25 area prep football players to know for the 2017 season, 3A, 2-1A, 8-Man
The heart and soul of a Silver Lake defense which has allowed less than 100 rushing yards per game the past two years, Boyd plays much bigger than his frame. With a nose for the ball and a punishing style, Boyd has led the Eagles in tackles each of the last two seasons, making 127 stops a year ago after having 122 as a sophomore. The first-team All-Class 3A and two-time first-team All-Mid-East League selection also picked off three passes last year and when he gets his hands on the ball offensively, he finds the end zone, scoring on five of his 13 carries last year.
A starter at running back since his freshman year, Bott will make the move to quarterback for the Bulldogs this year to replace three-year starter Chase McGatlin. Topping 1,000 yards on the ground each of the last two seasons, Bott also can stretch defenses with his arm, giving the Bulldogs a potent dual threat at the position. Adding 20 pounds and plenty of muscle in the offseason, the first-team All-Twin Valley League defensive pick also averaged seven tackles per game last year.
With his size, Blaske makes for an ideal target in the passing game and his effectiveness showed as he averaged 20.5 yards per catch a year ago. But Blaske’s strength is as a blocker and that skill helped Heights produced a trio of backs who went over 700 yards and a ground game that amassed nearly 4,000 total yards. The three-year starter was a first-team All-Twin Valley League pick both ways and was the Mustangs’ leading tackler.
A unanimous All-Flint Hills League selection both ways a year ago, Ziegenhirt is, as coach Nathan Teichgraeber calls him, “a beast on the field and in the weight room.” The numbers back it up as Ziegenhirt hit 550 max squat in the preseason and has a 335 bench. His 49 tackles tied for third on the team a year ago and he’s athletic enough to play fullback in the Braves’ short-yardage package, scoring twice a year ago on just five carries.
Baird became a force on both sides of the ball for Silver Lake as a sophomore and remained a key figure for the Eagles last year as a junior. Drawing plenty of attention from opposing defenses after leading Silver Lake in receiver as a sophomore (35 catches, 667 yards, 8 TDs), Baird still ranked second on the team last year with 42 catches for 554 yards and 6 scores, while also playing a vital role as a downfield blocker. After making 79 tackles as a sophomore, Baird collected 54 stops and 5 interceptions a year ago, earning first-team All-Mid-East League honors.
Robertson was having a huge junior season until breaking his leg in week seven and missing the rest of a 7-3 season for the Chargers. Before going down, Robertson had rushed for 724 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 11.3 yards per carry. His return will add to a potent Charger backfield this year and his talents might be even stronger defensively where he’s made five career interceptions and earned defensive back MVP honors at the O-D Kansas City full contact camp at Avila University.
Faulk-Tindal had some pretty big shoes to fill in replacing Harry Trotter (a Louisville signee this year) as Maur Hill’s feature back. Safe to say, he did more than an admirable job of doing just that. Finishing the season with 1,810 total yards, Faulk-Tindal took the challenge and ran with it, cranking out 1,495 yards on just 115 carries and scoring 21 touchdowns. He highlighted his breakout season with 354 yards and four touchdowns against Immaculata-Maranatha and rushed for more than 100 yards in each of Maur Hill’s final eight games.
A quote from an opposing coach last year says it all about Lee: “Do you guys lock (Lee) up in a cage all week and let him loose on Friday?” A high motor not only makes Lee a devastating blocker for one of eight-man’s best offenses, but also a nightmare for opposing offenses. A starter since his freshman year, Lee had 119 tackles last year, including 14 for loss and 9 sacks and 57 quarterback hurries, and was a first-team All-Eight-Man Division I pick.
He may have earned just second-team All-Twin Valley League honors last year as a junior, but there was little question that Emanuel was a driving force for a Hanover defense which posted five shutouts and allowed just 72 points overall in a 12-0 state championship season. Emanuel clogged the middle defensively, recording 70 tackles which ranked second on the team. He’ll play a bigger role on offense at center this season and is one of the strongest players in Kansas with a bench press of 455 pounds
One of the top players in eight-man football a year ago, Sporing has been a key force in Burlingame’s consecutive 11-1 seasons and runs to the state semifinals. No eight-man player was more productive than Sporing a year ago when he ran for 1,221 yards and 30 touchdowns and threw for 1,431 yards and 32 scores on his way to first-team All-Eight-Man Division I honors. Already the holder of 24 school records, Sporing will miss the early part of this season recovering from an ACL injury suffered during basketball and his healthy return could dictate how far Burlingame advances in the postseason this year.
Moving to quarterback a year ago, Kimball settled into his new job quite nicely and helped lead the Indians to a first-round 3A playoff upset of previously undefeated Jayhawk-Linn. Kimball picked apart defenses to the tune of 1,221 yards and 12 touchdowns passing and also showed effectiveness running the ball, finishing with 456 yards and 11 scores. Defensively, he was in on 65 tackles and had 10.5 tackles for loss, earning second-team All-Flint Hills League honors both ways.
Versatility has been the name of Henry’s game as he’s lined up just about everywhere offensively for the Thunder in his career. He earned first-team All-Big Seven League honors at running back with 600-plus yards and eight touchdowns, but also caught 25 passes for 426 yards and threw for 72 yards. He’ll settle in at quarterback this season to replace the departed Ryan Hasenkamp offensively, while returning to his safety spot on defense where he had 62 tackles and three interceptions. Henry also is a huge threat in the return game, taking four punts back for touchdowns last year.
A standout wrestler for Wabaunsee, Droegemeier carries that hard-nosed attitude over to the gridiron where he’s a punishing runner who gets his share of yards after first contact. Droegemeier keyed Wabaunsee’s best rushing season in years last season, rushing for 1,230 yards and 15 touchdowns to earn first-team All-Mid-East League honors. Ranking third on the team in tackles from his corner spot a year ago, Droegemeier will move to outside linebacker this year to become an even bigger force on that side of the ball as well.
Chase County enjoyed a bit of a revival in 2016 and Stout was a key factor in a 6-3 season that fell just short of a playoff berth. A two-way unanimous All-Flint Hills League selection, Stout had 81 tackles (54 solos), 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks in a breakout season in which he earned first-team All-Class 2-1A honors. He’ll be one of the top linemen in 2-1A again this year after adding 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason.
Marysville went into the 2016 season with a question mark at quarterback after graduating dual-threat Tommy Brinegar. Blumer, who saw some time as a sophomore, delivered an emphatic answer, leading the North Central Kansas League in passing with 1,372 yards and 16 touchdowns to provide balance to the Bulldog offense. The two-time team captain also led the league in punting with a 37.9 average and led Marysville to its first winning season since 2009.
Quick feet to go with a strong upper body have made McWilliams one of the top blockers for one of 3A’s best offenses the past two seasons, last year producing a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,500-yard passer as the Thunder went 12-1 and reached the 3A state semifinals. McWilliams was a first-team All-Big Seven League pick on both sides of the ball and had 15 tackles while clogging up the middle for a Thunder defense which allowed just 11.6 points per game.
Lyndon’s offensive philosophy is simple: Get the ball in Swinehart’s hands and let him make plays. It’s served the Tigers well in Swinehart’s two years starting as he’s already racked up more than 3,900 combined rushing and receiving yards as a hybrid lining up at any offensive skill position including quarterback. With 2,754 yards rushing and 1,165 receiving in his career, Swinehart has a shot at breaking both career yardage records (3,446 rushing, 1,199 receiving) at Lyndon and already is a two-time first-team All-Class 2-1A selection.
A standout basketball player for the Eagles, Schmidt has been a defensive standout for Olpe the past two seasons, picking off 10 passes combined as a sophomore and junior. Last year, he snagged six while making 55 tackles on his was to first-team All-Class 2-1A honors. Schmidt took over as Olpe’s quarterback midway through last season and threw for 600 yards and seven touchdowns and will direct the offense from week one this year.
On a team loaded with senior leaders and playmakers, Rokey managed to become one of the Bluejays’ top defenders as a sophomore, leading the team in tackles with 88, including a team-high 26 solo stops. The first-team All-Big Seven League selection will be the anchor for a rebuilt unit this season. His defensive tenacity can be traced to his wrestling background where he’s a two-time league champion and state qualifier, placing sixth at the Class 3-2-1A state meet a year ago.
A four-year starter on offense for the Vikings, Roberts served as more than effective complement to departed quarterback Clay Phillips. Using his ability to quickly change direction along with speed, Roberts has run for nearly 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons and should become the focal point of a new-look offense this year. Defensively, he was in on 69 tackles last year from his middle linebacker spot.
A rare starter as a freshman on Wellsville’s offensive line, Mosher hasn’t left the lineup since, handling the center duties for an Eagle program which has routinely made deep playoff runs in Class 3A. A two-time first-team All-Pioneer League pick who makes all the line calls for his unit, Mosher excels at run blocking and has paved the way for three different 1,000-yard backs in the Eagle offense.
A tough season for Centralia was even tougher for Flentie, who missed three games with an injury as the Panthers posted their first losing season in more than two decades. The senior quarterback will be chomping at the bit to get Centralia turned around this year and build on what he started last year when he accumulated more than 1,500 yards rushing and passing despite the injury. He still managed first-team All-Twin Valley League honors at cornerback.
A four-year starter for the Bears, Schoenfeld earned first-team All-Mid-East League honors as a sophomore and junior at running back. Last year, he ran for a team-high 1,041 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per carry, and also spent a little time under center, throwing for 124 yards and three touchdowns. Schoenfeld’s 60 tackles also ranked third on the team a year ago and he also had a team-high three interceptions.
Already a defensive standout for the three-time defending Class 3A state champions, all eyes will be on Hulbert going into the 2017 season as he steps into the starting quarterback job. The focal point of Rossville’s up-tempo offense has produced three straight Top 11 All-Staters at the position in Tucker Horak (twice) and Jacob Bradshaw, leaving big shoes for Hulbert to fill. Hulbert has served as backup to both the past two years, seeing spot duty in blowouts, but made his mark on the other side of the ball where he ranked second on the Bulldawgs in tackles last year with 129.
Coming off a solid season as a sophomore starter, Baldwin quickly emerged as Lebo’s go-to target in its passing game and finished his junior season as a first-team All-Eight-Man Division II selection at receiver. He hauled in 49 catches for 746 yards and 13 touchdowns and also added a combined 344 yards and six touchdowns rushing and passing as a versatile weapon in the Wolves’ offense. With Lebo graduating a strong senior class, Baldwin’s leadership abilities will be key to making another run at the playoffs.
High school football is back! Here is a gallery of 25 area Kansas high school football players to watch this season from Class 3A, 2-1A and Eight-Man.
Read more city, area, and state coverage to get you ready for the season here.