By CONOR NICHOLL
Axtell’s Isaac Detweiler with possible state record for touchdowns responsible for
Axtell senior quarterback Isaac Detweiler is the reigning Eight-Man, Division II Offensive Player of the Year. He has helped the Eagles to 23 straight wins for his dad, coach Eric Detweiler. Isaac is known for his incredible understanding of football.
This year, Axtell has been ranked No. 1 all season. The Eagles have an average score of 63-8. Axtell has a chance to break the eight-man single season state record for scoring. The Eagles will play at Osborne (9-1) on Friday in the state quarterfinals.
This season, Detweiler is at 69 carries for 601 yards for 14 scores. He has passed 87 for 122 (71.3 percent completion) for 1,482 yards with a remarkable 34 touchdowns against one interception. He has accounted for 48 offensive touchdowns.
Kansas Sports Hall of Fame does keep track of career passing touchdowns. It does not track TDs responsible for (passing, rushing and receiving). However, SIK has cross-checked KSHOF records, along with other available sites, including MaxPreps.
Based upon available data, Isaac Detweiler has accounted for more touchdowns than any player in Kansas football history.
Per KSHOF, fifth place on the eight-man passing touchdown list is 119 scores.
In last week’s 50-0 win against Hutchinson Central Christian, Detweiler rushed for three touchdowns. That moved him past his former teammate, Quinn Buessing, in career TDs responsible for.
Detweiler has 106 passing, 67 rushing and 11 receiving scores in his career. Detweiler has 184 touchdowns responsible for, Buessing had 182 with 134 passing and 48 rushing. Buessing is currently serving on the Axtell’s staff as an assistant coach. As well, Detweiler is on course to break Buessing’s eight-man state record for career completion percentage. Detweiler is at 69.2 percent.
Detweiler’s success has come from being around Axtell’s program for many years and significant film study.
In junior high, Isaac served as the manager for his dad’s high school team. In practice, Eric would discuss a concept with the juniors and seniors. Eric noticed Isaac, even in junior high, picked up information. Isaac understood what the high school team was trying to do. Currently, Eric’s younger son, Wyatt, is in junior high and going through a similar process. At an early season practice, he was calling things out.
Ever since seventh and eighth grade, Eric and Isaac frequently study film. After a high school Friday night, the Detweilers watch film immediately after they get home. It’s normally pretty late after the pair breaks down that film.
“He kind of knows our thought process, and what we are trying to do,” Eric told SIK earlier this year. “Has that advantage of being around me for so much longer.”
Normally, depending on how many films Axtell has, Eric and Isaac first watch the game film separately. Then, the two talks and gets each other’s thoughts. Next, they watch in the living room. Eric has a cable that hooks up to the computer, and they view together. Generally Sunday afternoon is involved for the next week opponent.
“We go over things that he sees the first time going through it,” Eric said. “And that I see the same going through it, and a lot of times it’s the same, and then honestly, a lot of times it’s different – where he didn’t see it that way, and I’d seen that way. And even after watching it two or three times, a lot of times even in practice, we argue about how other teams are going to do stuff against us. And we to go back and watch it again.”
Drew Veatch adds key element for 4A Andover Central, including kickoff returns
In Week 2, Andover Central 5-foot-11 senior Drew Veatch returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in the first half against Maize. AC has enjoyed three state runner-up appearances in the previous seven seasons, including last fall. After Veatch’s play, AC coach Derek Tuttle thought about the last time the Jaguars brought a kick back for a touchdown.
Andover Central eventually lost, 42-14, to the Eagles, currently ranked first in 5A. However, Veatch has continued to make big plays in all three phases for the Jaguars.
“Scratching my head the last time we did that,” Tuttle told SIK after the game. “So that was pretty special for him to get that, and our team blocked really well for him on that kick return, but his speed really, really has given us another dimension.”
Before Veatch’s touchdown return, AC had not produced a special teams touchdown since Nov. 1, 2019 against Towanda-Circle. That game, the Jaguars won 42-7 with two special teams touchdowns. Jason Taylor returned a punt. Xavier Bell, who later earned Mr. Basketball and currently plays for Wichita State basketball, brought back an 89-yard kickoff for a touchdown.
From ’17-21, those were the lone return touchdowns for the Jaguars. This season, Veatch has helped AC with 456 kick return yards and 16.9 yards per kick return. This is the best for the Jaguars since 2017.
Special teams could prove a significant difference in Friday’s Class 4A West quarterfinals between the 7-3 Jaguars at 10-0 Wamego.
“He has a lot of explosiveness at receiver, and obviously special teams,” Tuttle said of Veatch.
Veatch has emerged as AC’s No. 2 receiver behind Cooper Tabor. Veatch has 27 catches for 473 yards and four scores. Tabor and Veatch have helped first-year senior quarterback Braden Barscewski. He has passed 112 of 191 for 1,548 yards with 18 scores against six interceptions.
Defensively, Veatch has 25 tackles and a team-high four interceptions. AC has forced 16 turnovers and is plus-six in turnover margin. Last season, the Jaguars had the seventh-best defense in Kansas 11-man football per Massey Ratings, a national recognized statistical site that includes strength of schedule. This year, the Jags are No. 11. Tuttle said Veatch can “really cover guys with his speed” and pose problems with his size.
“He does really well,” Tuttle said. “…He’s a very coachable kid. He picks up on things quickly, plays a big role on defense, but in terms of being a tall corner out there.”
High-school coaches helping on multiple teams
Three high school coaches, Chase County’s Brody Vandegrift, Burlingame’s Jeff Slater, and Wamego’s Weston Moody, are having historically great seasons for their programs. Each has younger children. This fall, the trio has led their high school teams to the state quarterfinals – and coached another youth squad.
In Eight-Man, Division I, No. 3 Burlingame and No. 4 Chase County are both 9-1. Wamego is 10-0 and ranked fourth in 4A. Wamego has its best start since 1975. Chase County has its most victories in more than 25 years. Burlingame has a three-win improvement off ’21 and captured both the Lyon County League and District 2.
On Friday, Wamego plays host to Andover Central (7-3). Chase County plays host to Little River (9-1), and Burlingame is at Lyndon (8-2). Burlingame lost, 60-59, to Lyndon in Week 8.
Slater coached two flag football teams, one of girls and another boys.
Moody coached the fourth-grade junior Raider tackle football team. His boy is in third grade. Moody normally gets done around 8 p.m. Once he gets home, he eats dinner and then looks to get into the high school film. The youth team plays Saturday. After the game, Moody will do more film study. Wamego has Sunday meetings with coaches and high school players. Wamego has zero hour weights at 7 a.m.
“During the fall, it’s an interesting thing, but we love it,” Moody said.
Vandegrift’s son, Kason, is a fourth grader and started on the sixth grade team at right guard and nose guard. He’s already deadlifted around 215 pounds as a nine year old.
While Moody and Slater are teachers, Vandegrift is a Rule 10 coach. He works from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is on call after 4 p.m. On game days, he works until 2 p.m. or until the bus leaves for a road game.
“Every chance I can possibly fit in I am on film,” Vandegrift said.
Vandegrift coaches the high school team, and then his son’s youth squad. Normally the two practices stretch from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Saturdays, Vandegrift is up at 7 a.m. for youth games.
He credited his wife, Heather, for helping during the season. In addition to Kason, the Vandegrifts have a two-year-old daughter.
“I find myself watching film in probably every scenario possible,” Vandegrift told SIK. “…A big part of being a coach is also splitting up that time. My wife is phenomenal. She is a great mother and a great friend. To have during football season – she does a great job of helping the family, maintaining the family, maintaining the boys. All the boys call her Mom. She understands what has to happen, especially in these big weeks, especially as we go later on into the season.”
In Slater’s nine years at Burlingame, the Bearcats don’t do weekend meetings with the staff or players. Slater has believed it’s been a positive. It’s allowed more time for family.
“I have enjoyed giving our coaches and our kids the weekends off,” Slater said. “Now, our coaches are in constant communication on the weekends.”