Upon Further Review: Adam Sullivan 12/11
By Adam Sullivan PrepsKC staff writer
The 2012 football season has officially ended. I was blessed this season to cover one state champion, and two state runners-up on the Kansas side.
For the first time since 1985 the Shawnee Mission School District is atop the 6A crown as SM West defeated Hutchinson 19-14 in the state championship game. As an avid Sunflower League fan I’ve paid close attention to the Vikings this season and can personally say Brett Sterbach may be the most valuable running back in the metro. In the state title game Sterbach went for 273 yards off 34 carries with a touchdown. Sterbach also became the first non-Olathe North sunflower back to eclipse the 2,000 rushing yard mark in sunflower league history as he finished the year with 2,228 yards.
As I reflect on this season, the biggest thing I’ve taken away is how much talent the east side of Kansas had. I mean you talk about guys like Sterbach from Shawnee Mission West, Montell Cozart from Bishop Miege, Skyler Windmiller from Mill Valley, Brad Strauss from Lawrence, and Kyle McFarland from Lawrence Free State all running top offenses around the state.
You also see Braden Smith from Olathe South. The junior offensive/defensive lineman is close to becoming a 5-star prospect for next season, and has interest from programs like Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, and USC just to name a few. With talent from guys like these, Kansas needs to be considered a football state. I talk with guys around the country and nobody really respects Kansas football, which is a true shame.
I also noticed an increase in passion from fans. I believe social media (twitter, facebook, and sites like PrepsKC) have taken over the high school scene. I saw the city showdown this season between Free State and Lawrence and fans were already saving seats at 3:30.
I saw another game between Piper and Eudora in the playoffs at Eudora High School. Enough fans showed up that Eudora had to move parking to empty fields next to the stadium, and add bleachers in the end zone. The increased passion has made my job even better and I hope to see this trend continue.
Looking ahead to next season some potential favorites on east side of the Kansas in 6A are Lawrence Free State, and Shawnee Mission West. Both teams are returning a ton of talent, and both programs have great coaches. I think Olathe North will return to glory soon. Gene Wier is back and so is the pedigree of Olathe North running backs. This season we saw sophomore Venus Triplett lead the Eagles. I can only imagine how talented Triplett will be in two years as Wier continues to build back the North dynasty.
In other classes I think the question looms in can Eudora win a state title? The Cardinals have reached back-to-back state championship games falling in both. One things for sure, if anyone can get a program to win the right way it’s Gregg Webb. Another question to ponder on is can Mill Valley overcome the playoff blues? Coach Applebee has had the talent the last couple of seasons but nothing to show for it.
2012 will go down in my books as one of the better seasons on the east side of Kansas. While we didn’t have that Darrren Sproles type player running around the state, and we may not end up boasting the 2012 Simone award, but we definitely made a step in gaining some respect and I’ll take that any day.
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