Goddard looking to remain AVCTL, state power in 2019
Three of the seven Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League II football teams went at least .500 in 2018. Goddard led that pack with a third-straight league title and 10-3 overall finish. The Lions are in position to again lead the pack in 2019, but Maize South is also poised for big things.
The Lions had plenty of reasons to fail last fall. After a 22-3 run in 2016 and 2017, Tommy Beason moved into the head coaching role just in time for a tremendous graduation class to make its exit. But instead of folding, the Lions went 5-1 against league teams and advanced all the way to the Class 4A state championship game.
Kyler Semrad emerged from the shadow of Blake Sullivan last year at quarterback. Then just a sophomore, all Semrad did was throw for 1,963 yards and 18 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He threw for at least 200 yards in five of last year’s 13 games, and threw for 144 yards against Miege in the state finals.
Beason gets Semrad back under center but does have to replace his top-two running backs. Ben Bannister rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall, and Jared Mocaby added 329 yards on the ground. That duo combined for 16 of the team’s 20 rushing touchdowns.
At 5-11, 220 pounds, senior Dhimani Butler brings some size to the backfield after running for 129 yards last year. Senior Kaeden Hoefer, 5-11, 180 pounds, will also get more carries in 2019.
Semrad will have plenty to throw at this season with his top three receivers back. Six-foot-four , 200-pound senior Blake Mitchell caught 54 balls for 597 yards last fall. Hoefer added nine 29 receptions for 450 yards. Senior Carter Morrow, standing at 6-3, caught 16 passes for 235 yards. Morrow and Mitchell combined for 13 of the team’s 20 receiving scores in 2019.
The Lion defense held seven of its 13 opponents to 14 points or fewer last fall. Butler returns as a defensive start at linebacker with 106 tackles in 2018. Hoefer and Morrow each recorded more than 70 tackles, as did senior Zeke Howell.
With a 71-30 record in his first 10 seasons at Maize South, Brent Pfeifer has always found a way to win. The Mavs dropped their first three games of 2018 before rattling off six-straight victories, including a 23-22 overtime thriller over Goddard. Maize South ended its season at 6-4 overall with a 35-0 playoff loss to Caleb Grill and Maize.
Pfeifer gets back a handful of key returners but said his kids will also have to step up to improve upon back-to-back 6-win seasons. “Our program’s core value of ‘Dedication’ will be put to the test this season, as we lose experience in key positions,” he said. “There will be a lot of positions open for competition, so time, effort, and unselfish decisions will be very important for us to continue our success.
“Young players will be expected to put in time and be prepared to fill positions and provide strength and depth to our team. As long as we work unselfishly for our teammates and remain positive in our approach to practice, we can continue to be successful in building strong, respectable young men.”
Back are two of the team’s biggest skill players from 2018. Junior Colin Shields threw for 1,451 yards last season with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. Out of the backfield, 210-pound senior Mason Edwards returns after rushing for 1,307 yards and 13 scores. Shields loses his top-three receivers from a year ago but gets back senior Braden Pfeifer and junior Jake Johnson. Pfeifer caught seven balls for 125 yards last fall. Up front, 6-4, 280-pound senior Cody Fayette returns as one of the top offensive linemen in Kansas.
Defensively the Mavs should be loaded with nine returning starters. Senior Zach Saville, at 6-1, 300 pounds, registered 53 tackles and two sacks last year. Junior Brandon Bowles and senior Coleman Koehn went 1-2 in tackles on the team last year at 80 and 79, respectively. They are joined by returning senior Colby Hermann at linebacker. Senior Trevion Mitchell Bolsters the secondary with four interceptions last season. Senior Dominic Castelli also returns as a defensive back.
Cade Armstrong came from one of the state’s best programs in Derby three years ago. Since then, he’s led the Trojans to an 8-11 record. With most of his skill players back in 2019, the door is open for an improvement from last year’s 3-6 mark.
As a freshman, Eli Fahnestock threw for more than 1,700 yards. In year two of his prep career last season, Fahnestock threw for 1,079 more yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. He was also second on the team with 176 net yards on 55 carries.
Fahnestock will again have his pick to throw to with five of last year’s top receivers back. At 6-4, senior Harper Jonas led the team with 403 yards on 33 receptions. Junior Ethan Richardson added 334 yards on his 28 receptions, and senior Peyton Henry caught nine balls for 300 yards. Henry led last year’s ground attack with 475 yards on 100 carries.
Several key defensive players also return. Junior Ashton Ngo led last year’s squad with 88 tackles. Sophomore Chandler Goodnight recorded 79 tackles as a freshman, senior Connor Hall had 76 tackles, and junior Isaiah Maikori added 62 tackles.
After a 2-7 2016 season, the Jaguars have now posted five wins in back-to-back seasons. Central went 5-6 in a 2017 season that included a playoff run. Last fall the Jags played Goddard to a 17-16 score in September but fell 21-7 to the Lions in November to end the season at 5-5.
All that goes out the window as long-time coach Tom Audley has resigned after 32 years has a head coach. Derek Tuttle, an assistant to Audley in all 17 years at Central, takes over the reins.
Senior Shomari Parnell and junior Chase White split time at quarterback in 2018. Parnell threw for 733 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions, and White threw for 582 yards with four TDs and four picks.
Whichever quarterback is throwing will have a pair of big targets in seniors Xavier Bell and Matthew Macy. The 6-1 Bell caught 22 passes for 404 yards last fall. The 6-4 Macy added 356 yards and six scores on 17 receptions. In a throw-first offense, senior Ty Herrman returns after accounting for most of the Jaguar yards on the ground in 2018.
Tuttle gets back a pair of his defensive playmakers in seniors Nathan Leonard, and Bridger Warrington. Leonard, at middle linebacker, recorded 76 tackles in 2018 and Warrington had 80 tackles.
After a 1-8 showing in 2017, the Bulldogs got a big season out of quarterback Cevin Clark. The result was a 1-5 league record but a 4-7 overall record that included a playoff win at Coffeyville. Clark and running back Ike Abrams have graduated, taking with them most of last year’s offense.
Clark threw for more than 1,800 yards as a junior and went even better in 2018 with 2,137 passing yards to go with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. On the ground, Clark netted an additional 391 yards and four scores. Abrams ran the ball 89 times for 528 yards as the team’s leading rusher. Together the pair accounted for 83 percent of the team’s ground yards and 10 of the team’s 11 rushing touchdowns.
The receiving corps was hit just as hard. Tryee Watkins, Montez Robinson, and AJ Wilson accounted for 85 percent of the team’s yards there. Six-foot-three senior Jamauri Jordan returns at tight end after catching 11 balls for 150 yards in 2018.
The Hornets won five games in 2017 but fell to 3-6 under new head coach Scott L’Ecuyer last fall. Valley Center scored at 17 or more points in seven of its nine contests last year, but the Hornets lose most of their skill players to graduation heading into 2019.
Parker Schrater threw for more than 1,700 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven picks in his final prep season. Track stars Larry Wilson and Zach Williams paced the team out of the backfield and out wide. Wilson rushed for 732 yards and accounted for nine of the team’s 10 rushing touchdowns. Wilson also led the team with 527 receiving yards on 27 catches. Williams added 31 catches for 447 yards. In all, L’Ecuyer loses his top four receivers. Senior Amado Carrillo returns after pulling down 24 catches for 169 yards.
The Hornet defense loses its top-three tacklers in Cooper Haldaway, Blake Holt and Layton Lewis, but gets back junior Hunter Sharp, who recorded 71 tackles in 2018.
With most returners back from a 6-5 2017 season, expectations were high for the Tigers entering the 2017 season. Eisenhower lost three of its first four games and that trend continued for the Tigers, who finished the year at 3-6. Goddard defensive coordinator Darrin Fisher, who takes over for Marc Marinelli, will look to get the Tigers back on track in 2019.
Fisher will get back one of the top skill groups in the league. Senior Collin Mackey completed 9 of 12 passes for 224 yards and two scores in last year’s win over Ark City. He threw for 166 more yards and rushed for 66 in the win over Valley Center.
Senior Parker Wenzel returns the back field after leading the team last year. The 185-pounder rushed for 180 yards and three scores in the win over Valley Center. Six-foot-one senior Chance Omli had six catches for 98 yards in the wins over Valley Center and Ark City, and junior Cody Houser also returns as one of last year’s top receivers.