By CONOR NICHOLL
Girard football enjoyed another historical season under coach Neal Philpot. For the second straight fall, the Trojans went undefeated in CNC play, and finished 10-1 with a Class 3A quarterfinal loss to Holton.
It marked the first time Girard had ever won double-digit contests in back-to-back seasons, per Kansas Football History. It’s also the best winning percentage in a two-year span in Trojan football annals.
Girard had 11 seniors. Many were multi-year starters and all-conference players.
This season marked Girard’s first outright CNC title since 2012. Last year, Girard and Galena were both 4-0 in league, though did not play each other. Before ’12, the Trojans’ previous CNC crown came in 1999. Coach Neal Philpot was CNC coach of the year.
Girard is 20-2 in the last two years with no regular season losses. Among 3A teams, only Andale, currently on a state best 49-game winning streak, and Girard were the only ones to not take a regular season defeat in the past two years.
Girard shutout four teams, including two in the playoffs, and was ranked fifth in Class 3A for most of the season. The Trojans earned quality league wins against Columbus (20-15), Colgan (38-12) and Frontenac (35-0). In the playoffs, Girard defeated Parsons, 35-0, and Frontenac, 36-0.
Girard scored 37.1 points a game and allowed 11.5. Among the eight 3A teams that reached the quarterfinals, the Trojans finished second in scoring defense. Last season, Girard scored 31.9 points a game and allowed 11.9.
In the previous eight seasons, Girard never won more than six games and was a combined 35-42. Girard enjoyed its first double-digit winning season since 2006 and second since 1999. Philpot, a Norton graduate, was a former All-American quarterback at Pittsburg State.
This week, CNC all-league was announced. Senior quarterback Luke Niggemann (6-foot-3, 205) was first team all-league. Senior Alex Coester was unanimous all-league running back and first team all-conference defensive back. Senior Adam Shireman collected second team all-conference running back.
Junior Caleb Combs (6-1, 210) and senior Justin Ferguson (6-1, 175) were unanimous first team all-league offensive linemen. Seniors Arrick Williams (6-1, 235) and Ryan Jarboe (5-7, 175) were second team. Niggemann was first team all-conference punter, and senior Garrett Humble first team all-conference kicker.
Shireman was unanimous first team all-league defensive line. Junior Drake Kotzman (6-5, 320) earned first team all-conference. Senior Juan Pizarro was second team all-conference. At linebacker, junior Anthony Pike was first team.
Running back Ethan Davidson and offensive lineman Cordell Searan were each honorable mention all-league.
At some level, Jarboe, Niggemann, Shireman, Coester, Davidson and Pizzaro were all-league last season. Niggemann was also first team all-conference punter as a sophomore.