Pirates football team leads the way in awards

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.

PHOTOS: KCK Preps Awards ceremony

Check out some photos from last weekend's awards show at The Legends Theatre in KCK!

Prospect Profile: Tanner Eikenbary (Piper)

Here's a look at Piper Pirates quarterback Tanner Eikenbary.

KCK Preps Prospect: Kendall Short, Mill Valley

Despite missing nearly half the season, Mill Valley Jaguars running back Kendall Short finished with over 700 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns.

Props to Washington's Sai-Vone Love

For the first time in my high school sports journalism career, I was bored out of my mind covering a high school football game this week.

Bonner Springs 42, Washington 0....at the half.

That's not a fun game to cover.

If it's not fun for me, I imagine how tough it might be for the players on the field to keep focus and to still play the game.

While several Washington Wildcats players did not quit, the one that stood out to me was linebacker and running back Sai-Vone Love.

Love, a senior, was playing his last game at home. He was all over the field. He broke tackles in the running game and delivered some hard, but legal, shots at some offensive players for Bonner Springs.

It was easy for many to quit, but Love did not.

Kudos to him.

PHOTOS: Bonner Springs vs. Washington

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Time for Turner Gill to go

It’s hard to argue which moment in Saturday afternoon’s 59-21 Kansas State victory over the Kansas Jayhawks could be categorized as “rock bottom.”

Was it the lopsided score itself? For the second straight year, Kansas allowed the Wildcats to put up 59 points on their home field. Kansas State has outscored the Jayhawks 118-28 the past two seasons – in Lawrence, Kan.

The score, as bad it is, is just the result.

There were three separate moments in the game that just symbolizes the differences between a Bill Snyder-coached team and a Turner Gill-coached team.

1. After the Jayhawks scored a touchdown to cut Kansas State's lead to 28-14, the Wildcats drive 48 yards in just 10 seconds to set up a last second field goal in the first half. That field goal made Kansas State's lead a three-possession game and really eliminated any momentum Kansas could take into the locker-room.

2. During a fumble by Kansas State on a KU punt, Wildcats linebacker Brian Hertzog rips the ball away from a KU defender who had temporarily recovered the fumble. It was clear as day that Hertzog simply outworked and out-hustled the Jayhawks special team unit, even though Kansas State was up 45-14 at the time. 

3. With Kansas State leading 52-14, Wildcats running back John Hubert drags two or three Jayhawks for 14 yards, four or five of which came after multiple Jayhawks had clamped down on him. 

Those three moments absolutely symbolize how the Jayhawks have went away from tough and smart football they had with former head coach Mark Mangino and to what they have now under Gill. 

Gill must go.

Watching the Kansas State-Kansas game instead of Missouri-Oklahoma State was an easy game for me today. I thought there was some intrigue coming into the game. Kansas State seemed to play with fate each week and I thought KU had a semi-chance to make it close. 
Well, key word is "thought."

The talent levels between the two schools are not radically different. Collin Klein is not Michael Bishop. He's not Ell Roberson. He's not Chad May. 

He may not even be Michael Beasley. 

That's not to say Klein is a bad quarterback. It's to say that Kansas State's roster is not littered with four or five-star prospects. Talent is not one of the two or three reasons why Kansas State won the game as big as they did Saturday afternoon. 

The talent difference between the two schools did not immediately jump off the page to me like it did in last week's Oklahoma-Kansas game when OU won by 30. 

Instead of talent, I noticed the following differences:

- Fewer missed tackles. Kansas State's tackling was outstanding throughout most of the game. There were very few missed tackles. You cannot say the same for Kansas' defense. 

- Discipline. The Jayhawks' special team unit was called for three penalties on one kick return. KU had over 100 yards in penalties Saturday, while Kansas State just had two. This has been a common theme the past two years for both programs.

- Conditioning. KU looked worn out early against Kansas State. The Wildcats did not. As "big, mean and fat" Mangino may have been, it's hard to remember the last time you seen KU looked like they wanted to quit and were worn down. Even in their darkest days in Mangino's final year, they fought. They came out and played very well against a solid Missouri team in what turned out to be Mangino's final game at Arrowhead Stadium. They played Kansas State tough. The effort does not appear to be there for Kansas under Gill right now. 

- Defensive coaching. I mentioned this to one of my best friends who's a Kansas State fan after they "upset" Missouri at home a few weeks back. Kansas State's defensive coaching is amazing and they remind me of the New England Patriots. They're not dominant, but they rarely play stupid. The Wildcats simply do not have that many missed assignments. KU's defense? They had more missed assignments than KU's incoming freshman basketball class did in high school.

The four items above are not dictated by talent. 

They are dictated by coaching and leadership. 

One school in Kansas has it. One school in Kansas doesn't. 

Kansas State 59, Kansas 21. 

Fire Gill.

Rapid fire thoughts as we enter final week

This will be a little bit different this week. No six or eight thoughts – just any quick thoughts I have over the next 10 minutes.

Starting now!

1. The most underrated player in Kansas City, Kan., may be Washington's DeAnte Ambler. He needs to fix his body language at times, but he's great in the open field and whenever I cover Washington, it seems like Ambler always breaks one or two runs on either rushing plays or kickoff returns. He had a punt return in the opening week of the year against Harmon and he broke one from 77 yards against Bonner Springs Friday night.

2. Feel free to laugh at me, Bonner fans, but the one offensive player I would take from your team first is Stevie Williams. Williams is underrated in how that offense rolls. He's a great deep threat and whenever he's in the game, you have to notice him. He's a great leader for that team and his confidence has to rub off on you if you're in the same huddle.

3. Despite his bad night, Harmon Hawks quarterback Terrance Simmons is the most improved player I've ever covered on the football side from the beginning of his career to the end of it. He went from a so-so quarterback to a dangerous one almost overnight.

4. Washington is an accurate quarterback away from having a very dangerous passing attack. Rainier Kountz-London is a great athlete who can run well in the open field and can hit hard, but pegging him into the quarterback position is like placing a square peg into a circle. While dropped balls hurt Friday night, Washington's wide receivers are young and will be good next year. If the Wildcats find an accurate quarterback, look out.

5. The district system gets heat, but it's fair. Many will be upset about Schlagle missing out on the postseason, but the Bonner game was very winnable and so was Lansing. Schlagle had their chance but could not take advantage of it. 

6. Bonner Springs head coach Lucas Aslin benching a senior quarterback for sophomore quarterback Jordan Jackson might be the most gutsy coaching decision in my four years of covering high school football. It might also be the gamble that pays off the most not just now, but the future. 

7. As good as Bonner Springs can be, they had no business being up 42-0 at halftime against Washington. The Wildcats have talent and they should have performed better.

8. Despite Turner's blowout defeat, I still think they have a really good shot at shocking Mill Valley next Friday to advance out of district play. Mill Valley's the favorite, but it should not surprise any if Turner pulls it out. 

9. Over the past four years, the Kansas City Kansas - Atchison League's biggest problem has been defensive coaching and fundamentals. More on this later in the week. 

10. The halftime show and entertainment from Washington's Marching Band was the best halftime show I've ever seen. 

11. I don't regret my prediction about Sumner Academy winning league this year. Had an AAU coach not talked Benny Parker out of playing football this year or if Vernon Vaughn and Marcus Allen had remained healthy, I would have liked their chances a lot this year. I stand by that pick and if those three appeared on Sumner's roster tomorrow, I'd pick them to win league all over again. 

12. Despite this year, the coaching job Sumner Academy Sabres head coach Todd Wassmann has done the past five years is still one of the most under-appreciated coaching jobs in the metro area. Flashing back to my high school days this week reminded me of how bad Sumner was in football and how much they have mattered the past four years. Wassmann has been one of the biggest reasons why. 

13. Chris Brindle, Piper Pirates head coach, is doing an "under the radar" great job in his first season at Piper. He's looking at 6-3, a district title and a home game to begin the postseason if they take care of business against Sumner Academy. Piper's doing it after losing one of the best senior classes I've covered and they are doing it with a sophomore quarterback. Not bad.

ACT Words of the Day: October 21-22

Here was Friday's ACT word of the day, along with Saturday's.

Again, I do this because the education of a student-athlete means more and without passing the ACT exam, no college career is possible.

As always, these words have appeared on ACT tests before. 

October 21:

October 22:

Ward edged out by St. James Academy

The Bishop Ward Cyclones played their closest game in over two seasons Friday night.

Still, the final result was the same as the past two seasons.

St. James Academy defeated Ward 27-14 at home Friday night, sending the Cyclones to an 0-8 record.

Cyclones quarterback Mike Golubski delivered two touchdown passes in the game. He hit Angel Rodriguez on an 82-yard touchdown pass to tie the game after the first quarter.

However, the pairing of St. James quarterback Alex King and wide receiver Matt Eckelman became a little annoying for the Cyclones by the end of the night.

King and Eckelman hooked up for three touchdowns over the remaining three quarters. Two touchdowns from 36 and 19 yards out extended St. James’ lead to 21-7 after the third quarter.

Ward responded.

Golubski hit C.J. Vallejo on a four-yard touchdown pass the cut the lead in half.

But one final touchdown for Eckelman was the final blow.

He was the recipient of a 43-yard touchdown pass from King in the fourth quarter. King finished the game 11-of-16 for 209 yards and four touchdowns. Eckelman’s three touchdowns totaling 98 yards were the only three receptions he made on the night.

For Ward, Golubski passed for 205 yards and two touchdowns, but unfortunately tossed five interceptions in the game. 

Rodriguez’ 118 receiving yards led Ward in that department.

Turnovers costly as Mill Valley eliminates Harmon from postseason contention

Isaiah Ming’s 69-yard touchdown was a beautiful start for the Harmon Hawks in Friday night’s district game against Mill Valley.

Unfortunately, those eight early points for Harmon were answered by Mill Valley quite easily, as they reeled off 49 unanswered points to defeat Harmon 49-14.

Ming’s touchdown run was answered by Kendall Short’s two-yard touchdown run.

Ethan Rice picked off Hawks quarterback Terrance Simmons and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, extending Mill Valley’s lead to 13-8.

Simmons had one of his few tough games of the season Friday night.

He finished 11-of-22 for 242 yards, but tossed a season high three interceptions in the loss.

Skyler Windmiller, meanwhile, was a bit more efficient. He finished 10-of-17 for 130 yards and two touchdowns, but most importantly made no mistakes.

Windmiller’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Wade Hanna was the first of two touchdowns for the connection.

That touchdown put Mill Valley up 21-7 after the Jaguars scored the two-point conversion. The score was also effectively the game-winner Friday night.

Ming was on the receiving end of a 36-yard touchdown pass to snap the 49-point scoring streak for Mill Valley.

With the loss, Harmon falls to 3-5 on the season, while Mill Valley improves to 6-2.

Mill Valley travels to Turner next week. The winner of the game earns a trip to the postseason.

Bonner’s big three explodes in limited action as Braves hammer Washington to earn playoff bid

For the Bonner Springs football program Friday, there was not much to complain about in their 49-14 victory on the road against Washington.

First, the win puts the Braves back into the postseason.

Second, the Braves momentum on their now four-game winning streak continues.

Third, Jordan Jackson keeps on growing up as the sophomore quarterback.

Fourth, most of Bonner’s key contributors had short nights as the Braves put together a 42-0 halftime lead.

In limited action, Johnathan Jackson kept it going on the ground for Bonner Springs. He had 17 carries for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

However, it was the passing game – particularly in plays that involved wideout Stevie Williams – that put the game away early.

Williams was the favorite target of the sophomore quarterback, who finished his outing 7-of-9 for 155 yards and three touchdown passes.

After a penalty wiped off a deep touchdown pass to Joseph Dooley, the Braves went right back to it. Williams’ 29-yard reception kept the Braves momentum going on a third-and-long play. Moments later, Williams 35-yard touchdown reception was the first score of the game.

On Bonner’s next drive, Williams struck again. His 28-yard touchdown reception extended the Braves lead to 14-0.

It was all downhill from there.

“Getting off to good starts has been our focus lately,” said Williams, who finished with four catches and 106 yards with those two touchdowns. “Coach has wanted us to jump all over them and tonight we did.”

Head coach Lucas Aslin turned to his running game to round out the dominate first half, which saw Bonner Springs outgain Washington by almost 300 yards.

After Jordan Jackson earned his third passing touchdown, the remaining four touchdowns for Bonner Springs came on the ground.

Johnathan Jackson’s three-yard touchdown extended the lead to 35-0. Backup running back Jared Knernschield, who also eclipsed 100 yards on the ground, scored from 20 yards out for the Braves final score of the first half.

A touchdown early in the second half pushed the score to 49-0.

The two bright spots on the night for Washington were DeAnte Ambler and Sai-Vone Love.

Ambler’s 77-yard touchdown gave Washington its first score the game. Ambler juked three different Brave defenders on the play. Love, meanwhile, displayed great passion on the field even in a 49-0 game and “stuck” some Bonner Springs players on offense when he was playing linebacker.

But the story of the night was Bonner Springs and its first half.

“We’ve gotten off to slow starts all year long,” Aslin said. “We can’t do that against teams in the postseason. We came out fast tonight and put them away.”

While the Braves are in and ready to go this postseason, there’s still unfinished business for the Braves.

If Bonner Springs defeats Lansing at home, they would win the district title and host a home game, something that could come in hand as the postseason starts.

That means for Aslin, there’s something to play and coach for.

“It’d be huge,” Aslin said. “Every week since districts began, we’ve wanted to finish the week 1-0. Next week is another test for us and playing time could be on the line.”

For the senior Williams, he’ll have one more chance to earn a postseason football victory before he leaves Bonner Springs.

“This is a great feeling,” Williams said. “We worked hard all summer and all season long to get here.”

Bonner Springs, now 5-3 on the season, takes on the 5-3 Lansing Lions at home next Friday night. Both teams are in the postseason, but the winner claims a district title.

Miege blanks Turner 49-0

As expected, the Bishop Miege Stags will advance out of their district, clinching a spot after blaning Turner at home 49-0.

Montel Cozart was the star of the game for Miege, scoring four touchdowns overall and racking up over 320 yards of total offense.

In the passing game, he was 7-for-14, good enough for 178 yards and one touchdown. On 15 rushing attempts, Cozart had 136 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns.

Quanzee Johnson added two touchdowns – a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown.

Turner’s defense held Miege at bay in the first quarter, trailing by just 7.

The Stags, however, broke the game wide open with a 21-point third quarter. Cozart’s two biggest touchdown runs of the game – from 46 yards and 25 yards – were in the third quarter.

With the win, Miege improves to 7-1 on the season, while Turner falls to 4-4. 
Turner could still advance out of district if they upset Mill Valley at home next Friday night.