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.
This reminds me of the Herman Ming highlight reel from last year. Browning has been great this season and here's about 10 minutes worth of reminders of how good he's been.
For information on how to get highlights, check out David Brox at Sport Highlights Unlimited. He does a great job and more and more players are turning to him to get film done.
Following a disappointing blowout loss at home to the Turner Golden Bears and a tough loss against the Basehor-Linwood Bobcats, Bonner Springs Braves head coach Lucas Aslin was faced with an important decision at the most important position on the field.
Would Aslin continue putting the offense in the hands of senior quarterback Jourdaine Smallwood? Or, would he gamble and turn to sophomore quarterback Jordan Jackson?
The choice at the time was controversial. The results have not been.
Since Jackson was inserted into the starting line-up as the quarterback, Bonner's offense has clicked.
In four starts for the Braves - all of which have been victories - Jackson has been almost perfect.
He's 39-of-62 from the field with 687 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's had no interceptions and only turned the ball over once - a botch snap against Schlagle two weeks ago. His quarterback rating in those four games has been an astonishing 135.
"We felt a change was needed," Aslin said. "I got a lot of heating in benching a senior quarterback for a sophomore. Jordan has been a really good quarterback for us."
Jordan's top target has been senior Stevie Williams.
Williams on the season has 35 receptions for 636 yards and eight touchdowns.
Most of that damage has been done over the course of the past month. Against Washington, he had over 100 yards on just four receptions, two of which were lengthy touchdowns.
"Jordan is a hard-worker for us," Williams said. "He's worked hard and he's becoming a great quarterback for us."
Bonner Springs has clinched a spot in the postseason, but if they defeat Lansing at home next Friday, a district title would find its way home to Bonner's program.
For the first year head coach at Bonner Springs and the young quarterback, they wouldn't have it any other way.
Schlagle, its league champion, was defeated by Lansing 32-13. Sumner Academy was dropped 32-8.
Wyandotte was defeated 69-3 and both Washington and Harmon dropped games to Kaw Valley League opponents 49-14.
Instead of citing stat by stat on why the league has struggled this season in games outside of the league, I will attempt to pinpoint the issues that face the league and have plagued it in the three full seasons I’ve covered it.
Before I get into the reasons why the league has struggled, there’s one myth worth busting right away.
There’s a lot of talent in this league. A lot of it. Vernon Vaughn from Sumner Academy is going to Kansas State. J’veyon Browning and Isaiah Ming are running backs who could fit in at most if not all programs in the Kansas City metro area. Darrin Hawkins for Harmon is one of the best overall football players I’ve covered and absolutely should be Division 1 if he got more respect from more people.
I keep hearing this “KCK doesn’t have talent” argument from people outside of Wyandotte County.
It’s not true. I could list player by player, but I don’t have time.
That said, here’s why I think the five KCK programs continue to be a little inconsistent against teams outside of the league.
1. It’s difficult to turnout a high number of kids compared to the school’s population and it’s difficult to keep them on the team. It’s amazing seeing how many kids from each team in the five KCK schools quit or who may be kicked off teams for whatever reason. I’ve seen teams lose half of their players during the season. Do the attitudes of the players have anything to with it? Or, do the coaches not do enough work to keep them interested in the team? Or both?
2. Five schools thin out the talent. This is no fault of anyone, really. It’s just bad luck. But could you imagine Terrance Simmons, Isaiah Ming, J’veyon Browning, Darrin Hawkins, Vernon Vaughn and those Schlagle Hogs on the same team? This hurts other sports, but boys basketball can easily survive it since basketball is the unofficial high school sport of KCK. But football is another story because it’s difficult to turnout kids as it is.
3. No open enrollment. Some districts in Topeka and Wichita have open enrollment, meaning students can choose which school they can play for. How awesome would it be for the top football players in this community to form somewhat of a dream team at one school? It may be a bit unfair, but KCK already faces an uphill battle. Again, you really can’t blame anyone here, but it’s a hurdle for coaches and players.
4. A lack of community support. Some of the bigger league games of the past few years have had horrible attendance numbers. I was really stunned by the lack of people at the Schlagle-Wyandotte game at Washington High School this year. At the time, that game was for the lead in the KCKAL and it was probably the biggest Wyandotte-Schlagle game in 10 years. Some of the attendance numbers during Sumner Academy's dream season were disappointing. I covered the Baldwin-Sumner playoff game and Baldwin had more fans, despite the school being located more than 40 minutes away. If the community displayed more interest in football, it would be better. I guarantee it.
5. Size. Once in a while, a team has great size, but even then - it's not enough. The Schlagle Hogs offensive line this year and Sumner Academy's offensive line last year were great. Still, neither team had enough depth in terms of size. Both teams' defensive lines were pushed around quite a bit at times. Pardon a stupid phrase, but size matters. Whether it's weight-lifting, conditioning or just not getting enough kids out, there is a size problem among football programs in the KCKAL. Sure, once in a while you have your T.J. Wallace's, but again there's not enough of those guys. In KCK, talented basketball guards grow on trees. But most of the football stars seem to be of the "diamond in the rough" variety, meaning you have to work hard in discovering them.
6. Money. KCK is a poor community. That's a sad fact of life. Eventually, when our audience grows and KCK Preps continues to reach more and more readers, I'm hoping to establish a charity of non-profit group that will help this.
7. Coaching. This is the one that will rub many the wrong way, but let me explain. This is not necessarily an indictment on the head coaches or anyone specific. I also respect the difficulty of coaching sports, especially football. It's a lot harder to coach football than any other sport.
But the following things bother me at times:
- It seems like each year, each program has the same Achilles heel. Whether it's not improving enough on the problems from the previous season or really not addressing them, it just feels like I'm covering the same team over and over again. It's a broken record to type "still struggling to establish a passing attack" or "not stopping the run enough."
- Nightmarish third quarters. In both football and basketball, the third quarter really serves as the most underrated quarter of the game. It's when you see how coaching adjustments work. It's how you see if one team made the right tweaks and if another did not. This year, there have been some awful third quarters from the KCKAL programs. Without mentioning them specifically, I invite you to look at box scores published by The Kansas City Star. You can pick one after another. Those lopsided third quarters mean either the team is wearing down or the coaching is not there. It's probably a mix of both more often than not.
- The fundamentals are not there. I see kids miss assignment after assignment. I see corner-backs failing to look at the ball, though that's a problem at all levels of football. I see poor methods of tackling. I see many, many stupid and at times bizarre penalties. While the state is calling more personal fouls this season, the amount I've witnessed being committed by the KCKAL programs this season have been endless. The false starts penalties, which are the most inexcusable penalties out there, are being committed more and more. It's one thing when you don't have enough talent; it's another when teams continue to beat themselves. That happens too much around here.
Coaching is far from the biggest reason, but I do think it's something that hurts players at times. Every season, it seems like the frustration levels between coaches and players grows more and more. Part of it is certainly the up and downs of the season, while part of it is the perception many of the hirings are made simply because the principal or whoever is in charge picks them due to friendships rather than ability.
That's really unfortunate.