The final achievement of a state championship season for Blue Valley Northwest was realized as quarterback Mikey Pauley was named the winner of the 39th Thomas A. Simone Award given to the top all-around player in the Kansas City Metro.
The Simone Awards Presented by The McCarthy Auto Group was held at Northwest Tuesday morning where Pauley was introduced as this year’s winner. The other Simone Award winners who were announced last week were also honored along with the Interscholastic League players of the year, the Nathan Stiles Inspiration Award and the Chiefs Eric Driskell Coach of the year. That award was given to Northwest coach Clint Rider.
Pauley Led the Huskies to their first-ever state championship with a dominant 41-21 win over three-time Kansas Class 6A defending champion Derby. In the title game Pauley ran for 178 yards and four touchdowns and threw for 112 yards and another score. He finished his senior year with 1,788 yards passing and 23 touchdowns and 1,235 yards rushing with 22 more touchdowns.
The senior multi-sport athlete said he didn’t know if he had won when he got up in the morning. Rider told him they were going to Liberty North before he told Pauley they had to turn around. Then he found out that he had won the award.
“It was definitely very special and I’m super thankful to the Simone Family for awarding it to me,” Pauley said. “Super proud to do it with the Northwest family that I’ve built here and glad to bring one of these back to Northwest.
“It’s awesome to be a part of it and glad to do it with my team. Being able to celebrate with those guys has been super special and wouldn’t trade it with any other people.”
The Huskies had a year to remember advancing to and winning their first-ever state championship. It is the culmination of a process that saw the team go 0-9 when Pauley was a freshman to 12-1 and a state championship.
Rider earned the coach of the year honor and was honored with the other finalists Justin Hamilton of Pleasant Hill, Jason Ambroson of Smithville and Greg Jones of Liberty North.
“I’m just happy for our kids,” Rider said. “No coach has ever won an award for something his players didn’t do. It’s just a reflection of having really good players and a really good staff.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award was a special moment as Anthony Simone Sr. and his wife Edie were honored for their nearly 40-year commitment to the awards and the foundation that bears their late son’s name.
The winners of the other awards are:
Frank Fontana Award – Top All Around player Small Class 1-4 – Jackson House, Jr., QB, St. James Academy
Buck Buchanan Award – Top Lineman/Linebacker Big Class school 5-6 – Melvin Laster, Soph., LB, Liberty North
Bobby Bell Award – Top Lineman/Linebacker Small Class school 1-4 – Cody Simoncic, Sr., LB, Smithville
Otis Taylor Award – Top Wide Receiver/Tight End all classes – Mudia Ruben, Sr., WR, Park Hill South
Interscholastic League Players of the Year – John Price, soph., RB, and Antonio Jones, Sr., LB, both of Lincoln College Prep
Nathan Stiles Inspiration Award – Olathe East Assistant Coach Chris Burnett and Olathe North Assistant Coach Josh Dirks who both passed away during the season.