This school year will begin the count down to the demise of the KVL and it is bitter sweet. We will lose some incredible rivalries we have enjoyed the last several years. A wise man said you either embrace change or get trampled by it. I have always known in the back of my mind that this would happen. Some years back there was talk of Piper and Basehor possibly going to the Frontier league to join other 4A schools.
So yes, the KVL breaking up does present some logistical problems for SHUKC as it is not as simple as saying KVL and KCAL anymore. Last year I had to do a +1 with Mill Valley. Some wondered if I would just forget about Mill Valley. My response was always, what happens if another school left. My rule of thumb is 99 percent of things you worry about don’t happen. So worrying how or what I am going to do next year is unproductive and will choose to enjoy one last year of the KVL.
I am going to run through the league giving my high-level thoughts of each of the schools. I haven’t dug in just yet to learn all the new players so honestly a lot of this will be opinion.
Basehor-Linwood had a magical 2016 to say the least. Despite getting trounced by Bishop U they had a find season that all Bobcat fans should be proud of. Last year however is over and with the new season the Bobcats will have to rely on some new faces to claim another KVL title. Gone is the 1,501-yard rusher, 2100 total yard QB and the 2016 SHUKC Top Prospect. JC Watson is one of the few play makers back for the Bobcats in 2017. With that much production gone the Bobcats will have to hope their defensive stars shine very bright. TJ Williams who was nominated for the Bobby Bell award returns for his junior season. Nolan Ford burst on the scene in football and basketball looks to build on his 8 sacks in 2016 in his junior campaign. Coach Stallbaumer returns a lot of defense and hoping to get enough offense to claim the KVL crown.
Piper was a fun team last year. They too got worked over by Bishop U in the playoffs. JJ Letcher has moved on to play at Washburn and leaves an incredible amount of yards, TD’s, INT’s and tackles to make up for. Letcher put together the best overall season in SHUKC history last year and his production will have to be spread out. Dalton White who is a former SHUKC Future Prospects combine participant looks to take over at QB for the Pirates. Looks for him to show off a bit of speed running the football as the Pirates will have him lead the offense. TJ Williams-Bey is the only other player last year with any real numbers on offense. Cooper Beebe was out camping big time this summer and is getting some good pub. The kid seems to grow every time I bump into him. There is nothing less glamorous but game impacting than a stand out lineman. Beebe could be a sleeper Defensive POY candidate as he looks to break out in his junior season.
Tonganoxie is a team of interest for me this year. They return Mason Beach who returns for his senior campaign. Beach has battled some tough luck injuries the last few seasons but is a playmaker for the Chieftains. In 5 games last year he had 13 TD’s and almost 1000 yards in the air, another 216 and 2 TD’s on the ground. Having an experienced QB makes a world of difference. 3 top receivers from last year also return in Zac Morgan, Mac Thompson and Caden Searcy. They didn’t have glossy numbers but hopefully the game experience helps propel them forward with Beach throwing the ball. Leeroi Johnson is a prospect for colleges and will be a candidate for defensive POY. He had 58 tackles and 4 sacks last year while fighting through some injuries himself. Depth is the biggest risk but don’t sleep on the Chieftains.
Turner Golden Bears have a returning senior QB of their own. Rightfully so Jordan Martin got a lion’s share of the attention in 2016 he still needed someone to get him the ball. Jaelon Harley will get a chance this season to show that last year wasn’t a one man show. The young man had 29 total TD’s passing and receiving and will be vital for the Golden Bears offense. Davion Scott had 388 yards last year receiving so he may be the top threat for Harley. I don’t have any stats to review for the defense so a bit hard to analyze. We will see in the opener against Bonner Springs.
Bonner Springs named Chad Eaddy head coach of the football team last year. Word out of the scrimmage last week was a new transfer QB from Park Hill really performed well. Cole Oakes was a junior last year and started for the Braves so we will have to see who starts. I have not heard if Jamison Jackson is 100 percent and playing receiver this year but Braves fans should hope so. A lot of production off last years team was from seniors who are not here anymore. Andrew Puckett led the team in tackles last year as a sophomore so keep an eye out for him on the Braves defense.
Lansing Lions will be a team in transition this year replacing a lot of production from seniors. They return just 1 player with over 100 yards of production offensively in Caleb Adams.
Bishop Ward family lost Tim Dorian over the summer. A very big supporter of SHUKC as a coach at Schlagle and Bishop Ward. The Cyclones have struggled tremendously and will fight the same numbers battles as any other year. I always have a healthy respect for the kids and coaches that keep pushing forward.
There is enough turn over in the KVL from an experience perspective to make the league up for grabs. I look forward to hearing about the games this weekend to give us a clearer view on who will step up and claim the last KVL title. Good luck to all.