CIK Season Preview: Andale must hit reset button to continue nation’s longest winning streak in Class 3A

Andale's Karson Butts
Andale's Karson Butts(©KellyRoss | ©KellyRoss)
Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 4:33 PM CDT
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Over the past four seasons, no team in Kansas has been more dominant than Andale. With 51 straight wins and four consecutive state titles, the Indians actually carry the nation’s longest active win streak. But the group of seniors that never lost has finally worked their way out of high school, and now Coach Dylan Schmidt returns just five seniors in 2023.

The Indians not only ran the table last year but they were completely dominant. After allowing 48 points in the first four games of the season, Andale locked it down with just 20 more points allowed in the final nine weeks, including a trio of shutouts against Class 3A’s other powers to complete the perfect season.

Senior Gage Prosser returns after running for nearly 700 yards last year. Senior Karson Butts returns to lead the defense after recording 90 tackles last year. The Indians return most of their experience up front with seniors Henry Eck, Cody Engelbrecht, and Ian Aouad all back.

Brooks Barta has turned Holton into the other Class 3A powerhouse. The Wildcats are 31-5 over the past three seasons. Like Andale, Barta has some rebuilding to do this year with the loss of most offensive skill players. The Wildcats rushed for more than 4,700 yards and 64 touchdowns last year. Four graduated players accounted for nearly 3,800 of those yards and 49 touchdowns. In reality, the top six Wildcat rushers are gone, including quarterback Matt Lierz, who combined for some 1,100 yards of offense.

The good news in Holton is whoever shows up in the backfield will have experienced protection up front. Seniors Trevor Barnett, Jackson Bear, Rylan Arnon, Dalton Roush, and Abbott Hundley all return with size.

Topeka Hayden turned in another big season at 10-2 last year, with both losses coming against Holton. Given the losses to the classification’s other top teams, some returning talent in Topeka keeps the Wildcats on the contender list. Junior quarterback Jett Wahlmeier threw for nearly 1,400 yards last season. He gets back his favorite target in junior Jensen Schrickel, who caught 35 balls for nearly half of those yards. Senior Finn Dunshee returns to the backfield after rushing for more than 1,100 yards. Hayden loses a pair of all-staters up front but does return senior Jude Konrade, an all-state selection at linebacker.

After back-to-back 4-5 seasons and just five wins in the two seasons before that, Clay Center was a nice surprise as the other team in the state semifinals in 2022. The Tigers did not shy from competition, opening last year at 4-3 with losses to Wamego, Southeast of Saline, and Rock Creek. Clay Center got it rolling again before the semifinal loss to Andale.

Quarterback Mark Hoffman graduates after throwing for more than 1,000 yards and rushing for 344 more, but the Tigers return plenty of other experience. Seniors Brody Hayes and Carter Long split 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns out of the backfield last fall. Not far behind was junior Owen Craig and his 643 yards and 12.4 yards per carry. Every Tiger who caught a pass last season returns, including Hayes, senior Jackson Henry, and junior Weston Hammond. Henry led the trio with 423 yards on 26 receptions. Hayes doubles as an all-state defensive back.

Perennially-tough Cheney was back at it in 2022. After one-loss seasons in 2020 and 2021, the Cardinals had a rare three-loss showing last fall albeit to tough teams in Kingman, Clay Center, and Andale. Part of that drop was the tough schedule but also some inexperience. That should not be the case in 2023 as the Cardinals again join the contender list.

Junior Josh Burdick returns as one of the state’s top-throwers with more than 2,200 yards last season. With 1,044 yards on 83 receptions, senior Jackson Voth returns as one of the state’s premiere wideouts. Voth was also a defensive standout last year. In all, 14 starters are back for the Cardinals this season.

Several of 3A’s best teams lost to Rock Creek last year. The Mustangs opened with a loss to 2A powerhouse Southeast of Saline, then were rolling until an early playoff meeting against Andale to end the season at 9-2. Ten experienced players are back in St. George this year, but gone to graduation is Dalton Whitworth and his more than 3,200 passing yards with 42 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Jaydon Winans rushed for nearly 1,100 yards in his final prep season. Most of the Mustang receivers have also graduated, including Ethan Burgess, who caught 106 balls for 1,491 yards and 22 scores last fall.

After a 6-4 showing last year, Hesston was in good shape moving forward with big passing threat and all-state quarterback Hudson Ferralez back in the mix. His move to Collegiate will require an audible from seventh-year coach Tyson Bauerle. Junior Reed Friesen will step into those empty shoes with some varsity experience under center. Senior Jackson Fry caught 28 balls for 453 yards last year, and junior Karter Gonzalez brings some nice size to the backfield after rushing for nearly 400 yards as a sophomore.

At 8-2, Collegiate was largely a dominant team in 2022 minus a pair of shutout losses to Andale and Clay Center. Losing a Div. I commit in quarterback Wesley Fair was going to be problematic. Instead, the Spartans will benefit from the transfer of Hesston’s Ferralez. Sophomore Jaden Parker was third on last year’s team with 319 yards out of the backfield.

Scott City rebounded from its rare losing season in 2021 with an 8-2 showing last year. One of those losses came from out-of-state Millwood, Okla., and the other was a one-point loss to Cheney in the playoffs.  Scott City gets nine players back with experience but did lose Jace Thomas, a standout on both sides of the ball, and all-state running back Brady Welker. Senior Collin McDaniel returns to lead the offense and defense in 2023.

Wellsville will look to remain a factor in 2022 after a 9-1 showing last year. The Eagles had cruised to a 9-0 start before a 22-19 playoff loss to Hayden. Senior William Dorsey returns after throwing for more than 1,800 yards last year. He gets back two of his favorite targets in senior Dezmond Winton, who caught 31 balls for 680 yards, and senior Brody Lee, who added 392 yards on 24 receptions. The Eagle ground attack takes a huge hit with the graduation of Nash Money, who accounted for 1,200 of the team’s 1,500 yards on the ground last fall.

Wichita Trinity was sitting at 0-7 before piling up some offense in a pair of wins to end the season. The team may have more strides to make in 2023, but the Knights offense should be fun to watch. Senior Harley Zimmerman threw for nearly 2,600 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and rushed for 417 more yards. Most of his passes went to senior Donald Collier, who finished with 1,710 yards and 25 of those 28 touchdowns on 103 receptions.

Out west, Hugoton senior Isaac Martin returns as the team’s leading rusher and passer, bringing back nearly 1,500 yards of total offense. The Eagles finished last year at 6-3. Holcomb finished the year at 7-2 with losses to Scott City and Pratt. Senior quarterback Damon Mesa rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year and threw for 343 more. Senior Manny Reyes averaged nearly nine yards a carry to finish with 471 yards on 55 attempts. After a stumble in the 2019-20 seasons, Pratt is slow-building back to prominence. The Greenbacks finished last year at 7-3 with a loss to Cheney and two more to Andale. Pratt loses a pair of running backs but does return its leading rusher and thrower in senior Max Younie, who ran for 888 yards and 12 scores and threw for 527 more yards in split time with Carson Hoeme.