns a bevy of talent, including six offensive and seven defensive starters. Junior Devin Ryan and senior allstate wide receiver Alex Barton return. Ryan had a 32/3 TD/ INT ratio, while Barton hauled in 13 receiving scores on 47 grabs. Barton collected eight interceptions for 261 return yards and three pick-sixes. Seventy-four percent of the rushing yards are back. “We would like to win all our league games in a very competitive league that includes opening with Victoria, Ness City, and Otis-Bison,” coach Chris Steiner said. “We would like to win our district again and try to make another deep run in the playoffs.” Hoxie and Atwood will compete with St. Francis in District 8, and Argonia-Attica should be the District 7 favorite in a very deep classification. Hoxie returns every player from a 6-3 team in 2016, and added Oakley transfer Chris Cox, a stnadout defensive lineman during his sophomore season in 2015. The Indians are 11-5 in the last two years. In that span, the Indians rank sixth in eight-man scoring defense at 17.1 points allowed. Hoxie is the only one of the top-20 scoring defense teams to not make the postseason in either of the last two falls. The Indians have seven straight winning seasons. “Another team that I think is going to be really good is Hoxie, because they have a lot of pieces coming back, and a lot of people that are out there in that area have talked about Hoxie quite a bit about a team that is coming on,” Fowler said. “They had a good run in basketball.” Atwood-Rawlins County has one of eight-man’s top players

8-MAN I with quarterback Maverick Green and has made the playoffs four straight years. A&A was the Division II state runner-up in ’14 and ’15 before a 7-3 year in 2016. Senior quarterback Trevor Pierce returns after accounting for 34 scores. On the east, Osborne key backfield pieces in senior Denton Schurr (1,788 yards, 31 rushing scores) and sophomore Darrien Holloway (626 yards, 17 rushing TDs). Junior Kade Miller returns after he picked off nine passes. The Bulldogs went 13-0 in 2013 before 10-2 and 4-5 seasons. Since ’06, the Bulldogs’ nine-win improvement was the biggest one-season jump by a state champion. The Bulldogs will compete in deep District 4 with returning district runner-up Solomon, Victoria and Logan-Palco. Solomon returns three of its top-four rushers, including junior quarterback Braden Neilson. Victoria ended its streak of 14 straight playoff appearances, but went 5-4 and returns six starters this year. L-P has senior running back David Thompson with 1,696 rushing yards and 31 rushing scores in 2016. West Elk (9-2 in ’16) has had many fine players, including Wisconsin defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk, with 17th-year coach Chris Haag. Senior dual threat quarterback/defensive back Cade Miller is one of the best. Miller has rushed for 2,356 yards and 52 scores and thrown for 1,337 yards and 25 TDs in the last two years. As well, Miller has 11 interceptions, five return scores and 144 total tackles in the last two falls. “He might be the best football player, pound-for-pound, that has ever played in our program,” Haag said. Oxford halted a decade long playoff drought this past season, flooding the win column for a six-win improvement up to 7-3. Oxford compiled a five-year run from 2002 to 2006 with consecutive playoff berths before a dry spell. The Wildcats entered the 2016 postseason on a six-game win streak and with an 8-Man, District 2, championship, but were toppled in the opening round of the playoffs by West Elk, 54-30. Defenses will be stressed against Oxford’s run game. The Wildcats return their top four rushers, which will force eight defenders to be assignment sound to follow the ball carrier. Dalton Silhan, Dylan Hills, Cal Shimkus and Luis Alata combined for 371 carries totaling 2,340 yards and 36 touchdowns. Silhan is the bell cow, contributing about half of all those figures, but the threat of a multi-faceted attack creates space for everyone.


1. Central Plains 2. Osborne 3. Burlingame 4. Spearville 5. St. Francis Others: Argonia-Attica, Hoxie, Logan-Palco, Oxford, Rawlins County, Solomon, Victoria, West Elk

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Conor Nicholl For Kansas Pregame Logan-Palco coach Mike Jenner has served more than a quarter century on football staffs at Thomas More Prep-Marian, Larned, Bazine, Ransom-Western Plains and is in his third season with the Trojans. L-P senior running back David Thompson is one of the few players Jenner has coached who seems to get stronger the more touches he receives. “A lot of times you watch him early in games, he is effective, but not near as effective as he is at the end of games,” Jenner said. “A big part of it, he just wears other defenses down.” Thompson became a Twitter sensation last fall with multiple carries where he leveled defenders, especially in a 333-yard performance versus Stockton, an eventual Division II district champion. “Hitting, it’s something you can’t really explain,” he said. “It’s really awesome. The one thing that I really like about football, too, is running the ball. The feeling of running the ball is something that people would have to experience to know how the person feels.” Thompson has received interest from Division II schools Chadron State (Neb.) College, Missouri Western State University and NAIA Sterling College. Last year, he earned all-state honors with 210 carries for 1,696 yards and 31 rushing scores in just nine games. “I never really expected such high colleges to be looking at me,” Thompson said. Thompson easily led Kansas eight-man players with 188.4 rushing yards a contest and stood third with 210 carries (most among non-quarterbacks). “I just do what I can for the team,” Thompson said. “Obviously I couldn’t do it without the other guys on the field, and without the line, we couldn’t really do much, so I just run off of what they give me, and after that, I will just try to do my best to find the hole and cut through it.” After 402 yards and five scores as a freshman, Thompson delivered 171 carries for 1,319 yards and 18 rushing TDs as a sophomore. Listed at 6-foot, 202 pounds, Thompson also plays linebacker and has 298 tackles and 14.5 TFLs in his career. Now, he looks to stamp an impressive career with a milestone and playoff run that two of the state’s smallest schools have rarely seen in any sport. “I don’t know how much he could improve,” Jenner said. “He has done so much for the program the last few years. Each year, he keeps getting stronger. I know this year he has really dedicated himself in the weight room. It’s amazing, he has put on maybe another 10 pounds of muscle. He is looking pretty good right now.” Neither Logan or Palco have made the playoffs since 2006. The co-operative football agreement has produced 5-4, 4-5, 7-2 and 7-2 records. Last year, the Trojans’ average score was 52-32 compared to 36-21 against a much easier schedule in 2015. Thompson was somewhat upset he couldn’t reach 2,000 rushing yards in 2016 and has set a goal to hit the mark this fall. To accomplish the feat, he knows the Trojans need a deep November trip. Just three Kansas players cleared the milestone in 2016. Logan has won three state titles in school history, with the 2014 volleyball crown the only one since ’85. Palco was a surprise eight-man runner-up in ’05 and has never made the state basketball tournament for either boys or girls. The Roosters garnered a 1962 Class B boys indoor track crown. L-P graduated quarterback/all-state defensive end Josh Van Laeys but returns seven starters. Jenner is expected to have 26-27 players out, the most he’s ever had. “We should be a pretty good team this year,” Thompson said. “We still have some stuff to work on, but I think we can get it, and possibly go to the championship this year.” Six should come from Palco, including Thompson and senior Blake Bouchey, the team’s leading tackler with 128 stops. Bouchey will again start at linebacker alongside Thompson and junior Bodey LeRoux. He will move to fullback because of his blocking ability. Senior Riley Allen, a returner at defensive back, will take over at quarterback. Thompson could take snaps out of the Wildcat, too. “Heart,” Jenner said of Bouchey. “He is not the biggest kid, he is not the fastest kid. He is definitely not the strongest, but he seems to be around the ball wherever it’s at.” Last year, the Trojans nearly made the playoffs out of District 4. State champion Osborne won the district, while L-P and Solomon tied at plus-21 points with Victoria at plus-20. L-P defeated Victoria, 50-28, for the team’s signature win in Week 5, but lost 56-34 at Solomon in Week 8. The Trojans spotted Solomon 21 first-quarter points. continued on page 127

(Photo by Derek Livingston,

Page 120


THE THOMPSON FILE Hobbies: “Playing basketball with my brother or running around town.” Favorite subject: Chemistry Favorite food: “I really don’t have a favorite I like a lot of food.” Favorite musician: “Bunch of favorites, I listen to a bunch of songs.” Favorite pregame song: “I mainly keep quite to myself, focus on the game.” Most memorable high school football moment: “Being able to play with guys on my team that help me be the runner I am today.”

Brought to you by the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more about all there is to see and do in Crawford County go to

Mined Land Wildlife Area The property, acquired primarily by donation, is 14,500 acres, comprised of 1,500 acres of water and 13,000 acres of land. All but 2,000 acres of the property was surface mined for coal during the 1920’s through 1974. The property is rugged country dotted with over 1,000 strip-mine lakes, steep sided hills and dense vegetation. Primary use of the property includes hunting, hiking, camping, wildlife viewing and mushroom/berry picking.

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 121 501 Main St.



Dine-in or Carryout



After back-to-back 12-1 years that yielded EightMan, Division II runner-up showings (to Victoria in both seasons), A-A had a very inexperienced team in ’16 and bumped to Division I. The Titans returned just two offensive and three defensive starters and still returned to the playoffs for the third straight year. In District 6, A-A finished as runner-up to South Central, and had an average margin of 47-27. A-A lost 90-48 to Caldwell in Week 2 before a 48-42 defeat to SC in Week 9. In the playoffs, A-A fell 60-20 at Central Plains in a game the Titans led 20-16. Senior Trevor Pierce, who took over for all-state quarterback Alec McDaniel, performed well under center. He completed 91 of 163 passes for 1,247 yards with 22 scores against 10 interceptions. Pierce rushed 98 times for 636 yards and 12 scores. A-A committed 19 turnovers and was minus-10 in turnover margin. In ’15, A-A committed six turnovers and was plus-20 in turnover margin. “Our team goals always start with getting better every game to be playing our best ball at the end of the season,” co- head coach Lance Greenwood said. “With several players returning off of last year’s district runner-up team, we hope to continue to improve and compete for a district championship. Our returning players will have to continue to improve from last year. We will also need a couple of players to step up and fill the void left by our two graduating seniors.”

Atwood has made the postseason every year from ’05-’10 and then ’13-16 but has lost in the first round each season. Second-year coach Matt Smith, a Protection native and former South Central head coach, enjoyed a solid first season with the Buffs. Atwood, which had a Week 5 bye, permitted just 46 points in its first four games, including a 26-20 Week 2 win at Sharon Springs, an eventual sub-state runner-up team. In Week 6, Atwood fell, 52-6, to St. Francis in the Yoke Bowl rivalry, a game that effectively decided the District 8 playoff berths. Atwood fell, 52-6, to Spearville in the first round of the playoffs. Atwood again will play Wallace County in Week 2, followed by a key district game against Hoxie in Week 4. After the bye, Atwood will again match up with St. Francis. Five starters return on both sides, and senior Braden Leitner, a starting defensive back as a sophomore, returns after he played in just one game as a junior. Maverick Green is back at quarterback after he passed for 701 yards with a 10/6 TD/INT ratio and had 132 carries for 1,028 yards with 12 scores. Running back Cole Sramek graduated after he rushed for 3,923 career yards. “Continue to get better each day,” Smith said. “Do the little things correctly and let the big things take care of themselves. Our league and district games will be tough. Week in and week out each game will be tough competition. We must stay healthy and avoid any types of injuries.”

7-3 in 2016 / 4-1 in district / 8-Man I South Central Border League Coach: Luke Greenwood/Lance Vandeveer (5th year, 36-9; 9th overall, 53-28) Assistants: Monte Haxton, Monte Miller Offense: Pistol Defense: 3-3 Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Trevor Pierce, QB/LB, 5-10, 150, Sr.; Blake Harnden, RB/WR/DB, 6-1, 140, Jr.; Mason Miller, RB/LB/DB, 5-10, 155, So.; Anthony Handlin, TE/DE/LB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Kamden Basinger, C, 5-10, 185, Sr.; Masen McDaniel, OL/DL, 5-10, 215, Jr.; Ezra Goodman, DE, 6-0, 175, Jr. Conor Nicholl

7-2 in 2016 / 5-1 in district / 8-Man I Northwest Kansas League Coach: Matt Smith (2nd year, 7-2; 16th overall) Assistants: Matt Green, Andrew Melia Offense: Power Defense: 35 Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Maverick Green, QB/LB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Will Crouse, OL/L, 5-9, 190, Sr.; Sohn Domsch, OL/DL, 5-8, 170, Sr.; Cauy Hayes, OL, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Jalen Kreup, LB, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Nick Withington, TE, 6-1, 165, Sr.; Braden Leitner, RB/DB, 5-8, 150, Sr. Conor Nicholl

Expectations were high for Burlingame entering the 2016 season after the Bearcats broke through in 2015 with an 11-1 mark and trip to the Eight-Man Division I state semifinals. While that often times is a burden on a program tasting that kind of success for the first time, the Bearcats not only embraced them, but lived up to them as well. For the second straight year, Burlingame powered its way to an undefeated regular season and through the first two rounds of the playoffs. A semifinal loss to Hanover denied the Bearcats in 2016 and last year it was Osborne throwing up the roadblock for the program’s first state championship game appearance since winning the 1972 Class 1A title. In a clash of unbeatens, Osborne rolled 62-16 on its way to the state championship. Burlingame finished the season having outscored its opponents 632-174 and completely backing up what it had done in 2015. With 11 returning seniors who have been a large part of the program’s success the past three years (Bearcats were 6-3 in 2014), expectations remain high and Burlingame hopes to take the next step and get to the title game. Seven starters are back on offense and five return on defense, though several key reserves are ready to step in and do their part. The entire season could hinge on the return of senior quarterback Dalton Sporing. The standout threw for 1,430 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for another 1,200 yards and 30 scores, but tore his ACL late in the basketball season last year. Fourth-year coach Jeff Slater hopes to have his three-year starter back before the start of district play. In his absence, junior Montana Giffin will move from receiver to quarterback to man the position. If he can steady the position, Burlingame’s offense should remain explosive. Junior back Seth Greenwood ran for 598 yards and seven scores and senior

receiver Colton Noonan had 36 catches for 570 yards and 12 touchdowns, though he might move into the backfield to help ease some of the load for Giffin and Greenwood. In the offseason the Bearcats welcomed 6-5, 185 pound Rossville transfer Caiden Musick, who is an intriguing addition at wide receiver. Without question, line play will be a strength with the return of three-year starter Tristan Lee, who as good as he is offensively is even better defensively. He made 120 tackles and nine sacks from his defensive end position, earning first-team All-Eight-Man Division I honors. He’s one of three returning starters across the defensive front and all five returning defensive starters had at least 50 tackles. Burlingame scored less than 45 points just once, in the playoff loss to Osborne. If Sporing returns and plays to his previous form, the Bearcats can realistically harbor thoughts of ending their state title drought.


Joel Benson, CPA Mary Benson, CPA

Specializing in small businesses

Benson Accounting 1929 S. Ohio Office: (785)827-3157 Salina, KS 67401 Fax: (785)827-3159


Bennington dropped down to eight-man football last season. Normally teams improve when it bumps to the eight-man ranks, but Bennington was put in arguably the classification’s hardest district in District 4. The Bulldogs, coming off back-to-back 5-4 seasons, went 1-4 in district play. Osborne won the state title with a 13-0 mark, and the district also included Solomon (6-4), Logan-Palco (7-2) and Victoria (5-4), along with Lincoln (1-8). Bennington opened 0-3 with losses at Herington (74-38), Little River (44-12) and at Beloit/St. John’sTipton (50-22). Then, Bennington defeated Thunder Ridge (54-14) and at Lincoln (70-24). In the challenging final month, Bennington lost 62-42 to Victoria, 68-26 at Solomon, 68-20 versus Osborne and 70-40 at Logan-Palco. It marked the No. 9 strength of schedule out of 50 teams in Division I. Bennington averaged 36 points a contest but permitted nearly 53. It marked the sixth-worst scoring defense in the classification. Coach David Gillett’s three goals are: for the team to grow together and stronger each and everyday, be 1-0 at the end of each week and make the playoffs. “(No.1) key for our team’s success in 2017 is that we must be better on the defensive side of the ball,” Gillett said. “We must tackle better and play more fundamentally sound. This will give our offense a better chance of staying in the high-powered eightman games.” Senior Devin Feil returns after he completed 65 of 145 passes for 1,104 yards with a 19/13 TD/ INT ratio. Senior J.J. Allen is one of eight-man’s top all-purpose threats. He had 144 carries for 885 yards and 15 scores for a team that averaged just 4.6 yards per carry. Allen also caught 19 passes for 340 yards and seven TDs. Allen tallied 471 special teams yards with a kick return touchdown and had eight TFLs, all team-highs. Bennington committed 18 turnovers and finished even in turnover margin.


A case could be made that the playoffs start week one for Central Burden. The Raiders’ schedule is dotted with seven opponents that finished .500 or better. Their non-district slate in the first four weeks – Argonia-Attica, Sedan, Caldwell and West Elk – includes foes with a combined 31-8 record. The postseason mentality comes in another form, as the Raiders never quite established a foothold in their 2016 performance. They began the season 0-5. Back-to-back wins helped save face, but the 2-7 overall mark was a distinct drop-off from a prolific 8-3 campaign in 2015 that seemed to detect a culture change. The Raiders are eager to prove this past season was a fluke. “Our team goals this year are to get back to having a winning season. Also, if we stay healthy through the first four games, we hope to make a postseason appearance,” said Burden coach Anthony Blair. The Raiders dominated in District 2 victories over Udall and Flinthills, but were overmatched in losses to Cedar Vale-Dexter and Oxford. A 48-42 week eight loss to Peabody-Burns was a missed opportunity to cause a shake-up in the race for playoff bids. While talented teams reside in the district, it lacks a steamroller, so upsetting the balance from the year before is doable. Polished starter Austin Branscum is a known quantity in the South Central Border League. The 6-foot3-inch, 250-pounder owns the line of scrimmage. That provides a measure of comfort for second-year quarterback Dustin Handlin, who also shines in the linebacker corps. The Raiders begin the year with five starters returning on both sides. Overhauling a defense that conceded at least 46 points seven times is an urgent concern. Burden was a back-to-back-to-back state qualifier from 2009 to 2011. The program won a state title in 1987, and was a semifinalist in 1986.

2-7 in 2016 / 2-3 in district / 8-Man I South Central Border League Coach: Anthony Blair (4th year, 13-16; 8th overall, 37-31) 2-7 in 2016 / 1-4 in district / 8-Man I Assistant: Gregg Mettling Heart of America Offense: I-Formation Defense: 3-2 Coach: David Gillett (3rd year, 7-11) Returning lettermen: 10 Assistants: Bryan Shamburg, Kevin Turowski Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Offense: Power/Spread Defense: 3-2 Nathan Delaney, TE/LB, 5-9, 150, Sr.; Austin Returning lettermen: 10 Branscum, C/DE, 6-3, 250, Sr.; Dustin Handlin, QB/ Returning starters: 4 Offense, 6 Defense LB, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Clayton Cook, FB/DE, 6-2, 230, Jr.; David Feil, QB, 5-10, 175, Sr; J.J. Allen, RB/LB, 5-10, Payton Edwards, OG/NG, 6-3, 275, Jr. 165, Sr.; J.T. Ohlson, RB/LB, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Ethan Kyle McCaskey Schlachter, OL/DE, 6-0, 200, Sr.; Javon Allen, DB, 5-10, 145, So.; Dylan Fry, LB, 5-9, 150, Sr.; Taygen Watson, NG, 5-10, 155, Sr. Conor Nicholl


Scheme to a heart’s desire, there is no substitute for ball security. Canton-Galva third-year coach Dustin Patee pinpointed turnovers as the Eagles’ Achilles’ heel. “These are what made us 2-7 instead of much better,” he said. “Our TO margin was minus-12. I have never had a team that undisciplined, but the boys in skilled positions are working much harder at the ‘little things,’ and we will see a better TO margin this season.” If the Eagles improve at protecting the football, there are athletes that can shake loose for game-changing plays. Senior running back Dylan 11-1 in 2016 / 6-0 in district / 8-Man I Wood carved up 400 yards and nine touchdowns on Lyon County League the ground, and also added 25 catches for 375 yards Coach: Jeff Slater (4th year, 28-5) and four more scores. Sophomore tight end Nick Assistants: Eric West, Nick Brungardt Pearson is an emerging weapon, pulling down 25 Offense: Spread Defense: 3-2 receptions for 250 yards. Returning lettermen: 15 Canton-Galva’s offense was kept to single digits in Returning starters: 7 Offense, 5 Defense five contests. Dalton Sproing, QB, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Tristan Lee, OG/ An opportunistic defense can do its own part to DE, 5-10, 240, Sr.; Colton Noonan, WR/S, 5-9, 160, twist the turnover margin. Defensive back Jonah SarSr.; Zach Herrick, TE, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Dillyn Brown, gent chased down 123 tackles as a junior. Pearson OG, 5-10, 225, Sr.; Seth Greenwood, RB/LB, 5-11, registered 10-1/2 tackles for loss and three fumble 150, Jr.; Timmy Griffin, C, 5-9, 225, Sr.; Montana recoveries at linebacker, partnering with Wood, who Giffin, WR/QB, 6-2, 160, Jr.; Jake Thompson, DE, hammered out 95 tackles, five fumbles recovered, 6-4, 195, Sr.; Keller Snesrud, NG, 6-3, 260, Jr. two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Brent Maycock Canton-Galva went the wrong direction to start 2016, dropping its first five games. The Eagles improved by season’s end, even swiping a couple

district wins over St. John and Goessel. Still, no gimmes will surface on the schedule. All of the Eagles’ opponents won at least three games a year ago. “Our goal is to continue to instill our program mentality and improve every day,” Patee said. Canton-Galva made four consecutive ventures to the postseason up through 2007, but has run dry since. 2-7 in 2016 / 2-3 in district / 8-Man I Wheat State League Coach: Dustin Patee (3rd year, 3-15; 5th overall, 12-24) Assistants: Tyler O’Connor, Dean Scott Offense: Option Defense: 4-Front Returning lettermen: 8 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Dylan Wood, RB/LB, 5-10, 173, Sr.; Jonah Sargent, RB/DB, 5-9, 158, Sr.; David Van Houten, DL, 5-10, 209, Sr.; Landon Everett, TE/DB, 5-7, 143, So.; Jay Nightingale, OL, 5-7, 193, So.; Nick Pearson, TE/LB, 5-11, 204, So. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


Close to closing, but not close enough. Cedar Vale/Dexter’s 5-4 campaign was close to being so much more. Three losses came by a relatively close 22 points or less. One included a 74-52 road loss at Peabody-Burns – a game that would send the eventual victor into the postseason. Though there is no reason to hang one’s head over a winning season, the Spartans surely want to see a few more games swing to the winning side of the ledger. Cedar Vale/Dexter appropriately took care of business – the Spartans won every game against opponents with losing records, but dropped every game against teams that finished above .500. Oxford and Peabody claimed playoff berths out of District 2. Central Burden (2-7), Udall (2-7) and Flinthills (0-9) will join the Spartans in looking to shake up the district hierarchy. The 5-4 mark was one of the better seasons in Cedar Vale/Dexter’s short history together, one of three winning seasons since 2010. Cedar Vale/ Dexter’s co-op qualified for the postseason in 2010 and 2014. Separately, the two schools have more history. Cedar Vale was a 12-time qualifier with two state semifinal appearances. Dexter saw the state tournament nine times, and also reached the semifinals twice. The Spartans churned out 46.2 points per game, only once kept under 20. The defense allowed 33.6 ppg, pitching two shutouts.


Central Plains took significant graduation losses, especially at the skill positions, following a 9-2 season in 2015 that just yielded defeats to eventual state champions Victoria and Spearville. However, the Oilers, unranked at the start of the season, retooled and went 10-1 in 2016 and finished No. 5 in the rankings. CP delivered several quality wins, including 48-22 at Victoria in Week 1, and 40-28 at Otis-Bison in Week 3 in a game that CP delivered a big fourth-quarter comeback. In the playoffs, CP, down early, defeated Argonia-Attica, 60-20, at home. The Oilers faced Spearville in the second round of the playoffs for the third straight season and lost 58-26. This season, the Oilers are on the short list for Eight-Man, Division I favorite. CP returns six offensive and seven defensive starters, many whom are juniors. The Oilers are 9-2, 13-0, 9-2 and 10-1 in the last four years. Coach Chris Steiner called the Central Prairie League “very competitive” and would like to win all of the conference games, capture the district crown and make another deep run in the playoffs. CP opens with CPL foes Victoria, Ness City and Otis-Bison, all teams that finished with winning records. Senior Alex Barton, a significant player as a freshman on the state title team, collected all-state honors after he caught 47 passes for 815 yards and 17 scores. He finished with 103 tackles – second to senior Dalton Beck’s 124 – and eight INTs. 5-4 in 2016 / 3-2 in district / 8-Man I Junior quarterback Devin Ryan capably replaced South Central Border League all-state quarterback Braedan Crites and completed Co-Coach: Richard Atherton/Lance Rhodd (2nd 103 of 152 passes for 1,650 yards with a 32/3 TD/ year, 5-4) INT ratio. Junior Alex Hickel led with 530 rushing Assistants: N/A yards and 12 rushing scores. CP averaged 159 Offense: N/A Defense: N/A passing and 170 rushing a game, including 5.7 yards Returning lettermen: N/A per carry. The Oilers had just five turnovers and were Returning starters: N/A plus-24 in TO margin. Kyle McCaskey All-state lineman Trey Schulte, a three-year starter, and all-purpose threat Bryce Miller (473 rushing, 284 receiving) were the only significant graduates. “First off, with limited numbers we have to stay healthy to be successful,” Steiner said. “We have to take one game at a time and we want to improve each week and win games on both sides of the football. We need our young kids and some kids that didn’t play very much last year to step up and fill some spots and create depth that was depleted by a talented graduating class.”

Serving the Ellinwood area 4-80 Bbl. Vacuum Trucks Pressure Pump SW/FW Hauling Tank Cleaning Lease Work 24 Hour Service Fully Insured


10-1 in 2016 / 5-0 in district / 8-Man I Central Prairie League Coach: Chris Steiner (7th year, 54-12; 8th year, 55-20) Assistants: Dustin Robison, Bryce Steiner Offense: Multiple Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 13 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense Alex Barton, WR/S, 6-3, 180, Sr.; Dalton Beck, FB/ LB, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Kade Beck, CB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Phillip Donecker, OL, 6-1, 185, Sr.; Lee Letourneau, DE, 6-5, 200, Sr.; Alex Hickel, RB/LB, 6-0, 180, Jr.; Brett Liebl, TE/DE, 6-2, 185, Jr.; Devin Ryan, QB/CB, 5-11, 150, Jr. Conor Nicholl


After winning just three games total in 2014 and 2015, Clifton-Clyde returned to its winning ways in a big way last year. The Eagles surpassed that win total in a 5-0 start and finished with an 8-2 bounceback season. The only defeats came to teams which made the Eight-Man Division I state semifinals — a 66-20 loss to Burlingame in the regular season and 64-16 loss to eventual champion Osborne in the first round of the playoffs. Those were the only two games in which the Eagles scored less than 28 points and in seven of their eight wins, they scored at least 47, including a wild 74-72 double-overtime win over Rural Vista early in district play. Matching that firepower will be a challenge this season with the graduation of do-it-all back Caleb Charbonneau, who had more than 2,100 yards of total offense including 1,531 yards and 25 touchdowns rushing. Four other starters also are gone, including the bulk of the offensive line, leaving big holes to fill. To help alleviate the adjustment period, veteran coach Russ Steinbrock will change up his offense after employing a modified version of the single wing for much of his tenure. A switch to a multiple formation system should play to his team’s strengths, which still should be a strong ground game. Behind senior lineman Bradley Koch, the Eagles should be solid even without Charbonneau’s presence. Junior Drake Steinbrock ran for 708 yards and 13 scores last year as a sophomore starter and fellow junior Christian Seifert added 401 yards and five touchdowns in a reserve role. Senior Elias Girard likely will take on a bigger role in the offense this year after being the Eagles’ defensive leader last year. His 102 tackles were 40 more than anyone else on the team and Koch (46 tackles) and Steinbrock (45) ranked fifth and sixth. Clifton-Clyde went undefeated in Twin Valley League play, but faced just three league opponents thanks in large part to being in a seven-team district that proved to be the toughest in the state last year. The district is stacked again with Burlingame one of the favorites to challenge for the state title and Valley Falls, Herington and Onaga getting their second year of eight-man experience after making the drop from 11-man a year ago.

Page 122


The T-Wolves were a strong program under coach Matt Smith but went to another level last season in the first year under coach Billy D. Nichols. SC finished 9-2 and captured District 6 with a 5-0 record. In Week 9, SC won the district with a 48-42 road victory against Argonia-Attica. Then, the T-Wolves defeated Little River, 54-28, in the first round of the playoffs before a 48-0 home loss against St. Francis. SC is now 3-9 in the playoffs since Protection/ Coldwater consolidated. The program has won one playoff game in ’04, 07 and ’16. Before last year, SC had lost in the first round the last three seasons. In the first two months, SC opened with quality wins against Ashland (34-8), Minneola (38-8) and at Ingalls (52-6). The latter two squads made the playoffs. The T-Wolves lost, 66-22, at Hodgeman County in Week 4. In the last four years, SC is 8-2, 6-4, 8-2 and 9-2. Before then, SC had posted three straight 3-6 marks and 4-5 in 2012. Sophomore Chayde Snyder returns under center after he completed 56 of 93 passes for 1,141 yards with a 0/4 TD/INT ratio. Overall, SC threw for 1,652 yards on 56 percent completion but had a 4/6 TD/INT ratio. Snyder led with 102 rushes and finished third in rushing yards (417) and rushing scores (four). Gerald Morehead (team-high 534 rushing, 10 rushing TDs) graduated, along with standout lineman Kody Huck, who played in just three games last year after 25 TFLs as a junior. Senior middle linebacker/guard Cabe Lindsay returns after he led the team with 122 tackles. Lindsay was the only non-senior captain on a 25-player roster that had four seniors. SC is expected to have a large senior class after seven juniors in 2016. 9-2 in 2016 / 5-0 in district / 8-Man I Southern Plains Iroquois Coach: Billy D. Nichols (2nd year, 9-2; 15th overall, 100-53) Assistants: N/A Offense: Carnival Defense: 4-2 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A Conor Nicholl

8-2 in 2016 / 5-1 in district / 8-Man I Twin Valley League Coach: Russ Steinbrock (16th year, 94-49) Assistants: Ryan Baxter, Rocky Fahey Offense: Multiple Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 7 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 3 Defense Elias Girard, RB/LB/DB, 5-9, 165, Sr.; Bradley Koch, OL/DL, 6-1, 206, Sr.; Drake Steinbrock, RB/DB, 5-9, 165, Jr. Conor Nicholl

620-786-0844 Cell


The margin for error in 8-Man Division I’s District 5 was paper thin. Ellinwood was left in the red, keeping intact a playoff famine that has spread since 2004. The schedule was dotted with missed opportunities. Ellinwood dropped its first district game at home to St. John by two points. A week later, the Eagles again lost by two, this time at Goessel. A loss to steamroller Central Plains in week seven harbors no regret, but the damage was done. A 22-point victory at Little River and a 48-point shellacking of Canton-Galva capped the regular season on a high note, but it was not enough. Revisionist history confirmed Ellinwood (3-6, 2-3) needed to swing a game against St. John or Goessel into the win column. The 2017 playoff chase rolls out the same sextet. It is up to the Eagles to write an alternate ending. Ellinwood has an experienced roster to keep in the hunt. “Play with great passion and enthusiasm,” said Ellinwood coach Jason Duvall. “Be in contention for a playoff spot.” The defensive front can hold the line with Kody Koetter (60 tackles, two sacks) and Colby Prescott (49 tackles) reclaiming starting roles. Senior Drew Blake (two interceptions) can help contain the passing game. Blake is equally vital on offense. He flashed his aptitude with 304 rushing yards and

seven touchdowns. Peyton Duvall sizzled as a freshman at wide receiver, snatching 44 receptions for 581 yards and five scores, but his skill set may be required at quarterback. “We will have a new QB and he will have to learn the offense and be the leader on the field,” Jason Duvall said. “He will need to understand reads and coverages in the passing game for us to be successful. Our offensive line will need to make him feel comfortable back there.” Ellinwood was 6-3 in 2015, Duvall’s first year coaching the Eagles. That season has been bookended by two 3-6 campaigns.


Goessel had its second straight two-win improvement and finished 3-3 in league play with several quality wins in 2016. Goessel opened the season with a 38-24 home win versus Wakefield, an eventual playoff team that went 7-3. Then, the Bluebirds defeated Centre, 18-12, before a 54-36 home loss against Solomon. Centre finished 4-4. After a 48-0 win at Peabody-Burns, Goessel lost 64-30 at Little River. Goessel defeated Ellinwood, 50-48, and at St. John, 56-6. Goessel ended the year with a 40-32 road loss to Canton-Galva and a 60-12 home defeat to Central Plains. Central Plains captured District 5, while Little River (3-2) took the runner-up spot over Ellinwood (2-3), Goessel (2-3) 3-6 in 2016 / 2-3 in district / 8-Man I and Canton-Galva (2-3). Goessel last made the Central Prairie League playoffs in ’12 and are 4-9 all-time in the playoffs. Coach: Jason Duvall (3rd year, 9-9) The ’12 season marked the last year with a winning Assistants: Monte Doll, Alex Birney record at 6-4. Offense: Spread Defense: 3-2 Five starters return on both sides after a small Returning lettermen: 14 group of seniors that sixth-year coach Garrett Hiebert Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense called a “very talented group.” Drew Blake, RB/DB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Colby Prescott, “It will be critical that we have players step up this OL/DL, 6-0, 235, Sr.; Bryce Baker, OL/DL, 6-1, 220, season to fill both leadership roles and on-the-field Jr.; Kody Koetter, OL/DL, 5-9, 165, Jr.; Landon Robl, roles,” Hiebert said. “For us to be successful, we TE/WR, 5-11, 166, Jr.; Peyton Duvall, QB/WR, 6-1, must continue to demonstrate positive leadership 170, So. and build trust within our team. Players may need to Kyle McCaskey

be open to position changes so we can get our best eight players on the field. Beyond this, we must get better in practice every day and strive for perfection in each rep of each drill.” Last season, Goessel averaged 35.6 points a contest and permitted 34.2. In ’15, the Bluebirds scored 23 points and allowed 41.6. “Finally, we must have a great summer as a team,” Hiebert said. “We need to get bigger, faster, and stronger if we want to reach our goals. I am excited to watch this group of young men grow and mature throughout the season.” 5-4 in 2016 / 2-3 in district / 8-Man I Wheat State League Coach: Garrett Hiebert (6th year, 17-29) Assistant: Kyle Huxman Offense: Multiple Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Jordan Griffin, TE/DE, 6-2, 195, Sr.; Carson Sterk, OG/DE, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Nathaniel Schumacker, C, 5-8, 210, Sr.; Jayce Schmidt, TE, 5-10, 150, Sr.; Drew Lindeman, TE/LB, 6-3, 195, Jr.; Zach Zogleman, DB, 5-7, 140, Jr.; Dylan Lindeman, DB, 6-0, 150, So. Conor Nicholl

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 123 W. Hwy 24

555 US Hwy 77

Hill City



785-258-2256 Delivery available 5-9pm

Dine-in, Carryout & Delivery

2-7 in 2016 / 2-3 in district / 8-Man I Coach: Tye Remy (2nd year, 2-7; 4th year, 9-19) Assistants: Thomas Derstein Offense: N/A Defense: 3-5 Returning lettermen: 5 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 4 Defense N/A Conor Nicholl


The move from 11-man to eight-man football sure agreed with Herington. After struggling for much of the past decade — one season of more than one win in a 10-year stretch — Herington made the switch a year ago and flourished. After winning just one game in Tom Flax’s first three years as coach, the Railers jumped to a 7-2 mark last year. It wasn’t quite enough to get Herington into the playoffs, though. Stuck in the toughest district in the state, the Railers saw losses to Clifton-Clyde (50-36) and Burlingame (46-0) deny them the postseason. Still, it was a season worth celebrating in Herington and could form the foundation for future success at the eight-man level. The loss to Burlingame was the only time all season when the Railers didn’t score at least 30 points and Herington finished the year averaging 45.8 points per game. A big reason for the spike in offensive production was a huge year from back Tate Becker, who finished with 1,432 yards of total offense out of Flax’s single wing offense. He threw for 650 yards and ran for 782, accounting for 24 touchdowns overall. Becker is gone, but returning senior starter Trenden Schneider appears capable of filling his void. As fullback for the Railers a year ago, Schneider ran for 464 yards and nine touchdowns and also completed 11 passes for 341 yards and five scores. He’ll become the focal point of an offense which returns only three other starters with only one of those coming on the line, senior KJ Hudson. Senior wing back Ethan Moorman-Meador had 341 yards a year ago and should up his production in a bigger role. He also had 36 tackles on defense, second only to Schneider’s 40 among returners with Becker’s absence also being felt heavily on that side of the ball after he led the team with 75 tackles. A 74-38 shootout win over Bennington to start last year got Herington off on the right foot and a 56-40 win over Solomon followed, which might have been the Railers’ biggest of the season. The road to the playoffs again is loaded with huge obstacles with Burlingame among the elite in the class. 7-2 in 2016 / 4-2 in district / 8-Man I Wheat State League Coach: Tom Flax (5th year, 8-28) Assistants: Kyle Barton, Troy Biehler Offense: Single Wing Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 8 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 4 Defense Trenden Schneider, FB/LB, 6-3, 190, Sr.; Ethan Moorman-Meador, WB/LB, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Devonte McConnell, TE/LB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; KJ Hudson, OL/DL, 6-1, 215, Sr. Brent Maycock


Hoxie, on a streak of seven straight winning seasons, returns every player from a 6-3 team that had its playoff hopes effectively ended after Week 5 last season. After a 2-0 start, Hoxie lost, 30-22, to Wallace County in non-district play. It marked the sixth straight loss to the Wildcats, though the margins have been eight, 14, eight, eight, 30 and eight points. Then, Hoxie dropped its first two district games (46-12 to Atwood and 50-0 to St. Francis). Hoxie finished with four straight victories: 52-6 against Quinter, 28-12 versus WaKeeney-Trego, 40-18 against Hill City and 46-0 over Oberlin. Eighth-year coach Lance Baar said the team’s goals are to win league and districts. Seniors Troyal Burris (817 rush, 14 TDs) and Latham Schwarz (647 rush, 13 TDs) form a strong backfield for a 28-player roster. Junior Jared Kennedy completed 32 of 73 passes for 450 yards with six scores against nine interceptions. Hoxie committed 21 turnovers and finished even in turnover margin. Junior Jarrod Dible led the team with 22.5 TFLs and 11 sacks, while Schwarz paced the squad with 82 tackles. The line could get a boost from the addition of Oakley transfer Chris Cox, one of the state’s best defenders during his sophomore season in 2015. From Weeks 3-5, Hoxie is at Wallace County, home

versus Atwood and at St. Francis. “With everyone from last year’s team returning we should be able to click as a team very quickly,” Baar said. “We will need to show we are improved from a year ago and be able to show that very early in the season as our first district games will be some of our toughest. “The main key is staying healthy. We battled with some injuries late in the season last year and we were able to overcome them but we do have some kids coming off injuries this spring that will need to show durability throughout the season.” 6-3 in 2016 / 4-3 in district / 8-Man I Northwest Kansas League Coach: Lance Baar (8th year, 48-28) Assistants: J.R. Kaiser, B.J. Beiker Offense: I Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense Latham Schwarz, RB/DB, 5-8, 165, Sr.; Troyal Burris, RB/DB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Taylor Burris, TE/LB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Luke Schippers, TE/LB, 6-3, 190, Sr.; Jared Kennedy, QB, 5-11, 140, Jr.; Jarrod Dible, OG/DE, 5-11, 205, Jr.; Colton Heskett, OG/DE, 6-3, 185, Jr.; Taye Washington, C/NG, 6-5, 310, Jr.; Wylie Weems, S, 5-9, 165, So. Conor Nicholl


Hill City played the No. 12 hardest schedule out of 50 Eight-Man, Division I teams in 2016, according to Prep Power Index. The Ringnecks opened with a 54-8 loss versus Spearville and then defeated Stockton, 26-0. In Week 3, HC lost 66-18 to St. Francis. Spearville lost to St. Francis in a Division I sub-state game, while Stockton won a Division II district. After a 54-0 win versus Quinter and a 37-12 victory against WaKeeney-Trego, HC lost 46-22 to Rural Vista. Hill City defeated Oberlin, 68-36, in Week 7 and was in position for a playoff berth entering the final two weeks. HC fell 40-18 at Hoxie in Week 8 and 42-6 versus Rawlins County in Week 9. Travis Desbien takes over for Greg Hamel, who had a 7-11 record in two seasons. Veteran assistant Vince Walker remains on staff. Desbien, an assistant the last two seasons, played for Palco on its state runner-up team in ’05, the lone Rooster team to go past the quarterfinals in state history. Desbien was also on the ’06 team, the last Palco team to reach the playoffs. Desbien is the fourth Hill City head coach in six years. Since the Ringnecks’ state runner-up finish in 2010 – the only time HC has won a playoff game in school history – HC is 4-5, 0-8, 2-7, 5-4, 3-6 and 4-5. Desbien listed the team’s goals as winning league and competing for the playoffs. The team’s keys are staying healthy and developing younger players to maintain future success. Districts will again feature St. Francis, Hoxie and Atwood, all expected to be playoff contenders again. HC used two quarterbacks last season and completed 26 of 77 passes (34 percent) for 364 yards with a 4/10 TD/INT ratio. Senior Gabe Hamel graduated after he rushed for 1,333 yards and 16 scores and posted 74 tackles, all team-highs. Linebacker Adson Day posted 67 tackles as a freshman, most among returners. 4-5 in 2016 / 4-3 in district / 8-Man I Mid-Continent League Coach: Travis Desbien (1st year) Assistants: Vince Walker Offense: Spread Defense: 3-3 Returning lettermen: 7 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 4 Defense Ethan Hamel, QB/RB/CB, 5-7, 145, Sr.; Dalton Stephen, WR, 6-3, 170, Sr.; Conner Born, QB/RB/ DB, 5-7, 150, Jr.; Aaron McDowell, OL/DE, 6-2, 180, Jr.; Adson Day, OL/LB, 5-8, 170, So. Conor Nicholl


West Elk graduated Wisconsin signee Isaiahh Loudermilk and standout running back Armando Gomez (1,765 rushing yards) after a 10-1 record in ’15. Still, the Patriots, behind a standout offensive line and dual-threat quarterback Cade Miller, again won a playoff game. Last season, the Patriots had an average score of 52-24. In ’15, West Elk’s average margin was 50-22. The only two playoff wins in school history have come in the last two seasons. Before then, the Patriots had been 0-6 all-time in the playoffs. In ’15, WE defeated MdCV, 62-14, in the first round followed by a 68-46 road loss to Hanover. Last year, West Elk beat Oxford, 54-30, in the first round and then lost 78-28 to eventual champion Osborne. “We will have to stay healthy if we want to be able to compete each and every Friday night,” coach Chris Haag said. “Our underclassmen will have to step up and fill the void left by our graduating seniors. We will have the opportunity for success if we work hard and everyone buys into the goals for our program. Our young men want to continue the success of the previous seasons and they will have to work hard to achieve and maintain that success. We are very excited about the upcoming season and look forward to becoming a better football team each week.” Miller completed 56 of 103 passes for 1,033 yards with an 18/8 TD/INT ratio. He also rushed 168 times for 1,240 yards and 29 scores for his second straight 1,000-yard season. He was second with 68 tackles and picked off six passes and earned all-state honors at defensive back. WE graduated its massive offensive line, led by standouts Kolvin Berry and William Young. In the last four years, WE is 9-1, 6-3, 10-2 and 9-2. “Our goals stay consistent with our program each season,” Haag said. “We want to work hard and try to become a better football team each day. We have a good nucleus of players who have played a lot of varsity football the past two seasons.” 9-2 in 2016 / 4-1 in district / 8-Man I South Central Border League Coach: Chris Haag (17th year) Assistants: Kevin Weber, Jim Madison Offense: I Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Cade Miller, QB/DB, 5-8, 165, Sr.; Josh Johnson, RB/ LB, 6-1, 215, Sr.; J.D. Helms, OL/DL, 5-9, 235, Sr.; Andrew Hurt, TE/DB, 6-1, 180, Sr.; Codie Cannon, WR/DB, 6-0, 175, Jr. Conor Nicholl

Hope, Kansas Miltonvale, Kansas Herington, Kansas

There’s “Hope” For Your Money! Contact us for all your banking needs!


Kiowa County will again open with a challenging first four weeks of Minneola, Satanta, Ashland and Ingalls. Last season, Minneola and Ingalls again made the playoffs and the four squads finished no worse than 4-5. Kiowa County struggled against that quartet with a 42-22 loss at Minneola, a 30-14 defeat against Satanta, a 50-26 loss at Ashland and a 44-36 home defeat versus Ingalls. After a 40-24 road win versus Fairfield, Kiowa County fell 40-14 at Macksville, 50-0 against Argonia-Attica and 40-12 at South Central. KC finished the season with a 28-21 home win versus Pratt-Skyline. The Mavericks went 0-4 in league play and are 2-12 in league play the last three seasons. KC went 5-5 in 2015 and 4-5 in ’14 after a 10-1 year in 2013. District 6 will again be challenging with Argonia-Attica and South Central expected to lead the way. Every time that we step on to the football field our goal is to get a little bit better,” second-year coach Tye Remy said. “If we are able to do this, more success will follow. Our goal is to be strong in district play and to make the playoffs.” Junior Cale Thompson returns at quarterback after he completed 62 of 155 for 986 yards with an 11/11 TD/INT ratio for a team that passed for 133 yards a game. The top four rushers graduated, though none had more than 353 yards. KC averaged 147 rushing yards and 3.1 yards per carry. The Mavericks tallied 21.6 points a contest. Senior Corey Erickson is back after he caught 22 passes for 456 yards and four scores. KC struggled with 18 turnovers and was even on turnover margin. The top-five tacklers graduated. In 2015, the Mavericks passed for 59 and rushed for 200 yards a game, averaged 5.6 yards a carry but had 18 turnovers and finished minus-7 in turnover margin. KC averaged 33.6 points a game mainly because of 1,281 rushing yards from quarterback Dylan Jacks. “A few young players played meaningful minutes in 2016,” Remy said. “If these players, who will now be required to contribute more, come into their own it could be a fun season. There have been spurts of good teamwork in the offseason and high attendance at workouts.”



Dine-in or Carryout 785-258-6611 (P) 785-258-6613 (F)

Inoculants • Sudan Grass • Sunflowers Custom Grass Blends • Wheat • Corn Soybean • Sorghum • Grasses • Oats • Alfalfa 656 N Rd 10W • Hoxie, KS

(Located 1 mile west of Hoxie on Hwy 24)

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


Good Luck Coyotes!!!


Kinsley posted a winless season in 2016 but was competitive in many games. Kinsley opened with a 32-12 home loss to Kinsley, then fell 44-34 at St. John before a 40-22 home defeat to Macksville. After blowouts against Central Plains, Ness City, Satanta and Wichita County, Kinsley lost 42-36 at South Gray before a big loss to Spearville to end the season. Kinsley will enter this year on a 12-game losing streak. In 2015, Kinsley won 38-32 at St. John in Week 5, and 60-32 versus Macksville in Week 6. The Coyotes’ scoring averages were basically the same both seasons. Two years ago, Kinsley scored 15.1 points and permitted 53.9. Last year, it was 15.6 points scored and 54.9 points permitted. Kinsley’s last state playoff appearances was four in a row from ’90-93. Kinsley returns six offensive and six defensive starters. “Win, lose or draw, our goal is compete every week for the entire game,” second-year coach Kyle Burkhart, a former Coyote, Dodge City Community College, and Southern Mississippi standout, said. “No matter the opponent, or score.” 0-9 in 2016 / 0-5 in district / 8-Man I Central Prairie League Coach: Kyle Burkhart (2nd year, 0-9) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Bryce Sexton, OL/DL, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Kellen Herrman, QB/LB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Andrew Fagan, OL/ DL, 5-8, 160, Jr.; Daniel Fagan, OL/DL, 5-9, 170, Jr.; Bryce Herrmann, WR/S, 5-8, 135, Jr.; Tyler Gerhardt, WR/S, 6-3, 150, Jr. Conor Nicholl


The Falcons’ offense flew out of its nest on occasion in 2016. At times, it flashed the promise of a budding unit. With a capable core back in the mix, Fairfield should spread its wings and fly. Senior quarterback David Macmahon was a threat in the ground game, punching into the end zone 10 times. Fairfield rarely turned to the pass, but Macmahon reaching his potential in the aerial attack would do wonders for the unit. If he progresses, he has a willing receiver in senior Jerry Oller. Running back Lane Pike carried 81 times for 358 yards. Whereas the offense is expected to sharpen, the defense absolutely must for Fairfield to become competitive. The Falcons were smacked for at least 40 points in eight games. Macmahon is a playmaker for that unit, too, collecting 63 tackles, two interceptions and two fumbles forced. Lineman Logan Serviss is developing into a threat on the front line that can complement the secondary. Fairfield won its opener against Burrton, 40-30, but the remainder of the season was rocky. The Falcons carry an eight-game losing streak into this season. Fairfield briefly did a co-op with Cunningham that lasted one year, 2015, but that was disbanded after a winless season. Fairfield has only one playoff appearance in school history, coming in 1995. The Falcons have a long ladder to ascend for a playoff berth out of District 6, as the only team without a district win this past season. South Central and Argonia-Attica captured the district’s bids, with Macksville, Kiowa County and Pratt-Skyline rounding out the district schedule. 1-8 in 2016 / 0-5 in district / 8-Man I Heart of the Plains League Coach: Heath Hewitt (2nd year, 1-8) Assistants: N/A Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: N/A

Kyle McCaskey


Lincoln went 6-3 in 2015 before big graduation losses. The Leopards struggled in strong District 4 that had four teams finish with winning records. Osborne won the district and the state title with a 13-0 record. Logan-Palco finished 7-2 but Solomon collected the runner-up spot at 6-4. Victoria saw its streak of 14 consecutive playoff berths end with a 5-4 record. Bennington finished 2-7, 1-4 in district and Lincoln was 1-8, 0-5. This season, the top quartet will likely all rank in the preseason top-10. Second-year coach Donald Long listed teamwork as the team’s key and “be competitive every week and build as a team” as the goals. Lincoln opened with a 56-28 home win versus Tescott and then dropped eight straight. In Week 3, Lincoln lost 46-34 versus cross-county rival Sylvan-Lucas and lost, 60-38, versus Solomon in Week 6. The Leopards allowed 53.7 points a contest,

Metz Law Firm, Chtd. 116 South Fourth • P.O. Box 36 • Lincoln, Kansas 67455

Ph (785) 524-4466 • Fax (785) 524-5191 Email:

Proud to support our area sports teams!

fifth-highest in Division I. Six starters return on both sides of the ball, but the Leopards will miss senior running back Owen Krueger, who transferred to Sylvan-Lucas. 1-8 in 2016 / 0-5 in district / 8-man I Northern Plains League Coach: Donald Long (2nd year, 1-8) Assistants: Jason Curtis, Edward Prince Offense: Pro Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Cody Behrens, E, 6-2, 190, Sr.; Victor Vasquez, E/ CB, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Colin Obermueller, E/CB, 6-0, 155, Sr.; Drew Biggs, QB/LB, 6-1, 175, Jr.; Tyler Walford, OL/DL, 6-1, 250, So.; Jordan Lyne, OL/DL, 6-2, 250, So.; Sean Obermueller, LB, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Conor Nicholl 1026 N. 6th



Dine-in or Carryout

Leoti became another team to achieve immediate success since moving down to the eight-man ranks. Before last season, Wichita County had four straight 1-8 seasons with its last winning record coming in a 5-4 season in 2008. Leoti had a total scoringmargin of 312-265 last season. The Indians opened with a 46-0 loss to Hodgeman County, then defeated Moscow, 46-0. After a 49-0 loss at Dighton, the Indians defeated Triplains-Brewster, 52-6, and Satanta, 70-36. Wichita County ran its winning streak to four games with a 50-14 win versus South Gray and a 54-6 victory against Kinsley. With a playoff berth on the line, WC lost to Spearville, 56-6. In Week 9, WC played Ness City for a winner-take-all game for the runner-up spot and lost 52-34. Fourth-year coach Cale Warden has provided some stability to a program that had consistent coaching changes. This year, WC is at Hodgeman County in Week 1 but has a manageable district outside of Spearville, which has lost just twice in the last three years. WC returns three starters on both sides, all whom started on the offensive line. “Continue to improve our knowledge and execution of the 8-Man game,” Warden said of the season’s keys. “Underclassmen will have to step up and fill a pretty big void left by our graduating seniors.” He also emphasized enjoying the game, adding “Have fun!” 5-4 in 2016 / 3-2 in district / 8-Man I Northwest Kansas League Coach: Cale Warden (4th year, 7-20) Assistants: Tyler Woods, Tyler Masters Offense: Option Defense: 3-3 Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 3 Defense Jesse Hermosillo, OL/DL, 5-10, 280, Jr.; Ronald Michel, E, 6-3, 190, Jr.; Blake Hernandez, OL/DL, 5-10, 205, Jr.

Page 124


Changes have arrived on the Southern Coffey County sidelines, as the Titans have a new coaching staff for the 2017 season. Todd Griffin’s first squad does return five starters on both sides of the ball as SCC looks to improve on a 1-8 mark in 2016. Senior quarterback Nick Spencer and senior running back Luke Gillis are back to lead the offense. Senior lineman Dale Hall, junior receiver Dawson Leimkuhler and sophomore lineman Cooper Harred are also returning to the lineup. On defense, the Titans can lean on Hall and Harred up front, Gillis and Leimkuhler at linebacker and Spencer in the secondary. Griffin said his team’s goals for the year include learning “to compete as a team” and learning “what it takes to win.” The Titans had 8-Man, Division I’s toughest strenght of schedule in 2016, and it won’t get any easier this fall. Southern Coffey County opens the season with back-to-back Lyon County League contests. The Titans host Burlingame in week one, then make a short drive north to Waverly in week two. Sept. 15 brings defending 8-Man II champions Hanover to the Titans’ home field, and that game is followed by three straight road trips. SCC travels to Hartford and West Elk to complete September, then visits Sedan in week six. The Titans host Madison/Hamilton Oct. 13, then travel to St. Paul before wrapping up the regular season at home against Marmaton Valley.

1-8 in 2016 / 0-5 in district / 8-Man I Lyon County League Coach: Todd Griffin (1st year) Assistants: Jason Harred, Jason Orebaugh Offense: Multiple Defense: 3-2 Returning Lettermen: N/A Returning Starters: 5 offense, 5 defense Nick Spencer, QB/DB, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Luke Gillis, RB/ Conor Nicholl LB, 5-10, 190, Sr.; Dale Hall, OL/DL, 6-0, 250, Sr.; Dawson Leimkuhler, WR/LB, 6-4, 220, Jr.; Cooper Harred, OL/DL, 5-8, 230, So. Melanie McGee

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 125 Palco-Damar-Zurich Recreation Commission

Little River State Bank

P.O. Box 53 Palco, Kansas

w w w. l yo n s s t a t e b a n k . c o m

PO Box 336 • Little River, KS (620) 897-6218 Toll-Free 1-800-656-2313


Paul Dold coached Little River from 2010-16 and Chad Lafferty has taken over as head coach. Lafferty has spent eight years at the school for a team that reached the playoffs as a district runner-up last season. LR also made the playoffs in ’11 and ’14 and won a playoff game in ’14. The Redskins have five state crowns with the last coming in ’99. Last year, the Redskins went 3-2 and picked up the runner-up spot out of District 5 behind Central Plains (10-1, 5-0). LR finished 3-2 in districts, while Ellinwood, Goessel and Canton-Galva were 2-3. Little River was the one Eight-Man, Division I team to make the playoffs with a losing record. LR opened the season with a 34-28 home loss to Lost Springs and moved to 1-3 after a 44-12 road win versus Bennington, a 48-36 road loss to Wakefield and a 50-0 home loss against Solomon. However, a key 64-30 home victory against Goessel in Week 5 and a 54-8 home win versus Canton-Galva in Week 7 yielded the playoff berth. LR fell 54-28 at Coldwater-South Central in the playoffs. Little River averaged 34.8 points a contest but permitted 35.2. In 2015, LR went 5-4 and scored 29.1 but permitted 32.9. Little River graduated Clay Zeller at quarterback after he passed for 1,019 yards with an 18/7 TD/INT ratio. Returning senior Peyton Harvey led the team with 136 carries for 747 yards and 11 scores. He paced the squad with 36 catches for 529 yards and 13 receiving TDs. LR had 13 turnovers and finished plus-13 in turnover margin, led by six interceptions and nine pass breakups from Harvey, an honorable mention all-league selection. “The goal throughout the season will be to get better everyday in practice and improve week by week,” Lafferty said. “The key to success for our team this season will be the play of our offensive line. If our line can stay on blocks and move the defense we will have a chance to succeed. The defense will also be a key to this team’s success, if we can develop some linebackers our defense has a chance to be pretty solid. 4-6 in 2016 / 3-2 in district / 8-Man I Wheat State League Coach: Chad Lafferty (1st year) Assistant: Tyson Konen Offense: I-formation Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 7 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Peyton Harvey, RB/DB, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Jake Wright, TE/DE, 6-0, 170; Bryce Sears, OL/DL, 6-2, 275; Kody Hawkinson, FB/OL/DL, 6-1, 275; Dillinger Page, DB, 5-6, 145; Hunter Thomas, RB/DB, 5-6, 140 Conor Nicholl


In the last two years, Logan-Palco has posted 7-2 records but has missed the playoffs both times. However, based on opponents and strength of schedule, L-P was an improved team last season In ’15, the Trojans finished third in District 8 behind St. Francis and Atwood. The Trojans had the classification’s easiest strength of schedule and had a total margin of 324-188. Last year, the Trojans had the No. 41 SOS out of 50 teams, according to Prep Power Index. L-P outscored teams, 464-286. Osborne, the eventual state champion, won District 4. The Trojans, Victoria and Solomon all finished 3-2 in district play, though Solomon earned the runner-up spot. L-P and Solomon were each plus-21 in district play, while Victoria was plus-20. The Trojans lost, 84-44, at Osborne after a 5-0 start that included a 50-28 home win against Victoria in Week 5. In Week 8, the Trojans lost 56-34 to Solomon. L-P graduated quarterback/defensive end Josh Van Laeys after he collected 114 tackles, 16 TFLs, six sacks and three fumble recoveries. He was the only senior who saw consistent playing time on last’s season squad. Senior running back David Thompson returns after he rushed for 1,696 yards and 31 rushing scores. Thompson had 146 yards in every game except Osborne. In his career, he has 3,417 rushing yards and 54 rushing scores. Van Laeys and Thompson were both Kpreps all-state selections. L-P is 5-4, 4-5, 7-2 and 7-2 in its four years of a football-only cooperative. Senior Blake Bouchey returns after he led the team with 128 tackles and was second with five TFLs. Logan last made the playoffs in 2002, Palco in 2006. The Trojans will have to again contend with Osborne, Victoria and Solomon in district play. “To improve and get better each game,” coach Mike Jenner said of the team’s goals. “Make the playoffs. Put ourselves in position to win every game. Team play and stay healthy.” 7-2 in 2016 / 3-2 in district / 8 Man-I Western Kansas Liberty League Coach: Mike Jenner (3rd year, 14-4) Assistants: Michael Delimont, Robert Weber Offense: Power Defense: 3-3 Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense David Thompson, RB/LB, Sr.; Blake Bouchey, OL/ LB; Riley Allen, E/CB; Colton Greving, E/CB; Lane Stapleton, OL/DE; Bodey LeRoux, FB/DE; Matt Kirkendall, C/LB; Jed Peace, OL/NG Conor Nicholl


Macksville delivered a nice turnaround in 2016. In ’13, the Mustangs finished 1-8 with coach Jeff Kuckelman followed by 0-9 and 1-8 seasons in the first two years with Chet Skinner. Last year, the Mustangs bumped to 4-5, its best record since the same mark in 2012. This year, Macksville returns five offensive and defensive starters for a squad that last made the playoffs in 2011. The Mustangs have struggled on defense in recent years. Last fall, Macksville averaged 34 points a game but permitted 42.7. In ’15, Macksville scored 12.4 points a game and allowed 49.8. Skinner’s goals are a team GPA of 3.0 and above, increase offensive production, hold opponents under 20 points a game, have five or more explosive/dynamic plays a game and win the turnover battle. “The Mustang’s keys to success in 2017 rely on the returning players,” Skinner said. “We have a solid core group of guys that have been starters for multiple years now. Our athleticism will look to stretch the field and give defenses trouble at defending both the run and pass. A strong summer weights and conditioning off-season will be vital for the Mustangs to improve on their 4-5 record.” Senior Jacob Rein returns at quarterback after he 4-4 in 2016 / 3-3 in district / 8-Man I played in four games last season and passed for Wheat State League 412 yards with a 3/6 TD/INT ratio. Brigdon Russell Coach: Kelly Steiner (8th year, 32-33) graduated after he had 1,324 passing yards with a Assistants: Tim Vinduska, Jason Stika 22/11 TD/INT ratio. Senior Luis Saenz led Macksville Offense: Balanced Defense: 3-5 with 87 rushes for 363 yards and five scores. Junior Returning lettermen: 9 Karson Waters had an all-state season with 56 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense catches for 920 yards and 14 TDs, and the top four Jacob Bittle, OL/DL, 5-11, 280, Sr.; Max Svoboda, in receiving yards all return. Senior Nate Brandyberry RB/DB, 5-10, 185, Sr.; Cody Svoboda, TE/DE, 6-4, was second on the team with 75 tackles and tied for 220, Sr.; Kyle Naerebout, OL/DL, 6-1, 265, Jr.; Xavier second with four TFLs. In all five losses, Macksville Espinoza, TE/DE, 6-0, 160, Jr.; Jensen Riffel, RB/ allowed at least 46 points. DB, 6-0, 190, So Conor Nicholl 4-5 in 2016 / 3-2 in district / 8-Man I Central Prairie League Coach: Chet Skinner (4th year, 5-22) Assistant: Kyle Bright Offense: Spread Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Jacob Rein, QB/DB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Nate Brandyberry, WR/DB, 5-9, 150, Sr.; Clayton Cross, OL/DL, 6-2, 220, Sr.; Kreed Parr, WR/DB, 5-11, 160, Sr.; Luis Saenz, RB/LB, 5-9, 185, Sr.; Chris McMullen, RB/DL, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Karson Waters, WR/DL, 6-2, 175, Jr. Conor Nicholl


South Gray has enjoyed great success in boys’ basketball under longtime coach Mark Applegate, including a Class 1A, Division I state runner-up to Hanover last winter. In Class 1A track, SG cruised to the boys’ title with 93 points. That success has not carried over to the gridiron. adversity better and get better every single day,” South Gray went from 1-8 to 2-7 last year. The McMillian said. “Build character and strive to be a Rebels enjoyed a nice offensive improvement from better person, teammate, student and athlete. We 10.7 points per contest to 22.4 points a game last plan to re-evaluate what commitment, effort and fall. SG has struggled defensively both years with mental toughness means. Our keys to success will 43.8 points permitted in 2015 and 44 points a game start with our summer weight room attendance, our in 2016. senior leadership on and off the field and focusing on Junior quarterback Austin Jantz returns after he doing the little things right every day.” completed 102 of 237 passes for 1,196 yards with a 16/12 TD/INT ratio. As a team, SG averaged 4.0 3-6 in 2016 / 1-5 in district / 8-Man I yards per carry and 87.4 rushing yards a game. Lyon County League Senior Jeremy Berg is back after he picked off a Coach: Alex McMillian (2nd year, 3-6) team-high seven passes and was second with 58 Assistants: Dustin Stutesman, Terry Medley tackles. He earned second team all-league at cornerOffense: Multiple Defense: 3-2 back. Senior Ismael Rosas collected second team Returning lettermen: 9 all-league punter. The Rebels have seven offensive Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense and six defensive starters back. Stephen Stutesman, QB/DB, 6-4, 190, Sr.; Eli Serrer, “South Gray will have a lot of talent this year, both RB/LB, 5-11, 200, Sr.; Conway Smith, TE/DB, 5-7, in our returning athletes and incoming freshmen,” 150, Sr.; Dylan Maltbie, RB/LB, 5-6, 160, Jr.; Colby second-year coach Jesse Hodgson said. “2016 Bankson, OL/DL, 6-0, 170, Sr.; Casey Crane, OL/ saw many underclassmen playing key roles on the LB, 5-8, 190, Sr.; Sebastin Bolinger, OL/DL, 5-11, offense and defense. Their on-field experience from 180, So. last year will give us an edge this year. And we’ll Conor Nicholl have tremendous leadership from our upperclass-


Alex McMillian, a former Victoria assistant who built dominant Knight lines on state title teams in ’14 and ’15, went 3-6 at Madison in his first year as head coach. Opponents outscored Madison 364-242. Madison opened with a 52-6 win against MdCV, then lost to Lebo, 46-16. After a 52-30 loss at playoff qualifier Hartford, Madison moved to 2-2 with a 40-34 win at Wetmore. Then, Madison went 1-4 in District 1 play, a district that featured St. Paul, Sedan and West Elk. All three finished with at least eight victories and went a collective 26-5. Madison lost, 54-6, to St. Paul and 34-30 against Marmaton Valley. After a 50-26 win versus Southern Coffey County, the Bulldogs lost, 46-0, at Sedan and 66-18 versus West Elk. Madison is 5-13 in the last two seasons after a long run of dominance under coach Fred McClain that included state titles in 2010-11. All-stater Brett Stubbs graduated off the ’16 team after he rushed for 781 yards and eight scores. McMillian said team’s motto for the year is “Find a Way!” “Our team goals are to build from last year, handle


Kelly Steiner returns as Centre’s head coach. He was previously the head coach from ’06-12 before he served as an assistant the last four seasons. Steiner takes over for Matt Warta, who coached the team one season. Previously, Tye Remy coached one year and led the squad to a 4-6 finish in 2015 before he went to Kiowa County. Last season, Centre opened with a 34-28 win at Little River. In Week 2, Centre fell 18-12 to Goessel in a game that was called at halftime because of weather. The Cougars lost 30-16 to Herington and 60-14 to Burlingame before a bye. Then, Centre defeated Onaga, 50-36, before a 51-20 loss at Clifton-Clyde. In the last two weeks, Centre defeated Valley Falls, 80-41, and beat Rural Vista, 36-34, in longtime Hope/RV head coach Jeff Hostetter’s final game. Centre is again part of extremely challenging District 3 that features state power Burlingame and five of seven squads that finished at least .500 last season. Steiner said the team goals are to have a good summer in the weight room, get better every day, stay healthy and “having some of the upperclassmen step up at the varsity level.” Centre is at Burlingame in Week 5 and versus Clifton-Clyde in Week 7.

men. Everything was new for the kids last season— both the offense and defense were different. But we saw a lot of improvement throughout the course of the year.” South Gray’s last playoff appearance came in a surprise Division I runner-up appearance in 2011, the best showing in school history. In District 7, Spearville is the clear favorite, and again a state title contender, while Ness City and Satanta are considered the strong favorites for the runner-up spot. “South Gray has its eyes set on getting back to the playoffs and its winning tradition,” Hodgson said. “I am excited to have Lane Hendricks as South Gray’s new defensive coordinator. He brings a ton of knowledge and excitement to the team.” 2-7 in 2016 / 1-4 in district / 8-Man I Southern Plains Iroquois Coach: Jesse Hodgson (2nd year, 2-7) Assistant: Lane Hendricks Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 7 Offense, 6 Defense Tyler Askew, WR/OLB, Sr.; Marcelo Neufeld, TE/LB, Sr.; Brock Davis, RB/LB, Sr.; Austin Jantz, QB, Jr.; Eli Bullinger, OG, Jr.; Ismael Rosas, WR, Sr.; Stone Torres, C, Jr.; Jeremy Berg, CB, Sr.; Benny Thiessen, OLB, Jr.; Adam Thiessen, CB, So. Conor Nicholl

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 126


Hwy 36

918 N. Second




Dine-in or Carryout


Goals are set high for Marmaton Valley, which returns five starters on both sides of the ball. “We want to compete for a league title and a spot in the playoffs,” second-year coach Gavin Cole said. “Last year we feel like we took a step in the right direction, played a really tough schedule,(the 4 teams we lost to went a combined 33-3 during the regular season and only lost to each other) and now it’s time to get over the hump.” The Wildcats went 5-4 a year ago, and they return five two-way starters. Senior Justice Pugh is back at quarterback while classmate Trevor Wilson also returns to the backfield. Seniors Brock Hall and Korbin Smith are back at tight end while junior Isaac Heskett is a returning starter up front. Defensively, Pugh and Hall will anchor the secondary. Wilson returns at linebacker, Smith at defensive end and Heskett is back at nose tackle. Two other lettermen are also back in the lineup as Marmaton Valley looks to improve on a 2-3 district record and reach the postseason. “We need to be in really good physical condition,” Cole said. “Our district is going to be really tough again this year and I anticipate a lot of close games, so our conditioning will be huge.” He also noted turnovers and developing new offensive linemen as keys to success. “We have to take care of the ball better than we did in the back half of our schedule last year,” he said. “We need to develop more within the passing game, and how quickly some of our new guys on the offensive line can pick things up will be key for us early on.” Marmaton Valley opens the season Sept. 1 at Chetopa, then travels to Crest in week two. The Wildcats’ home opener is set for Sept. 15 against Greenfield, Mo., and they follow it by hosting AltoonaMidway and Sedan to complete the September schedule. In October, Marmaton Valley travels to Madison, hosts Saint Paul and West Elk, then completes the regular season at Southern Coffey County. 5-4 in 2016 / 2-3 in district / 8-Man I Three Rivers League Coach: Gavin Cole (2nd year, 5-4) Assistants: Derek Scharff, Garrett Ericson Offense: Multiple Defense: 3-3 Returning Lettermen: 7 Returning Starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Justice Pugh, QB/DB, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Trevor Wilson, RB/LB, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Brock Hall, TE/DB, 5-7, 155, Sr.; Korbin Smith, TE/DE, 6-1, 180, Sr.; Isaac Heskett, G/NT, 5-11, 265, Jr. Melanie McGee


Second-year coach Marc Cowles, formerly the longtime Weskan coach, keyed a massive offensive improvement and led Ness City from 3-6 in 2015 to 7-3 and the playoffs last year. Ness City produced an offensive improvement of 24.6 points per game, the best among teams which played eight-man football each of the past two seasons (Oxford was second at 21.6). In ’15, NC scored 24.2 points and allowed 36.9. Last year, the Eagles scored 48.8 and permitted 37.8. Ness City was one of six teams that played eight-man in ’15-’16 that enjoyed at least a four-win improvement. Junior John Pfannenstiel completed 43 of 87 passes for 796 yards with a 13/5 TD/INT ratio. Senior Brennan Chacon led the team with 166 carries for 1,216 yards and 20 scores in eight contests. Three of the top-four receivers graduated. Junior Angel Guzman (56 tackles) was third on the team in stops and is the only one of the top-four tacklers back. Ness City averaged 216 rushing and 80 passing yards a game. Ness City committed 14 turnovers and was plus-1 in turnover margin. “To be successful this season we need some playmakers to step forward, creating some efficiency and consistency on offense,” Cowles said. “We need to be able to run the ball so that we can move the chains and control the clock and learn how to compete in big games. We did not do that very well last year. We also need seniors to step forward and become leaders. As always we need to avoid injuries and we will need some talented young skill kids to step up and contribute. Offensive and defensive line play will also be crucial to this team’s success.” The Eagles went 5-0 at home, 2-3 on the road. In District 7, Spearville is again the favorite, though NC is in strong position for the runner-up spot. Last season, Ness City lost, 52-6, at Spearville in Week 6, but defeated Satanta, 63-18, in Week 8 and Wichita County, 52-34, in Week 9 for a playoff berth. NC lost, 54-0, at St. Francis in the first round of the playoffs. “Spearville will, once again, be the class of our district … but having several talented teams in the district will make it interesting but also wide open,” Cowles said. 7-3 in 2016 / 4-1 in district / 8-Man I Central Prairie League Coach: Marc Cowles (3rd year, 10-9; 16th year, 7367) Assistants: Shawn Starr, Shane Quigley Offense: Option Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 10 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 5 Defense John Pfannenstiel, QB, 6-1, 165, Jr.; Brennan Chacon, RB, 5-10, 214, Sr.; Levi Crosswhite, OL/DL, 6-0, 225, Sr.; Trevor VanDegrift, OL/DL, 6-4, 260, Sr.; Angel Guzman, LB, 5-10, 175, Jr.; Nate Gabel, DB, 5-8, 160, So.; Andres Rios, FS, 6-2, 205, Jr. CN


In 2012, Osborne finished 6-3. Then, the Bulldogs returned nearly everyone for ’13, set the eight-man record for scoring at 760 points and won the state title with a 13-0 record. In ’15, Osborne finished 4-5. The Bulldogs returned nearly everyone for 2016 and accomplished the same feat. Osborne finished 13-0 and broke its single season mark with 764 points. Osborne was never outscored in the fourth quarter and had a total margin of 70-12 in the season’s final period. The fourth quarter was key in a regular season win versus Pike Valley, the playoffs versus West Elk and Burlingame and again in the state title win, 38-24, against St. Francis. Osborne trailed 24-22 entering the fourth in the finale. Cullen Grabast, the classification’s MVP, and lineman/linebacker Derek Naegele both signed with McPherson College. However, Denton Schurr returns after he rushed 180 times for 1,788 yards and 31 rushing scores. As well, sophomore Darrien Holloway is back after 82 carries for 626 yards and 17 rushing TDs. Schurr also caught 12 passes for 227 yards and seven scores. Osborne had just eight turnovers and finished plus-28 in turnover margin. Junior Kade Miller had nine interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

Coach Cullen Riner, who previously had been head coach and assistant before he took 2015 off, returned to the team last season and earned Hays Daily News Coach of the Year honors. Senior Roxton Brown (78 tackles, team-high 10 TFLs), Miller (76 stops) and Schurr (74) were the number of 2-3-4 in tackles last season. The addition of junior Darnell Holloway should help. The sprinter consistenly ran sub-11 100 meters in track and will again give the Bulldogs one of the fastest group of skill players in the state. “Our goal this year is to improve every week, and play to our potential,” Riner said. “Stay healthy, and play disciplined, physical football.” 13-0 in 2016 / 5-0 in district / 8-Man I Northern Plains League Coach: Cullen Riner (6th year, 31-31) Assistants: Brandon Wise, Taylor Rippe Offense: I Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 13 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 4 Defense Roxton Brown, C/LB, 6-0, 205, Sr.; Denton Schurr, RB/DB, 5-9, 170, Sr.; Bryon Roenne, NG, 5-10, 185, Sr.; Kade Miller, TE/DB, 6-0, 165, Jr.; Darrien Holloway, RB, 5-11, 165, So. Conor Nicholl

Oberlin 785-475-3638

Dine-in or Carryout


Oberlin has consistently been a solid team under coach Joe Dreher, especially on the defensive side. However, the Red Devils faced the No. 15 strength of schedule out of 50 Division I teams, according to Prep Power Index, and struggled in 2016. Oberlin tallied 22 points a contest and permitted 47.8. In 2015, the Red Devils finished 3-6, scored 27.6 points a game and allowed 35.1. In 2014, its first year of eight-man, Oberlin went 8-2 and won the district after it scored 46.5 points and permitted 19.2. In ‘12-’13, Oberlin reached the Class 2-1A playoffs both years and allowed just 17.6 and 18.6 points a contest, respectively. Last year, Oberlin opened with a 66-28 home loss to Cambridge, Neb., then fell to eventual Division II runner-up Dighton (48-0). Losses to playoff qualifier Atwood (64-14) and Division I runner-up St. Francis (48-0) put Oberlin at 0-4. The Red Devils went 2-2 the rest of the way with a 54-6 road victory against Quinter, a 44-36 home win versus WaKeeney, a 68-36 road loss to Hill City and, after a Week 8 bye, a 46-0 home loss to Hoxie. Senior quarterback Tabor Erickson graduated after he completed 31 of 68 passes for 376 yards with a 3/5 TD/INT ratio, and 93 carries for 490 yards and eight scores. Senior Kel Grafel returns after he led the Red Devils with 72 stops. Oberlin had 14 turnovers and finished minus-8 in turnover margin. The Red Devils again get Atwood, St. Francis and Hoxie in district play. “Work to improve throughout the season,” Dreher said of the team’s goals. “Like several teams our goal is to make it to the playoffs. We will not have many seniors so several young kids will have to step up to the challenge and play major roles on offense and defense.” 2-6 in 2016 / 2-4 in district / 8-Man I Northwest Kansas League Coach: Joe Dreher (6th year, 22-25) Assistants: Caleb Howland, Brandon Gehring Offense: Split backs Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 7 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 4 Defense Kel Grafel, RB/DB, 5-9, 145, Sr.; Kole Breth, TE/DB, 5-10, 140, Sr.; Zeke Jimenez, OL/DL, 5-1, 240, Sr.; Reegon Witt, OL/DL, 6-0, 210, Jr.; Braden Beagley, TE/LB, 5-8, 180, Sr.; Conor Nicholl

Travis Callaway will admit it. The transition Onaga made from 11-man to eight-man football last year didn’t quite go exactly as he had hoped it would for his program. Instead of hitting the ground running with a wealth of returning players, the Buffaloes didn’t find their footing until late in the season. Despite picking up an early win against Wetmore, Onaga struggled to stop opposing offenses all year long and were forced to try to win shootouts. But if a 2-7 season can end on a high note, Onaga’s did. In the season finale against Valley Falls, the two teams combined to set numerous state records as the Buffaloes prevailed in the highest-scoring game in state history, winning a 114-68 shootout. The 182 combined points broke the old record of 174 points set by Otis-Bison and Kinsley in a 104-70 contest in 2014. In addition, Onaga quarterback Logan Marten and receiver Tyler Herrman tied or broke previous single-game records as the two teams combined for 1,474 yards of total offense in the game — Marten tying a state record with nine touchdown passes, eight going to Herrman for a new state record. Callaway hopes the breakout performance sets the ground work for better things for the Buffaloes in 2017. For that to happen, however, Onaga will have to reload after graduation claimed not only Marten and Herrman, but five other starters who accounted for the bulk of the team’s production last year. The return of senior Tanner Marten will be a huge boost in that effort. The running back/linebacker missed all of last season with a knee injury after being a two-year starter as a freshman and sophomore. He’ll likely take on a feature role in the backfield and will anchor a defense which needs to improve after allowing 52.4 points per game a year ago. Senior lineman Mason Colson and junior end Aaron Schwarz are the only returning starters from last year’s squad. Senior Zach Bliss will step in and fill a hole on the line, while junior KC Koelzer has first crack at replacing Logan Marten at quarterback. Making strides will be tough in a seven-team district which includes two-time state semifinalist Burlingame and two other programs which won at least seven games last year. The opener with Frankfort will be a big one with Onaga coming up just short last year in a 42-34 loss. 2-7 in 2016 / 1-5 in district / 8-Man I Twin Valley League Coach: Travis Callaway (2nd year, 2-7) Assistants: N/A Offense: I-formation/Spread Defense: 4-3 Returning lettermen: 7 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 3 Defense Mason Colson, OL/DL, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Tanner Marten, TE/RB/LB, 6-4, 215, Sr.; Aaron Schwarz, TE/DL, 6-3, 145, Jr. Brent Maycock

OXFORD Oxford halted a decade long playoff drought this past season, flooding the win column for a six-win improvement up to 7-3. Oxford compiled a five-year run from 2002 to 2006 with consecutive playoff berths before a dry spell. The Wildcats entered the 2016 postseason on a six-game win streak and with an 8-Man, District 2, championship, but were toppled in the opening round of the playoffs by West Elk, 54-30. Defenses will be stressed against Oxford’s run game. The Wildcats return their top four rushers, which will force eight defenders to be assignment sound to follow the ball carrier. Dalton Silhan, Dylan Hills, Cal Shimkus and Luis Alata combined for 371 carries totaling 2,340 yards and 36 touchdowns. Silhan is the bell cow, contributing about half of all those figures, but the threat of a multi-faceted attack creates space for everyone. Shimkus has proven to be a capable quarterback, tossing 14 touchdowns as a junior, but his decision making will be tested after his primary target graduated. Returning linemen Neil Terry and Greysen Williams, longtime starters, offer a steadying presence in the pocket. The Wildcats slot in six starters from an offense that averaged 45.6 points. Terry is a terror on defense, returning to his linebacker post after a 111-tackle season. Shimkus flashed his playmaking talent in the secondary, as

well, pulling down five interceptions. Lineman Colton Jordan will build off a promising freshman season where he collected three sacks. “We will need to stay healthy and develop some depth,” said Oxford coach Shawn Burkes. Oxford’s district slate alternates road and home games, starting at Udall, followed with PeabodyBurns, at Cedar Vale-Dexter, Flinthills and at Central Burden. The Wildcats defeated all five by at least 16 points this past season. Oxford will try to rid one thorn in its proverbial side, vying to break a pesky string of losses to West Elk – eight in the past seven seasons – in week two. 7-3 in 2016 / 5-0 in district / 8-Man I South Central Border League Coach: Shawn Burkes (11th year, 34-56) Assistants: Joe Chrisman, Kyle Green Offense: T Defense: 3-4 Returning lettermen: 9 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Cal Shimkus, QB/DB, 6-3, 160, Sr.; Neil Terry, OL/LB, 5-9, 200, Sr.; Dalton Silhan, RB/LB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Dylan Hills, RB/LB, 5-10, 200, Sr.; Greysen Williams, OL/DL, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Luis Alata, LB, 5-9, 180, Sr.; Colton Jordan, TE/DL, 6-3, 260, So.; Ty Carter, TE/ DB, 6-1, 160, So. Kyle McCaskey

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Thompson/from page 120__

Jenner said the bad quarter “kind of eats at everybody” and basically “killed our shot” at the playoffs. This fall, the quartet are all playoff-caliber. Jenner believes it will come down to the final weekend again. “It was pretty tough last year, and pretty much every team returns almost everybody,” Jenner said. Thompson lived in Assaria when he started football in fifth grade in Salina. The team tried to put him at end, noticed how quickly he took off in a three-point stance and moved him to the backfield. “I begged my mom,” he said. “She was afraid I was going to get hurt, and she just didn’t want to risk it, etc. She just didn’t want me to play, so she let me one year, and it went on from there.” Thompson has moved several times in recent years due to family changes. The family relocated in Damar when Thompson’s stepfather started an oil roustabout business. Thompson gave significant credit to his mother, Shannon Eickleberry, who “taught him how to be a man” after his parents went through a divorce earlier in his life. “Just kind of maturing faster than some boys may,” Thompson said. “She has just been my everything really.”

“Honored to be able to learn from coach Hostetter for a year,” Flowers said. “Maybe the smartest Xs and Os guy in Kansas. I want to continue his tradition of a successful program. My coaching philosophy and culture I want to promote revolves around two sayings: ‘We play to have fun, but it’s more fun if you win,’ and ‘It’s more than just a game, it’s more than just football. It’s about Character, Competency, Community, and Competing, regardless.” 5-4 in 2016 / 3-4 in district / 8-Man I Wheat State League Coach: Adam Flowers (1st year) Assistants: Colton Busick Offense: Single Wing Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 8 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 3 Defense Eli Fleming, FB/MLB, 6-1, 240, Sr.; Chase Krause, TB/S, 6-0, 150, Sr.; Zach Lee, G/DT, 5-11, 250, Sr. Conor Nicholl

Hope, Kansas Miltonvale, Kansas Herington, Kansas

There’s “Hope” For Your Money!


0-8 in 2016 / 0-5 in district / 8-Man I Northwest Kansas League Coach: Micah Roehl (2nd year, 0-8) Assistant: Brian Roesch Offense: Multiple Defense: 3-3 Stack Returning lettermen: 8 Returning starters: 5 Offense, 5 Defense Luke Kaiser, RB/LB, 5-11, 170, Sr.; Connor Havlas, E/DE, 6-4, 185, Jr.; Clay Mader, OL/LB, 5-10, 175, Jr.; C.T. Borger, OL/DL, 5-10, 210, So.; Kasen Ostmeyer, QB/DB, 6-0, 175, So. Conor Nicholl


Rural Vista started last season in the top-5 in Jeff Hostetter’s final season as head coach of Hope/ Rural Vista. However, the Heat slipped back from 7-3 to 5-4 due to a rash of injuries and a competitive District 3 that featured three teams with seven wins and five total with non-losing seasons. RV went 2-4 in district play. Hostetter, a Hope graduate, finished 221-76 in 27 years as a head coach. The Heat opened 3-0 in district play with a trio of dominant victories by at least 42 points. Then, RV fell 74-72 in double overtime to Clifton-Clyde in Week 4. After two more wins, RV stood at 5-1 but lost 36-28 to Herington, 46-0 at Burlingame and 36-34 versus Lost Springs. The Heat led Clifton-Clyde 58-36 with just over nine minutes to play before the Eagles closed regulation with 22 straight points. This year, Adam Flowers, an assistant last season, takes over as head coach. He listed goals as to “win all our games” and listed keys as “summer workouts and leadership from the seniors.” Flowers played eight-man football at Pratt-Skyline and college football at Sterling College. He graduated from Sterling as a coach’s assistant. Senior Eli Fleming was an all-league honorable mention selection and very athletic for his big, 6-1, 240 pound frame. RV graduated three first team all-league players, including Trace Hostetter.



Quinter had its second straight winless season and lost every game by the 45-point margin, except for a 36-14 home loss in Week 2 to Tribune-Greeley County. The Bulldogs had a Week 9 bye. In ’15, Quinter lost every game by the 45-point margin. Quinter has dropped 20 straight contests, dating back to a 54-34 home win against Logan-Palco in Week 6 of the 2014 season. Quinter listed just 11 players on the 2016 roster after a 13-player team in ’15. Four of the players were seniors in ’16, and the Bulldogs had just one junior, Luke Kaiser. He led the team in multiple statistics, including 100 carries for 270 yards and the lone rushing score. Kaiser caught 12 passes for 232 yards and one of the two receiving TDs. He finished with 90 tackles and eight TFLs, easily the highest for the squad. Last year, Quinter had 26 turnovers and finished minus-21 in turnover margin. “Continue to improve and find success,” second-year coach Micah Roehl said of the team’s goals and keys. “We will rely on a mix of experienced and inexperienced players. Many freshmen will need to step up and become key factors on our team.”

Page 127

Contact us for all your banking needs!

785-366-7225 800-747-2334

When Thompson first moved to Palco, he asked how many students he had in his class. The answer was eight. Thompson laughed because he never had a class that was so small. Entering this year, Thompson will, including him, have six in his class. He enjoys the small environment because of the closeknit family atmosphere and friendships. Several prominent athletes have transferred from Palco to nearby Plainville in recent seasons. His family even suggested transferring to Logan, but Thompson wanted to stay in Palco, tied for the second-fewest students in Kansas. The grade school building closed in 2014. “I told my mom, ‘Like if you guys are going to move, let me stay and finish my last year in Palco,’” Thompson said. As well, Thompson enjoys the Palco football field that’s nestled in a park next to woods. A rarity, no track surrounds the field where generally L-P plays around half their home games a year. Thompson has never seen another field like it. He has “a lot of memories” on the field, and looks to complete his career with a big season this fall. “I set my goal to be 2,000,” Thompson said. “Yeah, it’s a high goal, but I know I can do it. I was 300 off last year. It kind of upset me that I didn’t get it, but not going to the playoffs or the championship kind of hurt that, and I am looking forward to getting 2,000, maybe even more.”

SUBLETTE, KS Hwy 56 West | Toll Free: 800-464-2691 | 620-675-2691

Good Luck Indians!


Junior Gabriel Salas quietly had one of the best statistical seasons of any eight-man quarterback last year. He completed 41 of 90 passes for 892 yards with a 14/5 TD/INT ratio. Salas rushed 133 times for 1,247 yards and 19 rushing scores. Overall, Satanta averaged 7.6 yards per rush and 10.1 yards per attempt. In ’15, Satanta averaged 7.3 yards per rush and 6.04 yards per attempt. Salas is no slouch on defense, where he intercepted two passes and recovered five fumbles. Senior Ty Blair intercepted two passes and recovered four fumbles, and also rushed 31 times for 268 yards and four scores in 2016. Blair was a top receiving threat as well after he caught 25 passes for 632 yards and nine TDs. Satanta has posted 2-7, 4-5, 7-3, 6-4 and 5-4 records since moving to the eight-man ranks. Last year, the Indians scored 36.7 points a game and allowed 29. In ’15, the Indians averaged 45.2 and allowed 29.9. Satanta opened 3-0 before a 30-28 road loss to Moscow and a 70-36 defeat to Wichita County. Then, Satanta defeated Kinsley (52-0), lost to Spearville (72-24), at Ness City (63-18) and defeated South Gray (44-30). Spearville was the district titlist, and Ness City was the runner-up. Spearville is again the favorite, while Ness City and Satanta should compete for the runner-up spot. Satanta went 3-2 at home and 2-2 on the road. Second-year coach Justin Helton said he wants to be competitive in every game and get better with every play. As well, Helton wants to improve the record, be in every game and make the playoffs. Helton listed keys as improving our blocking schemes, downhill running and route running. “Our OL did a great job last year, as well as our backs and receivers,” Helton said. “With some improvement on defense this year we should give ourselves the opportunity to be in every game. With the help of Luke Keller, our new defensive coordinator and o-line coach, we hope to do just that.” 5-4 in 2016 / 2-3 in district / 8-Man I Southern Plains Iroquois Coach: Justin Helton (2nd year, 5-4) Assistants: Luke Keller Offense: Pistol Spread Defense: 5-1-2 Returning lettermen: 14 Returning starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense Gabe Salas, QB/DB, 6-0, 160, Jr.; Ty Blair, RB/ LB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; Wily Garcia, WR/DE, 5-11, 195, Sr.; Javier Morales, WR/DE, 6-3, 208, Sr.; Javier Ledezman, OL/DL, 6-0, 225, Sr.; Oscar Moreno, OL/ DL, 5-11, 210, Sr.; Kris Wagner, OL/DL, 5-10, 215, Jr. Conor Nicholl

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 128 W. Hwy 36

St. Francis



685 Kansas Ave. | Toll Free: 800-832-2124 | 785-332-2124

Good Luck Indians!

Dine-in or Carryout


The Blue Devils don’t have a long list of returning starters, but coach Mick Holt still looks for his team to be successful in 2017. Sedan is coming off an 8-1 season and shooting for at least seven wins this year, even with only five returning lettermen. Holt said his team’s other big goal is to make the playoffs. The Blue Devil defense returns four starters including a trio of senior linemen. Kiefer Brewer and Isaac Campbell are back at defensive end, while Dakota Halderman returns at noseguard. Sophomore safety Tayte Halderman is back to lead the secondary. Dakota Halderman was third on the team with 58 tackles – 16 for loss – in 2016 while Campbell led the Blue Devils with three sacks. Offensively, Sedan will lean on the same four players. Tayte Halderman looks to be the starting quarterback while Brewer is an experienced tight end. Dakota Halderman and Campbell are back in the lineup at the guard positions. Brewer caught a team-high three touchdown passes in 2016, and Tayte Halderman completed his only passing attempt as a freshman. Aside from filling in the lineups with new faces, keys to success for Sedan include “limiting turnovers, sound blocking, and staying healthy,” according to Holt. The Blue Devils will open their 2017 season Sept. 1 against Cedar Vale-Dexter in Dexter. Sedan’s home opener will be Sept. 8 against Central-Burden. The Blue Devils must travel to Oxford in week three, then return home to host Udall on Sept. 22. September concludes with a trip to Moran to face Marmaton Valley, and the Blue Devils host Southern Coffey County in week six. Sedan plays its only two back-to-back road games Oct. 13 and 20 with trips to West Elk and Madison, and then the Blue Devils host St. Paul for the Oct. 26 regular season finale.


Solomon reached the Division I sub-state championship in 2015 with a 10-2 record, the first under coach Steve Tiernan, who previously won championships at Baileyville B&B and Osborne. Last fall, Solomon again made the playoffs as the district runner-up in a close race for the second playoff spot out of District 4. Osborne, the eventual state champion, won the district. Solomon, Logan-Palco and Victoria each finished 3-2. Solomon and Logan-Palco were plus-21 in margin in district play, while Victoria was plus-20. In Week 8, Solomon defeated Logan-Palco, 56-34, and then lost 54-6 to Victoria in Week 9. L-P beat Victoria, 50-28, in Week 5. Victoria missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, the longest streak, at the time, in eight-man football. Solomon, which has reached the playoffs four of the past five seasons, lost 72-46 to Burlingame in the first round. Tiernan listed the team’s goals as: Be on time, listen, avoid distractions, stay on task, stay healthy. Returning junior quarterback Braden Neilson completed 48 of 84 passes for 887 yards with a 17/4 TD/INT ratio. Three of the top four rushers return, led by senior Jake Harmon (60 carries, 648 yards, 10 scores). Neilson had 63 carries for 279 yards and nine scores. Solomon forced just eight turnovers and was minus-2 in turnover margin. First-year assistant Mitch Engelken was a former standout all-purpose threat for Tiernan’s ’10 B&B state title team.

6-4 in 2016 / 4-2 in district / 8-Man I Wheat State League Coach: Steve Tiernan (3rd year, 16-6; 17th year, 146-27) Assistants: Mitch Engelken Offense: Double Tight Defense: 3-3 Returning lettermen: 11 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense 8-1 in 2016 / 4-1 in district / 2-1A Jobe Fowles, G/DE, 6-1, 200, Jr.; Cameron Noggle, Coach: Mick Holt (8th year, 38-25; 13th year overall, RB/LB, 5-11, 165, Sr.; Andrew Capsey, G/DE, 6-2, 64-45) 190, Sr.; Jake Harmon, RB/DB, 6-0, 175, Sr.; Braden Assistant: John Pray Neilson, QB/DB, 6-2, 180, Jr.; Eli Basvic, LB, 5-10, Offense: Offset T Defense: 3-3 160, Jr.; Jacob Burdine, E, 6-2, 165, Sr. Returning Lettermen: 5 Conor Nicholl Returning Starters: 3 Offense, 4 Defense Kiefer Brewer, TE/DE, 6-5, 215, Sr.; Dakota Halderman, OG/NG, 6-1, 250, Sr.; Isaac Campbell, OG/ DE, 5-11, 240, Sr.; Tayte Halderman, QB/S, 5-10, 155, So. Melanie McGee

Joel Benson, CPA Mary Benson, CPA

Jarad M. Waite, O.D.

Specializing in small businesses

Benson Accounting 1929 S. Ohio Office: (785)827-3157 Salina, KS 67401 Fax: (785)827-3159


In one of the best games of 2016, Spearville saw its 24-game winning streak end at St. Francis, 36-30, in the Eight-Man, Division I sub-state title game. The Lancers, state champions in ’15, had several touchdowns called back because of penalties. Spearville now 34-2 in the last three seasons, is again a state contender. Junior Kolby Stein returns after he completed 42 of 67 passes for 665 yards with an 11/3 TD/INT ratio. He rushed 102 times for 879 yards and 15 scores. Senior Bailey Sites, hurt half of last year, is a great playmaker. On 99 career offensive touches, he has scored 23 touchdowns and tallied 1,283 yards. All-state running back Luke Heskamp and the entire offensive line, including all-stater Wyatt Strecker, have graduated. Spearville, long known for limiting turnovers, had nine turnovers last season and finished plus-14 in turnover margin. Coach Matt Fowler listed the team’s goals as playing hard-nosed, physical football, making our community proud by playing hard and with class, and improving everyday in season and out of season. Fowler said the team’s keys are having a great summer in the weight room, upperclassmen continuing to lead the team, finding people who are unselfish to rebuild the offensive and defensive lines and winning the turnover battle. Spearville is at rival Hodgeman County in Week 2. 11-1 in 2016 / 5-0 in district / 8-Man I Southern Plains Iroquois Coach: Matt Fowler (9th year, 51-31) Assistants: Chris Sohm, Andrew Kempke, Steve Strain, Josh Sigmund, Boyd Hutchinson Offense: Single Wing Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 11 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 3 Defense Bailey Sites, RB/DB, 6-0, 172, Sr.; Waylon Strecker, RB/DB, 6-0, 162, Sr.; Alex Fisher, RB, 6-0, 150, Sr.; Kolby Stein, RB/LB, 6-2, 177, Jr. Conor Nicholl

202 NW 15th St, Abilene, KS 67410 (785) 263-2020


St. Francis enjoyed the best football/boys’ basketball season in school history in ’15-16. The Indians, ranked No. 1 in the classification most of the year, fell to Osborne in the state title game, the first finale in program annals. In basketball, SF took fourth in Class 1A, Division I and won the first state tournament game in school history. While SF graduated its all-state backfield of quarterback Quinton Cravens and running back Taylor Rogers, the Indians return a bevy of talent. Senior Tate Busse will be a three-year starter on both sides. Junior Jordan Raby started on defense as a freshman and both ways as a sophomore. The team’s fastest player, he led the Indians with 92 tackles and is expected to take over for Rogers in the backfield. SF outscored opponents 565-112, including a 2220 Week 1 win versus Wallace County and a 36-30 sub-state victory versus Spearville that ended the Lancers’ 24-game winning streak. Senior Wyatt Hackler, a receiver/defensive back, transferred from Cheylin after he was a multi-sport standout. Luke Lampe, who missed the last two games with injury, is a two-year starter. Sophomore Brady Dinkel takes over at QB after he started as a freshman at DB. Dalton Straub (3-year starter defense, 2-year offense) and Trayton Doyle (4-year starter, team-high 11 TFLs) are key veterans. SF has 10 seniors and nearly 30 players. “Our spring and summer off-season program will determine our ability to compete for a state championship,” coach Rodney Yates said. “We return a wealth of speed and athleticism.” 11-1 in 2016 / 6-0 in district / 8-Man I Northwest Kansas League Coach: Rodney Yates (3rd year, 21-2; 5th overall, 30-5 ) Assistants: Devin Dinkel, Nick O’Loughlin, Steve Kirkham Offense: Mulitple Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 22 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Tate Busse, WR/DB, 6-2, 170, Sr.; Jordan Raby, RB/ DB, 5-9, 165, Jr.; Luke Lampe, OL/DL, 5-8, 180, Sr.; Dalton Straub, WR/LB, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Luin Norris, OL/ DL, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Trayton Doyle, OL/DL, 6-3, 230, Sr. Conor Nicholl


After a four-year absence, the 2016 season marked a return to the playoffs for the St. Paul Indians. After beginning the season with eight-straight victories, St. Paul finished 9-2, advancing to the second round of the 8-Man I playoffs. The Indians captured the Three Rivers League’s 8-Man title and also secured the District 1 championship en route to a stellar season. St. Paul coach Keith Wiatrak called it a memorable fall. offensive structure. In 2015, St. John compiled only “Finally getting over the hump and getting back 7.8 points per game, the second-worst rate in 8-Man, into the playoffs and getting to see the seniors get Division I. This past season, the Tigers tripled their accolades for their hard work was rewarding for me output, reaching 23.4 ppg. The defense, however, as a coach,” Wiatrak said. is the anchor dragging in the sand, not allowing the Wiatrak hopes his Indians can not only equal last Tigers to press forward. Opponents knocked St. John year’s success, but also go one step further. for an average of 45.6 points. “My goals are to win our league, district and find Talent roams the halls. The Tigers boast an elite ourselves back in the playoffs,” Wiatrak said. “We basketball program. St. John basketball was the 2A want to build off last year’s success.” runner-up this past season, and has captured three St. Paul returns four starters on both sides of the state titles in the past five years. ball in 2017. Senior quarterback and defensive back Braven 3-6 in 2016 / 1-4 in district / 8-Man I Born returns, along with fellow two-way starters Central Prairie League Anthony Albertini and Koby Spielbusch. A pair of Coach: Mike Joiner (1st year) seniors, Albertini returns with starting experience on Assistants: N/A both sides of the line, while Spielbusch is back at Offense: N/A Defense: N/A offensive line and linebacker. Returning lettermen: N/A All three players racked up postseason honors last Returning starters: N/A fall. Albertini and Spielbusch both earned first team Kyle McCaskey all-league, first team all-district and all-state recogni-


New coach Mike Joiner inherits a St. John program at a critical juncture – a 3-6 season in 2016 proved the Tigers can climb up the ranks, but the program must keep and build upon that momentum while coaxing more players to join the cause. Joiner steps into the position following Nick Garcia, who guided St. John for 11 years over two stints. Garcia coached the Tigers in their most recent winning season and playoff berth – an 8-2 mark in 2012. After a one-year hiatus, he rejoined the program in 2014. The past three years were difficult, however, with a combined 4-23 record. The 2016 campaign demonstrated the Tigers are on the right path. St. John started this past season 3-2, but spiraled on a four-game skid to end the season. St. John was an even 3-3 in Central Prairie League play, scoring victories over Kinsley, Macksville and Ellinwood. The Tigers were 2-3 on the road, but only 1-3 in their home confines. The Tigers made significant strides with their

tion, while Born took home all-league and all-district honors at defensive back. Senior center Grant Hutcherson and junior linebacker Collin Carlson are the team’s other returning starters. Hutcherson and Carlson both earned all-league and all-district recognition last year. The Indians will rely on juniors Keaton Kennedy and Tyler Struthers and sophomore Adam Albertini at running back, while senior Hunter Pollman and junior Kenny Haney are tight ends. Senior Joseph Hess and Adam Albertini are defensive backs, while Struthers is a linebacker candidate. “The whole senior class will be called upon to be leaders this year,” Wiatrak said. “Our juniors will need to fill the missing roles and take on more challenges.” St. Paul begins the 2017 season on Friday, September 1 at Pleasanton. 9-2 in 2016 / 4-1 in district / 8-Man I Three Rivers League Coach: Keith Wiatrak (4th year, 18-11) Assistant: Randy Stoneking Offense: I-formation Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 11 Returning starters: 4 Offense, 4 Defense Braven Born, QB/DB, 5-9, 160, Sr.; Anthony Albertini, OL/DL, 6-3, 225, Sr.; Koby Spielbusch, OL/LB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Grant Hutcherson, OL, 6-1, 190, Sr.; Collin Carlson, LB, 6-1, 170, Jr. Jason Peake

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 129 324 S. 1st St.

WaKeeney 785-743-2383

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


A 2-7 record that snapped a string of five-straight winning seasons said Udall was down in 2016. Do not expect the Eagles to stay down. This is a roster primed to be in the thick of the playoff chase in 8-Man, Division I’s District 2. “We return everybody from last season’s team, plus add freshman running back Dylan Bishop, 5-9, 165, who was one of the best players in our league last season as an eighth grader,” said Udall coach Wyatt Williams. “We were very young, but gained valuable experience last season.” An up-and-down offense should trend toward prolific in 2017. Ever-improving junior Tristen Scurlock begins his third season starting on the line. Senior Dylan Loos has traveled around the starting lineup filling holes as needed, but will now settle in at fullback after running for 800 yards. Josh Fielder will be tasked with orchestrating a potentially lethal offense in his second season starting at quarterback. There is little anxiety about the offense. The defense, however, must demonstrate significant progress. Udall was clocked for 42 points per game. “We must get better on defense. We feel that our offense will be very hard to stop, but our defense really struggled last season and must improve,” Williams said. “With everybody a year older, there is no excuse not to be better this season. Our guys have to be more confident and believe in themselves.” Oxford (7-3) and Peabody-Burns (5-5) were the playoff qualifiers out of the district a season ago, with Cedar Vale-Dexter, Central Burden and Flinthills rounding out the district field. Udall has reached the postseason five times under Williams, most recently in 2014. “We hope to improve on last season’s 2-7 record, and we feel that competing for a playoff berth is attainable in our district,” he said.


Without question, 2016 was a year of transition for Valley Falls. For starters, there was a new coach. Nick Cummings, who previously was head coach at Highland Park, took over for longtime coach Rod Bunde. Furthermore, the Dragons also made the move from 11-man football to eight-man. Throw in a lineup which included a sophomore and two freshmen starters in skill positions by the end of the year and, well, the 1-8 record Valley Falls posted a year ago certainly is understandable. The Dragons won their eight-man debut against Wetmore, but then dropped their final eight games. Defensively, the Dragons were simply overmatched. In all eight losses Valley Falls surrendered at least 47 points and in the final two games of the season, the Dragons allowed a whopping 194 points. That included a record-setting 114-68 loss to Onaga in the season finale, a game which set an eight-man state record for most combined points (182), the old mark 174 set by Otis-Bison and Kinsley in 2014. While the defense struggled, the Dragon offense eventually gelled after freshman Tyler Lockhart settled in at quarterback. Taking over as a starter in week four, Lockhart wound up throwing for 1,440 yards — 465 of those coming in the Onaga loss where he set a state record for pass attempts in a game with 79. Lockhart will miss leading receiver Chris Yates, who had more than 700 yards, including 213 in the finale, but has back a strong target in junior Cole Brosa and a solid complement in the backfield in junior Carter Allen, who ran for more than 200 yards against Onaga. The Dragons return all but one starter on the line and the defense graduated just two starters. Valley Falls will be young once again with only one senior, lineman Eli Coleman, expected to factor into the 2-7 in 2016 / 1-4 in district / 8-Man I starting mix. South Central Border League Shoring up a defense which allowed nearly 60 Coach: Wyatt Williams (11th year, 60-45) points per game last year will be a top priority Assistants: Barney Rockey, Blake Wilkey, Ryan Ware heading into year two for Cummings and eight-man. Offense: Pistol Defense: 3-5 It won’t be easy in a district that was the toughest in Returning lettermen: 14 Division I last year, but if some strides can be made, Returning starters: 8 Offense, 8 Defense the Dragons have the offensive firepower to hang Dylan Loos, TB/DE, 5-10, 220, Sr.; Kermit Fielder, with the better teams on their schedule. WR/DE, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Josh Fielder, QB/DB, 5-11, 155, Jr.; Drake Lette, FB/LB, 6-1, 150, Jr.; Peyton 1-8 in 2016 / 0-6 in district / 8-Man I Miller, TE, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Erick Peak, OL, 5-8, 150, Jr.; Northeast Kansas League Tristen Scurlock, OL, 6-3, 320, Jr.; Alan Garton, OL, Coach: Nick Cummings (2nd year, 1-8) 5-10, 170, So.; Alex Garton, DB, 5-9, 160, So. Assistants: Randy Tenbrink, Drew Kraxner Kyle McCaskey Offense: Pistol Defense: 3-3 Returning lettermen: 16 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Eli Coleman, OG/NT, 6-2, 270, Sr.; Carter Allen, RB/ DB, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Cole Brosa, QR/DB, 6-2, 185, Jr.; Garrett Steinlicht, OG, 6-1, 180, Jr.; Colton Heinekan, C, 5-10, 225, Jr.; Hunter Aspinwall, TE/DE, 6-3, 255, Jr.; Tyler Lockhart, QB, 6-3, 185, So.; Drew Pickerell, WR/DB, 5-8, 155, So.; Lucas Welborn, RB/TE/DE, 5-11, 180, So. Brent Maycock

United Ag Service

785-637-5481 Gorham, KS VICTORIA

Victoria had just two returning starters back in 2016 after it won back-to-back Eight-Man, Division II state championships. The Knights had its 14-year playoff run end with a 5-4 record, the longest current run of playoff berths among eight-man teams. Victoria pushed for a postseason berth until the final week out of competitive District 4 that featured eventual state champion Osborne, which finished 13-0. Solomon, Logan-Palco and Victoria finished 3-2 in district play. Solomon and L-P were both plus-21 in district play, while Victoria was plus-20. Solomon earned the district runner-up spot with a win against L-P. Victoria opened with a 48-22 loss versus Central Plains before wins at Macksville (50-20) and Ellinwood (56-18). After a 46-36 home loss against Otis-Bison, the Knights fell 50-28 at Logan-Palco. Victoria defeated Bennington, 62-42, on the road, before a 54-8 home loss to Osborne. Victoria won at Lincoln, 46-0, and then defeated Solomon, 54-6, at home in Week 9. Victoria returns six starters from a team that averaged 40.2 points a contest but allowed 31.6 a game. In the 12-0 season of 2015, Victoria averaged 47.3 points a contest and permitted 9.5. Senior Cooper Pfanenstiel returns for his third year as a starter, and senior quarterback Collin Kisner returns. Overall, Victoria has six starters back on both sides. Oberle listed team goals as: have a great offseason, improve every week, become good teammates and good young men. Oberle listed the team’s keys as staying healthy, developing leadership and team, and playing for teammates, school and town. 5-4 in 2016 / 3-2 in district / 8-Man I Central Prairie League Coach: Doug Oberle (12th year, 101-24) Assistants: Danny Rogers, Jared Pfeifer Offense: Veer Defense: 3-2 Returning lettermen: 12 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Luke Taylor, OL/DL, 6-2, 223, Sr.; Wyatt Engel, OL/ DL, 5-8, 178, Sr.; Cole Schmidtberger, TE/LB, 5-7, 195, Sr.; Cooper Pfanenstiel, FB/LB, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Collin Kisner, QB/DB, 6-2, 180, Sr.; Tyler Knowles, TB/DB, 5-6, 140, Jr. Conor Nicholl


In a statistical quirk, WaKeeney-Trego had one of the longest winning streaks (five) in Kansas for part of 2016. Now, the Golden Eagles enter ’17 with one of longer losing skids in eight-man football (six). In ’15, WaKeeney-Trego went 6-3 and won its final two games but missed the playoffs. In ’16, the Golden Eagles opened 3-0 and ran its winning streak to five games. WaKeeney-Trego opened with a 52-20 win against Stockton, an eventual Division II district titlist, before victories at South Gray (24-20) and at Quinter (46-0). After the 3-0 start, the Golden Eagles lost each game the rest of the season. In Week 4, WaKeeneyTrego had a key home non-district game with Wallace County and fell 50-0. The Golden Eagles lost to Hill City (37-12), Oberlin (44-36), Hoxie (28-12), Atwood (56-6) and St. Francis (54-0). Coach Pat Haxton said the team’s goals are to “get better everyday” and “prepare and play harder than our opponents.” In ’15, WaKeeney had an average score of 34-28. Last year, opponents scored 34.3 points a contest against the Golden Eagles, and WaKeeney-Trego averaged 20.9 points a contest. The 13.1-point offensive tumble from ’15 to ’16 marked the tenth biggest among the 99 teams that played eight-man football in 2016. The Golden Eagles last made the playoffs in 2008. WaKeeney will have St. Francis, Atwood and Hoxie in district play. Junior quarterback Keagan Shubert completed 52 of 125 passes for 479 yards with a 9/5 TD/INT ratio. The Golden Eagles return 94 percent of its rushing yards from a team that averaged 137 rushing yards a contest. Senior Hunter Folsom had 107 carries for 631 yards with seven rushing scores. WaKeeneyTrego had 17 turnovers and was plus-7 in turnover margin. In 2015, the Golden Eagles rushed for 248 yards a game with 16 turnovers and plus-12 in turnover margin. 3-6 in 2016 / 1-5 in district / 8-Man I Mid-Continent League Coach: Pat Haxton (5th year, 14-22; 19th year, 87-91) Assistants: Jason Draper, Nolan Smith Offense: Spread Defense: 3-3 Returning lettermen: 14 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Hunter Folsom, RB/OLB, 5-11, 190, Sr.; Brendan Flax, WR/DB, 5-10, 155, Sr.; Brady Walt, OL/DL, 6-1, 245, Sr.; Austin Kinderknecht, DL, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Tate Pfannenstiel, WR, 6-1, 185, Sr.; Keagan Shubert, QB, 6-2, 175, Jr.; Dallas Schneider, DB, 5-11, 160, Jr.; T.J. Hafliger, LB, 6-0, 200, Jr.; Hunter Price, RB, 6-2, 175, So. Conor Nicholl

601 MAIN • JETMORE, KS 67854 • 620-357-8324

Your Community Bank

Otis Kansas Location

world leading supplier of industrial, process and speciality gases

Proud to support Cougar athletics!







A Branch of Bank of Hays

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

By Conor Nicholl For Kansas Pregame The Eight-Man, Division II quarterfinals contest between Hanover and Hutchinson Central Christian effectively summarized the classification in 2016. The Wildcats dominated the class, and several other teams surprised and enjoyed memorable years before falling to Hanover. Hanover, No. 1 in the polls all season, had the top-ranked defense. HCC, in its first season as a KSHSAA-affiliated program in many years and its first playoff berth in 20 falls, was not considered a contender at the start of the season. However, the Cougars entered the playoff game with a 9-1 record and Division II’s best scoring offense. HCC had 13 players compared to Hanover’s 27. The Wildcats delivered a 68-6 victory against the Cougars. “It was a David and Goliath situation,” HCC all-state tight end Elias Butterfield recalled in mid-summer. “Even though we lost, it was a crazy year for a team like ourselves. Not a whole lot of guys, not a whole lot of size, but the coaching and the commitment from the guys kept us going. We had just a great season.” Hanover rolled in its next two rounds with a 48-0 win against Pike Valley in the semifinals and a 68-22 championship game victory versus Dighton, also a surprise team with a roster of just 14 players. Like HCC, the Hornets were not in the top-10 at the start of the fall. Pike Valley tied the best playoff advancement in school history. Hanover set a bevy of eight-man state records and became the first eight-man team to win the quarterfinals, substate and state contests by the 45-point margin since Claflin in 1991, according to Prep Power Index archives. Hanover collected 30 interceptions, which broke the eightman state record of 27 set by White Rock in 2004, according to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Wildcat all-state quarterback Will Bruna broke multiple eight-man state records in his two seasons as the starting signal caller, including single season touchdown passes and career completion percentage. Hanover permitted just six points a game, the second-best scoring defense among eight-man champions since 2006, just behind 2012 Ness City at 5.5 points a game. Hanover, which had lost the Division I title game in ’14-15, went 12-0 for its fourth state crown and second undefeated year. The Wildcats are now 3-0 in Division II title games with 13th-year coach Matt Heuer; the average margin in those contests is 36 points. In basketball season, many of the same Wildcats won the Class 1A, Division I championship game, 60-36, over South Gray, the biggest margin in a 1A title contest since 1992.

“A lot of our athletes knowing as we were coming into the season that there were some big holes to fill have done a great job of stepping up and realizing that it’s ‘next man up’ in the system,” Heuer, a Hanover alum, said. “And I think a lot of our kids have really embraced that and maybe waited their turn over the last couple of years, and when their opportunity presented itself this year, I think they did an exceptional job of stepping in and helping us not miss a beat.” This season, Hanover is again the favorite with several teams, led by veteran-laden Pike Valley and Hodgeman County, just behind them in the polls. As well, another group includes tradition-laden Wallace County, Otis-Bison, Caldwell and a couple of squads looking to replicate HCC’s and Dighton’s success, such as Rock Hills and Stockton. Hanover returns multiple talented players, led by all-state senior nose guard Carlos Emanuel, who finished second with 70 tackles and tallied seven TFLs. Junior Daiken Stallbaumer, the backup quarterback in 2016, picked off 10 passes on defense. Junior Carter Bruna, Will’s younger brother, and senior Kevin Diederich combined for 160 carries for 1,227 yards and 23 rushing scores. Athletic junior Thomas Atkins should take a more prominent role after 36 offensive touches yielded 419 yards and six scores. He also picked off four passes on defense. Pike Valley has arguably the best chance for a state game berth in coach Don Melby’s 40 years on staff. The big substate loss to PV has motivated the Panthers, which return a trio of standout four-year starters with quarterback Davante Hammer, running back/defensive back Lane Peters and end/linebacker Cole Strickler. “We all want to get back and get a rematch with them, and hopefully show them that we can do a lot better than we did last year,” Strickler said. “We can’t look just to them, though. We have a full season to get there and take one game at a time, but they are definitely what we are thinking of and why we train and get ready.” Hodgeman County, hurt by some injuries in 2016, opened No. 4 in last year’s poll but ended up outside of the playoffs in District 6 that again includes the Longhorns, Wallace County, Otis-Bison and Dighton. Since a Division I state runner-up in ’13, the Longhorns are 20-8 but 0-1 in the playoffs. Hodgeman County averaged 41.3 points a game but will need to improve a defense that permitted 28.7 points a contest in 2016, 17th-best in the classification. HC finished fourth in the district with a 2-3 record, and 5-4 overall. The other three teams ranked in the top-nine in scoring defense. Senior Jacob Salmans, a four-year starter, had an 18/6 TD/INT ratio. He and his brother, sophomore Eli, were the top-two rushers with a combined 967 yards and 20 rushing scores. HC returns seven starters on both sides.


1. Hanover 2. Pike Valley 3. Hodgeman County 4. Wallace County 5. Otis-Bison Others: Caldwell, Hutch-Central Christian, Rock Hills, South Barber, Stockton, Sylvan-Lucas

Page 130

8-MAN II “We want to make it out of our tough district,” Housman said. “If we can do that, we can play with anybody.” Wallace County has made the playoffs every year since 2006, earned a state crown in ’07 and runner-up in ’13 before three straight sub-state title game losses. Coach Kevin Ayers, the architect of the Wildcat success, returns as head coach. He resigned after ’13, took two years off and then came back as assistant coach last year for an 8-4 squad that lost twice to Dighton. The Wildcats led Division II in scoring defense every year from ’12-14 before second and sixth the last two falls. Last year, WC had just eight turnovers and finished plus-11 in turnover margin behind seniors Carlin Springsteel (teamhigh seven interceptions) and Seth Johnson (93 tackles, most among Wildcat returners). Otis-Bison (6-3) had a challenging year with last-second losses to Central Plains and Dighton and a road defeat to Wallace County where it outgained the Wildcats. Senior running back Blake Bahr (669 rush yards) returns. District 2 featured HCC, Caldwell, and Hartford which went a combined 25-6 and ranked first, second and third in Division II points per game. Caldwell missed the playoffs from the district, but does return six starters on both sides, led by senior running back Dakota Volavka. “The key to our success on the defensive side of the ball is to become a more physical team,” coach Sean Blosser said. “We have to change the identity of our team and become an attacking defense.” Like Caldwell, Rock Hills went 7-2 and missed the playoffs from District 4 behind Pike Valley and Beloit/St. John’sTipton, which took heavy graduation losses. Rock Hills ranked fourth in Division II in scoring defense (16 points allowed/game) and brings back speedy junior Zane Colson (16 total scores, 88 tackles, both team-bests). Dighton took major graduation losses but does return allstate lineman Logan Lingg. Stockton has some personnel similar to 2016 Dighton, including an explosive pass-heavy quarterback with junior Brady Beougher (27 passing TDs). The Tigers went 4-6 and went to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Sylvan-Lucas returns six starters and added speedy Lincoln transfer Owen Krueger in the offseason. Returning experience should give the Mustangs a chance to improve on a 6-3 finish last season.

Information technology can make… or break your business. That’s why our Trezor IT On Demand is here to protect and enhance your business. We deliver competitive advantage and 24/7 peace of mind through an array of customizable services for one monthly price. Contact us to see how We Can Make IT Work for YOU!


(800) 432-7607

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 131

EXPERIENCE THE VALUE OF ALL-IN-ONE FARM MANAGEMENT • On-Farm Weather Stations • In-Field Telematics & Data Transfer Devices • High-Resolution & High Frequency Satellite Imagery

• Integrated Farm Management Software • Soil Sampling Program • Variable Rate Technology Services

SIGN UP TODAY! | | 1 866-724-3343


Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

(Photo by Derek Livingston,Page 132

Pike Valley

By Conor Nicholl For Kansas Pregame Don Melby never expected to teach and coach. Melby attended Scandia High School and played on three state title squads from ’70-72. He graduated in ’74 and participated in the first Shrine Bowl. Melby played one year at Fort Hays, and attended FHSU for woodworking and carpentry. Don planned to work with his brothers in construction back home. In December of his senior year in Hays, Melby’s advisor told him to take the teaching block so he could substitute teach. Melby obliged. In late ’78, the woodworking teacher in the Scandia/Courtland area took a leave of absence, and Melby subbed for the bulk of the year. Melby still wasn’t planning to teach long term. In August ’79, the first year Scandia and Courtland combined to form Pike Valley, Melby signed a contract to teach woodworking and serve as assistant football coach. Two years later, he took over as head coach, a position he still holds. He has continued to help the family business as needed. “Been very, very blessed to be able to do what I do that long in only one place,” Melby said. Melby’s decision is a major reason for the growth of eight-man football in Kansas, including the creation of the eight-man coaches association, development and success of the eight-man all-star game, and eight-man football moving from one class to two. Melby, long known for his positive demeanor, has impacted coaches across the state. Among others, one of Melby’s closest coaching friends is Jeff Blattner, a longtime coach at Haviland and South Gray. “I love eight-man football,” Melby said. Blattner is one of the biggest mentors for current Spearville coach Matt Fowler, a very successful young coach. This summer, Melby and Fowler spoke at the eight-man all-star game in Beloit. Melby helped Hutchinson Central Christian tight end Elias Butterfield, who lost his mother to cancer shortly after the all-star games in June. “He is obviously a giant of our game,” Fowler said. “Anybody that stays at a school as long as he has is just a tremendous example of perseverance.” Melby holds a 205-142 career record. Pike Valley has reached three sub-state championship games in ’02, ’05 and last fall. This year, the Panthers have one of more talented teams in Melby’s tenure, and have a strong chance for PV’s first state championship appearance. Pike Valley was 1-8 in 2013 before the current seniors entered high school. The Panthers went 5-6, 8-3 and 10-2 in the last three seasons. In ’14, current seniors Cole Strickler (end/linebacker), Lane Peters (tailback/ defensive back) and Davante Hammer (quarterback) started as freshmen. The trio will be four-year starters this fall for a team that returns five starters on both sides. “A big improvement from the year before,” Strickler said of ’16. “We did come continued on page 134

Melby Brothers Construction - LLC 411 Wyoming St. Scandia KS 66966 (785) 335-2862 • (785) 527-0055

American Log Homes Mark & Don Melby

Pho Phot hhot otto co c uurte rteesyy Amy my Ricka ccka karrdd

Proud supporters of Pike Valley football!

COLE STRICKLER Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

(Photo by Derek Livingston,Page 134

Pike Valley



Hobbies: “I enjoy playing video games and fishing in my spare time.” Favorite subject: Math Favorite food: Steak Favorite musician: 2 Chainz Favorite pregame song: “Ballin’” by Logic Most memorable high school football moment: “When we beat Rock Hills 58-8 last year.”

up a little short, so it kind of makes us want to go back to state this year and hopefully win it all, because the way it ended just kind of left us with a sour taste in our mouth, and we would just like to get back.” Last year, PV lost only to the eight-man state champions: Division I titlist Osborne and Division II champion Hanover. The Panthers fell 34-32 to Osborne in a Week 4 back-and-forth road game. In sub-state, PV lost 48-0 to Hanover. “It was kind of our first time on that big of a stage,” Strickler said. “We were all pretty nervous because we knew that they’d all been there before. I remember we were going to punt, and it went over our punter’s head, and it just kind of went downhill from there, and we were just all unorganized. We weren’t really following our game plan, and we just kind of fell apart at the seams.” This spring, Strickler collected MVP honors at the prestigious Sharp Performance Combine. He finished top-7 in the vertical jump (37 inches), 40-yard dash (4.69 seconds) and broad jump (10.005 feet). Strickler loves defense and has 236 career tackles. Last season, he had 57 offensive touches for 960 yards and 16 scores. “If you want a talk a muscle specimen or whatever, Cole is – everybody who sees him just kind of goes ‘Wow,’” Melby said. “And really strong, good speed, good instincts.” Strickler’s mother was a former junior college basketball/track athlete, and his father was a former standout weight lifter at Colony-Crest. Strickler noticed a big increase after he started to lift after his freshman year. “He has got a lot of skills that are God-given, and he has been blessed to take advantage of those,” Melby said. PV expects to get more offensive touches for Strickler this fall. “We have got a ton of weapons,” Peters said. In ’16, Peters recorded 178 carries for 1,497 yards, 28 rushing scores, 85 tackles and 472 special teams yards.

THE PETERS FILE Hobbies: “Outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, and golfing, and also spending time with family and friends.” Favorite subject: History and Human Performance Favorite food: Steak Favorite musician: “I enjoy all kinds of music and many musicians, so it would be difficult to narrow it down to just one.” Favorite pregame song: “Sucker for Pain” by Imagine Dragons Most memorable high school football moment: “Making it to the sub-state playoffs my junior year.”

He was gassed at the end of the Osborne loss and versus Hanover. Hanover, “that was the first time I ever felt like I hadn’t maintained enough, like I didn’t have enough to keep going,” Peters said. Peters won the 100- and 200-meter titles at the Class 1A meet this spring, including a classification record 10.77 seconds in the 100 that surprised him. Strickler was a 100 qualifier, took fifth in the 200 and fourth in the long jump. Together, they helped the Panthers earn runner-up in the 400 relay. PV was fourth as a team. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Peters enters this season with 3,889 career rushing yards. Melby labels Peters with “wiry strength.” “I knew he would be fast, but he has been way, way tougher, a stronger runner than I’d ever thought he would be as he was coming up through,” Melby said. Hammer has a career 2,204 passing yards and 40/15 TD/INT ratio, including 1,189 yards with a 22/4 TD/INT ratio last season. Known for his intelligence, Hammer has a great understanding of the offense. “We have a big senior class coming up,” Peters said. “I think we can do some really good things here. I am so excited. It should be awesome.” PV’s returning starters include: seniors Kaiser Kussman at nose guard, Heath White at end, Anton Reeves at defensive back, and junior Brody Carlgren at defensive back. The Panthers have to replace its big interior offensive line, including all-stater Mason Runft. “I have no doubt that whoever we can put in there can do their best, and hopefully they will be able to fill the gaps from the graduating seniors,” Strickler said. White, a former guard, could switch back. Seniors Ben Jensen and Max Rickard are expected to step up on the line. “I think the real key for us is going to be those other six or seven seniors and a couple of juniors,” Melby said.

Melby, a man of faith, wants to his players to experience the thrill of reaching the state title game, just like he did during his playing days. His overall goal is to continually affect youth in all areas of life. “One of the things that I have always said is I hope that when judgement day comes for me that I hope I am not judged on my wins and my losses as much as what kind of person was I, what did I do,” Melby said. Melby had several mentors when he started coaching including Dennis Hutchinson, a Scandia assistant in the early ’70s. Hutchinson went on to great success as the longtime assistant for Roger Barta at Smith Center. Melby wanted to help just like those before helped him. At the Division II all-star game, Melby met Butterfield for the first time. Butterfield’s mother passed away June 25. Melby called Butterfield and prayed with him. He drove several hours south for the funeral and made a donation to the memorial. “He’s a very, very special person in my life even though I haven’t known him long,” Butterfield said. The Pike Valley community feels the same way about Melby. In 2012, they named the Panther field Don Melby Field. Melby’s only wish was they dropped his first name and just honored his family, many of whom have helped throughout the decades with various duties, including mowing, laying the lines, chain gang and statistics. Melby has announced he will teach one more year. The longtime assistant basketball coach, Melby is expected to step down from that role. He’s uncertain about how long he will coach football. Strickler called a state title a “good capstone” for Melby to end his career. “Anybody who has stayed that long has gone through ups and downs, has taken their lumps and been close to the top as well (deserves it),” Fowler said. “So, I think there’s a lot of people that are rooting for him this year to do extremely well. I have told him that as well.”

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12

Page 135 K-14 & U.S. Hwy 24



110 W Main • Beloit, KS • 785-534-1111


Northern Valley had a one-win improvement from 3-6 to 4-5 last season and continued a trend of great offense, problematic defense and no playoff berth. The Huskies are 6-3, 7-2, 5-4, 6-3, 3-6 and 4-5 in the last six seasons and have not made the playoffs since 2005 under longtime coach Chuck Fessenden. Last season, NV finished No. 11 in Division II in points per game at 45.8 points a contest but permitted 56.1. In 2015, the Huskies scored 25.1 points and permitted 40.3. In 2014, NV averaged 42.1 points but permitted 31. “We would like to make the playoffs and then advance as far as possible,” Fessenden said. “We need to show significant improvement on defense.” In district play, NV fell 86-50 at Lakeside and then earned a home win against Wilson (74-50) and a road victory versus Sylvan-Lucas (68-44). A 74-54 home loss to Stockton kept NV from the playoffs. Stockton earned the district title, while Lakeside was the runner-up. Versus Lakeside, NV had 88 offensive plays, while Downs tallied 51. However, Lakeside had 609 total yards compared to 420 for the Huskies. NV finished minus-4 in turnover margin versus the Knights and permitted three non-offensive scores. NV outgained Stockton 535-506 and ran 80 offensive plays, 23 more than the Tigers. Senior Caden Kinderknecht has statistically been one of eight-man’s top quarterbacks the last two seasons. As a junior, he completed 90 of 157 passes for 1,112 yards with a 13/12 TD/INT ratio. He also rushed 217 times for 1,507 yards and 28 scores with seven 100-yard games. NV churned out 407 yards of offense per game. As a sophomore, Kinderknecht rushed for 943 yards and threw for 464 yards. The top-five tacklers return paced by junior Caden Bach (134 stops) and Kinderknecht (100 tackles). Kinderknecht led the team with four interceptions.

Delivery available 5pm-close

Dine-in, Carryout, & Delivery


Ben Fox and Giles Fox, former Ashland standouts, will lead the Bluejay program this year. Ben Fox served two years as an assistant coach and replaced Jesse Stebens, the head coach for seven seasons. Ashland went 10-1 and 9-1 in 2010-11 before 1-8, 2-7, 4-5, 6-3 and 4-5 records the last five years. Ben Fox listed, “Compete, stay healthy, and qualify for playoffs,” as the team’s goals. “I feel we have a solid group of freshmen-seniors but with numbers as low as they are we can’t afford injuries,” he said. Last season, Ashland listed 18 players, including senior quarterback Reece Kay. Collectively, the Bluejays threw for 903 yards but completed just 47 percent of passes with an 11/10 TD/INT ratio. The top-two rushers return for a team that rushed for 133 yards a game and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Junior Luke Reimer led the team with 79 carries for 483 yards and eight scores in seven games. Senior Luis Ornelas had 50 carries for 227 yards and one TD. Reimer also had 10 catches for 316 yards and six scores, the latter two numbers leading the team. He paced the defense with 121 tackles, including three for loss. Reimer had 58 more stops than any other player. Ashland committed 16 turnovers and finished minus-4 in turnover margin. Ashland was plus-4 in turnover margin in ’15. Last fall, the Bluejays scored 29.8 points a contest but permitted 36.6. The Bluejays didn’t play a close game in 2016 with losses to South Central (34-8), Spearville (60-8), Pretty Prairie (52-6), South Barber (57-10) and Chase (66-20). Ashland defeated Fowler (52-14), Kiowa County (50-26), Bucklin (64-18) and Stafford (50-2). Giles Fox enjoyed a standout high school and collegiate career. At Fort Hays, Fox won the prestigious Torch Award in 2017 as the Tigers’ “outstanding 4-5 in 2016 / 3-2 in district / 8-Man II graduating senior.” He collected multiple academic Western Kansas Liberty League honors and earned a Bachelor of Science in physics Coach: Chuck Fessenden (41st year, 278-136) and math. In 2016, his last season pitching for Assistants: Brad Cox, Marvin Gebhard FHSU, Fox was all-MIAA honorable mention with a Offense: Midway Defense: 3-3 2-1 record, 4.71 earned-run average and six saves. Returning lettermen: 11 Fox was one of 45 individuals nominated for the Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Torch Award. Cooper Mussman, C/DL, 6-0, 250, Sr.; Dawson SteFor Ashland, Fox had 369 tackles, 17 TFLs and, 16 vens, G/DL, 6-4, 240, Sr.; Jesus Saenz, E/DL, 6-0, sacks and 10 interceptions. His last football season 190, Jr.; Caden Kinderknecht, QB/LB, 6-0, 165, Sr.; was 2011. Caden Bach, RB/LB, 6-1, 175, Jr.; Nick Stutsman, Ben Fox was a senior in 2010 when he led the RB/S, 6-0, 160, Jr. team with 892 rushing yards. Overall, Ben Fox tallied Conor Nicholl 3,015 offensive yards (1,903 rushing) and tallied 42 offensive scores with 189 tackles in his Bluejay career.



Returning just one starter and two lettermen off the 2015 Eight-Man, Division II state semifinal team, Eric Detwiler knew Axtell would be in for some growing pains in 2016 as his new faces adjusted to the varsity level. Sure enough, there were a few. But overall, Detwiler and the Eagles could hardly complain about how the season turned out. Despite basically starting over, Axtell still managed a 4-5 record and laid the groundwork for what the Eagles hope is a return to their customary spot in the postseason in 2017. The opportunity certainly exists with Axtell returning six full-time starters and a couple other spot starters this year. Though the team will still be young with just two seniors and relatively undersized with no returning player bigger than 185 pounds, the Eagles made big strides a year ago. Junior Hunter Koch began the year at quarterback, but moved to receiver with the emergence of Quinn Buessing. As a freshman last year, Buessing came on strong to throw for 1,167 yards and 15 touchdowns and should hit the ground running this year. Koch, meanwhile, quickly became one of Buessing’s favorite targets, hauling in 32 catches for 559 yards and 10 scores. Running back Michael Swanson actually led the Eagles in catches (45) and receiving yards (688), but Axtell will need more of a presence in the running game this year after no player ran for more than 231 yards last year and Axtell finished with just 703 yards on the ground overall. The top-four tacklers all are back led by Nate Buessing’s 94 stops and 80 from Swanson. The Eagles gave up 46.3 points per game last year, allowing less than 25 just once. Axtell’s four wins last year came against teams who combined for just three wins overall. To get back to the postseason, the Eagles will need to close the gap with the teams on the rest of the schedule as all five of their losses were by 40 or more points. The district will be strong again with defending state champion Hanover awaiting in the season finale and Wakefield becoming a consistent winner over the past several years. 4-5 in 2016 / 2-3 in district / 8-Man II Twin Valley League Coach: Eric Detwiler (5th year, 29-13) Assistants: Dale Buessing, Craig Wiebe Offense: Spread Defense: 3-3 Returning lettermen: 8 Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Michael Swanson, RB/LB, Sr.; Hunter Koch, E/ DB, 5-9, 165, Jr.; Nate Buessing, OL/LB, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Tristan DeKoning, OL/DL, 5-10, 180, Jr.; Quinn Buessing, QB/LB, 6-0, 155, So. Brent Maycock

4-5 in 2016 / 2-3 in district / 8-Man II Southern Plains Iroquois Coach: Ben Fox (1st year) Assistants: Giles Fox Offense: Spread Defense: 4-2 Returning lettermen: 6 Returning starters: 3 Offense, 3 Defense Luis Ornelas, ATH, 5-8, 175, Sr.; Luke Reimer, ATH, Burrton has struggled mightily in the last five years 6-0, 180, Jr.; Cade Brown, OL/DL, 5-8, 190, So. with a 1-44 record. Burrton posted winless seasons Conor Nicholl in ’12-’14 before a 1-8 year in ’15 and a winless mark last fall. Burrton has not won more than two games since 2007. The Chargers will enter this season on a 17-game losing streak that dates back to a 41-12 season-opening home victory against Fairfield in 2016. Burrton has not made the playoffs since 2003. Burrton did have two reasonably close games to open 2016 with a 40-30 road loss to Fairfield and a 60-34 home defeat against Stafford. Burrton lost each of the next seven games by the 45-point margin. 2-7 in 2016 / 1-3 in district / 8-Man II The Chargers were in high-octane District 2 that Southern Plains Iroquois featured Hartford, Hutchinson Central Christian and Coach: Brad Estes (3rd year, 4-11; 7th year, 24-16) Caldwell. In terms of points per game, the trio all Assistants: N/A finished in the top-five in eight-man football and went Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 a combined 25-6. Returning lettermen: 7 “Last year was tough as we battled injuries and Returning starters: 6 Offense, 7 Defense inexperience and ended up 0-9,” third-year coach Hunter Hearne, C/NT, 5-11, 265, Sr.; Colleen 1885-201 ~ 1 years of service Chris Jensen said. “This year will be another rebuild622 Main • Ashland, KS 67831 ing year as we lost over half of our roster, including Stimpert, RB/DE, 5-8, 160, Jr.; Daulton Warden, QB/ Phone: (800) 772-2265 FB/OLB, 5-9, 160, Jr.; Greyton Wilson, WR/OLB, two-way all-league player, Brendan Dick. There is MEMBER FDIC 5-11, 170, Jr.; Talon Estes, QB/WR/S, 6-0, 145, So.; reason for hope, however. We will return our entire Gabe Ellis, OL/OLB, 6-0, 170, So.; Cristian Cruz, RB/ offensive line that will average about 6-2, 210 pounds Supporting all area athletes! ILB, 5-6, 180, So. Conor Nicholl led by 6-6, 225-pound Bradley Cooprider.” Bucklin posted its second straight two-win season but struggled defensively. The Red Aces, three years removed from ending its 54-game losing streak, scored 20.7 points a game but permitted 55.3. The Red Aces’ only playoff appearance since 2006 came in 1999. Six offensive and seven defensive starters return, including junior quarterback/fullback/outside linebacker Daulton Warden. “Very simply put, our goals are to improve everyday, play team ball with incredible conviction, improve our defense immensely and be competitive in both league and district play,” coach Brad Estes said. “Because our team is very young, we are smaller than most veteran teams; as a result we will rely heavily on timing and execution to gain advantages. We must continue to build our team culture, strong leaders and develop our athletes through our speed/ strength training program.

High School Football Game of the Week Friday nights @ 6:40pm on KVSV AM 1190 & FM 105.5 and listen live at


A very accomplished BSJT boys’ class graduated in May 2017. After an 8-2 year in 2012, BSJT went 111, 7-3, 6-3 and 7-3 the last four seasons. The squad finished fifth in the final poll with a 38-12 playoff loss to dominant Hanover, easily the Wildcats’ closest postseason game. As well, the Blujays lost at home to eventual Division I champion Osborne, 50-18, in Week 2 and fell 40-34 versus Pike Valley in Week 8. BSJT won, 34-32, at Rock Hills in Week 9 to earn the runner-up spot. In basketball, the Blujays finished first, second and third before a perfect regular season led to a sub-state title game loss to Osborne. In track, the Blujays finished third in Class 1A in 2017, and second in 2016. Davis Dubbert, who broke a state record for consecutive made 3-pointers and earned accolades in football, basketball, track and summer baseball, will high jump for Wichita State. Of the 16-player roster, seven were seniors, led by Dubbert, the two-year starting quarterback. He passed for 1,604 yards with a 16/9 TD/INT ratio. Senior Ty Brummer returns after he had 166 carries for 857 yards and 13 rushing scores, all team-highs. BSJT rushed for 4.7 yards per carry, well up from 3.3 in 2015. Brummer also enjoyed a solid year receiving with 27 catches for 334 yards and two receiving TDs. Junior Kail Dubbert will likely take on a much bigger role after he rushed 17 times for 40 yards. Brummer collected 98 tackles, second-most, and Kail Dubbert had 51, seventh-best for the squad. BSJT had 16 turnovers and finished minus-3 in turnover margin. 7-3 in 2016 / 4-1 in district / 8-Man II Northern Plains League Coach: Keith Kresin (8th year, 40-29; 111-60 overall) Assistant: Aren Coppoc Offense: Power I Defense: 3-5 Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 2 Offense, 2 Defense Ty Brummer, RB/DB, 5-11, 160, Sr.; Kail Dubbert, OL/DL, 5-7, 155, Jr. Conor Nicholl


As well, Michael Rimbey and Bryce Meacham, the basketball backcourt, will play football for the first time. Both are 5-foot-10/5-foot-11 and weigh around 150 pounds. Each is expected to play wide receiver/ defensive back. Burrton will again open with Fairfield and Stafford, two teams that went 0-16 when it didn’t play the Chargers last year. “We have a brutal district with Caldwell, Central Christian and Hartford all finishing 8-1 or 7-2 last year, so it is important to get some momentum early in the season,” Jensen said. 0-9 in 2016 / 0-5 in district / 8-Man II Heart of the Plains Coach: Chris Jensen (3rd year, 1-17) Assistants: Travis Lane, Terry Bruton, Robbie Wright Offense: N/A Defense: N/A Returning lettermen: N/A Returning starters: 6 Offense, 6 Defense Dustin Hughes, RB/LB, 5-11, 160, Jr.; Bradley Cooprider, OL/DL, 6-6, 225, Sr.; Corey Smith, WR/ LB, 5-11, 150, Jr.; Kyle Boyle, OL/LB, 5-11, 165, Jr.; Matthew Hughes, OL/DL, 6-0, 240, Jr.; Jonathan Canada, RB, 5-10, 150, So.; Ian Barron, LB, 5-11, 155, So. Conor Nicholl

Kansas Pregame, Volume 12


Caldwell spent most of the season in the EightMan, Division II rankings and led the state in scoring some of the year. However, Caldwell started 6-0 before two district losses: 56-42 at Hartford in Week 7, and 58-12 at Hutchinson Central Christian in Week 9. Hartford and HCC each finished 9-2. Caldwell went 5-6 in 2015 when it scored 42.2 points and allowed 42.6 a contest. Last year, the Bluejays tallied 56.2 and permitted 20.7 a game. Caldwell finished third in eight-man in points per game trailing HCC (62.2) and Osborne (58.9, eight-man state record 764 points). Hartford was fifth at 53.5 points. It also yielded the fourth biggest eight-man defensive improvement from ’15 to ’16. “Our team goal for the 2017 season is to create a culture that leads our team to become a family,” coach Sean Blosser said. “If we are successful with changing our identity as a team we are confident it will lead to success on the field. The football staff is excited about this group of young men and the potential they have to make this change.” Caldwell graduated quarterback/all-purpose threat Colten Ward, but returns six starters on both sides. Blosser listed the team’s keys as “depth across all positions” and said it’s the most depth the staff has had in six years. “The key to this is our young men challenging and competing with each other to make our team the best


Dighton enjoyed the best season in school history in 2016. Unranked in the preseason, the