New lead horse in the KCAL?

By David Brox
Posted: August 28, 2015 - 8:23 AM

I am happy to bring back the weekly On The Dotte article to talk about the KCAL and KVL leagues on SHUKC and PrepsKC.

I enter 2015 with a bit of optimism about a few teams in the SHUKC area and will start this week with a preview of the KCAL. I will list the teams in what I am predicting to be my order of finish in the league.

Schlagle was fifth last year under first year head coach Dwayne Williams. They took some lumps last year in districts but I am calling it valuable experience for a young team. The offensive line will be back coupled with one of the best running backs in the area. There is no greater bit of stability you can provide a team than a solid running attack. They have experience as well at wide receiver that will help. I am not predicting a flashback to a few years ago but I am not asking a lot from the offense.

This team has produced some top defensive talent and this front seven should be strong again this year. The defense will be anchored by Greg Sloan who will compete for our defensive POY award. Tylen Wallace is set to break out on the defensive end position.

Another All SHUKC performer Phillip Randle brings back his 21 career sacks on the opposite side of the line. Randle's sack total is something to watch in his senior season. He has had double digit sack totals the last two years which hasn't gone under the radar but not discussed enough. With that said Randle is also on my Defensive POY watch list.

Round out this discussion with the return of Steve Ray who had 5 pass deflections in the secondary in 2014. The Stallions bring back a lot of experience and will be my 2015 glass half full pick to get a playoff and win the KCAL.

A few printers just kicked off in the far most northeast portion of Kansas. I just offered the 2014 KCAL champs a bit of chalk board material. Allow me to start the hype for the 10/2 showdown.

The Atchison Redmen enter 2015 looking to build off what they established in 2014 with a 6-3 record. The Redmen were derailed by injuries late in the season killing any hope of a playoff run. Head Coach Jim Smith's job of pulling that team together last year did not go unnoticed as he claimed our 2014 Coach of the Year award. Smith is the longest tenured coach in my area and surprised us all with his team’s success.

Wykeen Gill Jr enters his senior season and I am going to encourage college coaches to give him some well-deserved looks. I believe this to be a young man that will not just be a leader on any team that he is a part of but will be a leader in all walks of his life. I have watched him mature into one of the more exciting athletes in football and basketball the last two years. I also am impressed with his maturity and communication skills.

With all that said I am going to ask him to take that final step of making everyone else around him better. Gill piled up over 1,100 total yards in just 7 games last year and proved to be the best play maker in the KCAL. To take that next step however he is going to have to be more accurate in the passing game. His ability to make plays opened things up for break out running back Parker Welch but this year they need the outside component to get over the hump and get to the playoffs.

I have talked about star defensive lineman Dai Coye Haley and Austin Bonnel returning to a defense that will have to make plays again this year. The other aspect of this defense that we don't notice is that Gill is also one of the best DB's in the area. So not only did he win games on offense but made star plays on defense particularly in the Wyandotte game to help his team clinch the KCAL title. I acknowledge the snub here but just feel right now that Schlagle has more playmakers on defense.

The Wyandotte Bulldogs will introduce the city to sophomore Marcus Jones. I got good reports about his ability to throw the ball during 7-on-7 this summer. A completely unrelated and unsolicited report of just how good this young man was at the middle school level is generating a bit of buzz. If I hear it from three independent sources then I start getting a bit excited. While we get our first glimpse of a future prospect at QB we can't ignore just how much the Bulldogs lost last year. I have mentioned Elgin Hood but also look out for Will Smith, Melvin Thomas, Ladell White-Smith, Marlon Chinn and GeRail Lucas. Chin was a starter at QB last year so will still be a part of the offense in 2015.

Sumner Academy Sabres could surprise some people in the end. With athletes like Sion Midgyett, Mike Singleton and Leonard Green back there is potential. Ben Miller enters his senior year after what at best I can call two rocky season at QB. We will have to see if Coach Wright will want to go in a different direction or not. The Sabres lose key pieces Shaun Rainey and Brian Cobbins from last year who produced at a high level.

The Washington Wildcats start fresh with first year coach Maurice Mack and I haven't been shy in saying this will be a project. I have mentioned before that I thought the cupboard was bare but that was more sarcasm. With athletes like Hugh Grant back there are some pieces to build on. The offensive line will have a few pieces back that should keep the Wildcats in a few games this year.

It is just not possible for me to pick Harmon to be anything but last at this point after the last few years. At some point one would hope that they get a good enough core of players to win a few games. A few years back though Coach Jackson went very young on this squad and there will be some experienced players back. Darelle Alexander is one name I would offer up who offered some production in 2014 and returns this year. I have to beat a dead horse for a few years about Harmon and especially challenging when they got bumped up to 6A.

Who are you picking to win the KCAL? All thoughts are welcome and appreciated. Hit me up on twitter @OdoggBrox