CIK Season Preview: Specialists to Watch

Dodge City kicker Jose Valverde is one of the top specialists to watch in 2020
Dodge City kicker Jose Valverde is one of the top specialists to watch in 2020(Everett J Royer | (Photo: Everett Royer,
Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 1:54 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) -

Catch It Kansas has its last positional group for the 2020 Football season: Specialists. Players are listed at one position, so several top specialists have already been named in a previous group. Previous lists have been QB, RB, WR/TE/Hybrid, OL, DL, LB and DB. Players are also listed no matter how COVID-19 concerns is currently affecting its season.

1. Chris Tennant, Mill Valley – Tennant, a kicker, helped Mill Valley capture the 5A state title. MV, ranked No. 1 in the preseason Class 5A rankings, returns a host of top players, including at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and both lines. He was first team all-state 5A by KPreps. A first team all-Eastern Kansas League selection, Tennant converted 48 of 49 extra points and made 14 of 17 field goals. He also delivered 48 touchbacks on 65 kickoffs and averaged 37 yards per punt. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Tennant is the No. 50 ranked kicker and No. 11 punter by Kohl’s, a national recruiting leader in kicking and punting. Tennant has chosen to walk on at Kansas State. Tennant was second in Kansas kick scoring with 90 points, according to MaxPreps.

2. Joey Wood, Lawrence Free State - A senior, Wood was first team all-state Class 6A last season at kicker by multiple publications. He made 43 of 45 extra points and four of nine on field goals with a long of 47 yards. Wood also delivered 15 touchbacks. Wood is considered a FCS level or FBS Priority Walk-On kicker by Chris Sailer Kicking, another well-known recruiting service.

3. Jose Valverde, Dodge City – The junior enjoyed a great season for the 9-1 Red Demons. He averaged 50 yards a kickoff, made 28 of 31 extra points and 6 of 10 field goals with a long of 49 yards. He kicked two important field goals in a 26-23 victory versus Wichita Heights, and made a key kick in a 24-21 win versus Great Bend.

4. Carson Arndt, Wichita Northwest – Arndt, a senior, has started multiple years with the Grizzlies. He led Kansas with 95 kicking points, along with six field goals. In his career, he has made 165 of 173 extra points with 19 touchbacks. Arndt has delivered nine field goals, including a game-winner versus Bishop Carroll two years ago.

5. Spencer Sprenger, Blue Valley North – Sprenger has performed well at Kohl’s Kicking camps and combines. Kohl’s said Sprenger can kick and punt at the next level. He was Eastern Kansas League honorable mention each of the last two seasons.

6. Connor Tillman, Sedgwick – Tillman has delivered back-to-back excellent seasons for Sedgwick. He is a junior and honorable mention all-state 1A pick. Sedgwick was ranked fifth in the preseason CIK rankings. Tillman was first team all-league. The Cardinals were 9-1 and averaged 41.8 points a contest. As a freshman, Tillman delivered 63 kicking points.

7. La’James White, KC Piper/St. James Academy – Big news came Sunday afternoon when standout K.C. Piper senior all-purpose player La’James White elected to transfer from K.C. Piper to St. James Academy. Both were among top-10 preseason teams in Class 4A. White rushed for 1,241 yards and nine scores, along with 472 return yards.

8. Emanuel Aguilar, Cimarron – Cimarron finished 9-1, including a memorable 17-14 home victory versus rival Lakin in a win that clinched the Hi-Plains League and district championships. Junior Emanuel Aguilar kicked the game-winning 32-yard field goal in the final two minutes. Overall, Aguilar also delivered four touchbacks on 47 attempts.

9. Derick Johnson, Inman – A senior, Johnson helped Inman to its best season in 25 years. A First team all-state KPreps selection, Johnson averaged 36 yards per punt, and had 10 of 26 inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

10. Tciano Gonzalez/Caidon Quinlan, Perry-Lecompton – Part of a loaded P-L team that was Class 3A runner-up, Gonzalez was honorable mention all-state. The Kaws are preseason ranked No. 1 in 3A after a 9-4 season last fall. Gonzalez had a 41-yard average of 54 kickoffs. He made 44 of 48 extra points and 2 of 4 on field goals. Quinlan, who showed excellent speed this summer, had 328 return yards.

11. Graham Stephens, Little River – A senior, Stephens missed part of last season with injury, though still posted another excellent season. Stephens, first team all-state Eight-Man, Division I kicker selection by KPreps, delivered touchbacks on 89 percent of kickoffs. He made three field goals, kicked nine extra points and had a 39 yard per punt average. He also delivered 51 tackles and 19 touchdowns. Stephens and QB Jayden Garrison are outstanding players for coach Kevin Ayers. LR is ranked fourth in preseason Division I.

12. Jack Haukap, Garden Plain – One of the very few returners back for 10-1 Garden Plain, the senior averaged 44 yards on 79 kickoffs. He also made 45 of 59 extra points and a field goal

13. Conner Ruff, Hodgeman County – A senior, Ruff was first team all-state Eight-Man, Division I punter. He averaged 38 yards per punt and had six inside the 20-yard line.

14. Grant Snowden, Manhattan – A junior kicker/punter, Snowden was honorable mention all-state last year. The Indians went 9-2. Snowden averaged 43 yards on 59 kickoffs. Snowden delivered 50 kicking points, including 47 of 48 extra points.

15. Zach Willoughby, Olathe North – A senior, Willoughby picked up honorable mention all-state for the Hawks, the defending 6A runner-up. Olathe North went 10-3. Willoughby delivered 24 punts for a 32-yard average. He finished 63 of 72 extra points, including 3 of 4 on extra points.

16. Kaden Claassen, Wichita Heights – A junior, Claassen was also honorable mention all-state. Claassen had 46 kickoffs with 12 touchbacks. He also delivered 37.9 yards on 20 punts, including a long of 56 yards. As well, Claassen made 31 of 35 extra points and 4 of 5 field goals, including a long of 42.

17. Cole Segraves, Maize – A junior, Segraves was honorable mention all-state. He kicked a 65-yarder this summer.

18. Jaime Echanove, Hoisington – A junior, Echanove was honorable mention all-state Class 2A. The Cardinals open the year No. 2 in the preseason CIK rankings after back-to-back state semifinal appearances. Hoisington went 11-1 last season. He went 49 of 55 on extra points and made his only field goal, from 32 yards.

19. Cole Schulte/Jonathan Wright, Conway Springs – Schulte, a senior, was honorable mention all-state in 2A. Conway Springs drops down to 1A and is just outside of the top-five rankings. Wright, first team all-state return specialist, averaged 33 yards per kick return and 19 yards a punt return.

20. Parker Krob, Plainville – Long known for his excellent golfing, Krob, a senior, has continued the strong kicking for the Cardinals after multiple time all-state kicker Tanner Copeland graduated. Krob was honorable mention 1A. The Cardinals were 10-2. Krob averaged 41 yards on 57 kicks with three touchbacks. He also made 41 of 54 extra points with a pair of field goals.

21. 1A selections – Northern Heights senior Adrian Bergasa-Marton was first team all-state kicker, and Jefferson County North junior Ryan Feldkamp was first team all-state punter. Bergasa-Marton averaged 38.1 yards per punt.

22. Cody Houser, Goddard-Eisenhower – Houser, a senior, averaged 37 yards per punt on 31 attempts, including a pair inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Eisenhower finished 5-4 and permitted just 15.6 points per game.

23. Stryker Hake, Concordia – Concordia has a host of returners, though lost standout senior tight end Chas Carlgren for the season because of a knee injury. Sophomore Stryker Hake could be a breakout player after he was a key return man as a freshman.

24. Kade Harris, TMP – A possible breakout player after he excelled in the younger ranks and had a strong freshman season, TMP sophomore Kade Harris passed for 695 yards, rushed for 622, caught three passes for 32 yards and delivered 389 return yards.

25. Tyson Jimenez, Ellis – Jimenez, a key contributor throughout his career in football, basketball and baseball, delivered 445 return yards. A wide receiver/cornerback, Jimenez is expected to factor in on all three phases for the Railroaders.

26. Brooks Whaley, Rock Creek – Also a terrific baseball player, Whaley, a senior, delivered 84 rushing yards, 588 receiving and 361 return yards. He scored three times rushing, six occasions receiving and returned a kick for a score.

27. Key 8-man returners – The list includes Hanover’s Colin and Emmitt Jueneman, Little River’s Jayden Garrison, Valley Falls junior Cade Norris (412 return yards), Norwich senior Bradey McIntire (367 return yards), South Barber’s Emilio Perez (351) and Victoria’s Carson Werth (317) and Jayvon Pruitt (290), Logan-Palco senior Micah Thompson (303), and Hodgeman County’s Drew Dansel (312). Several of these players, specifically Colin Jueneman, Garrison, Pruitt, and Perez, are listed on other CIK lists.

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