The Kansas side of the state line has some really special running backs. We’ve talked at length about Tank Young and Devin Neal for good reason, but there are some backs who have flown under the radar this year who have their teams in prime contention for a run at a title.
In 5A, Mill Valley’s Quin Wittenauer stuffs the stat box every week and he’s an absolute workhorse for Joel Applebee’s Jaguar offense. In six games this year, Wittenauer has rushed for 876 yards (146 yards/game) and 13 touchdowns. The Jaguars have a second date with De Soto this week, but I think they should win that one just like they did in Week 2, 70-48. In that one, Wittenauer ran for a season high 178 yards and three touchdowns.
Mill Valley is seemingly on its way back to the 5A state title game and Wittenauer is a big reason why.
In Class 4A, St. James’ LaJames White has really made a name for himself in the past few weeks as he’s rushed for six touchdowns in two playoff games including four in an upset over then-No. 1 Paola.
In the final week of the regular season, White almost brought the Thunder back from a 17-point deficit against Blue Valley as he scored via rushing the ball, catching it and returning kickoffs. What’s more is that White plays defensive back and is usually defending the No. 1 receiver for the other team.
A tough matchup is in store this week against Basehor-Linwood, as the Bobcats air it out with Isaac Stanton, which means White will be called upon on both sides of the ball. If the Thunder win on Friday, it could set up a semifinal match up with Tonganoxie.
The Chieftains’ Tyler Bowden is a human cheat code. He’s putting up video game numbers week in and week out. Through 10 games, he’s averaging 247.9 yards/game and 3.7 touchdowns/game. His “worst” game of the year was a 35-0 blowout of Shawnee Mission East where he had 150 yards – his only game under 200 for the season – and one score, which ties his season low in a game. If Tonganoxie makes the 4A title game, Bowden will easily eclipse 3,000 yards rushing, but he has a shot at 50. For what it’s worth the record for rushing yards in a season is 3,382 yards by Kipp Connell of Claflin in 1998. Salina Central’s Jake Sharp scored 63 touchdowns in 2005.
Bowden should be the odds-on favorite to win the Fontana award as he’s nearly averaging a first down every time he rushes the ball.
A true test comes up this week against Bishop Miege. If anybody is going to stop the Stags’ streak, Bowden is going to be a big reason why it happens and this year is the best shot to take down Goliath.