Sports in Kansas Offensive & Defensive Players of the Year by Class Announced. Over 30 media members in Kansas in all parts of the state determine the annual player of the year awards, along with input from Conor Nicholl and Bethany Bowman, then finalized by Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas. Congrats to the Players of the Year that were honored this week at our all-state event – powered by Mammoth Sports Construction, Nex-Tech Wireless, SAFE, and Watco. All-State teams by classification and non-senior teams will be out 12/3-12/5. Click here for the all of the finalists for POY awards. Top 11-33 players have also been released here. Bios/capsules from Conor Nicholl of Sports in Kansas. Be sure to check back for more professional photos from the creative team we had in attendance and follow along for more postseason awards, honors, patches, apparel coming out over the weekend.
Sports in Kansas 6A Offensive Player of the Year – Dylan Edwards, Derby
Derby senior running back Dylan Edwards repeats as the clear choice for 6A Offensive Player of the Year. Edwards is the consensus No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2023 behind Maize quarterback Avery Johnson. Edwards is headed to Notre Dame.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Edwards is ranked as the No. 10 running back nationally and No. 197 overall player. Dylan’s dad, Leon, played at Kansas State. Dylan has posted a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash.
As a junior, Edwards was SIK Top 11, 6A OPOY and Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. Derby finished 9-3 with a pair of close losses to eventual 6A champion Manhattan and a 52-51 defeat to 5A runner-up Maize. The Panthers scored 49.5 points per game, second only to Wichita Northwest’s 52.7 for the 6A lead. Last season, Derby went 11-1 and led Kansas with 52.2 points a game.
Derby finished with the state’s No. 1 offense in 11-man football, per nationally recognized Massey Ratings, a site that combines points scored with strength of schedule. In 2022, the Panthers defeated 5A’s Bishop Carroll (45-38) and Hutchinson (28-21), two teams that spent the bulk of the fall ranked in the top-five in 5A. Derby beat Washburn Rural, 36-21, in the state quarterfinals.
Edwards enjoyed another massive season: 203 carries for 1,900 yards and 32 rushing touchdowns with 11 100-yard rushing games. Derby rushed for 314 yards a game and nine yards a carry. He caught 15 passes for 227 yards and tied for the team lead with three receiving scores. Overall, Edwards, who again served as the Panthers’ primary returner, delivered 2,406 all-purpose yards.
In the win against Carroll, BC led 24-14 in the third quarter when Edwards returned a kickoff 60 yards for a score. Carroll scored late in the game to tie the contest at 38. However, Edwards ripped off a game-winning 85-yard run.
Even in the losses, Edwards had big performances. In Week 1, he rushed 19 times for 191 yards and two scores. Against Hutchinson, he rushed 17 times for 72 yards with a touchdown. Against Manhattan in the state semifinals, Edwards had 33 carries for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Edwards finished with more than 2,000 all-purpose yards as a sophomore and 3,000 as a junior.
In 36 career games, Edwards delivered 7,944 all-purpose yards and 17.8 points per game.
Special recognition to Manhattan quarterback Keenan Schartz, a Top 11 all-classes selection. He delivered more than 1,200 rushing and 1,200 passing yards for the 13-0 Indians. Manhattan won its first state title since 1988 and reached its first final since 2001.
Sports in Kansas 6A Defensive Player of the Year – Ty Weber, Washburn Rural
This was a very tough call for this POY honor as many were considered in the loaded class. Washburn senior linebacker Ty Weber broke several school records, led Rural one of its best two seasons in the last 30 falls, and helped to completely transform the Junior Blues’ defense. Weber was Top 11 all classes.
Weber has delivered a huge change in the Junior Blues’ defense. In 2019, WR allowed 25.7 points per game and were No. 47 in Massey. In 2020, the Junior Blues permitted 34.1 points a game and ranked No. 67 in Massey.
Washburn Rural permitted 18.2 points per game, second-best among the 6A quarterfinalists. That’s even better when strength of schedule is considered. The Junior Blues were No. 12 for all classes in the Massey Ratings. Rural allowed 17.5 points last season, fifth-best in 6A, though were No. 33 in Massey Ratings, which combines strength of schedule and points allowed.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Weber has interest from Kansas State and South Dakota. Weber is generally considered Kansas’ best linebacker. For 2022, Weber delivered a huge line: 134 tackles (82 solo), 19 for loss, two sacks, a pick-six, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Washburn Rural finished 8-3 and advanced to the 6A quarterfinals. Since 1992, 2016 and this fall are Rural’s deepest playoff runs. Weber finished his career with 413 tackles (237 solo), 35 for loss, three sacks, an interception, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He has the school record for solo tackles, assisted tackles and tackles for loss.
Rural lost to three 6A squads: Derby, Junction City and state champion Manhattan. They beat 6A Wichita East and 5A quarterfinalist De Soto. Weber was an all-state baseball player at designated hitter. Jordan Allen, FBS offer DE from Olathe South, Zach Darche of BV West, one of the best two way players in the state, and Miles Wash of Derby also were strong candidates for the nod that all would’ve been solid POY choices had the votes fallen their way.
Sports in Kansas 5A Offensive Player of the Year – Avery Johnson, Maize
Maize senior quarterback Avery Johnson is easily Kansas’ most well-known football players and one of the top overall recruits in the last 15 years. Johnson repeats as 5A Offensive Player of the Year and a Top 11 selection. Johnson, Kansas’ top recruit, is a four-star national recruit and has committed to Kansas State. He is first team all-state basketball and baseball.
Johnson is a finalist for MaxPreps National Player of the Year.
Maize went 12-1 and set a school mark for single season victories. Maize scored 47.9 points per game, which led 5A and easily set a new school record for offense. The Eagles significantly upped its offense after 35.2 points scored a contest in 2021.
Maize lost by the same 28-14 score to Mill Valley in the last two 5A state title games. Those are the only two state title games in Eagle football annals. Maize had a plus-two win improvement from ’21.
This season, Johnson completed 153 of 228 passes (67.1 percent) for 2,768 yards with 29 touchdowns against three interceptions. He rushed 98 times for 817 yards and 15 scores. As a junior, Johnson completed 162 of 296 for 2,549 yards with 20 scores against six interceptions.
Johnson benefited from a highly experienced offense, including running back Daeshaun Carter, receivers Bryce Cohoon (Syracuse commit), Justin Stephens, Jaeden Martin and sophomore Bryson Hayes, perhaps the state’s fastest player. Maize won the AVCTL Division I title, its first football conference crown in more than 10 years.
Sports in Kansas 5A Defensive Player of the Year – Mikey Bergeron, Mill Valley
Paced by head coach Joel Applebee, defensive coordinator Drew Hudgins and defensive back Mikey Bergeron, Mill Valley enjoyed an historically great defense. In the last 20 years of Class 5A football, 2022 MV and 2014 Bishop Carroll stand alone by every measurement as the top defenses. Mill Valley became the first team to win four straight 5A state titles.
Per Massey Ratings, Mill Valley is first, fourth, second, first, first and first the last six seasons in defense among 11-man teams. Massey Ratings is a nationally recognized site that combines points allowed with strength of schedule. Mill Valley had by far the best Massey Rating this fall among Kansas 11-man teams. The Jaguars’ finished with a 29.0 mark; BC posted a 32.3.
Mill Valley scored 46.6 points per game and allowed just six points a contest (78 total). However, the number is even more elite when the two pick-sixes permitted against Olathe North (when the defense wasn’t on the field) is taken out.
Mill Valley is known for its preparation and Land Shark mentality. In the state championship photo, all the Mill Valley players are doing a Land Shark sign. Senior defensive back Mikey Bergeron is 6-2, 190 with a 39-inch vertical who earned first team all-state as a junior. Bergeron has KU and K-State interest; he has a KU PWO offer.
The gap between Mill Valley and 3A Andale’s second-ranked defense was almost as big as second to tenth in Massey.
In the regular season, MV defeated Olathe Northwest, 40-0, in Week 1 and Gardner-Edgerton, 35-14, in Week 4. Northwest was a 6A semifinalist, G-E a 6A finalist. In the 5A semifinals, Mill Valley shutout Blue Valley Southwest before the great performance against Maize. All four teams averaged at least 29 points a game when not playing the Jags; Maize averaged 51.
Mill Valley shut out every playoff opponent until the state title game. Bergeron recorded 64 tackles, 3.5 for loss, defended five passes and intercepted three. He tied for the team lead in passes defended and interceptions. Mill Valley’s top-four and seven of the leading tacklers were seniors. Bergeron recorded a huge interception in the end zone against Maize. Bergeron also was a great leader and served as the flag bearer when MV came on the field.
MV went 12-1 and improved to 6-0 in state title games under Applebee. It’s the most state titles without a loss by any coach in Kansas history. Bergeron and the large senior class that includes DBs Holden Zigmant and Dylan Massey, LBs Noah Coy and Broc Worcester and DL Grant Rutkowski headlined a defense that set an historical standard.
Longtime defensive coordinator Drew Hudgins, who was named Sports in Kansas Big Schools Assistant Coach of the Year, noted to SIK that Mill Valley allowed just 3.3 yards per play. For the season, the Jaguar defense allowed 29 carries for 71 rushing yards a contest. Teams averaged 69 passing yards a game and 44 percent completion. Overall, Mill Valley’s defense allowed three touchdowns against 13 interceptions.
Mill Valley’s defense forced 5.5 three-and-outs per game and just 18 percent conversion on third down. Mill Valley’s defense never allowed a fourth-quarter point the entire season. MV’s senior class worked hard everyday and continued to push themselves. The results were historic.
Sports in Kansas 4A Offensive Player of the Year – Mac Armstrong, Bishop Miege
Bishop Miege is long known for its remarkable quarterback play under Jon Holmes, including Montell Cozart, Ryan Willis and Carter Putz. Cozart and Willis played Division I football. Putz, Kansas’ all-time 11-man leader in passing scores, was a top player for Notre Dame baseball.
However, none of them threw for the yardage that Miege senior quarterback Mac Armstrong posted this fall. Putz’s all-time best was 3,264 yards in 2016, which was the school record. Willis threw for 3,003 yards as a senior in 2014. Cozart threw for 2,759 yards as a senior.
In 2022, Armstrong easily paced Kansas in passing for the 11-2 Class 4A state champions.
Armstrong finished with 265 of 369 passing for 3,865 yards with 39 touchdowns against six interceptions. He completed a remarkable 74 percent of his passes. In a 29-26 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas on Oct. 7, Armstrong throw for 257 yards with two scores against two INTs. In the state semifinal win versus Aquinas, Armstrong went for 323 yards with four touchdowns against no picks.
The all-time record for a Kansas 11-man player is Sunrise Christian’s Zach Howell, who threw for 4,208 in 2017, per the Kansas Sports of Hall of Fame. Sunrise is a non-KSHSAA school.
Miege led the eight 4A quarterfinalists with 41.1 points per game, a huge leap from 27.4 points a contest in 2021. The Stags enjoyed a seven-win improvement from 5-7 to 12-1, which tied the biggest jump of any state championship team. Division I Wichita County improved from 6-3 to 13-0. Miege has won 11 state titles, which now stands alone in Kansas history. The Stags were tied with Lawrence and Smith Center at ten. This marked Miege’s first since 2019. Miege won six in a row from ’14-19.
In the state finals, Armstrong threw for 370 yards with three scores and two interceptions in a 35-14 win against Wamego. Armstrong’s top target was Isaiah Coppage, considered the state’s top receiver.
Congrats to Mac Armstrong on being named the Sports in Kansas 4A Player of the Year! The Miege Activities Booster Club and the 2022 Bishop Miege State Champion Football Team are very proud of you. Visit us on Facebook, Instagram and Coach Holmes on Twitter! Go Stags Go!
Sports in Kansas 4A Defensive Player of the Year – Dagen Dean, Chanute
Class 4A defensive player of the year was probably the closest award of any classification. The group included players from Chanute, Wamego, KC Piper, McPherson, and Circle. Chanute senior Dagen Dean emerged after he led the Blue Comets to their best start since 1935.
In 2021, Chanute led all 4-6A in scoring defense in 2021 with 8.8 points allowed a contest. This season, Chanute allowed 16.8 points a contest and went 9-1, with a 48-47 double-overtime loss to KC Piper in the Round of 16.
Dean is an exceptional player at wide receiver, defensive end and athlete. He caught 36 passes for 752 yards and 15 scores. Defensively, Dean recorded 76 tackles, 16 for loss and nine sacks. Dean has a PWO offer from Kansas and FCS offers from North Dakota and Colgate, plus several MIAA offers.
Dean was first two all-league at wide receiver/tight end and defensive end. He led Chanute to a pair of SEK championships. Before then, Chanute had not won the SEK since 2009. Dean is 6-foot-3 and a half, 215 and a multi-time champion in track. He’s also a state wrestling qualifier. He is likely one of, if not the most, slept on recruit in the state of Kansas in football. He was also a non-senior pick last season at SIK and a 4A all-state pick. He is the anchor leg on state championship sprint relay teams at his size, which is unheard of. Dean was unblockable this season and even went against some of the states top recruits the last two seasons.
From youth football to the 2022 4A Defensive Player of the Year, Dagen Dean, your friends at the Chanute Youth Football Club are proud of you. GO COMETS!
Congratulations to Dagen Dean of Chanute High School on the 2022 4A Defensive Player of the Year. Your family is very proud of you!
Sports in Kansas 3A Offensive Player of the Year – Garyson Booth, Holton
Holton scored 42.1 points a game behind its run-heavy attack. The Wildcats started and finished No. 2 in Class 3A. Holton lost to 2A Nemaha Central in Week 1 and 3A Andale in the state title game. Both teams were state champions. Holton delivered an 11-2 mark.
Holton has won three state titles under longtime coach Brooks Barta and finished second five times. This marked the Wildcats’ first state game appearance since 2015. Barta has cleared 250 career wins and is long known for the “Barta bone” rushing offense.
Holton ran for 363 rushing yards and 8.8 yards per carry. Booth finished with 134 carries for 1,688 yards and 21 scores. The top-seven rushers were all seniors.
As a junior, Booth also paced Holton in rushing yards and tied for first in rushing touchdowns. That season, he delivered 99 rushes for 961 yards and 12 scores. Holton averaged 338 rushing yards and 7.6 yards per carry in 2021. Overall, Booth completed his career with 2,711 rushing yards, 11.3 yards per carry and 33 touchdowns.
Congratulations to Garyson Booth of Holton, 3A Player of the Year in Sports in Kansas! We are proud of your hard work and dedication and are honored to have helped you perform at your greatest potential! Wildcat Pride! Visit us at www.completechiropracticks.com or on Facebook.
Congratulations to Garyson Booth for being named 3A offensive player of the year. Lasting Impressions is a proud supporter of Holton Athletics.
The Holton Channel and KNZA Radio/MSC Sports Network are proud to support local student athletes and congratulate Garyson Booth as the 3A Offensive Player of the Year and the Holton Wildcats on a terrific state runner-up season!
Denison State Bank congratulates senior Garyson Booth for being named 3A Offensive Football Player of the Year 2022, and the entire Holton Wildcats 3A State Runner-Up football team! DSB is proud to support Holton High School.
Sports in Kansas 3A Defensive Player of the Year – Riley Marx, Andale
Andale senior Athlete Riley Marx has a strong case for Kansas’ best male athlete. Last spring, Marx was the No. 1 javelin thrower nationally. He has Division I offers in football and track. Marx was Andale’s best player on the highest accolade-laden senior class in Indian boys’ history. Andale went 13-0 and won its fourth straight 3A state title.
Andale ended the season with three straight shutouts and led all of Kansas with 5.2 points allowed a game. Last season, Andale also paced 3A and was second in Kansas with 5.2 points permitted a contest. Andale has won 51 consecutive contests, the fifth-longest streak in Kansas history. The Indians currently have the second longest streak nationally.
Last season, Andale set team scoring offense and scoring defense with a total margin of 692-68. This season, the Indians were nearly the same at 689-67. Marx played a variety of positions, including nose guard, in the 48-0 win against Rock Creek in the state quarterfinals. Andale picked off seven passes against RC’s offense that was ranked No. 1 in Kansas in passing at the time. Marx mainly played fullback and defensive end, though was also used as a receiver.
Marx comes from the well-known Marx/Fairchild family in Andale. His older sister, Samantha, throws for Wichita State. His uncle, Tim, in Andale’s longtime defensive coordinator. Marx has thrown 209 feet, 9 inches in the javelin and was a state runner-up in wrestling. He cleans 385 pounds.
Kansas Custom Carpentry, Inc in Andale would like to congratulate Riley Marx on Top 11 and 3A DPOY. We are proud of the 4x state champion Indians, 51-0! Kansas Custom Carpentry, Custom Carpentry is our Specialty, would like to congratulate Andale on a fantastic season! Give us a call at 316-519-8359
Congrats to Jack Kraus and Riley Marx for Sports in Kansas Top 11 and Riley for 3A Defensive Player of the Year.! 4 time 3A State Champs and undefeated high school careers. Andale Booster Club is proud of you. Roll Tribe!
Sports in Kansas 2A Offensive Player of the Year – Cooper Hajek, Nemaha Central
In the summer, Nemaha Central was ranked No. 2 in Class 2A. NC was known for its defensive standouts, including linemen Connor Deters and Holden Bass, defensive back Brayden Uphaus and linebacker Cooper Hajek. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Hajek led NC with 73 tackles as a junior, picked up offers from Benedictine, Bethel and Nebraska Wesleyan and showcased great sideline to sideline speed.
This season, Hajek played offense – and completely transformed the Thunder attack. He rushed for 2,093 yards, 42 rushing touchdowns and 81 tackles. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Hajek can run 4.73 in the 40-yard dash. This week, he picked up a Hutchinson Community College offer. Hajek was Top 11 all classes.
Nemaha Central had a six-win improvement and won the Class 2A state title with 13-0 record. Hajek played the last three games with a shattered thumb.
The run game significantly increased for the Thunder. Last season, NC rushed for 2,064 yards as a team in 10 games. This year, Nemaha Central produced 2,450 rushing yards in its first nine contests.
Nemaha Central won its second 2A title in four years, and first under coach Michael Glatzcak. This also marked the first undefeated season in NC history. The Thunder led 2A with 48.3 points a game, including a 33-17 win against Kingman in the state championship game.
Nemaha Central enjoyed a big jump after a 7-3 season and 34.3 points a contest last year. In the state title year of 2019, NC went 11-2 and scored 33.5 points per game.
Congrats to Cooper Hajek on the 2A Offensive Player of the Year and TOp 11 from Sports in Kansas. Your family is proud of you!
Bergman Remodeling, LLC is very proud of Cooper Hajek for being named 2A Offensive Player of the Year and Top 11 from Sports in Kansas! We are very proud of you!!
Congrats to Cooper Hajek on the 2A Offensive Player of the Year by Sports in Kansas. The Friday Nighters and the whole community is proud of you and the team on the 2A state championship!
Sports in Kansas 2A Defensive Player of the Year – Grady Seyfert, Beloit/Landon Boss, Osage City
Beloit senior defensive lineman Grady Seyfert repeats as 2A Defensive Player of the Year. Osage City’s Landon Boss also shares the award. The 6-foot-2, 275-pound Seyfert and the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Boss have each had Division I/MIAA interest. Boss has Washburn and Emporia State offers.
As juniors, both Seyfert and Boss led top-nine scoring defenses in 2A.
This season, Beloit permitted 14.5 points per game. Beloit finished with the No. 61 defense for all 11-man teams, per Massey Ratings. Beloit earned three victories against winning teams: Norton twice and Russell. The Trojans collectively allowed 42 points in those contests.
Seyfert was again an unblockable force with 54 tackles (38 solo) while he faced double and tripled teams and was cut blocked throughout the year. He delivered his second straight season with 25 tackles for loss.
Osage City finished with an 8-2 mark and a district championship. The Indians allowed 19 points per game.
Boss finished with 87 tackles and 13.5 for loss, both which led Osage City. Offensively, he completed 134 of 217 passes for 1,821 yards with 19 touchdowns against four interceptions. He delivered 136 carries for 1,425 yards and 21 scores.
The two compete against each other in track, too. In the 3A shot put, Seyfert and Boss finished 2-4 respectively last spring. Both cleared 51 feet. Seyfert was second and Boss sixth in the discus throw. Boss won the javelin by more than 11 feet with a throw of 192 feet, 4 inches. Boss is also all-state in basketball and is one of the most explosive players in the state with a clean of 340 pounds. He also shows great speed in the 100 meter dash for his 215 pound size. Both players are two of the biggest recruiting sleepers in the state of Kansas for 2023. Both players also two of the best two-way players in the state of Kansas this season along with 2A OPOY Cooper Hajek. The class was loaded this season with high caliber players including junior Holden Bass (6’4″ 275) of Nemaha Central who also received heavy consideration for this honor.
Landon “Bear” Boss, we are humbled and grateful by your faith, the brother and son you are, the awesome teammate you have always been, and how you love the community of Osage City! Keep Climbing, Bear! Love Your Dad, Mom and Sisters!
Congratulations to Landon Boss on 2A Defensive Player of the Year, 2A Offensive POY Finalist, & All Class Top 22! Conklin Plumbing & Remodeling is a proud supporter of you and the Osage City Indian programs. #OsageIndians #10
Congratulations to Landon Boss of Osage City for winning the Sports in Kansas 2A Defensive Player of the Year award! Your coaches and teammates are proud of you. Go Indians!
Congratulations to Landon on receiving the 2A Defensive Player of the Year award! OCHS staff and students are proud of your hard work and dedication on and off the field.
Congrats Grady Seyfert on being the 2A Defensive Player of the year for the 2nd year in a row. Beloit High and the community are very proud of you – Beloit Booster Club
Sports in Kansas 1A Offensive Player of the Year – Keller Hurla, St. Marys
St. Marys senior quarterback Keller Hurla delivered a drive for the ages in a 44-41 state championship victory in the Class 1A state game against Inman at Fort Hays State University that solidified his case as 1A POY and Top 11. Hurla led St. Marys on a 99-yard touchdown drive and scored the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left. Hurla was Top 11 all-classes and led the Bears to an 11-2 record and first ever state title in program history.
Hurla is an exceptional athlete with 51 career passing touchdowns, 37 rushing scores and zero fumbles. He is all-state in football, basketball, track and golf. Last winter, Hurla helped St. Marys to a 2A state runner-up in basketball.
St. Marys paced 1A with 41.7 points a contest. St. Marys went 5-4 last season and moved down to 1A. The Bears were projected to have a breakout year and was preseason No. 1 in 1A. St. Marys opened 1-2, and then won 10 straight.
This marks St. Marys first all-time football title after seconds in 1983, ’99 and ’06.
In the state championship, Hurla completed 21 of 33 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed 25 times for 94 yards and three scores. For the season, Hurla passed for 2,656 yards and 27 scores, along with 1,272 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns.
He significantly improved in his three seasons of quarterback play. As a sophomore, he completed 54 percent of his passes for 722 yards with seven scores against nine interceptions. His junior season, he threw for 1,581 yards with 15 TDs against two INTs. He was also an all-class Top 15 basketball player last season from Sports in Kansas, even scored over 50 points in a single game. He’s a four sport all-state athlete earning all-state in golf and track & field as well.
“Couldn’t be prouder of my nephew and his accomplishments. Way to keep fighting, Keller!!” – Cindy Glynn – Realtor – Coldwell Banker American Home – Give us a call at 785-207-5464 – Lawrence – Topeka – Manhattan
Congratulations to our Bear Football Team and Coaches for bringing home the State Championship! Proud to be Bears! – St. Marys Jr/Sr High Booster Club
Sports in Kansas 1A Defensive Player of the Year – Brayden Kunz, Conway Springs
Conway Springs junior Brayden Kunz delivered a huge two-way season for the surprising Cardinals, Kunz was the best two-way player in the class and heavily contender for POY honors on offense. Eli Brunk of Inman also contended heavily for this honor. Conway Springs opened 0-3 and then won seven straight games, including a district championship. In Week 7, Conway defeated Inman, 35-14. Inman was ranked No. 1 in 1A at the time and eventually finished as state runner-up. CS scored 27 points a game and allowed 17.5.
Conway Springs finished 7-4 and state semifinalist. Kunz delivered 301 carries for 2,271 yards and 27 touchdowns. When Kunz rushed for more than 117 yards, Conway Springs finished 7-0. Defensively, Kunz delivered 76 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions. In a 35-31 playoff win against Plainville, Kunz delivered 8.5 tackles. In the quarterfinals, Conway Springs beat 39-14 against Wabaunsee. Kunz finished with eight tackles and three sacks.
Kunz has earned attention from a variety of schools, including South Dakota State and Kansas State. He was ranked in the top 20 nationally for calf roping and was the Kansas State Champion in the vent last season. He will be one of the best football players in any class of Kansas entering next season as a senior.
Sports in Kansas Eight-Man, Division I Offensive Player of the Year – Erhik Hermosillo, Leoti-Wichita County
Leoti-Wichita County senior quarterback Erhik Hermosillo led the highest scoring eight-man offense in Kansas history. WC averaged 60.9 points per game. In the five-year Brant Douglas era, the Indians have averaged 56 points a contest and paced all of eight-man in points per game.
WC has enjoyed the best two seasons in school history in 2020 with a state runner-up to Little River and the title this yer. The Indians enjoyed a seven-win improvement from 6-3 to 13-0. Wichita County scored 792 points. Entering this season, the eight-man scoring record was 764 points from Osborne.
Hermosillo was known for his patient, Le’Veon Bell style running and ability to miss and evade tackles once he hit the hole. He completed 70 of 108 passes for 1,285 yards with 26 touchdowns against two interceptions. He delivered 210 carries for 2,103 yards and 42 touchdowns.
In 2020, Erhik started on defense on the Eight-Man, Division I state runner-up squad. He took over as quarterback in his junior season. That year, he passed for 1,771 yards and rushed for 1,450 yards with 49 touchdowns accounted for.
Erhik accounted for eight touchdowns in a state semifinal win against Hill City in sub 20 degree weather. The championship featured steady rain in the second half. He passed for two scores and rushed for 252 yards and five TDs.
He effectively secured the state championship with three big plays on one drive: fourth-and-nine and fourth-and-five from Wichita County territory and a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Erhik received a big boost from his sophomore brother, Khris, known for his bowling ball-style running. Khris rushed 132 times for 1,251 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Sports in Kansas Eight-Man, Division I Defensive Player of the Year – Grant Stephens/Braxton Lafferty, Little River
Little River seniors Grant Stephens and Braxton Lafferty were great leaders and starters on all three LR squads that reached the state championship. The Redskins went first, second and second the last three seasons in Division I. LR allowed 17.4 points per game, second-best in the classification to Wichita County’s 12.3.
Stephens played defensive end as a sophomore, then moved to linebacker as a junior. He switched to defensive end this year. In the state quarterfinals, Toby Jesseph suffered a season-ending injury. Stephens returned to linebacker.
LR coach Kevin Ayers has 201 career victories and is the only eight-man coach to win a state title at three different schools. Ayers couldn’t recall a player in his career with more tackles for loss and sacks than Stephens. He finished with 105 tackles, 34 for loss and 20 sacks. Stephens led Kansas in tackles for loss and sacks.
Lafferty paced LR with 118 tackles and was second with 13 tackles for loss. Offensively, Lafferty passed for 254 yards, finished with 1,647 rushing yards and delivered 126 receiving yards. Lafferty accounted for 40 touchdowns. He also was in contention for the 8M-I OPOY. Heavy consideration was also given to Mitch Budke of Chase County who recieved many votes for both OPOY and DPOY. 8-Man football was loaded with quite the cast of talent over the last several seasons in both divisions.
Little River has played in the last three state championship games in 8M-I.
The school also recently won a volleyball title this school year and has seen incredible success in basketball over the years as well. What a great sports town in our state.
Congratulations to Grant Stephens of Little River High School on the 8M-1 Co-Defensive Player of the year. Your family is very proud of you!
Congratulations to Grant Stephens of Little River High School on the 8M-1 Co-Defensive Player of the year! – Piping Technology Company (PTC)
Congratulations to Grant Stephens & Braxton Lafferty on the 8M-1 Co-Defensive Player of the year! Raleigh Insurance is a proud supporter of Little River High School Athletics. Go Redskins!
Sports in Kansas Eight-Man, Division II Offensive Player of the Year – Isaac Detweiler, Axtell
Axtell senior Isaac Detweiler tied or set a bevy of state records and completed possibly the most statistically productive career of any eight-man quarterback in Kansas history. He repeats as classification offensive player of the year.
Detweiler accounted for 205 touchdowns (passing, rushing, receiving, non-offensive), including 201 offensive. This is the most for any player in recorded Kansas history, per Sports in Kansas research and other sources.
In a 76-28 win against Thunder Ridge in the state championship game, Detweiler tied the eight-man state title passing record with seven touchdowns. Overall, he threw for 2,135 yards with 45 touchdowns against one interception. He rushed for 906 yards and 20 scores. Axtell has back-to-back 13-0 seasons and a 26-game winning streak.
Axtell averaged 60.5 points per game and set the eight-man single season scoring record, a mark that stood for a few hours before Wichita County broke it later Saturday in the Division I state game.
Axtell led Division II in scoring offense the last two years.
The Eagles have three all-time titles: 1993, 2021 and 2022.
Sports in Kansas Eight-Man, Division II Defensive Player of the Year – Jett Vincent, Canton-Galva
Canton-Galva senior safety Jett Vincent repeats as classification defensive player of the year. C-G paced the classification with 8.7 points a contest. The Eagles lost, 36-32, to Axtell in the state semifinals, which was easily AHS’ closest game this season. C-G started and ended No. 2 in the Division II rankings.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Vincent committed to Division I Colorado State this week. He set the all-time, all-classes record for career interceptions with 36. He had eight interceptions and 21 passes defended this fall. He broke the 11-man record of 32 that had stood since 2007 and the eight-mark of 31 that had stood since 1988.
Vincent’s addition made a huge help for the Eagles. In 2021, C-G went 9-2 and allowed 25.8 points a contest, No. 11 in Division I. Canton-Galva went a combined 53-6 in the last five seasons with one state title and three final fours.
Vincent played at Wheatland-Grinnell for his first three seasons. He led W-G to a state runner-up in ’21, the Thunderhawks’ best year in school annals.
Vincent’s play at safety paced Canton-Galva’s defense to elite numbers. The Eagles’ held opposing quarterbacks to 65 of 179 for 735 yards with nine touchdowns against 21 interceptions, per SIK research and Digital Scout. The Eagles allowed 3.3 yards per play and forced 37 turnovers. C-G set the state record for team pick-sixes with nine.
Sports in Kansas Six-Man Offensive Player of the Year – Luke McGuire/Trey DeWeese, Cunningham
Cunningham had four players – Luke McGuire, Trey DeWeese, Lane Halderson and Jack Ruckle – with little separation en route to a 13-0 season, first state football title in school history and a remarkable rise. In 11 on-field performances, the Wildcats tallied 53.5 points per game, second-best in six-man football.
In 2021, Cunningham lost to Natoma in the six-man Wild West Bowl state championship game. CHS’ Luke McGuire suffered injury early in the Natoma loss.
This time, McGuire delivered a huge performance in a 38-16 win against Ashland. McGuire opened the scoring with a 69-yard touchdown to Lane Halderson and delivered a 26-yard TD to Will Wegerer in the second quarter. McGuire rushed 16 times for 61 yards. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 174 yards.
DeWeese is the team leader and a four-year starter. DeWeese is incredibly instrumental for the Cunningham rise. The Wildcats hadn’t won a football game for six years and didn’t have its own team for four. Cunningham went 1-7, 6-2, 9-1 and 13-0 in DeWeese’s career.
In 11 on-field games, DeWeese completed 92 of 139 passes for 1,112 yards with 29 scores against five interceptions. McGuire rushed 52 times for 587 yards and 13 scores. He passed for 741 yards with 10 touchdowns and served as the team’s top returner.
USD 332 is proud of the 2022 State champion football team! A special shout out to our Sports in Kansas co-offensive POY: Trey DeWeese and Luke McGuire, and co-defensive POY: Lane Halderson and Jack Ruckle! We’re also proud of Coach Lance McGuire! It’s a great day to be a Wildcat! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Sports in Kansas Six-Man Defensive Player of the Year – Jack Ruckle/Lane Halderson, Cunningham
Cunningham allowed 8.1 points a game, the state six-man record for scoring defense since the classification was re-introduced in 2016. The Wildcats allowed 17.2 points a game last season, which also led six-man.
Cunningham had a huge gap between first and second place in scoring defense – the biggest of the nine classes. Tescott, which lost to Cunningham 42-0, was second with 15.8 points allowed. All other teams allowed at least 17.6.
Halderson and Ruckle led the defense in various categories. Halderson paced with more than 60 tackles, and Ruckle led Cunningham in sacks and tackles for loss. Halderson also picked off four passes, caused two and was the Wildcats’ top receiver.
Halderson paced Cunningham in tackles as a junior, too. Ruckle’s improvement was critical to the Cunningham defense. Offensively, Ruckle was used as the running back in goal line situations and rushed for a pair of short touchdowns in the final against Ashland.
“Congratulations on a great season!” Don & Lois Becker and Family
“Congratulations on your State Championship!” The Early Bird Hangout
“Your hard work and determination have paid off! We are very proud of you!” Mom and Dad, Jon & Cole
“Congratulations!” T&R Excavating, Jason and Tricia Ruckle & Family
USD 332 is proud of the 2022 State champion football team! A special shout out to our Sports in Kansas co-offensive POY: Trey DeWeese and Luke McGuire, and co-defensive POY: Lane Halderson and Jack Ruckle! We’re also proud of Coach Lance McGuire! It’s a great day to be a Wildcat! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Sports in Kansas Non-Senior OPOY: Omari Elias, Kapaun Mt. Carmel
Kapaun Mt. Carmel running back Omari Elias was named the state’s top junior for the non-Player of the Year winners. Elias rushed for 2,552 yards in 10 games for a 5-5 Crusader squad. Elias finished as the state’s leading rusher. As a sophomore, Elias rushed 303 times for 2,303 yards and 30 rushing touchdowns.
Elias has 5,001 career rushing yards along with 64 touchdowns with an entire senior season remaining. He is a two-time first team GWAL pick. Olias also heavily contended to get on the Top 11 team this year and will be a heavy favorite to be the all-classes POY entering next season. He was named Top 22 all-classes and is also an all-state wrestler.
He is also a National Honors Society student. He lived and worked on a ranch in Laramie, Wyoming from 2015-2019 before moving to Wichita. Elias gets it done on and off the field and is one of the most underrated recruits in the state of Kansas for 2024.
Other finalists considered: Malik Bah – Hays, Bryce Noerenberg – Olathe South, Tristan Baker – Mill Valley, Cencere Thompson – Wichita NW, Dae’Onte Mitchell – Wichita East, Gunnar Gross – Salina Central, Daimont Mucker – Valley Center, Brayden Kunz – Conway Springs, Jack Voth – Cheney, Branton DeWeese – Washburn Rural
Congratulations Omari Elias for being selected as the Sports in Kansas Non-Senior Offensive Player of the Year. Your family is proud of you!
Sports in Kansas Non-Senior DPOY: Jayden Woods, Mill Valley
Mill Valley sophomore defensive end Jayden Woods was SIK’s top pick for a non-senior player on the defensive side of the ball. The Class of 2025 player was incredible this season as a sophomore for likely the states best defense, Andale certainly in the convo. Woods, the son of former Mill Valley and Kansas State cornerback Justin Woods, has picked off five offers as an edge rusher. Per recruiting leader 247 Sports, Woods has offers from Baylor, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State. Woods delivered 51 tackles, 10.5 for loss, six sacks and 12 hurries. He was second for four-time defending 5A champion Mill Valley in tackles for loss, tied for first in sacks and first in hurries.
Mill Valley football has won six state titles since 2015 under HC Joel Applebee. The program has over 150 kids out per year, this year over 160 kids were out for the squad. Bright future for many of their young players that include Woods and an offensive lineman, Gus Hawkins, who just committed to KSU.
Other Finalists considered: Holden Bass – Nemaha Central, Spencer Dohm – St. James, Trey Ridley – BVNW, Trey Thomas – BVSW, Kian Payne – Aquinas, Cannon McCormack – Circle, Teegan Haines – McPherson, Brayden Kunz – Conway Springs, Carter Helm – Kingman, J.C. Heim – Washburn Rural, Jaren Heim – Washburn Rural, Michael Boganowski – Junction City, Ashton Moore – Lousiburg
Sports in Kansas Lineman of the Year (All-Classes – Offense or Defense) Joe Otting, Topeka Hayden
The inaugural lineman of the year. We feel like sometimes the lineman (offense or defense) fly way under the radar with skill players earning the majority of the player of the year awards from every publication in existence of time. Voters like stats so its understandable but those stats arent possible without the people up front on either side of the ball. Topeka Hayden senior Joe Otting is a consensus all-classes top-five recruit and the state’s best lineman The 6-foot-4.5 inch, 275-pound Otting has committed to Notre Dame. Otting helped Hayden to a 10-2 mark and two losses to eventual 3A state runner-up Topeka Hayden. Otting helped Topeka Hayden to 38.6 points per game.
That’s up from an 8-2 season and 34.5 points a contest in 2021. Otting and his line helped Hayden up its scoring despite the Wildcats having a first-year starting quarterback, no returning receiver with more than 11 catches and no returning rusher with more than 611 yards. In addition to Otting, Hayden had Ben Evans and Carter Charvat as returning starters up front.
Congratulations Joe Otting, Sports in Kansas Top 11, and Lineman of the Year! We are proud of you! – Wendling, Noe, Nelson & Johnson LLC
Other Finalists for this all-class Lineman award: Dylan Birge – Olathe West, Camden Beebe – Piper, Grady Seyfert – Beloit, Jack Kraus – Andale, Holden Bass- Nemaha Central, Caden Miranda – Maize, Jordan Allen – Olathe South, Dagen Dean – Chanute, Jayden Woods – Mill Valley
Special Teams Player of the Year, Tre Richardson – Highland Park, ATH
Tre Richardson was electric for the Scots of Highland Park this season as the team ended a long losing streak and Richardson returned eight total kicks for TDs. Richardson had 1,079 receiving yards (15 TD) along with 1,964 rushing yards (27 TD), plus eight on special teams to give him 50 touchdowns on the year. He averaged 20.5 yards per carry. Higland Park would lose in the first round of the playoffs to former Centennial League member Emporia (2-8) but showed major improvement this season by moving over to the newly formed Meadowlark Conference.