By CONOR NICHOLL
This marks the fourth annual Sports In Kansas All-Underrated Football Team. SIK also had an all-underrated squad in girls’ basketball, too.
Players named have never been all-league and/or overshadowed by another player or position group. At least one player from each class is selected. This is a two-month process, and SIK staff has talked to more than 50 coaches and players to determine this year’s team.
This is generally the most read regular season story that SIK runs. Many times, SIK has identified All-Underrated players that have gone on to great careers, including Blue Valley OL Ben Vasquez, who signed with Central Missouri after a big under-the-radar year in 2021.
Last year’s group featured: Mill Valley’s Truman Griffith, Blue Valley Southwest’s Dylan Dunn, Kapaun’s Omari Elias and Clifton-Clyde’s Maison Slater. All four are now established, all-state players.
The group comes in all forms: first-year senior starters, players who have had breakout seasons, and emerging sophomores. The purpose of this list is players who have never earned all-state recognition or even all-league (first team/second team) recognition prior but could be on the radar for those lists this postseason. This is not a recruiting list, though at least a few of the players should become D1/D2 prospects.
2022 All-Underrated Team:
This year’s group includes: Wamego’s defensive line, Aquinas’ offensive line, Hays High’s linebacking corps and Pratt center Easton Rector.
4A: “They have been stepping up” – Wamego defensive line pacing undefeated Red Raiders
The main storyline since summer for Wamego has involved quarterbacks Hayden Oviatt and Colin Donahue, both expected to go to Army West Point. Oviatt delivered more than 3,000 yards of total offense in 2021, and led Wamego to 31.6 points per game, the program’s best scoring average in more than 30 years. Oviatt, a top-15 all-classes recruit, suffered injury in the summer. Donahue has moved into quarterback and played well. Oviatt had limited snaps last week and is expected to play fully Friday.
However, Wamego’s defense, especially its unheralded line, has delivered a phenomenal start. Last season, Wamego allowed 22.9 points per game in a 9-2 season. That included 41 points allowed in a four-overtime loss to Concordia in Week 1.
This season, Wamego has allowed 41 points total in the first six contests.
“They don’t get very much press,” Wamego coach Weston Moody said.
Wamego two platoons. In practice, Moody noticed the Red Raiders’ offense, which has scored 40.7 points a game on Fridays, had trouble moving the ball against the defense in practice.
“I know how good those guys are, and we struggle during practice, some times we are like, ‘Man, we just don’t look very good offensively, like we can’t move the ball, and those guys are just stoning us,” Moody said.
Wamego, unranked at the beginning of the fall, is No. 5 in 4A and is the lone 4A West undefeated team. Class 4A West was considered depth-laden at the start of the fall, and the Red Raiders have emerged from the pack at the midpoint. That included a 34-6 win against previously undefeated Coffeyville’s run-heavy offense in Week 5.
“Eating up double teams,” Moody said. “They are getting pressure on the quarterback, and that helps everybody, and let’s all of our guys with speed in the back half flow and make plays.”
Wamego held Coffeyville to 24 carries for 44 yards. In all other games, Coffeyville has averaged 338 rushing yards a contest. Wamego’s defensive line is: Jake Meyer, Ariston Gamino, Gage Woodward, Wyatt Burgess and Jackson Ziegler.
“They have been stepping up and have been stepping up since sophomore, freshman year,” Moody said. “So the defensive front has really helped our backers and our safeties fly around and make plays. So those guys are kind of ones that they are lesser known, but they make a huge impact up front.”
The defense has allowed the offense to take more chances. Against Coffeyville, Wamego finished 6 of 13 on third and fourth down, including 2 of 3 on fourth down. Moody also noted kicker Noah Ficke is an underrated specialist and has enjoyed a great season. In the Coffeyville game, Ficke kicked field goals of 24 and 26 yards and went 4 of 4 on extra points.
Last week, Wamego held run-heavy Shawnee Heights to 29 carries for 92 yards, a season low for the Thunderbirds. Wamego went 6 of 9 on third and fourth down.
“The defense has really stepped up, and that’s kind of helped us offensively,” Moody said. “We have had more opportunities, and we have taken more risks, because we know that our defense has kind of been shut down, so it helps us on the offensive side of the ball extremely, and we have had opportunities should we go for it on fourth down or should we punt it? And our defense has been so good that we have had opportunities that we can take a little bit more risk, so that’s helped a bunch this year.”
4A: “He’s bigger than I thought” – St. Thomas Aquinas has retooled starting offensive line, including freshman
St. Thomas Aquinas coach Randy Dreiling, one of Kansas’ all-time winningest coaches, stood outside the Saints’ locker room at Bishop Miege last Friday. Dreiling detailed his team’s offensive line play after STA rebounded from a 20-0 deficit in the third quarter to win 29-26. Miege is ranked No. 1 4A, and Aquinas is No. 3 4A.
“That offense wears you down, and that’s what happened a little bit in the second half,” Miege coach Jon Holmes said. “Our guys were there.”
Aquinas well-known senior running back Sean Carroll has cleared 2,400 career rushing yards, including 40 carries for 233 yards and three scores. STA’s flexbone rushed for 359 yards against the Stags. The week prior, Miege’s defense shut out Blue Valley for the first time since the late ‘90s.
Aquinas’ offensive line typically has zero senior starters. Senior Austin Turner (5-7, 167) is listed as a running back on the official roster. Outside of mopup duty, he had never played left tackle before Friday.
The same goes for the junior right tackle Carson Kraft.
”He’s really strong,” Dreiling said. “And he’s quick, and our left tackle, that’s what he’s got to do, inside release, go get linebackers, that kind of thing.”
In Week 5, freshman Stephen Carroll started at right guard for the first time. Carroll, Sean’s brother, comes from a line of great football success. Their dad, Tom, started on the offensive line at the University of Louisville. Older brother Danny is currently the starting center at FCS North Dakota. Carroll took over for the starter, who had two freak injuries and is out for the season. Stephen is 5-10, 233. Dreiling said Stephen is just like Danny in the way he fires off the ball.
The Carrolls have five children, four sons and a daughter.
“We are all lifters, even my mom and my sister, too,” Sean said. “…When we were younger, we used to fight a ton, it was a tough house. We all wrestle, we all would scrap all the time. We are all aggressive and competitive, and it shows in most things, it’s awesome.”
Stephen is the first freshman to start up front under Dreiling, who has won eight state titles,
“Really honestly, I looked at him in the weight room one day and said, “Man, he is bigger than I thought he was,’” Dreiling said.
Junior Pierce Cunningham (5-10, 243) has started at center. Junior Trey Kenefake (5-9, 206) has started at left guard and is the student body president. Junior Talan Browne (6-4, 208) is the tight end.
“We got to make up for our undersize, we got to play fast and physical, all of us are pretty strong,” Sean said. “Even though I weigh like more than almost all of them, it’s still good. Everyone is aggressive, and our tight end is really aggressive, Talan Browne, he is awesome. But yeah, just being aggressive.”
Basehor-Linwood running back Jekai Harris was expected to be a breakout player this fall. Harris has easily led the 5-1 Bobcats in rushing with 106 carries for 485 yards and six scores. Senior cornerback Mason Morgan missed the last four games with injury, though recorded 19 tackles after Week 2. Morgan paced B-L in tackles in a one-score Week 1 against Tonganoxie.
Morgan had never played football before and is well-known for his baseball skill.
Also in 4A, Andover Central senior Drew Veatch has 12 catches for 239 yards and a score, has a 41-yard interception return and returned a kickoff 92 yards for a TD. Veatch transferred from El Dorado High School and has signed to play at Johnson County CC baseball.
3A: “Tough, tough kid” – Pratt center Easton Rector impressing up front
Pratt center Easton Rector is a multi-year starter for the Greenbacks. He has never been all-league. Rector is the prototypical high school center: smaller in stature and rock solid. Rector is 5-foot-9, 253 pounds.
“Tough, tough kid,” Pratt coach Brent Hoelting said.
Pratt has its well-known senior Drake Van Scoyoc (6-2, 280) a returning all-state player. Rector and Van Scoyoc have led the line.
“Two great, great kids, multi-year starters that I feel lucky to coach, and that we feel are two of the best linemen in the state,” Hoelting said.
Pratt’s single wing has delivered 235 rushing yards a game. The Greenbacks have completed 30 of 67 passes for 697 yards with 10 scores against seven interceptions. Rector said Pratt’s offense has been “smoother than last year” in the second season of the single wing.
“We are a physical brand of football,” Hoelting said.
Last year, Pratt completed 35 of 66 passes for 558 yards with six touchdowns versus five interceptions. Pratt has averaged 40 yards a contest en route to a 5-1. Last season, the Greenbacks were fourth in 3A at 40.6 points a contest.
“It’s all about the team,” Rector said. “We learn great, we practice, coaches are great. Just learn from great people, and it’s a great team to be part of, a great offensive line.”
Rector sprained his MCL in his knee the week before a key league road game against Hoisington. Rector told the doctor he was going to play.
Rector started partially as a freshman and has started since.
“We were on him a lot, because we knew how much potential he had,” Hoelting said. “And he’s a great leader, and he has really developed I believe into one of the best linemen in the state.”
Rector has helped guide sophomores Hudson Rector (5-9, 270) and Kollyn Strong (6-1, 237).
“They have been doing a great job, we hang out a lot together, we talk, we watch film, it’s a good group of guys, and I just think that we are learning, and we are going to get better,” Rector said.
Wichita Collegiate running back Carson Phelps was hurt the bulk of 2021. He is overshadowed by Collegiate quarterback Wesley Fair and a host of other well-known players. Phelps delivered 55 carries for 489 yards and six scores in the first five games.
Cheney sophomore quarterback Josh Burdick has been a breakout player with 1,214 passing yards. Burdick was hurt on the JV team as a freshman. He still watched and learned and has replaced Shrine Bowl QB Harrison Voth.
“I think overachieving at this moment,” Cheney coach Shelby Wehrman said. “So happy with him, and he’s a great kid, just quiet, confident, and just a great teammate to everybody.”
Clearwater is 3-3 and 5-foot-10, 155-pound sophomore Beau Roubideaux has enjoyed a breakout season with 23 tackles, a team-best five for loss. The Indians went 3-6 last fall and ended with four straight losses. The Indians permitted 35.2 points a game last year and has lowered to 27.6 this fall.
Clay Center went 4-5 last year and is 4-2 this season. Junior Brody Hayes has enjoyed a quality year on the defensive side. Hayes easily leads the Tigers with 54 tackles. In the last two seasons, the 5-10, 175-pound Hayes has delivered an astronomical 11 yards per carry: 83 rushes for 916 yards and 16 scores. He finished with 57 tackles as a sophomore.
In Week 5, Clay Center lost, 26-14, to 2A No. 1 Southeast of Saline. Hayes had 15 tackles. Both of CC’s losses have come against ranked, undefeated squads.
5A: “There is nothing more valuable” – Hays High’s defense staying strong behind unheralded seniors
In Week 6, Hays High senior linebacker Evan Lind noticed on film study with defensive coordinator Kip Keeley that Dodge City’s fullback sometimes aligned a yard off the center and wasn’t directly behind the quarterback.
Keeley first noted the alignment on Monday, four days before the game. Keeley then walked through the formation on the practice field to help transfer the information. On Tuesday, Hays High saw the formations again, this time at a faster speed. They reviewed again on Wednesday with the tempo even quicker. By Thursday, Lind said the Indians “are pretty much ready to go.”
“Almost every time they did that, we knew what play it was,” Lind said.
Lind saw the formation, read the play correctly and picked up a tackle for loss. HHS blitzed Dodge City with 41 first-half points and rolled to a 41-6 Homecoming victory. Additionally, Hays High senior linebacker Wyatt Waddell forced and recovered a fumble.
“Small stuff that coach Keeley points out on film for us,” Lind said.
Lind and Waddell have produced big years for the Indians, which has capably replaced a highly decorated senior class, including Gavin Meyers, the 5A Defensive Player of the Year. HHS is 5-1 and ranked third in 5A. Lind is 5-11, 207. Waddell is 6-4, 190 and a converted quarterback. In the summer, Lind and Waddell were among three players for two starting spots. Lind is generally the linebacker in the middle.
“He is very coachable,” coach Tony Crough said of Lind. “He does a great job of always being in the right spot, and doing what he’s told, super smart, and he’s a good student. I mean, he just learns. He does a good job of just paying attention to what’s going on and learn a little bit. He’s just been a sponge, taking everything in. But the biggest thing is just a leader and his work ethic is just unreal.”
Three of the victories came against teams with winning records. Hays High has several other breakouts, including junior running back Malik Bah and senior receiver Keamonie Archie. Bah is seventh in Kansas with 1,068 rushing yards.
Plus, Keeley, a former La Crosse Shrine Bowler, has taken over the Indian defense from Layton Hickel, now a Fort Hays assistant. Keeley led Chanute to the No. 1 scoring defense in 4A last fall. This season, with many of the same players, Chanute has its best start since 1935.
“We lost one of the best coordinators, coaches in the state, and we gained one of the best coordinators, coaches in the state,” Crough said. “I mean, we must be the luckiest program in Kansas to lose a guy like we did in coach Hickel, who is just amazing. Had a lot of success, and gain a guy like coach Keeley.”
Last year, HHS enjoyed its best fall since 1995. The Indians, full of first-year senior starters like Waddell, have been even stronger. As well, HHS has played more than half the season without senior defensive back Remy Stull, a team leader who has a Division I New Mexico State offer.
Stull, defensive tackle Carson Spray and defensive back Connor Dreiling are the only returning HHS players who earned all-conference defense in 2021. The Indians list 22 seniors on the roster.
“There is nothing more valuable putting on a football field on a Friday night than a senior, and you forget about it until you have a bunch,” Crough said.
“Pretty much an all senior defense, and lots of seniors on the field, and it’s a lot of fun,” Lind added.
Hays High’s defense has allowed 3.8 yards per carry and 6.4 yards per pass attempt. The defense has permitted four passing touchdowns against five interceptions. Lind recorded a fumble return for a touchdown against Manhattan. HHS has permitted 17.5 points per game. When not facing Hays High, the Indians’ opponents have tallied 32.3 points a contest.
Last year, Hays High allowed 22 points a contest. In 2020, the Indians permitted 16 points a game, the best in 10 seasons.
“They are program guys that decided ‘we are going to get better,’” Crough said of the linebacking duo. “And their freshman and sophomore year there was six or eight guys that were better than them in their class in their positions, and they have just outworked them all, and beat them out. It’s been a really, really fun process to watch.”
Waddell has 52 tackles, four tackles for loss, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Waddell completely took over a stretch in a Week 2 win against Great Bend when he intercepted two passes. On the second one, he deflected the pass out of the quarterback’s hands and then dove to catch the ball. Waddell is 245-250 pounds on bench.
“Honestly, just knowing my assignment and knowing where to drop and where to follow to was just the main thing,” Waddell said. “The second one was a blitz, which I was supposed to run with the running back, but instead I didn’t, so that was just kind of lucky on my part. … Knowing your responsibility is the big thing.”
Lind is second with 48 stops, along with three tackles for loss. Lind has a Bethel College offer. This summer, Lind was squatting around 430, bench 285 and clean 305-310. Lind was around 140 pounds as a freshman. Lind has a home gym that includes a squat rack, dumbbells, treadmill and box jumps. Lind is the oldest of four brothers. His younger siblings are freshmen triplets; Lind said they help “drive me a lot.” Crough said Lind is the “example” that everyone looks to regarding work ethic.
“Two years ago, he didn’t look like that,” Crough said. “Three years ago, we weren’t sure he was ever going to get on the field for us, and that’s what’s so crazy about these two is if you would have asked us when they were both freshmen, we would have told you, these two were going to have a hard time getting on the field for us as seniors. I mean, we really did. It was just because we just didn’t know how well they were going to progress.
“They always had the mentality,” Crough added. “They had enough skill. But they are not both just overly talented, just freakish gifted guys. But they have both just worked really hard to turn themselves into great football players. And I think that’s my favorite thing about them.”
Waddell and Lind, like many of the seniors, have played together since fifth grade. On that team, Waddell was quarterback, and Lind tight end. Throughout the years, Lind has tried to play quarterback and running back before he found a position at linebacker.
Ten of the 22 seniors were on the fifth grade team. Waddell was the starting freshman quarterback. Entering sophomore season, Crough told Waddell that he didn’t see him as the Indians’ future starting signal caller.
“But they do see me as a future linebacker,” Waddell recalled.
“He was a pretty good d-end actually, and then we needed more linebacker bodies, and threw him in there, and he just started looking like a ball hawk and rangy,” Crough added.
Waddell first took the news hard, but soon came to like his new position.
“This is my role now,” Waddell said. “Might as well do the best that I can in it, grow into it.”
Playing quarterback has helped Waddell understand offenses on defense.
“Sometimes those are the best ones, because they just know how to go find a gap and run through it, and go find the ball,” Crough said.
Waddell is third in the Western Athletic Conference in tackles. The Indians have Senior Night on Friday against Liberal. A victory gives HHS an undefeated conference title.
“I already know how they run and how they operate,” Waddell said.
Eight-Man, Division I: “Maybe our most improved player” – Little River duo stepping up; K. Hermosillo shining for Wichita County; A. Smith emerges for South Sumner Co.; Burlingame with standout sophomores
Little River had to replace its three first team all-state linemen off teams that finished first and second in Eight-Man, Division I the last two falls. In the summer, coach Kevin Ayers – who has never lost at home and never lost to an unranked team in four years with the Redskins – believed senior Toby Jesseph and junior Carter Stansbury would be breakout players up front and on defense.
That’s occurred for the Redskins, currently 5-1 and ranked No. 3 in Eight-Man, Division I. Jesseph (5-6, 175) starts at offensive line and middle linebacker. Jesseph leads with 48 tackles, four for loss. Stansbury has 22 tackles, six for loss.
“Going into that senior year, guys just realize this is their last go,” Ayers said. “And Toby has really embraced that. He has really stepped forward as a leader for us, which is really nice to see.”
They have helped Little River average 9.3 yards per play. Last season, LR’s great line paved the way for 8.9 yards per play. In 2020, Little River’s state championship team averaged 8.8 yards per play.
“Playing extremely well and improving every week,” Ayers said. “He has been exceptional on the o-line, too. Carter is also playing at a high level. Maybe our most improved player on defense.”
Leoti-Wichita County has senior quarterback Erhik Hermosillo and South Sumner Co. has senior quarterback Keiondre Smith. Both are among Kansas’ most well-known players.
Each has a backfield teammate who shares the same last name.
Erhik has his brother, Khris. Keiondre has Alex Smith who missed the majority of last season with injury. This is the first year of the high school football co-op between South Haven and Caldwell. Alex Smith was the quarterback for a one-win team in 2021. Coach Sean Blosser said “it’s a big thing” if Alex Smith is not on the field.
This year, WC and SSC are 1-2 in Division I offense with 357 and 352 points, respectively.
Khris Hermosillo, a sophomore, featured earlier this week on SIK, was expected to be a breakout player for the No. 1 Indians. WC went 6-3 last season and currently stands at 6-0.
Khris can squat more than 400 pounds at 5-foot-9, 160. As a freshman, he didn’t play offense and delivered 34 tackles, 15 for loss on defense. This season, Hermosillo has emerged with 27 tackles, 10 for loss. He has 754 offensive yards.
“Khris, he is just in your face,” WC coach Brant Douglas said. “He believes that he is the best guy, regardless what position he is playing. If he is playing kicker, guard, tight end, I mean, it doesn’t matter. He believes he is the best at it, and wants to prove it every single time, so he is definitely more vocal, and more of an in your face type player.”
Alex Smith, a junior, has 45 carries for 301 yards and six scores. Defensively, he ranks third with 23 tackles, two for loss.
“I think he will be a big difference maker and playmaker,” Blosser told SIK this summer.
Burlingame’s sophomore class enjoyed highly successful football seasons in the younger ranks, including undefeated in junior high. The group has Dane Winters and JD Tyson. They have helped the Bearcats rise from 6-3 last fall to 6-0 this season. Burlingame was unranked in the preseason and is now No. 2 in the classification.
Winters has 28 offensive touches and seven touchdowns. Tyson, a starting linebacker, is by far the leading tackler with 51 stops, nine for loss. Winters has 30 tackles and two interceptions.
“We definitely knew they were going to be a big key factor,” Burlingame quarterback Colby Middleton said. “…They have a bunch of real talented kids. Dane started last year as a freshman, and we knew he was real good, and we knew that he was going to get better now.”
Lincoln junior Branden Sinclair has 97 tackles in the first five games. LHS sophomore offensive lineman Elijah Suelter is in his first year starting varsity at 6-foot-6, 330 pounds. After five games, Lincoln already produced more than 200 rushing yards than last year. He has six pancake blocks.
Eight-Man, Division II: Holguin anchors Kinsley; Schmidtberger helping undefeated Knights; Godderz backing Colony-Crest
Last season, Kinsley fell, 46-0, to Argonia-Attica in a playoff game that was called at halftime because of the mercy rule. In the second quarter, Kinsley assistant Kyle Burkhart, a KHS graduate and Division I football player, pulled a couple of the non-seniors over. Efrain Holguin was part of the group.
“Said, ‘Hey, if we want to do the things that we want to do here in the next couple years, we’ve got to change,’” head coach Corey Dunlap recalled Burkhart saying. “We’ve got to get ourselves physically able to play at a higher level, and Efrain took that as no joke. I mean, it’s everything. He worries about his sleep, he worries about his diet. He obviously lifts weights at least once a day. He has committed to it wholeheartedly and it’s paid off big time.”
Earlier in his career, Holguin had a knee infection and was in the hospital for a long time. His strength is still improving. He dropped from 245 to 215 pounds for this fall.
“Quickness is much, much better,” Dunlap said.
Holguin has 28 tackles with four for loss for a 3-3 Kinsley squad that has fought injuries. That’s a huge increase from his sophomore year where he recorded three tackles. Two weeks ago, Holguin helped Kinsley come back from a 30-0 second quarter deficit against Hutchinson Central Christian in a key 52-38 victory. He opened holes for 457 total yards, and finished with eight tackles, 1.5 for loss.
Kinsley remains a Division II contender with all losses to undefeated teams. Three more wins would yield the most victories in a single season since the mid-90s.
In the summer, SIK talked with Victoria coach Doug Oberle. During a reviewal of the Knights’ returning players, a group that includes well-known QB Thaddeus Wohler, OL Vance Hockersmith, and TE Seth Schwien, Oberle brought up senior RB/LB Lane Schmidtberger as one who has been overlooked.
SIK communicated with Oberle this week, and he confirmed that Schmidtberger has come through with some key plays for the 6-0 Knights, ranked No. 3 in Eight-Man, Division II. Schmidtberger has 168 rushing yards, four rushing scores and 18 tackles.
Colony-Crest has 11 seniors on a 22-player roster, highly rare for an Eight-Man, Division II school. Running back Holden Barker, a 2,000-yard tailback, is a returning first team all-state player. Barker was named to SIK All-Underrated Team as a sophomore. Stetson Setter is also well-known.
However, Barker was out with injury in last week’s key game against Marmaton Valley. Senior quarterback Ethan Godderz stepped in with 16 carries for 256 yards and three scores in a 74-26 win. Godderz has 57 rushes for 708 yards and 11 rushing TDs.
He has significantly improved as a passer. Last year, Godderz had a 60.4 quarterback rating. He has more than doubled that in 2022: 29 of 42 passing for 584 yards with 13 scores against two INTs.
Six-Man: Highly athletic Harris playing a key role for Ashland
Since six-man is KSHSAA sanctioned for the first time this season, the classification has a bevy of breakout players. However, no player has likely pivoted a season more than Ashland junior Kale Harris. In the summer, Ashland coach Ben Fox, an AHS alum, compared Harris’ athleticism to Luke Reimer, an Ashland player who is a starting University of Nebraska linebacker.
Ashland is ranked No. 2 in six-man behind Cunningham. In Week 1, Cunningham beat Ashland, 38-30, easily the team’s closest game. Harris suffered knee injuries each of the last two years. He has completed three of six passes for 50 yards with two scores against no interception. He has paced Ashland with 35 carries, six rushing touchdowns and a Bluejay-best 404 yards. Ashland has averaged eight yards a carry, well up from 6.2 yards per rush. Harris is top-two on the Bluejays with 14 carries for 232 yards and five scores. Defensively, Harris has 44 tackles.
“Just has some knack to make moves, to make a guy miss,” Fox said.
Before this year, Harris had 61 carries for 468 yards and nine scores in six career games.
No. 5 Northern Valley has junior quarterback Kenton Thalheim, who has capably filled all-stater Bailey Sides. Thalheim notably passed for six touchdowns against defending state champion Natoma and three against Triplains-Brewster last week. Freshman Gavin Thalheim has emerged on defense. NV has plenty of depth and is 4-2 with a pair of one-score losses.
Tescott, ranked No. 4, has its three-man backfield with senior Blake Green, senior Nate Ehlers and junior Carter Peters.
6A: New passing tandem at Blue Valley Northwest; linemen leading Garden City and Olathe North
Defending state champion Blue Valley Northwest is 3-3 and has averaged 31.8 points per game. BVNW graduated Top 11 all-classes quarterback Mikey Pauley. While running back Grant Stubblefield (908 rushing yards) has received plenty of attention, senior quarterback Connor White and junior receiver Gavin Hoffman have delivered big numbers.
White has completed 83 of 135 passes for 1,234 yards with 15 scores against nine interceptions. The 6-foot-5 Hoffman has 27 catches for 502 yards and seven scores. Hoffman delivered three catches in two games in 2021. BVNW has 9.1 yards per pass. In 2021, Northwest had 10 yards per pass.
Garden City linebacker/defensive back Carter Ramsey paces the Buffs with 45 tackles, recovered two fumbles, forced a fumble and picked off two passes, including a pick-six. Ramsey has collected a pair of pick-sixes.
Olathe North sophomore lineman Braden Hales is a returning offensive lineman from last season at 6-4, 300 pounds. Hales has helped anchor 6A No. 4 Olathe North’s line.
Derby junior wide receiver Colton Ruedy has stepped up with big catches and enjoyed a huge game against Bishop Carroll. Elijah Vigil leads the Panthers in interceptions and tied for fumble recoveries as a first year starter.
2A: Tony Moore pacing Hoisington attack; Council Grove with multiple records
Last Friday, Hoisington delivered a 44-0 win against previously undefeated Lakin and put itself in strong position for a District 7 title. The Cardinals are 17-0 in district play in the last four years. Coach Zach Baird has long enjoyed first team all-state running backs, like Sean Urban, Wyatt Pedigo and Legend Robinson.
This season, Baird elected to have Moore, the starting quarterback, be the primary ball carrier. Baird said defending against dual threat quarterbacks is a challenge.
“We have played teams like that,” Baird said. “And it puts so much pressure on the defense.”
In his first five games, Moore has completed 16 of 24 passes for 281 yards with four scores. He has 34 rushes for 422 yards and four TDs.
“Sky is the limit for him,” Baird said.
All of Hoisington’s rushing yards come from non-seniors, including Ian Smith, Teron Kraft, Jason Robinson and Mason Alderdice. They all have at least 136 rushing yards.
Council Grove has become one of Kansas’ breakout teams with a 5-1 mark after a 1-8 season last fall. CG has won more than six games one time since 1987. While QB Ace Monihen, OL Holden Ziegler and ATH Ethan Burton are well-known, LB Jay Johnson has enjoyed a huge season with 35 tackles, a team-high 12 for loss. Johnson has three sacks, forced five fumbles and blocked a punt. CG has allowed 10 points a game after it permitted 46.3 a game last fall.
CG has set a bevy of school marks and milestones. Council Grove has allowed the fewest points per game after five contests since 1930, and opened 5-0 for the first time since 2006. Johnson has tied Ty Salas’ single season tackle for loss record of 12 (since 2013).
Council Grove has never hosted or won a playoff game in school history, and the Braves could accomplish both this fall.
1A: Ellis’ Younger comes out for football, among top receivers; Buller steps up for Inman
Ellis junior Mason Younger is well-known in wrestling. Younger is a two-time state qualifier and finished as a 3-2-1A state runner-up last winter. He also was a 2A state pole vault placer. Younger elected to come out for football this fall. Ellis is 1-5 with back-to-back one score losses.
However, Ellis has scored 113 points in the last three weeks. A big difference is the Railers’ passing attack. Younger has delivered all-state caliber numbers with his ability to stretch the field. Younger has 10 catches for 259 yards and three scores, all team-bests. Junior Logan Russell has emerged at quarterback with 15 of 23 passing for 373 yards with five scores against one interception. Ellis will be significantly favored in the next two games.
Younger already has more receiving TDs than any Ellis player since 2019. No Railer has caught more than three receiving scores in a season since Ryan Herl hauled in four in 2017.
While he’s been mentioned on SIK platforms several times, credit to Inman’s Josiah Buller. He had never played quarterback before and took over admirably when dual threat Tanner Heckel suffered injury. Buller has led Inman to No. 1 ranking in 1A.
Other players that were not all-league last season with breakout years
Tate McNew of Maize South has put up a big season as a sophomore for a first year starter passing for over 1,600 yards.
William Dorsey has passed for over 1,000 yards this season for Wellsville (6-0) and is one of the most underrated players in 3A so far this season in his first year as the starting QB.
Corey Crumrine had big shoes to fill after the graduation of 1A POY Lance Hoffsommer. He’s passed for over 960 yards this season in his first year as a starter with 11 TDs to two interceptions.
Vinny Pile, a junior, is an underrated kicker out of Frontenac that has showed nice range this season with a 41 yard field goal and 4-of-4 on the season.
Jason Scoma has had a huge year in his first year as the starting QB for Olathe North completing 42 passes for 873 yards and nine touchdowns. He has also rushed for over 300 yards.
Mason Teague kicked the game winner for Maize last week to beat Derby and stepped in nicely for all-state kicker Cole Seagraves who graduated in 2022. He’s also kicked 37 yarder this season and is 42 of 44 this season.
Brayden Weber is a powerful player out of Andale that is one of the strongest players in the state with a 390 pound bench press this season. Weber has been a force on the line for a loaded cast of players. He also squats 475 pounds.
Colter Oldham of Lakin has had a breakout sophomore campaign for the 5-1 Broncs. He has over 50 tackles on defense and has rushed for over 130 yards per game this season.
Cody Cervantez is seven of eight on field goals this season in his first year as the Dodge City HS kicker after stepping in for Manny Aguilar.
Blake Boydston has passed for 1,202 yards this season with 15 touchdowns for back to back state champion St. James Academy in his first year as a starter.
Colton McKanna of Spring Hill has rushed for over 800 yards in the first six games of the season after having just 157 yards last season as a sophomore. He’s also added 16 touchdowns this season.
Jesse Jones of Parsons is having a breakout year at receiver with over 500 yards receiving after the first six weeks of the season. Jones has already nearly doubled his production from last season. Tra Mack and Jones have been one of the top connections in Southeast Kansas this season along with JJ Kendrick. Chris Beard is also a defensive lineman that is a high caliber player for the Vikings that is flying under the radar.
Landin Midgett of Columbus was injured one year ago and has had a nice comeback year as one of the top defensive players in Southeast Kansas. He has 65 tackles on the season on defense and 340 plus yards as a receiver.
Although Northeast-Arma has struggled in the win column with just one win this season, a big shoutout to junior Braden Young who unofficially leads Kansas in tackles with 93 this season.