A LOOK BACK: My personal memories from the 2011 Wyandotte County football season



Though it’s not completely over yet due to the (hopefully) long postseason runs from the Piper Pirates and Bonner Springs Braves, high school football is pretty much over for most of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan.

That in mind, here are several memories – mostly positive, but some negative – of the 2011 football season here in Wyandotte County. 

- The Schlagle Hogs offensive line will always be remembered by me. They were truly the first great offensive line I've had the pleasure to cover. For eight games, they were truly dominant and pushed around the opposition. Even in the Bonner Springs loss, they performed very well. It was only against Lansing where they struggled a bit. This was an offensive line that took pride in itself and had great personality. They were all fun to watch this year and they are all great individuals who I have tremendous respect for. 

- The Harmon senior class, led by Darrin Hawkins, Terrance Simmons, Jay'P London and Isaiah Ming, made Harmon relevant for two seasons. Sure, they weren't able to quite win the league, but Harmon mattered for two years because of those core seniors. Simmons grew up into a good quarterback who can win games. Hawkins is one of the best overall football players I covered ever and Isaiah Ming was dominant at times.

- I cannot remember a year in any sport that had as many devastating injuries as this football season did in Wyandotte County. Vernon Vaughn from Sumner Academy and DeAndre Walters from Turner missed basically all of their seasons. Quarterback Brandon Williams from Sumner Academy missed most of his season. Marcus Allen from Sumner Academy missed some games. Isaiah Ming from Harmon suffered a concussion. Injuries unfortunately mattered this year. The injury bug devastated Sumner Academy and if Isaiah Ming was healthy, perhaps they beat Schlagle and upend Atchison, finishing 5-4 on the season. Turner lost some linemen during the season as well and with a healthy line and a solid running back with Walters, you never know. 

- To keep up with the negative thoughts, I have never seen officiating as lousy as I did this season. The two teams who received the brunt of the bad calls were the Turner Golden Bears and Harmon Hawks. Turner had hideous calls go against them in both the Piper and Mill Valley games. Harmon had at least three horrible calls cost them touchdowns this season. So many blatant holding calls were missed and illegal formations became legal in some games.

- I've covered high school football for three years in Wyandotte County. This year's batch of talent was the best - by far. In some years, I think it would be a stretch to even field a dream team. This year, I think it's possible to create an all Wyandotte County team to compete against the big boys. Hawkins, Stevie Williams, Vernon Vaughn and Marcus Allen are all great wide receivers when they are healthy. Jordan Jackson and Simmons are solid quarterbacks. T.J. Wallace is a 6'5" and 330 - that's division one size. There was tremendous talent this season. 

- Nick Rodriguez from Turner may have been the smartest player I've seen this season. Having covered three Turner games and watched another on "Hawk TV," Nick-Rod rarely missed assignments and was the best open field tackler I saw this year. He was tremendous for the Golden Bears defense. He was great in pass coverage and is one of the few linebackers I've covered that led his team in both tackles and interceptions. Head coach Allen Terrell called him the best defensive player he's coached at Turner. I can see why.

- Hey, remember how I said first year head coaches often struggle in football? Chris Brindle at Piper and Bonner Springs' head coach Lucas Aslin bucked this trend in dramatic fashion. Both coaches finished 6-3 in their first seasons at their schools - with both winning district titles after going 3-0. Brindle has won a state title before, so he's not a rookie. Aslin's coached in college, so he really isn't either. But it speaks well for both of those guys that their teams played their best football in the second half of the season. 

- For really the third straight year, there was no parity in the Kansas City Kansas - Atchison League. For three straight seasons, the league champion finished with a perfect league record. It was basically three tiers - one really good team, three average teams and two poor teams. It seems like the league race is settled without any drama and that probably should change in the future if KCK football is to grow.

-The future could be bright for the quarterback position in the Kaw Valley League. Bonner Springs sophomore quarterback Jordan Jackson has been profiled a number of times here. But there are two sophomore prospects in Wyandotte County that could be good. Tanner Eikenbary for Piper is already good - and could become great in two more years. He played very well in second half performances against Lansing and Mill Valley. He really only looked like a sophomore in two weeks - his opening start against Basehor-Linwood and against Turner where he threw three interceptions. However, there's another sophomore out there who could be a solid quarterback - and you heard it hear first. Turner's Paul Beery looked solid in back-up duty against Mill Valley and his athleticism is great. He was one of Turner's leading rushers this season as a sophomore, but the 6'0" quarterback/running-back could develop into one of those dual-threat quarterbacks we love to write about. He can shed tacklers and hit the hole like a great runner. If Turner could develop a passing attack, Berry could be the guy. His upside is tremendous and he might be a solid player for them. On top of that, you have Skyler Windmiller returning to Mill Valley next season. Windmiller is a Division 1 prospect and he will only be better as a sophomore senior.