Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 7/13
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC staff writer
One of the biggest mistakes that many people make at this time of year is writing off or ignoring a defending champion that took a hit from graduation.
Big mistake. Huge mistake.
The official start of 2010 high school football season just a month away, and the defending Kansas Class 6A state champion and defending Sunflower League champion Olathe North is lying in the weeds. Waiting.
The same can be said for defending East Kansas League champion Blue Valley Northwest.
Don’t cast these two champs aside because the names won’t be the same in 2010. There’s still plenty left in the cupboard. And don’t discount the heart of a champion. Sure, it’s clichéd, but success breads success. Olathe North is proof of that.
When the Eagles began their remarkable string of seven state titles in eight years in the late 90s, early 2000s, they weren’t always the best team in the state.
Oh, they had some great teams, but there were a couple of mediocre teams in there that came away with state titles because the Eagles knew how to win.
They didn’t rebuild, they reloaded. And they did it quickly.
Sure, the Eagles lost James Franklin, the 2009 Simone Award winner and the school’s career leader in rushing yards, but for those of you with a foggy memory, replacing a legend can be done. One year after Darren Sproles graduated, the Eagles went 12-0 and won a state title as Maurice Mack slipped into the tailback spot, ran for 2,000 yards and won the Simone Award. So, it can be done.
Sure, Franklin is gone. So is fellow running back Tre Walker, quarterback David Blazevic and linemen Zach Maggard, Oliver Venegas and Jake Carroll — just to name a few. And that’s just on offense.
But playmakers like do-it-all quarterback Victor Simmons, running backs Adonis Saunders and Dominick Wilson and receiver/linebacker Kyle Swartz are ready for their close up. And they’re ready to keep the Eagles on top.
Over at BV Northwest, the replacements for quarterback and EKL Player of the Year Koby Chadick, receiver Matt Ornduff and running back Tim Park may not be as apparent as they are at North just yet, but head coach Mike Zegunis is sure to find the pieces to the puzzle by the time September rolls around.
But, that’s not to say that their paths back to the top will be easy. In the Sunflower League, Olathe East has a stable of running backs, such as Brandon Willingham, Austin Fulson and Treyshawn Root, and a handful of receivers that will make the Hawks one of the top offenses in the Sunflower League. Let’s not forget Shawnee Mission West, who is coming off of an 8-1 regular season a year ago.
And the Huskies have to watch out for perennial power St. Thomas Aquinas and the new guy on the block, Gardner-Edgerton, who makes the move to the EKL this year. All they did a year ago was make an undefeated run to the Kansas Class 5A state championship game behind Bubba Starling and friends.
Jim Bradford is a staff writer for PrepsKC.
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