By CONOR NICHOLL
Sports In Kansas takes a dive into Week 1 current winning and losing streaks, notably the big eight-man contest between Spearville and Bucklin. Spearville has won nine in a row in Week 1, Bucklin has lost 13 straight – but returns significant talent.
Plus notes from 6A to six-man as Kansas high school football starts this week
Bucklin: “This is the year that it stops”
Kiowa County’s Travis Powell is a longtime successful coach. From a young age, his son Trever was immersed in his dad’s practices and teams. Travis coached Trever throughout all levels of sports. That included rec football, junior high football, basketball and high school track.
“He is one of my biggest role models,” Trever said.
The partnership yielded statistically one of the best eight-man careers in recent Kansas history and three state track medals in the sprints.
In his senior year, Trever rushed for 2,478 yards and 37 scores and picked off eight passes. Overall, he finished with 6,058 all-purpose yards, 262 tackles and 17 interceptions and collected SIK Offensive Player of the Year in 2013.
Around a decade ago, Trever met Janae Price. She and her older sister, Abbi, were standouts at nearby Bucklin, located just 20 miles away from Greensburg on US-54.
Abbi and Janae combined to win 11 state track medals from the 100 hurdles to the 3,200-meter run, per KSHSAA records. Janae averaged 15 points, four rebounds and four steals a game as a senior.
The Price sisters have younger siblings, including a brother, Scott. When Trever first met Janae, Scott was around seven to eight years old.
Trever played one year of college football at Fort Hays State before injuries ended his career. Trever graduated with an Exercise Science degree. Near the end of college, Trever knew he wanted to become a coach like his father.
Trever first went to Bucklin to become a personal trainer. Then, a school district position opened. Trever earned his teaching certificate through Fort Hays’ Transition to Teach program, and his Masters in Education. Trever and Janae married July 2016. They have one child.
This fall marks Trever’s fourth year of coaching at Bucklin, second as head coach. He has coached Scott, his brother-in-law, all four years of high school. Scott accounted for 1,577 all-purpose yards, 115 tackles and 25 touchdowns in 2020. He is one of eight-man’s best players.
“It’s special getting to coach family,” Powell said. “And I was very excited when I got the job here.”
Trever has looked to turn around Bucklin football, a program that has not won more than six games in a season since 1996. Bucklin has lost 13 straight Week 1 contests.
“This is the year that it stops,” Powell said. “It’s not going to go to Year 14. We are not going to go yet another year with six or less wins. … I think this will be the year that the streak is going to end.”
Trever has built the turnaround on the experienced senior class, several talented sophomores and a constant focus on speed. Nearly all offensive production and the top-six tacklers all return.
Bucklin scored 40.2 points a contest, just outside the top-15 in Eight-Man, Division II, though also allowed 40.2 points a game, in the bottom tier of its classification. Two years ago, Bucklin tallied 37.6 points a game in Powell’s first year as head coach. That was a massive increase from 22.9 points tallied a contest in ’18.
“I do anything and everything I can individually for them to make them as explosive as possible,” Powell said.
Senior quarterback Nathan Bowman, also among Kansas’ best baseball pitchers, is back after 851 passing yards and 14 touchdowns against five interceptions. He rushed for 500 yards and five TDs. Senior all-purpose threat Nathan Imel and sophomore Waylon Dolezal are key returners. Sophomore Andrew Bowman is back after injury limited him to two games.
“We look pretty ready to go,” Powell said. “Our speed is one thing that’s really going to set us apart from a lot of other teams on our schedule this season.”
Many of the same drills and techniques that Trever uses at Bucklin comes from his father. Travis led Kiowa County girls’ track to state titles in ’19 and ’21 and recently earned all-classes track coach of the year.
“Once I took over on my own, he was really helpful to me when I was trying to get this whole speed development started,” Trever said.
“We have got some really athletic and explosive players”
Bucklin’s struggles in season openers and potential breakout fall encapsulates Week 1 of the 2021 Kansas high school football season. A high number of teams enter Week 1 with a key contest and/or a long current Week 1 winning or losing streak.
SIK has combed through several databases and archives with KPreps, Kansas Football History and Kansas Pregame. Bucklin is believed to have the longest current Week 1 losing streak in Kansas. Bucklin plays host to Spearville on Friday in a highly anticipated contest.
Bucklin is 1-7 against Spearville since ’04, with the last win an 80-30 victory on Sept. 14, 2007.
Spearville has a streak of nine straight Week 1 wins – and nine straight years of .500 records or better, including a state championship. That included Week 1 wins against Bucklin in 2012 and ’13 that started the current streak.
Powell has not discussed the Week 1 losing streak very much around the players. However, Bucklin and the Red Aces are aware of the history. Powell has known the players have talked about it on their own.
Bucklin last won more than six games in an 8-2 season in 1996. The Red Aces posted a 6-3 season in ’01, 6-2 six years later and 6-4 last year.
2007 marked the last season-opening victory for Bucklin, a 43-0 victory against Fowler. The Red Aces later went on a 54-game losing streak that ended Oct. 17, 2014 with a 56-6 win versus Cunningham. From ’14-17, Bucklin captured six combined wins.
Powell first came on staff in ’18 when the Red Aces posted a 4-5 mark. Bucklin went 4-5 and 6-4 the last two falls.
Last year, Bucklin opened 1-3 with a 34-22 loss to Spearville, a 52-42 win versus Kiowa County, a 60-14 loss to Hodgeman County and 52-6 defeat to Coldwater-South Central in the district opener.
Those teams are again Bucklin’s first four opponents. Former Bucklin coach Stephen Hokanson is at Kiowa County. The other three teams finished with winning records in 2020. Bucklin and South Central are expected to lead Eight-Man, Division II, District 7.
Bucklin is 0-9 versus South Central and 0-3 versus Hodgeman since ‘04. Last season’s 56-32 win versus Ingalls ended a 10-game losing streak in the series. Bucklin looks to have new streaks start this fall.
Spearville’s longtime defensive coordinator Chris Sohm moved to Russell. The Lancers’ single wing returns senior running back Kolten Bennett.
“We have got some really athletic and explosive players, not just upper classmen, but under classmen as well,” Powell said. “Some guys are really starting to come into their own, and we have had a really good energy around us so far. Our jamboree on Friday went pretty well. Came away with almost no injuries.”
Current Week 1 winning/losing streaks across Kansas
In addition to Spearville’s current Week 1 winning streak, several other teams have long runs. Fourth-year Oswego coach Matt Fowler started the Lancers’ streak before he went to southeast Kansas. The Indians have won three straight season openers, all against Chetopa in the famed “Bloody Bucket” rivalry. Fowler has won nine straight season openers entering 2020, including several memorable games that have shaped his career.
As of Thursday morning, Fowler was going to run his season-opening win streak to 10. Chetopa has forfeited the game because of lack of players. (SIK will have more on Oswego in early Sept.)
In a well-publicized move, legendary coach Glenn O’Neil took over Dodge City football this well. O’Neil was at Scott City before he spent the last five seasons at Topeka Seaman. O’Neil has won 13 straight season-opening games. The first 12 came in Week 1. Last season came in Week 2 when Topeka Seaman didn’t play in Week 1 because of the pandemic.
Dodge City went 4-6 a year ago but has a manageable first three games, including versus Wichita West on Friday. O’Neil has mentioned to SIK the importance of a strong start with his new team. DC returns key linemen Santonio Turner and Christian Erives and kicker Manny Aguilar, one of the state’s best and a Cimarron transfer.
Also in Southwest Kansas, Holcomb and Cimarron are in the upper tier of Class 3A and 2A, respectively. The teams return standout quarterbacks with Holcomb’s Kaden Johnson and Cimarron’s Braxton Harrison. Holcomb has beaten Cimarron 17 straight times since 1998.
In Eight-Man, Norwich and Argonia-Attica are big rivals and located within 35 minutes. The Heart of the Plains League teams have several standouts, including Norwich’s Jace Gosch and Chance Hilger and A-A quarterback Xander Newberry. A-A is 4-0 all-time versus Norwich.
In the Mid-East League, Rock Creek faces Silver Lake, ranked No. 2 in 2A. RC has lost 15 in a row to Silver Lake. SL has C.J. Hamilton, the state’s all-time winningest coach. The Eagles have not lost a season opener since ’04 but did not have a Week 1 game last season.
Andale is back-to-back Class 3A state champions and on a 25-game winning streak. The Indians face Rose Hill on Friday. Andale has five straight Week 1 wins.
In Eight-Man, Division II, defending champion Hanover is ranked first, Victoria second. Hanover has won 15 consecutive season openers, believed to be the longest current Week 1 winning streak in eight-man football. Hanover plays host to Pike Valley in an intriguing contest. Both teams return talented skill players with Hanover’s Emmitt Jueneman and Keagan Dimler, and PV’s Keaton Reeves.
Victoria has won four straight season openers, including a 42-14 win versus Central Prairie League rival La Crosse in 2020. Victoria and La Crosse play Friday. Victoria has experienced quarterback Grant Schoenrock and plenty of depth, while La Crosse features running back Colby Stull and fullback Gage Burk.
In the Kansas City area, St. Thomas Aquinas is 7-0 all-time against St. James Academy, the defending 4A state champion.
Class 5A two-time defending champion Mill Valley faces Gardner-Edgerton in a key Sunflower League contest. MV has won seven games in a row dating back to a 35-28 regular season loss to G-E last season.
The Jaguars have four state titles under coach Joel Applebee and are known for its demanding schedule. MV has essentially alternated wins and losses in Week 1 since Applebee took over: L-W-L-W-L-W-W-L-W-L-W. Last season, MV beat Derby, 45-14, in a marquee Week 1 game.
Powers Wichita Northwest, Hodgeman County, St. Francis with streaks on the line
Some other streaks on the line include:
Wichita Northwest has won 23 straight in the City League. Northwest and rival Bishop Carroll play Thursday in a matchup of top-5 Class 5A teams. NW has won three straight season openers since a 40-35 defeat to Bishop Carroll.
In eight-man, this is the sixth straight year Kiowa County and Minneola have met in Week 1. KC holds a 3-2 edge in those games.
Eight-man Jetmore-Hodgeman County has won eight straight Week 1 contests and faces Satanta, coming off a winless season.
St. Francis, the back-to-back Eight-Man, Division II state runner-up, is 7-0 in Week 1 since it moved to eight-man football. SF has a new coach and went through significant graduation losses. Quarterback Ben Busse returns. SF faces Oberlin, which has new coach Brandon Hardwick.
In the Central Prairie League, Kinsley faces Central Plains. In school history, Kinsley is 0-5 against Central Plains. Both teams ranked in the top-15 in its respective eight-man classifications in scoring offense.
Central Plains averaged 44.5 points a game, Kinsley at 42.9. Kinsley returns utility back Dylan Haselhorst and sophomore Peyton Schmidt takes over at quarterback. Kinsley had its best scoring offense in at least 15 years. Central Plains junior Michael Laymon rushed for 548 yards, passed for 452 and accounted for 23 touchdowns.
Maize is 3-0 against Andover since 2001. Maize is ranked fifth in 5A, and Andover is a top-half 5A squad.
In the Mid-Continent League, Norton travels to Smith Center’s Hubbard Stadium in one of the state’s most historic rivalries. Norton won 16-14 last year at Travis Field. SC opens this fall ranked second in Class 1A. SC hasn’t lost to Norton at home since at least ’03. Plainville has won two in a row against Phillipsburg by a combined eight points; those teams match up again in a key Week 1 MCL contest.
In six-man, defending champion Bird City-Cheylin finished 9-0 last season and gets rival Rexford-Golden Plains to open. BC has won three straight season openers.
“You can really, really tell the guys that commit in the summer”
Bucklin has been building for this season and a turnaround since Powell came. Trever noticed his father always trying to learn.
“I have taken a lot of the stuff that he has done speed-wise with his track program, and I have taken some ideas from him,” Trever said. “And I have bounced some ideas off of him before I do some things sometimes just to see if it’s similar to the way that he does stuff, because obviously he’s had success with it. It’s great for me. Not a lot of guys have that person in their life be their dad.”
The current fastest Red Aces were the quickest ones last year. Now, they have gained more speed. Those include Nathan Bowman, Imel and Price.
“There’s not going to be a player on the field that is going to outwork him,” Powell said of Price. “That’s what makes Scott such a good player. He is not going to be the biggest on the field. He is probably not going to be the fastest one on the field.
“But he’s the one that’s going to make the biggest impact just because he will do anything and everything that it takes to get the job done,” Powell added. “And he will always find a way to be involved, and he will always find a way to make that play even if he is not in the best position, he finds a way to put himself there.”
“Kind of flip the switch”
Other than Nathan Bowman, Imel and Price, Andrew Bowman and Dolezal are among those who have really improved.
“Those three guys are by far our fastest, but we have gotten some younger guys that have really, really started to see that speed development take off,” Powell said.
The younger Bowman played in just a few games last season. The contests he did play in, he made a huge impact. Powell said Bowman, a sophomore, has grown and is “a lot” stronger and faster.
“I expect him to make an immediate impact on offense and defense,” Powell said.
He is part of a deep sophomore class that has around seven or eight guys that should contribute. Dolezal (6-1, 180) is listed as an athlete and defensive end. Dolezal will play guard and can bump out to wide receiver. Defensively, he will be at end and linebacker. Senior Gunnar Hearne (6-0, 240) returns at center.
The defensive line starts three sophomores: Dolezal, Izaiah Pearce and sophomore Drew Ellis, known for his strength and quickness. Ellis missed last year because of injury. Powell calls Pearce probably the team’s toughest player.
“I see him having a pretty big year for us again on both sides of the ball,” Powell said of Dolezal. “He’s very, very hard to block on defense just because of his size, and he’s a very explosive, athletic kid that is really starting to develop, and he just seems to have another gear that a lot of other players don’t have.”
Powell calls Imel, a utility back, “probably our most explosive athlete.” Imel is in just his second year of high school football after a major injury in junior high.
“A lot of the work has been done in the summers,” Powell said. “You can really, really tell the guys that commit in the summer.”
The summer workouts heavily emphasize explosiveness.
“I am not trying to do things to just make them tired and stuff like that,” Powell said. “I want them to be as fresh and as fast as they possible can, so whenever we do our morning running, it is speed work.”
On Monday and Wednesday, Powell has timed 10-yard flys or 40-yard dash. On timed days, Bucklin doesn’t do as much of the heavy lifting the rest of the week.
“When you give those guys that time to kind of recover, and then you come back and you go 100 percent full speed, and they are always pushing the envelope, trying to break that top speed, trying to be faster than they were the week before,” Powell said. “Because I keep data, and I measure everything that they do to see if they are getting faster or if they are getting slower. If they look like they are fatigued, if I need to dial back on their training.”
Powell looks at the power output on certain explosive lifts, such as deadlift and squat. On the field, he tracks start and reaction times to different cues, along with 10- and 40 yards. He looks at the times and distances and converts it to miles per hour for them, so the players can understand the numbers better. The Red Aces get really excited when they see their speed improvement in miles per hour.
“That really gets them to buy into what I am trying to do,” Powell said.
Just like his father, Powell is constantly watching videos and follows the latest trends. It’s yielded improvement with Bucklin – and could pave the way for an historic Red Aces season.
“Because stuff changes a lot,” Powell said. “If you just stick with the only thing that you have ever done, you are just going to keep getting the same result over and over and over again, and obviously that hasn’t been in Bucklin’s favor in the recent years. So I am doing everything that I can to put us in an advantage and kind of flip the switch.”