1. Trevion Mitchell, Maize South – A returning first team Class 5A all-state defensive back, Mitchell features a 36-inch vertical jump and has posted 4.48 in the 40-yard dash. He has also ran 4.02 seconds in the 5-10-5 agility. Mitchell can squat 335 pounds and clean 275. He has many offers, including Southwestern Oklahoma State, Nebraska-Kearney and Central Missouri. Mitchell has six interceptions the last two seasons, including four last year. Mitchell helped Maize South post impressive team pass defense numbers versus Andover and quarterback Eli Fahnestock and Arkansas City and signal caller Cevin Clark, among others. Maize South is a strong contender in Class 5A after a 6-4 mark and 21.8 points permitted last year.
2. Dalton Miller, Great Bend – Miller has started since his freshman year for Great Bend and is one of the state’s best defensive players, regardless of position. A free safety and multi-purpose threat on offense, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Miller has 322 career tackles, and at least 94 in every season. As well, Miller has picked off 11 passes and has four fumble recoveries. GB finished 8-3 and permitted 18 points a contest. Offensively, Miller has 194 career touches for 1,470 offensive yards and 16 scores. He was first team all-state 5A defensive back as a junior.
3. Scotti Easter, Andale – Easter, a senior, collected first team all-league at defensive back and special teamer for the 11-1 Indians. Easter paced Andale with 96 tackles. The Indians had an average of score of 46-8 in ’18. Andale has not lost a regular season game in two years. With Easter, linebacker/running back Mac Brand, and quarterback Easton Hunter, Andale is loaded for another deep playoff run.
4. Kordon Harris, Aquinas – The third returning first team all-state 5A defensive back along with Mitchell and Miller, Harris helped Aquinas finish 12-0 and capture its first 5A state title. Harris was first team all-Eastern Kansas League after 32.5 tackles, three interceptions and seven passes defended.
5. Jakob Feil, McPherson – A free safety, Feil intercepted five passes, easily McPherson’s team-high. He was first team all-AVCTL Division III, the only first team all-conference defensive back who returns. Feil also collected first team special teamer in the league. McPherson finished 11-1 and allowed only 10.5 points per contest. The Bullpups return three terrific playmakers at the three defensive levels: defensive end Cody Stufflebean, linebacker Mason Thrash and Feil.
6. Nalell Kapten, Goddard – One of many key players back for Goddard, Kapten intercepted five passes and defended seven. The Lions’ defense allowed 16.7 points per game as Goddard went 10-3 and finished as 4A runner-up. Goddard has typically enjoyed great defenses and turnover creation. Two years ago, Goddard was 11-1 and allowed 13.7 points a game. Three years ago, Goddard was 11-2 and permitted 16.6. Last fall, Goddard created 35 turnovers and was plus-eight in turnover margin. Four of the top-five tacklers return for the Lions.
7. Trey Krause, Olathe West – Krause, a junior free safety, helped Olathe West, in its first year of existence, post a 5-7 record and advance to the Class 5A semifinals. Krause had a huge year with 118 tackles and a pair of interceptions to lead the team in stops. OW returns its top-two and four of its top-five tacklers.
8. Bray Davies, Troy – Troy improved from 4-5 to 6-4 last season – and enjoyed a massive defensive improvement. Two years ago, the Trojans permitted 32.7 points per game. Last year, Troy lowered to 15.4 points allowed a contest, No. 7 best in 1A. It marked the best defensive improvement from ’17 to ’18 in 1A. A big reason was Davies, whom was first team all-state 1A with 24 tackles, nine interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
9. Justin Powell, Bishop Carroll – Powell, a senior, was first team all-league City League at cornerback. Powell helped the Golden Eagles to an 8-3 mark and 26.5 points per game allowed. At Carroll’s rival Kapaun, senior Jarius Kennedy was a second team all-league selection at cornerback.
10. Jamar Martin/Malcolm Bell/Jared Givens, Wichita Northwest – Martin was first team all City League at safety, while Bell and Givens were honorable mention. All are seniors. Northwest allowed 29.3 points per contest en route to a 12-1 record and Class 5A runner-up finish. Martin finished 87 tackles, second-most on the squad, and delivered 10.5 tackles for loss. Bell delivered 46 stops, along with five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, and Martin had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Givens delivered 34 tackles with an interception. NW forced 31 turnovers.
11. Andrew Lomshek, Pittsburg Colgan – Lomshek delivered four interceptions for Colgan. The Panthers were state runner-up two years ago, and finished as sub-state runner-up last year. Colgan graduated a big class, including Cal Marquardt and Lomshek’s brother, Matthew. However, Andrew should be a standout for the Panthers this season after Colgan went 9-3 and allowed just 10.7 points a game, third best in 1A.
12. Gage Prester, Salina Central/A.J. Johnson, Salina South – Prester, a senior, and Johnson, a junior, were both second team all-league AVCTL Division I for the Salina rivals. The pair should emerge as standouts in the conference as a high percentage of the first- and second-team all-conference players were seniors last fall. Coach Mark Sandbo said Prester was often matched up with the other team’s top receiver. Johnson, in eight games, had two interceptions and defended 12 passes. He has started since his freshman year and has already garnered FBS attention.
13. Gage Girk, Coldwater-South Central – Girk, one of the state’s top kickers/punters the last two seasons, was a finalist for Sports in Kansas Eight-Man, Division I Defensive Player of the Year last fall because of his exceptional defensive back ability. SC is 9-2 each of the past three seasons. The Timberwolves return their top-three tacklers. Girk was second with 96 stops and picked off 11 passes with 17 defended. SC forced 34 turnovers and had 21 interceptions.
14. Cael Johnson, Burlington – Johnson was third at state wrestling two years ago and took runner-up last winter. He is also an impressive player with 72 tackles and four interceptions for a 5-4 squad that allowed just 19.1 points per contest. In his career, he has 175 tackles and nine interceptions, along with five fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
15. Bridger Warrington, Andover Central – Warrington delivered 80 tackles as a junior with a 5-5 record. He was third on the team in tackles; AC permitted just 16.8 points per contest. The Jaguars return their top-three tacklers.
16. Rishi Rattan, Bishop Miege – Rattan picked off eight passes as a junior for the Stags. Also in the Kansas City area, Manowa Ngenzirabona of K.C. Schlagle had 48 tackles, 6.5 for loss. Rattan led the EKL in interceptions, and was second team all-conference.
17. Nassun Wasson, Madison – Wasson helped Madison finish third in Eight-Man, Division I in scoring defense with just 11 points allowed a contest. Madison was 9-1 and will be a preseason top-five team in Eight-Man, Division I. Wasson, a junior, had a two-game stretch where he picked off five passes.
18. Edwin Rodriguez, Ness City – Rodriguez helped Ness City have a 7-3 mark and allow just 20.2 points a contest, which ranked in the top-15 in eight-man football. Two years ago, NC allowed nearly 34 points a contest. In the first eight games, he paced Ness City with 97 tackles and five interceptions as a sophomore. The top eight-man defensive backs would also include Canton-Galva’s Landon Everett and Canton-Galva’s Tyson Struber, who were mentioned at quarterback and wide receiver, respectively, in earlier CIK stories. Everett and Struber each had 10 interceptions. As well, St. Francis’ Brady Dinkel, a top quarterback, is a four-year starter at safety. K.C. Christ Prep’s Noah Blair had nine interceptions. Christ Prep captured the homeschool national title last year and lost 13-8 at Olpe, the eventual 1A runner-up, in regular season play.