Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lonergan steps down as head coach at SM South

Ryan Lonergan. KC Star.
On Wednesday, Ryan Lonergan tendered his resignation as the head coach of SM South.

"I really feel like the program is on better ground now than when I arrived," Lonergan said. "There are great kids and parents at SM South, but it's time for me to move on."

Lonergan spent four seasons as the Raiders' head coach. In that time, he compiled a 13-24 (.351) record.

Lonergan came to SM South as an assistant from SM West. When he inherited the program, the Raiders had gone six years without having won more than three games in any one season.

SM South went 2-7 in Lonergan's first year, then improved to 4-5 in both 2012 and 2013. They dropped to 3-7 this past fall, but did manage to make the playoffs for the first time under Lonergan's watch.

Lonergan noted he plans to continue coaching and teaching, but has yet to make a decision on where or in what capacity.

The head coaching vacancy is the fourth of its kind this offseason in the Sunflower League, and the third from within the Shawnee Mission School District.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Underwood's Sunflower League Elite Eleven Teams

Andre Maloney Award
Sunflower League Most Valuable Player
Kyle Ball (6-2, 235) - 2X Elite Eleven
Senior, SM East
Defensive End

Defense: 118 tackles (37 for loss), 10 sacks

Arguably the league's most dominant defender since Mike Rivera, Ball was the centerpiece of SM East's 24-2 record the past two seasons, which is something you don't often hear about a defensive end. For his career, Ball recorded 272 tackles and more than 20 sacks. In the past two seasons alone he had 65 tackles for loss. With an offer in hand from Kansas, expect the defensive specimen to add to his legacy in the FBS ranks.

Coach's comment: "His motor never stopped and he raised everyone's level of play."

Mike Rivera Award
Sunflower League Defensive Player of the Year
Amani Bledsoe (6-5, 275)
Junior, Lawrence
Defensive End/Offensive Tackle

Defense: 70 tackles (14 for loss), 13 sacks, 1 f. fum.
Offense: Team rushed for 2,900+ yards

Entering the season with four FBS offers placed a sizeable target on Bledsoe's back. The exposure certainly didn't hurt the junior's production, as he led the league in sacks and in the process claimed another five offers. Bledsoe was just as valuable on offense, as he was one of just two league players to earn first-team honors on both offense and defense.

Coach's comment: "No one in the KC metro has the offers he has at the end of his junior year."

Darren Sproles Award
Sunflower League Offensive Player of the Year
JD Woods (5-8, 180)
Junior, Lawrence
Running Back/Cornerback

Offense: 205 carries, 1,667 yards, 20 TDs
Defense: 48 tackles, 2 interceptions

Nobody in east Kansas had anything close to Woods' explosiveness out of the backfield. He tallied 12 carries that went for 40 yards or more, with three touchdown runs of more than 75 yards. He was also a starting cornerback for the Chesty Lions, meaning he rarely had a chance to catch to his breath. Woods looks more than capable of eclipsing 2,000 rushing yards as a senior.

Coach's comment: "I've never politicked, but he played defense and still had 1,600 yards."

Gunnar Englund (6-2, 180)
Senior, SM East

Offense: 47-of-98 passing, 1,249 yards, 21 TDs (4 ints); 82 carries, 710 rushing yards, 6 TDs

Englund became the first, and only (for now) quarterback in SM East's 57-year history to lead the Lancers to a state title victory. Think about that for a moment. Englund managed SM East's intricate flexbone offense for a total of 17 starts between his junior and senior seasons, and finished with a 16-1 record (.941), which is the highest winning percentage of any league quarterback with at least 15 starts in the modern era. Needless to say, the bar has been set very high for SM East's future signal-callers.

Scott Frantz (6-6, 290)
Senior, Free State
Offensive Tackle

Offense: Team had 4,000+ yards of total offense

Thanks to players like Braden Smith, Austin Chambers, and Frantz, the league is developing a reputation for top flight offensive lineman worthy of FBS offers. In June, Frantz committed to K-State over eight other offers from schools in the ACC, Big 12, and B1G. With an undeniable combination of sound fundamentals and a capable nasty streak, Frantz was the league's most dominant offensive lineman from the start of the season to its conclusion. Recruitniks feel the talented Firebird will have a chance to compete for early playing time in Manhattan.

Nick Perez (6-1, 180)
Senior, SM North
Wide Receiver/Safety

Offense: 46 receptions, 949 yards, 13 TDs
Defense: 98 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery

Perez' team might have only won two games, but the senior would have started for any team in the league -- and done well. Offensively he had 446 more receiving yards and five more receiving touchdowns than the league's second best statistical receiver. Defensively, he had a knack for creating turnovers and his near 100 tackles spoke to his ability to play just as well against the run as the pass in the secondary.

Isaiah Ross (5-11, 185)
Senior, Leavenworth
Safety/Wide Receiver

Offense: 98 carries, 583 yards, 6 TDs, 30 receptions, 478 yards, 5 TDs
Defense: 60 tackles, 6 interceptions (1 TD), 2 forced fumbles, 1 blocked kick

Ross is one of just a handful of four-year starters I can name off the top of my head from the league all-time. To put that in perspective, he was a starter against the Olathe South team that won a state title in 2011. Versatile as all get-out, Ross recorded more than 2,000 yards of total offense in his career, playing both running back and receiver. Defensively, he grabbed 15 interceptions in his four seasons.

Jake Seurer (5-10, 180) - 2X Elite Eleven
Senior, Olathe South

Offensive stats: 65-of-107 passing, 1,043 yards, 10 TDs (6 ints), 100 carries, 497 rushing yards, 11 TDs
Defensive stats: 85 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble

If you were looking for the league's most steady player the past couple seasons, look no further than Seurer. As a junior he led the league in tackles with 136, while combining for over 1,000 yards of total offense and adding 10 touchdowns. His efforts this fall helped Olathe South to a 7-3 record, and the program's first playoff berth since 2011. While Seurer didn't carry the clout of some of the league's more well-known players, he was as solid as they come.

Bryce Torneden (5-10, 175)
Junior, Free State

Offensive stats: 75-of-143 passing, 1,064 yards, 10 TDs (8 ints); 217 carries, 1,277 rushing yards, 15 TDs
Defensive stats: 67 tackles, 2 interceptions (1 TD), 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery

The Sunflower League has had some great legacies. The Bowens, the Gores, the Lawrences, etc. But perhaps no family has brought as much excitement to the league as the Tornedens. Bryce lived up to the legacy set by his older brother, Camren (2007-2009), this year, joining the 1,000/1000 Club, leading Free State to a Sub-State berth, and setting the tone as the league's most dynamic quarterback.

Venus Triplett (5-8, 190) - 2X Elite Eleven
Senior, Olathe North
Running Back

Offensive stats: 259 carries, 1,284 yards, 23 TDs, 11 receptions, 252 yards, 2 TDs
Special teams stats: 2 punt return TDs

While he never won a state title or a Simone, Triplett was the heart and soul of the Eagles' offensive efforts over the last three years -- especially this fall, with Cole Murphy hobbled and defenses keying on the senior running back. Triplett also had that unique gamebreaking ability that you so rarely see at the high school level. His 83-yard touchdown reception against Blue Valley in Sectionals epitomized three years of dominance in one play.

James Wooldridge (6-0, 210) 
Senior, SM East
Offensive Tackle

Offensive stats: Team had 5,500+ yards of total offense

It's not often you see a starting offensive tackle around the league who barely stands six-foot tall and needs a five-course meal to hit the 210-pound mark. It's even more rare when a kid of that stature is a First Team All-League selection by the coaches in back-to-back seasons. Wooldridge wasn't a behemoth, but his performance suggested otherwise. The Lancers' top offensive lineman, Wooldridge helped carve up defensive ends and linebackers in the team's flexbone scheme, and was highly instrumental in the club's 24-2 record the past few years.

Dick Purdy Coaching Award
Sunflower League Coach of the Year
Mark Littrell, Leavenworth
6-5, District & Regional Champions

The second-year Leavenworth head coach and his club were aided by the drop to 5A, a classification whose foes they finished 5-1 against, but it would be doing Littrell and Co. an injustice to not mention all they accomplished. In 2014, the Pioneers won their first playoff game in program history. In 2014, the Pioneers won their district for the first time in program history. And in 2014, the Pioneers won more than four games for the first time on record. Their six wins were the same amount of wins they tallied in the seven seasons from 2005 to 2011. Any one of those stats could have won Littrell the Coach of the Year award. 

Second Eleven

Wyatt Edmisten (5-9, 180)
Junior, SM East

For a kid who was basically an unknown entering 2014, Edmisten had a legendary season. The talented junior -- playing the vaunted fullback role in SM East's flexbone offense -- carried the ball 260 times for 1,523 yards and 32 touchdowns. With those efforts he became just the ninth league player since 2000 to score 30 or more touchdowns in a single season.

Mitch Holsinger (6-2, 240)
Senior, Olathe Northwest
Offensive Tackle/Defensive Tackle

The senior interior lineman was a dominant all-around force and had much to do with Olathe Northwest's improved rushing attack. Defensively he pulled down 74 tackles (24 for loss), four sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. But he was probably most revered along the offensive line, where he helped the Ravens combine for over 3,000 yards of total offense.

Anthony Hunt (5-10, 200)
Senior, Leavenworth

No player embodied Leavenworth's culture change from league patsy to legitimate contender as much as Hunt. The senior linebacker, who led the league in tackles for the better portion of the season, finished as its leading tackler. For the year he tallied 137 tackles, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one defensive touchdown, helping Leavenworth to their first playoff victory in school history.

Dalton Lewallen (6-0, 190)
Senior, SM South
Linebacker/Running Back

A theme among Ryan Lonergan coached teams is a warrior type of player who simply produces. That guy was Lewallen this season. Offensively he carried the ball 110 times for 556 yards and six touchdowns, and he caught 12 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively he had 111 tackles, two interceptions, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Isaiah Macklin (5-9, 165)
Senior, SM West
Wide Receiver/Cornerback

It seemed like Macklin was in the league for 10 years. After solid sophomore and juniors seasons, he finally put it all together as a senior. As arguably the league's top cover corner, Macklin snagged six interceptions for a combined 162 return yards and a touchdown. Offensively he hauled in 12 catches for 205 yards, and in the return game he averaged 31.2 yards per kick return, and scored a touchdown.

Josh Moore (6-5, 255)
Senior, Olathe North
Tight End/Defensive End

Cocky, controversial, and colorful, the Eagle senior found a way to garner plenty of attention once again in his final season.  As a tight end he caught 17 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns. On defense he logged 40 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. He'll take his talents to Kansas next fall where some project he'll make the move to the offensive line.

Price Morgan (6-2, 210)
Junior, Lawrence
Linebacker/Tight End

Morgan made headlines as a sophomore, and naturally, because of that, carried weighty expectations into 2014. The inside linebacker brought great effort and intensity every week, and recorded 120 tackles on defense, and seven catches for 135 yards on offense. LHS will need that kind of effort and more from Morgan in 2015 if they want to have a breakthrough season.

Carter Pembridge (6-4, 250)
Senior, SM West
Offensive Tackle/Defensive End

No player's had the ups and downs of Pembridge the last three years. He was a sophomore starter for SM West when they won the state title in 2012. In 2013, he and the program lost Andre Maloney, then later in the year Pembridge suffered a torn ACL. He bounced back to have a tremendous senior season, logging 50 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble, while leading the Vikings along the offensive line.

Marcel Spears (6-1, 215)
Senior, Olathe North
Linebacker/Wide Receiver

For the third year in a row the Iowa State bound Spears put together a well-rounded stat line on the defensive side of the football -- 86 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. He also showed versatility on offense, carrying the ball 20 times for 206 yards and three touchdowns. All of which helped Olathe North to a second consecutive Sub-State berth.

DJ Turner (6-0, 190)
Junior, SM West

Turner quietly put together about as solid of a season as you can ask for from a defender. From his linebacker position he recorded 127 tackles, four sacks, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and one forced fumble, helping SM West to a 6-5 record and Sectional berth. Expect the junior to be a disruptive force around the league in his senior season next year for the Vikings.

Charley White (6-0, 165)
Senior, SM East
Wide Receiver/Safety

While he'll be remembered for his two touchdown receptions in the 6A state title game, White was known around the league for his defense and return abilities. He snagged five interceptions, in addition to forcing three fumbles and recording 58 tackles. In the return game he averaged 21.5 yards per punt return and had one touchdown. Offensively he had 194 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hibbs done at SM Northwest

Linn Hibbs
Linn Hibbs is no longer the head football coach at SM Northwest.

According to the Sumner News Cow, Hibbs tendered his resignation Thursday morning.

The decision was made official on Friday, when the Shawnee Mission School District posted a vacancy for the SM Northwest head coaching position.

Hibbs and his staff went 7-21 (.250) in three years with the Cougars. The highlight of his tenure came in 2013 when they defeated the defending state champs from SM West to qualify for the playoffs.

Hibbs brought an impressive 116-55 record to SM Northwest. He'd spent the previous 15 years of his head coaching career at Wellington High School, where his teams claimed two Class 4A state titles, in 2001 and 2002, and a runner-up finish in 2000.

Despite the resignation as football coach, Hibbs plans to remain at SM Northwest as a physical education teacher.

For SM Northwest, the program will be seeking its fourth head coach since 2005.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2014 Coaches' All-Sunflower League Teams

JD Woods led the Sunflower League in
rushing yards with 1,677. Photo LJW.
First Team

Andre Maloney Player of the Year
Kyle Ball, Senior, SM East

Gunnar Englund, Senior, SM East

Running Back
JD Woods, Junior, Lawrence
Venus Triplett, Senior, Olathe North
Wyatt Edmisten, Junior, SM East

Wide Receiver
Isaiah Ross, Senior, Leavenworth
Nick Perez, Senior, SM North
Alec Dean, Senior, SM East

Tight End
Coleman Clanton, Senior, Olathe South

Offensive Line
Scott Frantz, Senior, Free State
Amani Bledsoe, Junior, Lawrence
Chase Latscha, Senior, Olathe South
James Wooldridge, Senior, SM East
Mitch Holsinger, Senior, Olathe Northwest

Defensive Line
Amani Bledsoe, Junior, Lawrence
Kyle Ball, Senior, SM East
Josh Moore, Senior, Olathe North
Marcel Williams, Senior, Olathe North
Shane Hofer, Free State, Senior

Price Morgan, Junior, Lawrence
Marcel Spears, Senior, Olathe North
Anthony Hunt, Senior, Leavenworth
Sam Pottenger, Senior, SM East
For the second year in a row, Olathe North's
Venus Triplett was a First-Team selection
by the Coaches. Photo KC Star.

Defensive Backs
Isaiah Ross, Senior, Leavenworth
Jake Seurer, Senior, Olathe South
Charley White, Senior, SM East
Jesse Kendricks, Senior, Olathe North

Chris Diddle, Olathe East

Scott Davis, Olathe South

Kick Returner
Juwann Potts, Leavenworth

Punt Returner
Venus Triplett, Olathe North

Second Team

Bryce Torneden, Junior, Free State

Running Back
Adam Harter, Senior, Olathe Northwest
Jalen Branson, Senior, Olathe East
Marshall Bland, Senior, SM South

Wide Receiver
Zach Cahill, Senior, Olathe East
Jeighlon Cornell, Senior, Olathe North
Joel Spain, Senior, Free State

Tight End
Josh Moore, Senior, Olathe North

Offensive Line
Will Kaiser, Senior, SM East
Tyler Bacon, Senior, Olathe North
Alex Mendoza, Senior, Leavenworth
Brycen Hinson, Senior, Olathe East
Darrell Jackson, Senior, SM North

Defensive Line
Ned Bingaman, Senior, SM South
Carter Pembridge, Senior, SM West
Parker Soukup, Senior, Olathe South
Jonathan Pressler, Senor, SM North

Nate Howard, Senior, Olathe South
Carson Bowen, Senior, Free State
David Burton, Junior, Olathe Northwest
Jadon McGaha, Senior, Olathe North

Defensive Backs
Isaiah Simmons, Junior, Olathe North
Joel Spain, Senior, Free State
Isaiah Macklin, Senior, SM West
Jonathon Sands, Senior, Olathe South

Logan Swartz, Olathe South

Landry Hodges, Leavenworth

Kick Returner
Asher Goldston, SM West

Punt Returner
Charley White, SM East

Honorable Mention

Lawrence - Tanner Green, Cole Greenwood, Jacob Unrah, Trey Moore, Cy Burghart, Dearion Cooper, Konnor Kelley, Ellis Springe, Alan Clothier, Ivan Hollins

Lawrence Free State - Tye Carter, Paul Bittinger, Andrew Keating, Coleman Hauk, Blake Murray, Michael Georgie, Daniel Clarke, Josiah LeBrun

Leavenworth - Nate Amos, Gunnar Freeman, Sanchez Williams, Nick Starnes, Jacob Bohnemann

Olathe East - Ron Broyles, Kiah Cockrell, Max McClellan

Olathe North - Dennis Russell, Cole Murphy, Chaz Burgess, Vinnie Shabazz

Olathe Northwest - Ethan Wall, Zee Pinkerton, Eli Pruss, Blake Bascue, Mitch Kennedy, Jack Hatzfeld, Devin Antcil, Jake Yarbrough, Manny Psihountas

Olathe South - Collin Fischer, DaeVonte Nance, Ryan Stearns, David Alex, Bryce Meenahan, Sam Harvey, Devin Brown, Cole Browning, Brian Carpenter, Judd Fee, Scott Davis, Nick Bax

SM East - Will Amrein, Devin Price, Sam Williams, Jack Anderson, Rider Terry, Jackson Gossick, Sam Huffman, Will Oakley

SM North - Alex DeHerrera, Alec Turnbull, Danny Pressler, Tyler Burnett, Isaiah Shields, Jake Langley, Will Schneider, Caesar Delgado

SM Northwest - Kendall Spencer, Jonathan Killeen, Alex Quinn

SM South - Tyler Perdue, Brendan Brooks, Trent Flagler, Steve Erbacher, Kevin Escobar, Ryan Donnelly, Zach Gerber, Joe Fales, Matt Hollingsworth, Dalton Lewallen

SM West - Jordan McKinney, Tarik Watson, Jose Montoya, John Masterson, Tyler Thayer, Jared Green, Logan Leodler, Conner Riley, Tyler Brewer

Note: Please email me if there are any omissions from the above lists and/or any names are spelled incorrectly.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

SM East defeats Hutchinson 33-14, wins 6A title

Sam Huffman and SM East's offense managed to keep the Hutchinson defense off balance and
guessing during Saturday's 6A state title game. SM East was victorious, 33-14. Photo Kansas City Star.

It took 57 years, but at long last SM East was the final team standing. The Lancers claimed their first ever state championship Saturday, defeating Hutchinson 33-14 in the 6A state title game in Emporia.

Hutchinson, the winner of seven big-class state titles since 2004, received the opening kickoff to start the game. A play later they gave SM East a "welcome to Hutch football" moment when running back Blaik Middleton ran around the Lancer defense on a 22-yard run. The Salthawks went to Middleton again shortly thereafter, but he fumbled the ball and SM East recovered near midfield.

The Lancers put together one of their hallmark drives, going 52 yards over 14 plays, and converting two fourth down attempts. Wyatt Edmisten took a fullback dive into the endzone for the first score of the game, and SM East led 7-0.

The two teams traded punts, before Hutchinson began their third possession of the game to start the second quarter. A 46-yard run from Turner Wintz on a bootleg play put Hutchinson in SM East territory. A few plays later Middleton took a carry off the right tackle, made it to the second level, then cut back against the grain and curved toward the endzone on a 39-yard touchdown run. The score tied the game at 7.

SM East began their next possession at their own 20-yard line, and put together what might have been their most impressive drive of the day. Sam Huffman took the first play of the drive 20 yards. Two 20-yard runs from Edmisten put SM East deep in Hutchinson territory, before he scored his second touchdown of the game from one yard out. The PAT missed, but SM East led 13-7 at the 8:09 mark of the second quarter.

Hutchinson answered right back, driving over 60 yards into the SM East redzone. On a fourth down play, Wintz fumbled the snap, recovered the ball, rolled to his right, then found receiver Ryan Stocklein in the middle of the endzone for a touchdown. The Salthawks converted the PAT and took a 14-13 lead on the 73-yard drive.

SM East would respond, again.

Cued by a kickoff return to the 45-yard line by Jack Tyler, the Lancers compiled a nice drive, taking the ball into Hutchinson territory and driving the clock under two minutes.

Quarterback Gunnar Englund found a good time to complete his only touchdown of the day, dropping a 35-yard strike on the money to Charley White who caught the ball and ran untouched into the endzone. SM East couldn't convert the two-point conversion, but led 19-14.

On their ensuing possession, Hutchinson made quick work getting down the field and into SM East territory. However, their last-second Hail Mary pass was batted down by the Lancers' secondary, and the game went to the intermission with SM East leading, 19-14.

That proved to be Hutchinson's last gasp at getting back into the game.

To start the second half, the Salthawks attempted a surprise onside kick, but SM East was alert and recovered the loose ball. A quick drive later, the Lancers scored on a six-yard touchdown run from Edmisten to go up 26-14.

Hutchinson managed to drive to the SM East 27-yard line on their next possession, courtesy of a 33-yard run from Wintz. But Wintz fumbled the ball on a carry up the middle, and SM East recovered and took over at their own 17-yard line.

The Lancers drove to midfield, and actually had a 50-yard touchdown run from Huffman called back on a holding call, before being forced to punt.

Hutchinson didn't manage anything on their next possession, and dug themselves into a deeper hole when SM East sniffed out their fake punt attempt.

The Lancers ran the remaining minutes of the third quarter off the board, before punting the ball back to the Salthawks to begin the fourth quarter.

Hutchinson drove to midfield, but surrendered possession when they were unable to convert a fourth down try with just over eight minutes left in the game.

SM East then put together what would be be the deciding drive of the game. On the first play of the drive, a pitch to Mike Bamford took the Lancers to the Salthawk 26-yard line. A couple runs ran more time off the clock, before Englund surprised everyone on third down, finding White on a 22-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone.

A successful PAT gave SM East a controlling 33-14 lead, with just 5:37 remaining in the game. Hutchinson would turn the ball over on downs, before SM East regained possession and ran out the clock.

The victory put the exclamation point on SM East's perfect season, just the fifth of its kind among all Sunflower League teams since 2000. It also improved second-year Lancer head coach Dustin Delaney's record to 24-2 overall.

The Lancer defense had a bend-but-don't-break mentality against Hutchinson. SM East allowed
346 rushing yards, but also forced two turnovers, and only gave up two touchdowns. Photo Kansas City Star. 
Box Score

SM East (13-0) 7 12 7 7 -- 33
Hutchinson (8-5) 0 14 0 0 -- 14

SME - Edmisten 1 run (Tamblyn kick)
HHS - Middleton 39 run (Culley kick)
SME - Edmisten 2 run (Tamblyn kick failed)
HHS - Stocklein 13 pass from Wintz (Culley kick)
SME - White 36 pass from Englund (Huffman run failed)
SME - Edmisten 6 run (Tamblyn kick)
SME - White 22 pass from Englund (Tamblyn kick)

Passing - SM East, Englund 2-7-58-0; Hutchinson, Wintz, 2-5-23-0

Rushing - SM East, Edmisten 32-142, Huffman 7-55, Bamford 5-45, Englund 7-28; Hutchinson, Middleton 28-163, Wintz 13-161, Hardenberger 6-22.

Receiving - SM East, White 2-58; Hutchinson, Stocklein, 2-23.