25 area prep football players to know for the 2017 season, Classes 6A, 5A, 4A
Haussler finished with 112 tackles to rank only behind returning linebacker Dylan Aeschliman on the Wildcat team. Earning first-team All-Big Seven League honors in the secondary, Haussler also is Holton’s leading returning rusher and will be called upon to up his production after rushing for 296 yards and four touchdowns.
A starter on Meade’s 2015 Class 2-1A semifinal team as a sophomore, Petrie was an impact transfer when his father, John, took over at Burlington. His knowledge of the new single wing offense was vital. A defensive starter as well, Petrie was a first-team All-Pioneer League pick on offense and “leads by example,” according to his father.
After playing behind Centennial League defensive player of the year Nick Kirmer as a sophomore, Hibler came into his own last year as the top linebacker for the Spartans. The team’s emotional leader, Hibler had 91 tackles and was an honorable mention all-league pick after earning the same honors at tight end as a sophomore.
A state champion in wrestling, Hoerner figures to take on a more prominent role offensively and defensively for the Cowboys. He was in on 67 tackles last year as part of a linebacking corps that was a strength. Playing behind leading rushers Parker O’Neal and Parker Base on offense, Hoerner ran for just 89 yards — 73 coming in one game.
Gehrt has been a leader for Rock Creek since his sophomore season when he made 56 tackles and recovered two fumbles. He upped his production a year ago to 98 tackles and nine tackles for loss with two more recoveries on his way to first-team All-Mid-East League honors. He should be full speed after recovering from a spring knee injury.
As a sophomore, Herren led Trail in tackles with 81 stops, including a team-high 25 solos. As the season went on, he took on a bigger role offensively as well, filling in at quarterback the last month of the season and posting back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to finish the season with 406 yards and five scores.
A transfer from Garden City a year ago, Patterson had an immediate impact before suffering a season-ending injury in the fifth game of the season. He had 56 tackles (27 solo), two fumble recoveries and scored a defensive touchdown and still ended up as Wamego’s third-leading tackler. He also will see time at fullback this season.
Cason wasn’t much of a threat in Junction City’s passing game a year ago, catching just four passes for 53 yards and a score. Yet he was vital to the Blue Jays’ offense, which produced 37.3 points and 420 yards per game, serving as a devastating blocker on the perimeter. His size could translate to a move to interior line in college.
A running back masquerading as quarterback in Burlington’s single-wing offense, Jeffers led the Wildcats in rushing (877 yards, 13 TDs) and passing (440 yards, 7 TDs). Wildcat coach John Petrie called Jeffers “the heartbeat the rest of the team follows.” The All-Pioneer League pick also made 63 tackles.
A huge frame combined with athleticism have Olsson drawing college interest. Emporia has leaned heavily on his performance as a three-year starter both ways. Defensively, he’s made 60 tackles the past two seasons combined, punctuating last year’s season with three tackles for loss in a playoff win over Liberal.
Bethea’s numbers from his junior season are impressive enough: 1,099 yards, 16 touchdowns. Given he only had 148 carries and didn’t become the Cyclones’ feature back until the second half of the season make them even more so. Bethea is also a physical presence at cornerback and will have a bigger impact on special teams this season.
Topping 100 tackles for the second straight year, Aeschliman led the Wildcats with 143 total stops a year ago, including 85 solo tackles. In two years starting, he’s piled up 254 tackles. After seeing limited time at tight end a year ago, Aeschliman will move to fullback this season and could have an impact in a rebuilt Wildcat backfield.
One of Free State’s top three tacklers a year ago, Foster finished with 66 tackles (52 solos) and ranked second on the team with 22 tackles for loss. He also ran for 250 yards in a backup role on offense, but is the leading candidate to take over as Free State’s starting quarterback this season while still anchoring the defense.
A second-team All-Centennial League selection last year, Henderson led the Blue Jay defense with 76 tackles, including 52 solo stops. His four tackles for loss ranked third on the team and his two fumble recoveries were tops for a defense that allowed just 17.8 points per game. He cleans 285 pounds and boasts a 32-inch vertical.
A top discus thrower, Johnson padded his football resume with a big 2016 season. The athletic lineman earned first-team All-Class 4A Division I on the defensive line after making 58 tackles and four sacks, also earning first-team All-Kaw Valley League honors both ways. He went on to capture the 4A state discus title in the spring.
Beach played in just four games as a sophomore starter, throwing for 431 yards and five touchdowns, and made it to Week 5 last year before a broken collarbone ended what could have been a huge season. In four-plus games last year, Beach threw for 964 yards and 13 TDs and ran for another 216 yards.
As a junior starter, Grubbs made 65 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss and three sacks. He really turned heads on the summer camp scene, scoring in the 98th percentile at the prestigious Nike Football The Opening Camp in Chicago. The three-year varsity performer runs a 4.75 40 and has a 33-inch vertical leap with a squat of 405.
Better known as the state’s top pole vaulter a year ago (he’s a two-time Class 4A state champion in the event), Lane led the Tigers in tackles with 125 a year ago on his way to first-team All-North Central Kansas League honors. He will be counted on to provide a spark this year as he moves from receiver to quarterback.
In his first year as Concordia’s feature back, Dorman averaged six yards per carry and rushed for 1,084 yards and seven scores, accounting for more than half of the Panthers’ 2,171 yards total offense and the bulk of their 1,450 rushing yards on his way to first-team All-North Central Kansas League honors. He also had 44 tackles.
Boye-Doe was solid as a junior with three interceptions on defense and 33 catches for 411 yards and six TDs on offense. A shutdown corner, Boye-Doe showed well enough in summer camps to pick up Division I offers from Kansas State and Kansas after already holding offers from FCS programs and Division II powerhouse Northwest Missouri.
A three-year starter on the offensive line, Cushinberry has been a big factor for an Atchison offense that has averaged 40 points the past two seasons, combining quickness and athleticism with his size. The first-team All-KC-Atchison League pick also emerged defensively for the Redmen a year ago, making 40 tackles.
Taking over as Baldwin’s starting quarterback last year, Laskowski threw for 940 yards and nine touchdowns. He also ran for 400 yards and four scores and likely will do a lot more running as Baldwin shifts to a single-wing style in Doug Kerr’s first year as coach, though the passing game will remain vital with three targets 6-foot-4 or taller.
Beaumont is coming off a strong junior season in which he earned first-team All-North Central Kansas League honors both ways. A high motor, which consistently places him around the ball, produced a team-high 80 tackles a year ago, 7.5 of them for loss. Offensively, he helped pave the way for 1,000-yard back Rope Dorman.
A three-year starter and honorable mention All-Big Seven League pick, Middendorf led the Tigers in tackles with 82 and also forced two fumbles. With West graduating its two leading rushers from a year ago, the Tigers will be counting on Middendorf to become a bigger factor in the ground game after rushing for 111 yards on 27 totes.
Limited to seven games in his first year as the Lions’ starting quarterback, Jackson still finished with 1,137 yards and 12 touchdowns passing while adding another 887 yards and 12 TDs rushing as a dual threat. Jackson is being recruited as a wide receiver and has a 44-inch vertical to help offset his diminutive frame.
High school football is back! Here is a gallery of 25 area Kansas high school football players to watch this season from Class 6A, 5A and 4A.
Read more city, area, and state coverage to get you ready for the season here.