Countdown to Kickoff: Maize embracing underdog role in 2023

Substate game between Maize and Hays on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.
Substate game between Maize and Hays on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.(Selena Favela | Selena Favela)
Published: Aug. 27, 2023 at 5:16 PM CDT
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MAIZE, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - The Maize Eagles feel the uncertainty and hear the questions about their team heading into 2023.

However, the defending 5A runners-up don’t lack in internal confidence despite the high numbers of starters they must replace.

“We made it to state last year and before practice I saw this ranking, we were fifth or something,” junior wide receiver Bryson Hayes said. “I was like, ‘Wow, lowkey disrespect kinda,’ but we’re ready.”

Maize’s lone loss came in the state title game to powerhouse Mill Valley, ending the season 12-1 overall under Gary Duzman.

The Eagles have plenty to replace all across the field, including on both lines. But the biggest loss comes in Gatorade Player of the Year Avery Johnson, who is preparing for his first season as a backup quarterback at Kansas State. The Eagles also must replace wide receiver Bryce Cohoon, who is at Syracuse, and running back Daeshaun Carter.

Defensively, they must replace All-State defensive lineman Caden Miranda and seven of their top nine tacklers, as well.

“I think we do have something to prove, but I also think we have that underrated type mentality because we lost Avery and all them, but we’ll still be something special,” said senior defensive back CJ Felder.

What they do return is an offense led by Hayes, who is on his way to being a Division 1 receiver, and senior Jaeden Martin. The defense will be led by Felder and the linebacking duo of Ayden Flores.

“I think they have a little chip on their shoulder, and that’s ok,” Guzman said. “They’ve just gotta repsond in a positive way and get it done.”

Maize opens the season at Topeka, while the rest of their schedule is highlight by visits from Andover Central and Derby, a trip to Hutch, and a in-city matchup with Maize South at Riverfront Stadium.