Sunday, January 1, 2012

The 2011 Season in Review

Olathe Northwest's Willie Cauley.  Photo
courtesy the Kansas City Star.
Best Team: Top to bottom, beginning to end, Olathe South ruled the Sunflower League (and class 6A) in 2011.  The Falcons' only loss occurred in a fluky week seven loss against Blue Valley Northwest.  Besides that, Olathe South was nearly perfect at 12-1.

Best Upset: Olathe Northwest's coaches, players and fans exercised their demons with Olathe North when they upset the Eagles, 56-28, in week nine.  The win sent Olathe Northwest to the playoffs and Olathe North home packing.

Biggest Surprise Player: I can't settle on one player, so I'll go with two: Olathe South's Jordan Ward and Olathe Northwest's Willie Cauley.  I named Ward my Sunflower League MVP after he rushed for 1,740 yards and 23 touchdowns in helping lead Olathe South to the state title.  Before 2011 began I hadn't even heard of Ward so he really came out of the woodwork.  Cauley's one season of high school football turned out to be one of the top receiving seasons in the history of the league as he caught 64 passes for 1,265 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Biggest Surprise Team: Lawrence Free State was a shocker.  The Firebirds returned virtually no big contributors from 2010, and I had them ranked seventh in my Preseason Power Ratings.  Their new talent gelled rather quickly, and they found their way to a six-win season.  Despite missing the playoffs Free State had a surprisingly good season.

Highest Scoring Output: SM North dropped 69 points on the 'Dotte in a week seven district game, which was the most points any team scored in a single game all year.  I should also mention that Olathe Northwest scored 40 or more points in five of their 10 games.

Best Individual Performances:

**Who could forget Jordan Ward's state championship outburst, where he carried the ball 27 times for 263 yards and four touchdowns?  It was one of the top individual performances in a state championship game that we've seen around the league in some time.

**In week five SM South's Gabe Guild carried the ball 30 times for 342 yards and three touchdowns.  His 342 yards were the most rushing yards I've seen a player put up in a single game since I've followed the league.

**In week nine Olathe Northwest's Connor Middleton nearly outdid Guild's total, rushing for 332 yards on 29 carries.  But that wasn't the most impressive part of Middleton's night.  He totaled seven touchdowns in the game--six rushing and one on a 57-yard halfback pass.

**One of Brad Strauss' best games came in week six against SM South.  He passed for 134 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 115 yards and four touchdowns and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

Top Three Storylines from 2011:

1.) Transfers

Did you know that neither Jordan Ward, Orange Mooney, Kendall Kelly, Dalton Rook nor Treshawn Root ended their high school varsity careers playing at the same high school they began with?  It's been an ongoing trend, especially within the Olathe School District, for student-athletes to have free reign when transferring, but it really makes you think about how different the complexion of the league would have been had these transfers not taken place. 

2.)  Olathe North's Disappointment - Olathe South's Jubilation

The Eagles, despite possessing one of the most talent-rich rosters in the league, closed out their 2010 campaign with four straight losses and missed the playoffs at 5-4.  They actually even had life in week nine and would have been able to slip into the playoffs with a victory--but they seemed to have lost their mojo by that point in time.  To make matters worse, head coach Pete Flood unexpectedly resigned following the season.  The poor results, combined with a major loss of talent to graduation and a new head coach should make 2012 a very interesting and unique year for the Eagles.

For their rivals to the south, 2011 will go down as the greatest season in program history.  Not only did Olathe South claim their first ever state championship in football but they also did so in a dominant manner.  The Falcons went 11-0 against Sunflower League opponents and they look like the prohibitive favorites to return to the title game in 2012.

3.) The "SMeasters" in General

The SM East football program is never short of media headlines and their fan support--from a social media standpoint--is second to none.  Head coach Chip Sherman was diagnosed with stage-three cancer prior to the start of the season and he underwent chemotherapy throughout the year.  Despite all of this, he still managed to coach the Lancers to a 6-5 record, and Sectional Round playoff berth.  The Lancers probably endured more key injures that any team in the league with players like Elliot Faerber, Dakota Collins and Adam Lowe going down, but they kept at it and finished with a respectable record.  

Olathe South's man-child Braden Smith
headlines a wealth of returning talent for
Olathe South in 2012.  Photo courtesy
Top Three Early Storylines for 2012:

1.) Olathe South returns alot of talent.  Frankie Seurer, Remington Whitley, Matt Elliott and Braden Smith will headline a unit that will be expected to at least make it back to the 6A state title game.

2.) According to a source close to the SM East program, the Lancers will be adding a senior quarterback transfer from Texas this offseason.  The quarterback (whose name I cannot mention until everything is made official) was recently ranked in's Texas Top 100 for the class of 2013.

3.) Lawrence High's Brad Strauss will be working to take the Chesty Lions back to the promise land in his third year as the starting quarterback.

Way-too-Early Top Three for 2011:

1.) Olathe South: The Falcons return a roster that is absolutely loaded.  This may be the most returning talent I've seen on a team in over a decade.

2.) Lawrence: The Chesty Lions would be getting all the hype if it weren't for Olathe South.  Lawrence returns Brad Strauss, Tyrone Jenkins, Kharon Brown and Erick Mayo, among others, on a stacked roster in 2012.

3.) Olathe East: The Hawks always reload.  They return the solid quarterback and running back combination of John Blazevic and Hayden Frazier, and the rest should take care of itself as always.

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