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.
KCK Preps' KCKAL Preseason Offense and Defensive Players of the Year: Sumner Academy's Vernon Vaughn and Harmon's Darrin Hawkins
Sumner Academy loses three important pieces to last year's team that is widely considered as the best in school history.
Losing seniors Armand Brisbane and Eli Alexander to graduation will certainly hurt. Losing Benny Parker to basketball will also hurt. Parker will be taking college visits during the football season, so he has chosen not to play.
Despite those three losses, I still like Sumner Academy's chances this year to not only win league, but to put together another solid season.
1. They still have weapons. Vernon Vaughn and Marcus Allen are freaks at the wide receiver position. I mean that as a compliment for sensitive readers. They have size and athletic ability to make things happen. I'm 6'5 or 6'6 and these guys are at my size. It's very rare for me to look at guys directly in the eyes. Sumner has size at an important position – the wide receiver. Oh, and it sounds like junior Deon Tripp is making waves at the running back position. They may not be as flashy as last year's bunch, but this is still a team to be reckoned with on offense.
2. An improving defense. Confidence is high this year on the defensive side of the ball. Head coach Todd Wassmann told me he expects to see some major improvement on the defensive side of the ball. And if Sumner makes improvement, that extends the gap between them and the rest of the Kansas City Kansas – Atchison League teams. Confidence is universal in Sumner having a better defense and sometimes, confidence is enough. Their secondary made outstanding gains last year, but they still need to stop the run in order to make a run at a 4A title in football.
3. The gap between Sumner and everyone else was large last year. Sumner Academy, to put it nicely, ran circles around everyone here in the KCKAL. It was not pretty and it was one of the reasons why I did not think they could beat Basehor, which they did. It's hard for me to imagine the other teams closing that gap enough without injuries to overtake Sumner Academy this year.
4. Coaching and organization. Many overlook the importance of practice in high school sports. I know for a fact some coaches in KCK think practice is overrated. But Sumner's football practices are like a machine. Each coach has a duty and the players understand that. A well-run practice often ends up in a well-run game. With all due respect to my buddy Allen Iverson, I am "talkin' about practice." Wassmann has also built a coaching staff around guys he's previously coached and there's a trust level there. Trust is also important. Three of the league's coaches have not coached more than two years and Wassmann is clearly the KCKAL's most established coach, which also helps.
5. Senior leadership. Again, no Parker, but this team has experience. As much as I hate cliches, experience is critical.
6. The spread offense. Occasionally, I've overheard players at both basketball and football practices complain about the offenses their coaches or teams run. With Sumner Academy football, that's not the case. These guys love, love, love the spread like I love a medium-rare T-Bone steak. LOVE IT. Giving kids the opportunity to have fun on the field breeds results and Wassmann's spread offense at Sumner is a fun one to watch. Talking to Vaughn and Allen after practice, they speak about the spread as if they are five years old on Christmas Day.
The league might be a little better. I know there's a certain senior class down at J.C. Harmon High School that wants a piece of the world right now. Harmon will be tough.
But for now, give me Sumner Academy as my prediction for the 2011 KCKAL winners.
Imagine being Brandon Williams, a junior at Sumner Academy set to start as the team's quarterback.
Not only are you starting at quarterback for the first time at the varsity level, you have to replace Armand Brisbane – perhaps the best quarterback in school history.
Brisbane led Sumner Academy to two league titles and led Sumner to its best season in school history last year.
However, confidence in Williams is high from two important sources – Sumner Academy head coach Todd Wassmann and star wide receiver and Kansas State signee Vernon Vaughn.
"For Brandon, this will be a big step up," Vaughn said. "He has the ability to do it."
Williams saw limited action as a sophomore last year, but has nice size and ability. He looked sharp during a practice earlier this week and has worked with getting well acquainted with Vaughn and other targets.
In limited action so far, he's made an impression on Wassmann.
"He's looked good in practice," Wassmann said. "He's an A/B student who works really hard. He's a lot like Armand, but not as much of a running threat.
Along with Vaughn, Williams will have a number of targets.
Marcus Allen should provide Sumner Academy with a reliable second wide receiver threat, while junior Deon Tripp leads a semi-running back by committee backfield.
"As far as guys who haven't done it before, Tripp has looked really good," Wassmann said.
Though he has not played much varsity, Williams is already well aware that expectations at Sumner Academy's growing program are continuing to increase.
"Winning is becoming a tradition here," Williams said.