View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 12/2

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: December 2, 2010 - 9:11 AM

The 2010 high school football season is over and it is time to look back. I’ve seen a lot of games and met a lot of players, coaches and fans in the last five months and there are a few that deserve special mention.

Two players I got the chance to interview and get to know this season stuck out to me. Not because they were the best in the Metro at their position, not because they made outstanding plays. Both had very good seasons and were key members of their teams’ success.

What stood out to me was how they handled themselves. Sumner’s Vernon Vaughn and Rockhurst’s Frank Arbanas each had a great season. Vaughn scored 17 touchdowns for a high-powered Sabres’ offense and helped lead Sumner to an 8-1 regular season and the school’s first-ever playoff win.

Vaughn was dominant on the football field. He has speed, size and hands which are all attributes of a great receiver. He was one of the best in the Metro this season and was my pick for the Otis Taylor award.

While the numbers are impressive it was Vaughn’s maturity that impressed me the most. Whenever I talked to Vaughn he was respectful, thoughtful and team oriented. After Sumner’s big playoff win he talked about his teammates and gave a lot of respect to Basehor-Linwood Head Coach Steve Hopkins and his staff. Vaughn’s demeanor in interviews and on the field showed a maturity beyond his years.

Arbanas was the starting quarterback for Rockhurst. He led his team to a perfect 14-0 record and the Class 6 state championship. In a season when quarterbacks across the Metro were putting up gaudy numbers on the ground and through the air, Arbanas’ numbers were almost not noticeable. The senior handed the ball off to Noah Peal a lot and sometimes only threw the ball 10 times a game.

Most people look at Arbanas and say make him beat you and a few teams tried that. What made Arbanas so good was he didn’t beat himself or his own team. Arbanas simply managed the game and made good decisions. The term game manager is sometimes a derogatory remark when it comes to quarterbacks. Everyone wants a guy who can be a gunslinger, throwing and running his team down the field. Those quarterbacks are fun, but they don’t always win football games, they sometimes lose football games. Arbanas didn’t do that. Arbanas didn’t lose his team any games. In fact in key spots he made the right play that helped his team win games.

While those are admirable traits for a quarterback it was his off field actions that stood out to me. After Rockhurst beat Blue Springs 7-0 in a monsoon I was in the Hawklets lockerroom. Arbanas came by me and said “You picked us to lose.” He was right, I had. In fact I had picked Rockhurst to lose the week before as well.

The thing that was great about Arbanas was he wasn’t mean spirited as he confronted me about my pick. He told me the team used it as motivation. Arbanas was laughing and enjoying the moment. He struck me as a young man who was just thrilled to be where he was and was loving what he was doing.

In the grand scheme of things, isn’t that what high school sports should be all about?