Eight different Piper Pirates football players earned awards at last weekend's KCK Preps Awards Presentation. Head coach Chris Brindle and linebacker Colton Beebe took home two of the top three awards.
Check out some photos from last weekend's awards show at The Legends Theatre in KCK!
Here's a look at Piper Pirates quarterback Tanner Eikenbary.
Despite missing nearly half the season, Mill Valley Jaguars running back Kendall Short finished with over 700 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns.
|Harmon head coach Dave Gonzales|
Though I'm a big fan and supporter of high school athletics, academics come first at all levels for all players.
It's very rare that anyone who played basketball in Kansas City, Kan., the past few years will ever make the NBA.
That's not a harsh statement – the last KCK talent that cracked the NBA was former Wyandotte Bulldogs standout Nate Johnson. That came years ago.
Even as good as Leo Lyons was for Piper and at times for the Missouri Tigers, he did not make the NBA.
Quite frankly, Earl Watson is truly the only NBA standout that came from KCK outside of those great Wyandotte teams during their runs in the 1960s and 1980s.
In other words, you rarely see NBA talent come from KCK – or anywhere for that matter.
That means the education part is even more important.
Without a high school education and without qualifying for colleges, even those who could make the NBA may get left out because they didn't get a high enough ACT.
It's for that reason why I believe Harmon athletic director LeBaron Baptista should be stripped of his athletic director's job and Harmon basketball head coach Dave Gonzales should lose his coaching job.
(I have no idea how good of an assistant principal Baptista is or how good of a teacher Gonzales, so they should keep their teaching jobs.)
However, this issue of eligibility is enough evidence that neither man should be employed at their respective athletics positions in KCK.
Even if playing the ineligible athletes was just an accident, Baptista should still lose his athletic director's position simply because he did not know the rule.
The emails KCKPreps and The Kansas City Kansan have posted clearly indicate Baptista did not know the rule.
Part of judging someone's ability to do a job is how they learn about the position and how competent they are. Simply overlooking the rule or not knowing the rule is terrible.
If you were to rank the job requirements of being an athletic director in a school district, knowing the eligibility policy would likely rank in the top three in terms of items you need to know as an athletic director.
Baptista failed at that.
Even if you completely remove the likelihood the ineligible players were played intentionally from the argument (I believe they were), simply not knowing the right policy is a major indication Baptista has neglected to do his job as athletic director.
Time to find someone else to serve in that position at Harmon.
Speaking of "finding someone else" to do a job at J.C. Harmon High School, it's also time for a new boys basketball coach.
Even if he does not have the authority Baptista has, there's no excuse for Gonzales to have allowed at least seven players to be ineligible at once.
Last year was Gonzales' fifth season coaching in the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools District.
He's no rookie.
He was around when the school district courageously increased the strength of its eligibility policy three years ago. Prior to serving as the head coach at Harmon, Gonzales had served at Schlagle the previous four years.
Like other coaches in the district, Gonzales had to be aware of the changing policy. It was a sticky issue with athletic directors, coaches and athletes across the school district. I know because I covered the issue.
Getting an up close and personal look at some coaches during my three years covering athletics, I know how much they work with the students on increasing their academic performance.
In most cases, coaches are "teachers first" and should be teachers first.
As a former sports editor and now Web publisher, I've witnessed numerous instances of coaches stressing academics.
I have seen multiple coaches check grades immediately following practices. One current coach in the league I know always tells his players to do their homework and keep their grades up after ever single practice I have attended.
Coaches, like it or not, have a major responsibility in keeping his or her players in the books.
This was not the case at J.C. Harmon this year.
It was a failure at all levels.
Though I am occasionally critical of coaches for their performances and their sideline behavior, I would never call for a coach to be fired solely because of wins and losses.
High school sports are more than just the wins and losses.
In this case, the loss of academic standards this season for the program weighs significantly more than any of the eight losses the basketball team had last year.
Not rigorously enforcing the academic policies also can indirectly lead to the players losing a sense of responsibility.
A beautiful thing about high school athletics and activities is studies show they actually increase the GPA of an average student.
A student who participates in activities is more likely to increase his or her academic performance because participating in sports, cheerleading and other extra-curricular activities gives them something to strive for.
Speaking of responsibility, this case reminds me of President Truman's famous motto: "The buck stops here."
Responsibility needs to be taken by the adults at J.C. Harmon High School.
Baptista and Gonzales should not serve in their respective positions in 2011-12.