The Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association honored its 22 scholarship winners at a banquet held Sunday at The McCarthy Chevrolet store in Olathe.
The dinner was held to honor the players who each earned a $1,000 scholarship courtesy of The McCarthy Auto Group. The 12th Man award was also given to a non-player who made an impact to football in the Kansas City Metro.
Here are this year's winners.
Alex Birge – Olathe West
Alex has a 4.46 GPA, ranks fourth in his class and scored a 24 on the ACT. On the field he was a two-time honorable mention All-Sunflower League and honorable mention Wichita Eagle All-State. Alex also plays baseball. He is also a member of the National Honor Society, a national history day finalist, winner of the Wendy’s High School Heisman for Kansas. Alex is a member of the Fellowship for Christian Athletes and the Zero Reasons Why Mental Health Organization for Johnson County. His coach TJ O’Neill said of Alex: “Alex is the definition of a well-rounded student athlete. He is a great student, great athlete in multiple sports and the type of kid that we all hope our sons will turn into. Alex will represent this award with the honor and pride that it deserves.” Alex will attend Wichita State and play baseball.
Dakota Burritt – St. James Academy
Dakota has a 4.5 GPA and scored a 34 on the ACT. He was the team captain and offensive MVP for the Thunder as they won their first-ever Kansas Class 4A state title. Dakota was also named to the Kansas Football Coaches Association senior All-State team and was second team All-Eastern Kansas League. Dakota has also played basketball and competed in track. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society. St. James Academy Principal Dr. Shane Rapp had high praise for Dakota: “I have had the pleasure of watching him grow into one of the most well-rounded student athletes I know…Dakota is a natural leader whose high expectations for himself set the bar for the whole program. He led SJA to our first-ever state football title this year and did so in a way that elevated every single one of his teammates and coaches.” Dakota is considering M.I.T., Missouri S&T and Ottawa University and plans to play football.
Samuel Butler – Olathe West
Samuel has a 4.47 GPA, ranks fourth in his class and scored a 32 on the ACT. He was the Olathe West defensive player of the year, earned second team All-Sunflower and honorable mention All-State his senior year. Samuel is a Kansas Governor’s Scholar, National History Day finalist, Kidwind state qualifier, four-time Academic Letter winner and AP scholar. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Green Tech Leadership College Ambassador, Superintendent’s Advisory and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Olathe West Principal Jay Novacek said of Samuel “When you first meet Sam, you notice his energy and enthusiasm. It’s easy to see how quickly and effortlessly he engages with students and teachers here at Olathe West. Sam’s optimism is driven by the greater goal of leading peers for success while demanding academic excellence for himself. To be talented in either the art of leadership or the science of academics makes for a powerful leader, but to be equally gifted in both domains is a rare trait only found in a handful of students.” Samuel will attend the University of Arkansas.
Owen Carrillo – Liberty
Owen has a 3.88 GPA, scored a 29 on the ACT and a 1240 on the SAT. He was first team All-District and All-Suburban Gold as a senior. Owen was also a member of the Academic All-State team. He competes in track and is a captain in both football and track. In the classroom Owen has earned an AP Scholar, Academic Excellence Award and three Academic Letters. He is also a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and a Scholar Ambassador. Liberty Coach Chad Frigon said of Owen: “Owen is an athlete who is dedicated to be successful and committed to play to his potential in everything he does. Owen consistently makes those around him better. He pushes his teammates on and off the field. He has an inner drive for himself that radiates to those around him…Owen takes challenging classes and does many activities outside the school that have helped our community…He is a positive influence to everyone around him at Liberty High School and has an incredibly bright future ahead of him.” Owen plans to play football at one of the service academies.
Cooper Doolin – Blue Springs South
Cooper has a 4.35 GPA, scored a 33 on the ACT and is ranked third in his class. He was named to the Missouri Football Coaches Association Hands Team and was named Academic All-State. Cooper also competes in wrestling and track. Off the field he has been on the honor roll all seven semesters of high school, is a member of the National Honor Society, the student senate, was an ambassador for the Missouri Leadership Seminar, is a member of the Health Occupation Students of America and was selected for Missouri Boys State. Jaguars coach Matt Klein said of Cooper: “Cooper is a person in our program that was truly unselfish and an extremely high character student athlete. Whether it was staying late to pick up equipment, help a coach out, or be a leader within our program, Cooper was always willing to help. Cooper is also very well-respected by his fellow students and teachers at Blue Springs South because of the way he carries himself daily.” Cooper is going to attend Missouri State University.
Landen Hinton – Grain Valley
Landen has a 4.14 GPA, scored a 29 on the ACT and is ranked 50th in his class. He has been named All-District, All-Conference and All-Area by The Examiner. Landen has also participated in wrestling and track. Off the field he has been named Academic All-State for football twice, is a three-time DECA state qualifier and is a member of the Future Business Leaders of America. Landen is also an assistant coach for Legacy softball. His Principal Dr. Jeremy Plowman speaks highly of Landen: “Landen has taken an amazing six Advanced Placement courses throughout his career. His AP Lit. teacher brags about his ability to write and connect ideas…Landen was a big reason the offense averaged almost 40 points a game. He not only knew his blocking assignment, but everyone else’s also. He is tough and focused. We were blessed to have him attend Grain Valley High School.” Landen will attend the University of Missouri and study accounting.
Daniel Joiner, Jr. – North Kansas City
Daniel has a 3.93 GPA, scored a 28 on the ACT and ranks 33rd in his class. He has been named All-District three times, All-Suburban Red Conference four times and All-State two times in his career. Daniel has also participated in wrestling, Power Team and track. Off the field he is a three time Academic All-State, four Academic Letters, is a member of the National Honor Society, President of the FCCLA, is on student council, is a Future Hornets mentor and participates in High Five Fridays where he reads to elementary students. Daniel’s Activities Director David Garrison had this to say of him: “I have had the opportunity to witness Daniel do outstanding things for our school. He played a vital role in the success of our football and track teams while also serving as a model student at Northtown…Daniel has displayed tremendous leadership and character in his time at North Kansas City. There is no doubt he will be successful in whatever he puts his mind to.” Daniel will attend West Point and play football.
Ethan Kremer – Mill Valley
Ethan has a 3.94 GPA, scored a 29 on the ACT and ranks 55th in his class. He has been named All-State three times including first team on both the offensive and defensive lines this past season. Ethan has been a two-time member of the All-Simone/All-Metro team and was the winner of the Buck Buchanan Award as the top lineman/linebacker in the Kansas City Metro. He also wrestles and is a three-time state champion. Off the field he is a member of the National Honor Society, has earned three Academic Letters, is academic All-State for wrestling, is a member of the Jaguar Leadership Corps and has been on the honor roll all seven semesters. Ethan also volunteers at the Sunflower Youth Football League and the Mill Valley Youth Wrestling Club. Mill Valley Activities Director Jerald VanRheen said this of Ethan: “There is no question Ethan has had a tremendous amount of athletic success. He has been equally successful in the classroom. Ethan has taken a course load that is rigorous. He has challenged himself academically with honors and advanced placement classes…He is an extremely hard-working, humble leader of our school community and athletic programs.” Ethan will attend Colorado School of Mines and play football.
Cameron Long – North Kansas City
Cameron has a 3.93 GPA, scored 27 on the ACT and is ranked 27th in his class. He was named to the Suburban Red All-Conference team and is a two-time Academic All-State honoree. He also participates in track and power lifting. Off the field he is a member of the National Honor Society, Junior Assembly and Young Americans for Freedom. North Kansas City Activities Director David Garrison said of Cameron: “Cameron is an extremely motivated individual. As a member of the North Kansas City High School football program, Cameron helped lead the Hornets to successful seasons during his high school tenure. He was an All-Conference football player and team captain for the Hornets. His commitment does not just take place in the fall as he participates as a member of our powerlifting and track teams as well…Cameron has displayed tremendous leadership and character in his time at North Kansas City High School. There is no doubt he will be successful in whatever he puts his mind to.” Cameron will attend the University of Arkansas, Missouri or Tennessee.
Hunter Newsom – Grain Valley
Hunter has a 4.42 GPA, scored a 22 on the ACT and ranks 10th in his class. He was first-team Suburban White All-Conference, conference defensive player of the year, Examiner player of the year, KMZU Class 4-5 defensive player of the year and All-State. Hunter also participates in wrestling where he was a placer in his sophomore and junior seasons before winning a state title this year. He is a member of the National Honor Society, co-executive of the NHS School Committee and a member of the Grain Valley Sports League. Grain Valley Principal Dr. Jeremy Plowman said of Hunter: “Hunter Newsom is the epitome of a student athlete. The same skills he has shown on the football field and wrestling mat, he consistently shows in the classroom. He is a leader by example and knows how to encourage people to be their best…Both in the classroom and outside Hunter encourages his peers and respects his teachers and coaches.” Hunter will attend South Dakota School of Mines where he will play football.
Oliver Norris – North Kansas City
Oliver has a 4.00 GPA, scored a 34 on the ACT and is ranked 13th in his class. He was a team captain for the Hornets and earned Suburban Red All-Conference honors. Off the field Oliver is a two-time Academic All-State honoree, a four-time winner of the Hornets’ Team GPA Award, participates in robotics and orchestra. He is also a member of the National Honor Society, a Missouri Scholar, a FIRST Robotics Dean’s List finalist and a National Merit semifinalist. North Kansas City Coach Leon Douglas said this of Oliver: “Oliver Norris embodies the characteristics of a scholar who is destined to make a positive impact in his community. He has competed at a high level in the classroom and on the football field. He’s also a member of our Robotics team where he also served as team captain. Oliver’s character is a great example of the culture we want to cultivate for our athletes at North Kansas City High School.” Oliver will study electrical engineering in college.
Samuel North – Lincoln College Prep Academy
Samuel has a 4.00 GPA, scored 29 on the ACT and is ranked first in his class. He has been named Interscholastic League All Conference three times. Samuel has also participated in soccer and track. Off the field he was named Academic All-State for football, has been on the honor roll all four years, is a member of the National Student Leadership Conference, a member of the Math Club, a member of the Explorers Club, a member of the Future Medical Professionals Club and an officer in the JROTC program. Lincoln Prep Coach William Lowe said of Samuel: “Sam is a first-class individual who leads in a positive manner and is able to relate very well with everyone he works with. Sam is an organized individual who takes his responsibilities seriously and is on time and very dedicated to his studies.” Samuel will attend Missouri State and play football.
Corban Oberzan – Lawrence
Corban has a 4.00 GPA and scored 27 on the ACT. He was named All-Sunflower League and All-State this past season and led the Sunflower League in turnovers his senior year. Corban also plays basketball. Off the field he is a member of the National Honor Society, is a Link Leader for freshmen orientation and was nominated for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence. Corban also volunteers in the community and at his church. Lawrence Coach Steve Rampy said of Corban: “The quality about Corban that I most admire is his maturity in goal setting and career choices and compassion for those around him. He is a people person and cares about his classmates, teammates and other persons in our school. He will achieve greatness on whatever path he chooses to follow. He has touched many lives at Lawrence High School in his time there and we are better for it.” Corban will attend Oklahoma State University.
Christopher Rhodes – Truman
Christopher has a 3.70 GPA, scored an 18 on the ACT and ranks 65th in his class. He was named Suburban White All-Conference twice and All-District twice. Christopher also participates in track. Off the field he earned football Academic All-State honors and earned an Academic Letter. Christopher is a member of the student council, Truecrew, National Honors Society and the Truman Racial Equality Group. Truman Coach Charlie Pugh said of Chistopher: “As proud as I am of what Chris has accomplished as a student athlete on the field and in the classroom, I’m most proud to see the person Chris is and strives to become. Chris uses his position as a leader at school to give voice and recognition to different causes to promote Patriot Pride at school. Furthermore, Chris has the courage to challenge and fight for equality and social justice. For everything that Chris is and for everything that he strives to become, I am privileged to recommend Chris for the GKCFCA Scholar Athlete Scholarship.” Christopher will attend South Dakota State and play football.
Christopher Ruhnke – Platte County
Christopher has a 4.01 GPA and scored a 28 on the ACT. He is the all-time passing yards leader at Platte County and earned Suburban Blue All-Conference and was named the offensive player of the year. Christopher was also named All-State and was a Simone Award Finalist. He has also played baseball and track. Off the field Christopher was named Academic All-State, earned an Academic Letter, is a member of the National Honor Society, Pirate Mentors and Peer Helping. Platte County coach Bill Utz said of Christopher: “The success Chris has obtained is not by accident. He has listened, watched and learned from role models around him. He has a great deal of structure and has been able to implement teachings from his educators and parents into his own life. I have been a teacher and coach for more than 20 years. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some tremendous young men. Chris Ruhnke is one of these young men.” Christopher will attend and play football at Northwest Missouri State University.
Nathan Smith – Bishop Miege
Nathan has a 4.54 GPA, scored a 26 on the ACT and is ranked 13th in his class. He was a team captain for the Stags and won the Dixon Doll Leadership Award. Nathan was named All-State by the Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital Journal. Off the field he is a member of the National Honor Society, four-year Principal’s Honor Roll, 4-year 4.0 GPA award and the student council. Nathan also volunteers with the Northstars Special Olympics team. Bishop Miege Coach Jon Holmes said of Nathan: “Nathan exemplifies all the characteristics you look for in a scholar athlete. He is a tremendous student, person and player…I am proud to see the man Nathan has become. Nathan had to work year-round to become the player he was during his career. He did not take any short cuts. He became the player he was because of hard work and determination.” Nathan will attend Quincy University and play football.
Carter Stanchfield – Paola
Carter has a 3.91 GPA, scored 27 on the ACT and ranks 17th in his class. He was named All-Frontier League, All-Simone/All-Metro, All-State and is a Kansas Shrine Bowl selection. Carter also participates in track. Off the field he has been on the honor roll and earned an Academic Letter every year in high school. Carter is also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Future Business Leaders of America. Paola coach Mike Dumpert said of Carter: “He is a young man who understands the importance of education and has taken full advantage of the opportunities available to him while attending Paola High School…Carter has participated in community service projects every year donating many hours to worthy causes. He sees community service as a great way to raise awareness while simultaneously learning valuable leadership skills that will continue to serve him his entire life.” Carter wants to play football and study engineering or pre-med in college.
Isaac Stanton – Basehor-Linwood
Isaac has a 3.77 GPA, scored a 25 on the ACT and ranks 58th in his class. He was named All-United Kansas Conference, 4A Senior All-State and was the passing yards and touchdown leader in Kansas 4A. Off the field Isaac has earned the Great Plains Limnology Undergraduate Award, the KWO Be the Vision Award and was a Lexus ECO Challenge semifinalist. He is also a member of the Climate Club, student council and Red Rage Leadership. Basehor-Linwood coach Rod Stallbaumer said of Isaac: “The individual accolades are impressive but more telling is the type of kid that Isaac is. He is a glue guy, a connector, one who provided great leadership for our team this season…Isaac is one of the most respectful, humble and selfless athletes I’ve had. He is always looking to get better and willing to give his best effort to anything his coaches require. He is a great role model for our program and a great representative of Basehor-Linwood High School and Bobcat football.” Isaac will attend Kansas Wesleyan University and play football.
Blake Williams – Fort Osage
Blake has a 3.67 GPA, scored a 27 on the ACT and is ranked 30th in his class. He was a team captain for the Indians and was named Suburban White All-Conference. He also plays baseball. Off the field Blake has been named Academic All-State for both football and baseball. He has been named a scholar athlete and is a member of the National Honor Society. Fort Osage Principal Dr. Scott Moore said of Blake: “I have had the pleasure of getting to know Blake while serving as the high school principal. Blake is an excellent example of what Fort Osage has to offer when a student takes advantage of their education. Blake excels in the classroom as well as after school activities. Staff members agree that Blake is an excellent student who is passionate about excelling academically and in all of his activities. He has a bright future after high school.” Blake will attend Ottawa University and play football.
Garrett Williams – Paola
Garrett has a 4.00 GPA, scored a 30 on the ACT and ranks first in his class. He was All-Frontier League and named All-State by the Kansas Football Coaches Association, the Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital Journal. Garrett also plays basketball and baseball. Off the field he is a member of the National Honor Society, earned four academic letters, is the student body president, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a member of SADD and the Future Business Leaders of America. He has also volunteered at Harvesters and HOPE Community Garden. Paola Principal Jeff T. Hines had this to say of Garrett: “Garrett truly is a “Student-Athlete” and has earned numerous recognitions for his scholastic excellence…I am proud of Garrett’s involvement outside of athletics as well. He has been a valuable member of the Paola community donating countless hours to worthy community service projects.” Garrett plans to play football in college.
Trey Worcester – Mill Valley
Trey has a 4.00 GPA and scored a 29 on the ACT. He was named All-Sunflower League and All-State and was a team captain for the Jaguars. Off the field Trey has earned Academic Letters and is a member of the honor roll. He has also been a part of the Student Leadership Team, Jaguar Leadership Corps and a Member of HOSA. Mill Valley Assistant Principal had this to say about Trey: “As a student I have watched him grow through the trials and tribulations that accompany the process. Trey has consistently shown me he has the drive to succeed even when times get difficult…It is without a doubt that Trey has a bright future. It has always been a pleasure to be able to work with Trey and I am proud of his accomplishments of the past and I am excited about the accomplishments in the future. He is and will be successful.” Trey plans to attend Kansas State and play football.
Luke Zegunis – Olathe West
Luke has a 3.98 GPA, scored a 28 on the ACT and ranks 24th in his class. He was named lineman of the year for West and was a team captain. Luke also earned All-Sunflower League and All-State honors. He also participates in wrestling. Off the field he was named Academic All-State, is a member of the National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. West Coach TJ O’Neill said this of Luke: “Above all of the accolades he has helped establish a culture and expectation of success that our program will benefit from for years to come. The values of hard work, dedication and citizenship he displayed to our football program, school and teammates would be difficult to duplicate in any football program. He represents all of the qualities of a student athlete that we hope for all players to have in our football program.” Luke will attend Northwest Missouri State and play football.
12th Man Joe Luzenski – Athletic Trainer Shawnee Mission West
Playing football during a pandemic was a challenge for everyone involved. Joe worked with Shawnee Mission West and helped the football program navigate through a truly challenging time. West Coach Tim Callaghan said of Joe: “Joe has always been a conscientious trainer. This year he went above and beyond with all the COVID adjustments and with the stop and go of the summer and season he was the steady hand who let us know what to do and when to do it. He served as a liaison between the nurse and the coaches. Joe made sure the kids were utilizing social distancing and hand sanitizer along with all the regular duties that go along with heat schedules and severe weather warnings. To add to all this, Joe drove from Lawrence where he and his wife live; gave birth to their baby boy right at the beginning of the season. Joe truly is a 12th Man and is a great representative of all trainers that had their plates full keeping football going for the fall.”