2019 CIK Season Preview: Running Backs to Watch

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Catch it Kansas is counting down the 2019 football season by releasing the top players in the state at each position. While some players are standouts in more than one phase of the game, the objective is to list a player at no more than one position.

1.Ky Thomas, Topeka – Thomas, a Minnesota commit and consensus top-5 recruit in Kansas, is a four-year starter in the backfield for Topeka High. Thomas is on pace to break the all-time Topeka area rushing record. He and quarterback Davonshai Harden – committed to Kansas as an athlete – form a 1-2 punch that will be among the 6A favorites. Topeka averaged 45.5 points per game, best in 6A and slightly ahead of state champion Derby at 44.5. Last year, Thomas rushed for 1,651 yards and 21 scores.

2. Tre Washington, Derby – Washington, who replaced all-state selection Brody Kooser, excelled for the 6A state champion Panthers with 1,836 rushing yards and 24 scores. Derby rushed for 316 yards a game as Washington carried the ball 231 times and averaged 7.95 yards per carry. The Panthers graduated Top 11 all-classes quarterback Hunter Igo, who passed for 1,068 yards and rushed for 931.

3. Caden Cox, Maize – Cox overcame a broken foot last summer and was in a cast two days before the season opener against Valley Center. He still delivered 1,516 total yards, helped Maize average 40.1 points per game and advance to the 5A sub-state title game. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Cox has a 4.1 GPA, a 27 ACT and picked up an offer from Kansas on June 1. Cox also has significant interest from multiple high academic/Ivy League schools on the east coast.

4. Tank Young, Aquinas – Young shattered the Aquinas single season rushing record for former Hutchinson coach Randy Dreiling last year. Young delivered 214 carries for 2,075 yards and 26 scores in the Dreiling flexbone and helped the Saints to its first ever state football title. Aquinas went 12-0 and averaged 46.6 points per game in 5A. In addition to Young, KC Schlagle’s Jaylin Richardson (1,660 rushing yards) was also first team all-state from the eastern side of Kansas.

5. Atreyau Hornbeak, Marysville – The Bulldogs earned state runner-up two years ago and was 8-3 last season. Marysville returns a high number of elite players, including Hornbeak, entering his third year as a starter in the backfield. He had 1,170 yards and 17 scores last season after he delivered 1,150 combined rushing and receiving yards as a sophomore. Marysville is on the short list for preseason No. 1 in Class 3A.

6. Brogan Myers, Cedar Vale/Dexter – Myers, just a junior, led the state in rushing yards before he suffered injury and was limited the last 3.5 games. He still earned first team all-state after 162 carries for 1,422 yards and 28 scores with 8.8 yards per carry. Cedar Vale/Dexter opened 5-1 before three losses to finish the season. The Spartans averaged 34.4 points per game. Myers and Oswego’s Jace Wilson lead intriguing Eight-Man, Division I, District 1 where four teams finished with winning records last year. Wilson rushed for 1,442 yards en route to all-state honors.

7. Eli Salmans, Hodgeman County – One of the state’s best players regardless of class, Salmans helped Hodgeman County to a runner-up finish two seasons ago and a 9-2 mark last fall. HC averaged 44.8 points per game. In his career, Salmans delivered 558 carries for 3,714 rushing yards and 62 total touchdowns, including 59 on the ground. Last fall, he had 268 rushes for 1,829 yards and 24 rushing scores. Salmans has cleared 100 yards in 14 of his last 24 games. His brother, Isaac, returns for his second year as the starting quarterback as HC is arguably the west favorite in Division I.

8. Adam Albertini, St. Paul – Albertini has been an electrifying player for the last two years for St. Paul. While he is listed as the quarterback, Albertini is by far the team’s primary ball carrier. He delivered 2,241 rushing yards and 51 scores last season. Two years ago, he accounted for 19 offensive scores and five on special teams. SP will be a strong contender in Eight-Man, Division II.

9. Tate Seabolt, Cimarron – Seabolt delivered 1,531 yards as a sophomore. Greg Koenig, long known for great running backs at Beloit and Cimarron, left for Colorado Springs in early summer when his wife got a new job. Mike Schartz, a former head coach in the Wichita area and the Cimarron defensive coordinator, has taken over as head coach. Fullback Hunter Renick, who already has an offer from Butler County, should be the main blocker for an offense that averaged 45.5 points per game and went 8-2.

10. Peyton Henry, Andover – Henry’s season was cut short because of an injury last year. He finished with 100 carries for 475 yards and three scores, including a 207-yard effort versus Arkansas City. Henry has posted the 40-yard dash in 4.47 and 4.48 seconds and has earned an offer from Southern Nazarene (Okla.). Henry and quarterback Eli Fahnestock are back to improve a 3-6 Trojan squad.

11. Wylie Weems, Hoxie – Weems has started since his freshman year on defense and had a breakout season at running back last year. Weems delivered 201 rushes for 1,211 yards and 16 scores on a 9-2 team. Hoxie has traditionally had running backs with big numbers, including Connor Katt and Latham Schwarz with more than 1,700-yard rushing seasons. Weems could have a similar year this fall as he will likely be the offense’s focal point.

12. Wyatt Pedigo, Hoisington – Pedigo recently committed to FCS University of North Dakota. Pedigo was the 2A Offensive Player of the Year last season for Hoisington, which reached the sub-state championship game. Hoisington has a significant number of key returners, including lineman Riley Philbern, who has a Kansas Wesleyan offer. Pedigo missed the season opener with injury, and then cleared 100 yards in the next 11 games. Overall, he finished with 222 carries for 2,101 yards and 29 scores. Pedigo is also one of the state’s best linebackers.

13. Scott Grider, Halstead – Scott and Doug Grider are the sons of Halstead coach Jason Grider. Scott rushed for 1,434 yards and 21 scores last year and collected first team all-state. His brother, Doug, is a junior offensive lineman and was Halstead’s best blocker. Halstead went 5-4, averaged 30 points a contest and will likely be a 3A contender. Kaden Kraus also returns after he missed all of ’18 with an injury. He had 484 rushing yards two years ago.

14. Lawson Oeser, Central Plains – Oeser finished with 78 carries for 675 yards (8.7 yards per carry) and 17 rushing touchdowns in a supporting role on the Oilers’ 13-0 state championship team last fall. This year, Oeser, who has played in big games since his freshman year, likely moves into a bigger part of the offense.

15. Joe Williams, Wichita North – Williams was a nice surprise for Wichita North and coach Scott Moshier last fall. Williams helped Wichita North open 2-0 before seven straight losses. He didn’t play football as a sophomore and then helped North halt a 21-game losing streak with the season-opening 29-22 victory versus Wichita South. Williams rushed 224 times for 1,469 yards and nine scores. Also in the City League, Wichita Heights’ Josh Sanders and Wichita Southeast’s Larry Cherry could have big years.

16. Brison Cobbins, Bishop Miege – The Stags have captured five straight state titles and are again the heavy favorite in 4A. Cobbins rushed 205 times for 1,300 yards and 23 touchdowns.

17. Gage Fritz, Great Bend – Fritz had 180 carries for 1,184 yards and nine TDs for the Panthers. GB finished 8-3 and delivered 32.1 points per contest.

18. Kayden Christiansen, Lakin – The Broncs have made a steady climb under coach Chris Bamberger and return Christiansen and lineman Hadley Panzer, a Kansas State commit. Lakin finished 8-2, averaged 30.5 points per contest and won its first playoff game since ’99. Christiansen rushed 162 times for 1,022 yards and 14 rushing TDs.

19. Andrew Nehrbass, Olathe South – Nehrbass rushed for 1,026 yards as a sophomore for OS and will be one of the state’s top junior running backs.

20. Bryce Krone, Basehor-Linwood – Krone has impressed at multiple showcases and combines and rushed for 1,313 yards and 7.6 yards per carry last season.

21. Matt Ramey, Inman – Ramey helped Inman improve from 0-9 in 2017 to 6-4 last year. He earned first team all-state in Class 1A after he rushed for nearly 1,100 yards in just seven games before he was sidelined by an injury.

22. Darrien Holloway, Osborne – Osborne rushed for 332 yards a game last season and finished as Eight-Man, Division II runner-up to Hanover. Darrien had a massive season with 189 carries for 1,574 yards and 33 scores. In his career, he has tallied 303 carries for 2,414 yards and 48 rushing touchdowns.

23. Cole Coggins, Valley Heights – Coggins has enjoyed a fine career for Valley Heights, including 1,336 rushing yards and 20 scores en route to first team all-state honors last year in Class 1A.

24. Hunter Boone, Prairie View – Prairie View took a big rise last year to 8-2 after a 4-6 mark in 2017. Boone helped PV rush for 269 yards a game. He had 140 carries for 1,114 yards (eight yards a carry) and nine rushing scores.

25. Isiah Childs, Wamego – Childs has put up limited numbers at Manhattan, though has excelled at combines and showcases with elite speed. Childs transferred to Wamego in the spring and missed the track season because of transfer rules. Childs has committed to Division I Akron. He and all-purpose threat Taybor Vetter should form a dynamic combination for the Red Raiders. Like Childs, Thunder Ridge’s Reece Struckhoff transferred schools and has limited high school experience. However, Struckhoff has earned multiple collegiate offers. He has posted a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash and highly impressed in the weight room and at showcases.