Secondly, I expanded to included defensive lineman on this list, however, I once again did not include offensive lineman. The reason? Quite honestly there's too much effort that would have to go into evaluating offensive lineman to come up with a fair and objective group that would fit into these two teams.
Like I've always said, the best way to evaluate the top offensive lineman in the league is to look at the Coaches All-Sunflower League Team. The coaches are the ones who evaluate the lineman on a weekly basis and their knowledge of who's best is going to be more accurate that anything you could pick up from going to the games on Friday nights or watching reruns on Metro Sports.
And lastly, the players are not listed in any particular order, so throw that out if you thought you were on to something. The Coach of the Year is also listed at the bottom of the Elite Eleven team.
The Elite Eleven
Passing Stats: 117-of-178, 1,554 yards, 11 TDs
Rushing Stats: 85 carries, 707 yards, 11 TDs
Return Stats: 1 Kick Return TD
Receiving Stats: 64 catches, 1,265 yards, 15 TDs
Kendall Kelly, Senior – Olathe East
Rushing Stats: 212 carries, 1,222 yards, 22 TDs
Defensive Stats: 53 tackles, 1 fumble recovery
Kelly really experienced a resurgence in his senior year of football. We had high hopes for the talented running back/defensive back after he capped off a tremendous sophomore season at SM North. However, as a junior, he had a forgettable season for the Indians and more or less fell off the map.
Kelly transferred to Olathe East and it was probably the best thing for him. After a relatively slow start to the season, he picked up steam and became the Hawks go to back in redzone situations, evidence by his 22 rushing touchdowns. He was also a valuable piece of the Hawks’ talented secondary. For Kelly, we always knew he had the talent to be among the league’s best, but it just took the right setting for that to happen.
Junior Williams, Senior – Olathe East
Defensive Stats: 66 tackles, 7 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Return Stats: 1 Kick Return TD
It’s fair to say that Junior Williams lived up to the standards laid before him by his two older brothers, former Olathe East greats Dorian and Derahn. Junior was arguably the league’s top cornerback this year, and his best game came against Olathe Northwest in the Regional Round of the playoffs. Junior had the challenging task of covering Willie Cauley, Olathe Northwest’s 6-foot-10 behemoth wide receiver who led the league in receiving. Junior picked off three passes and held Cauley to one of his least productive games of the season.
He lived up to the standards of the past four Free State quarterbacks admirably, combining for over 2,000 yards of total offense, 19 touchdowns and even gaining a reputation as one of the top defensive backs in the league. We’ll get to see and hear about McFarland all of next season since he is just a junior, but the kid has one heck of a season to reflect back on in his first year as the starting quarterback.
Tanner Gentry, Senior – Olathe North
Receiving Stats: 35 catches, 677 yards, 12 TDs
Return Stats: 1 Punt Return TD
Defensive Stats: 36 tackles, 4 sacks
The one thing Olathe North seemed to lack this season was consistency. They began the season 5-0 and ended it 0-4. If you watched them statistically, it was literally a roller coaster ride on a week-to-week basis. However, the one thing that did stay consistent at Olathe North was the talented Gentry. Before the season Gentry’s name was being thrown around quite a bit due to the stellar junior season he had as a defensive end. While he had another impressive year on the defensive side of the ball, it was his receiving efforts that really gained everyone’s attention.
He started things off with a three-touchdown night against Olathe East in week one and those types of efforts continued as the season went along. While things didn’t shake out the way Gentry and his teammates would have wanted regarding making the playoffs, it certainly wasn’t because of a lack of production from Gentry.
Receiving Stats: 23 catches, 200 yards, 2 TDs
Defensive Stats: 99 tackles
Elite wrestlers translate well on the football field. Just take a look at how past Sunflower League greats Justin Dyer of Olathe South, and Josh Carroll and Lucas Vincent of Olathe North did on the gridiron after dominating the mats. You can add Middleton to the list.
While short in stature, Middleton was anything but short in ability. He scored more touchdowns than any player in the league during the regular season and he had an uncanny ability to fill a stat sheet. Middleton’s highlight moment came in week nine when he carried the ball 29 times for 332 yards and six touchdowns, in addition to passing for one score. He scored four consecutive touchdowns in the second half and his efforts helped Olathe Northwest to beat the highly favored Olathe North in the game.
Mason Perez, Senior – SM North
Receiving Stats: 24 catches, 607 yards, 12 TDs
Return Stats: 3 Kick Return TDs, 1 Punt Return TD
Defensive Statistics: 54 tackles, 1 interception
If you were looking for a game breaker you had to look no further than SM North’s Perez. After leading the Sunflower League in interceptions as a junior with six, Perez came back as one of the league’s top returning defensive players, but it was actually his offensive game that earned him the most attention as a senior.
Not only did Perez combine for 16 touchdowns, but seven of those touchdowns came on plays of 40 yards or longer. His defensive game wasn’t anything to look past either. Teams rarely threw the ball his way, and he was excellent in run support recording over 50 tackles.
Receiving Stats: 18 catches, 216 yards, 2 TDs
Defensive Stats: 22 tackles, 1 interception
Guild was a workhorse back for SM South in his junior season. Not only did he lead the Sunflower League in rushing yards during the regular season, but he also made contributions as a receiver out of the backfield and on defense.
Guild’s highlight of the season was in week five when he toted the rock 30 times for 342 yards and three touchdowns. It was the most rushing yards a running back had put up in the league in years and it embodied Guild’s work effort and determination as much as anything. SM South didn't win many games, but Guild seemed to produce no matter the circumstances.
The Second Eleven
Elliot Faerber, Senior – SM East
Faerber would have made a much larger impact for SM East had he not been forced to juggle catching passes from different starting quarterbacks or had to deal with several nagging injuries. He still had a solid year catching 60 passes for 764 yards and six touchdowns.
Connor Rellihan, Junior – SM East
Rellihan had an outstanding year catching 48 passes for 881 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’ll be one one of the top returning Sunflower League wide receivers in 2012, and the SM East offense will certainly cater to his abilities.
Dalton Rook, Senior – Olathe Northwest
Sure, it helped he had Willie Cauley to throw to, but Rook did outstanding in his one year as the starting quarterback. In the nine games he started he completed 157 of 253 passes for 1,968 yards and 19 touchdowns—leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns.
John Kelsh, Senior – Olathe East
After a decent junior season, Kelsh came back as a stud senior for Olathe East, rushing 170 times for 1,269 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 7.5 yards per carry average wasn’t too shabby either. He was key in Olathe East’s second consecutive Sub-State appearance.
Orange Mooney, Senior – Olathe North
Say what you want, but Mooney was one of the top running backs in the league this season. He carried the ball 162 times for 978 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown. Mooney could have benefited from another year in Olathe North’s system but he put up great numbers in his one year as an Eagle.
Teddy Colbert, Senior – Olathe South
In open field Colbert may have been the fastest play in the Sunflower League. He carried the ball 97 times for 1,126 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he also caught six passes for 114 yards. Colbert's rushing average of 11.6 yards per carry meant he averaged a first down, and then some, every time he took a handoff.
Matt Elliott, Junior – Olathe South
Elliot was a multi-purpose nightmare and he’ll be returning to wreak havoc next year. He carried the ball 66 times for 389 yards and three touchdowns, caught 24 passes for 561 yards and three touchdowns, and defensively he recorded 33 tackles and four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Frankie Seurer, Junior – Olathe South
I took some crap for doing a Player Spotlight on Seurer in the preseason, but he sure made me look good. Seuerer passed for 1,634 yards and 12 touchdowns, not to mention going 4-of-5 for 183 yards, including a 99-yard touchdown pass to Drew Johnson in the 6A state title game, which Olathe South won.
Matthew Baltimore, Senior – Olathe East
Baltimore earned much more attention from offenses following his impressive junior year and commitment to play at Northern Illinois, but he still did very well. He totaled 63 tackles, 10 quarterback hurries, four sacks and four fumble recoveries and he was a defensive stalwart for the Hawks.
Jason Randall, Sophomore– Leavenworth
Randall was Leavenworth’s top player, toting the ball 145 times for 833 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns. Randall will return in 2012 as Leavenworth’s top player.
Alex Forslund, Senior – SM South
Forslund was an outstanding player for SM South on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he completed 36 of 96 passes for 440 yards and four touchdowns, and he carried the ball 137 times for 548 yards and 12 touchdowns. On defense he made 89 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and forced two fumbles.
Stats courtesy Mid-Statesports.com