Monday, November 20, 2017

Breaking: Change at Gardner-Edgerton

Long time Trailblazer is out. 

A big-class and legendary Kansas High School Football Coach has retired from the Coaching ranks this past week. 

Marvin Diener, who is now the fourth Head Coach to retire/resign from the 13 Sunflower League Football programs. This exit comes on the heels of Dustin Delaney resigning from SM East, Chip Sherman at Olathe Northwest, and long-time Chesty Lion Dirk Wedd

To give you a little back round on Marvin Diener, he is responsible for putting two High Schools on the Kansas Football map. For 19 seasons, Marvin Diener led the Salina Central Mustangs with an incredible record of: 170W-42L over that time. His Mustangs were 5A State Champions in 93-99-01-02-2005 in his final season before moving east to the Kansas City area and Johnson County. 

For the last 12 seasons, Marvin Diener, has brought the Trailblazers from the depths of the unknowns on a Football schedule to a perennial powerhouse. In that time, his work has allowed him and the GET Administration to move up from the Frontier League, Eastern Kansas, and now the Sunflower League. Overall, his record with the Trailblazers is 73-52 in 125 games coached. 

During the last couple years of time in the Frontier League and first two seasons of EKL play, we (all of Kansas City and Gardner-Edgerton) were fortunate to get the chance to see current Kansas City Royals farm product Bubba Starling. During the Starling era of Trailblazers Football lore, the 2010 season the QB led the Tralblazers in a huge week-9 win against the Blue Valley Tigers and Eric Driskell in his first season as Head Coach of the Tigers. That night the Tigers were spanked 42-21. 

A few weeks later in the same 2010 season, the Tigers and Trailblazers met again in the east semi-final hosting Gardner-Edgerton this time around and won a close game 45-42 ending the Bubba Starling Football career. 

Trailblazers Breakdown
2006-2009 at Frontier League = 34-11
2010-2017 at Eastern Kansas = 39-42
2018-Future Sunflower League = 0-0 

You could easily add many caveats as to why Gardner-Edgerton is where they are today in any scenario they put themselves in to. This Football program although down these last few years is gaining strength and popularity quickly in their work on the field. Most notably in the last couple seasons, the Trailblazers offense has found a way to keep the SM East Lancers defense on their toes. While struggling with losses of kids to graduation and injuries, anything is bound to happen from one season to the next. 

Congratulations to Marvin Diener on a great teaching and coaching career! Your impact on the game of Kansas High School Football will be missed but will last a life time for future teachers-coaches and former student-athletes to follow in your footsteps. 

There is no doubt the Trailblazers will raise again in the seasons ahead as they begin their new trek on the gridiron within the Sunflower League starting in 2018. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

6A East & Week-12 Playoff Preview

Sub-State Finals

6A - East

2) Blue Valley vs 4) Blue Valley North (BVT leads the series 25-7) @ Blue Valley
* Tigers and Mustangs. These two are no strangers to each other, as they have both found themselves the remaining of a 6A-East bracket consisting of 90% Sunflower League, 9% Eastern Kansas, and 1% consisting of KC-Atchison Wyandotte Bulldogs.

Throughout time (1987 to be exact) the Tigers and Mustangs have met yearly in EKL battles. This is essentially the tale of two Blue Valley's while one has maintained constant stability and a traditionally long and great playoff history, the other has found itself going through multiple Coaching changes and minimal success, spotty at best.

Only for the second time in these two Football programs entire history have they ever met in the regular season and post-season to include 2016, with the Tigers sweeping the Mustangs. At no other time, in Tigers, and Mustangs series history, has this ever been accomplished.

That said, these latter rounds are what upset's are all about. The Tigers, have played in many State Final's, the Mustangs will bring some un-hearalded talent that could cause some problems for the Tigers. For the Mustangs, a road win, in a tough environment will need to make every quarter count from the start.

For those inquisitive minds asking for a little more back round, here are some incredible numbers:

BV Tigers vs. BV North - Overall Record
1987-2009 (23) Steve Rampy - 17-6 in 23 games played - never met the Mustangs in playoffs
2010-2016 (7) @ Eric Driskell - 6-1 in 7 games played - 1-0 vs. Mustangs in playoffs
2017-Present (1+) Allen Terrill - 1-0 - 1 game played including 2017 State playoffs

BV North vs. BV Tigers - Overall Record
1987-1988 (2) Bob Whitehead 0-2
1989-1994 (6) Tim Burkendine 1-5
1995-1996 (2) Bob Lisher 1-1 - Only Free State Firebirds Head Coach in school history
1997-2001 (5) Don Simmons 3-2 - only Mustang Coach with a winning record vs. BVT
2002-2004 (3) Troy Morris 1-2
2005-2010 (6) Jason Jones 0-6
2011-2013 (3) John McCall 0-3
2014-2017 (3+) Andy Sims 1-3+ Second meeting ever in post-season play in week-12

6A - West

5) Derby vs 2) Wichita Northwest (DER leads the series 2-0) (2010-2017) @ Wichita-NW 
* The Derby Panthers and Northwest Grizzlies although close in proximity by geographical standards and outskirts of Wichita Kansas have rarely been found together on the gridiron unless meeting in Basketball season which probably happens regularly.

These two hail from the AVCTL, and the "City League" the GWAL (Greater Wichita Athletic League).

There is no doubt Derby Coach Brandon Clark will have his Panthers ready and waiting for a very powerful W-NW Grizzlies program led by Steve Martin. The Grizzlies are a bright spot of the City League Football programs amongst them all consistently within the top 3 in the last handful of seasons.

A rare match up like this will be a great challenge for the Panthers, and it will be a great game for the Grizzlies to make a statement in hopes of reaching a State Final game, and knocking off the powerhouse Panthers.

Monday, November 13, 2017

BREAKING: SM East' Delaney Steps Down

This morning in Prairie Village, KS, SM East Lancers Football Coach Dustin Delaney informed his team and the school's Administration of his resignation. 

Per  SMPost's Jay Senter SME '98 , Delaney cited issues with district athletic directors as one of the primary reasons for his resignation, which was initially tendered before the season but  wasn't announced until after the team had been knocked out of the playoffs.

In what is perhaps the greatest decade ever in over sixty years of Lancer football the accomplishments of Dustin Delaney's Lancers has been nothing short of spectacular. 

Coming from Emporia after the 2012 season, his first season in 2013 brought the Lancers their first ever trip to the 6A State Championship game. Those Lancers finished 11-2 in their first season, and followed up with an outright 6A State Championship Title the following year in 2014 at 13-0. Those Lancers went on to defeat the Hutchinson Salthawks of which Dustin Delaney spent four years under current ST Aquinas Head Coach Randy Dreiling before taking his first job as a Head Coach for the Emporia Spartans. 

Prior to coming to SM East, the Emporia Spartans were 24-10 with Delaney at the helm from 2010 to 2012. In that time, the Spartans, much like his Lancers had reclaimed credibility amongst their Centennial and 5A foes. 

Year - Overall under Dustin Delaney
2013 11-2 - 11-2 - 3-16A Runner Up to Derby Panthers
2014 13-0 - 24-2 - 4-06A State Champions defeating Hutchinson SaltHawks
2015   9-2 - 33-3 - 1-1
2016 10-2 - 43-6 - 3-1
2017   9-2 - 52-8 - 2-1 at 13-4 Football Post-season at SM East

The resignation of Delaney, comes on the heels of Chip Sherman leaving Olathe Northwest after five seasons and Lawrence High Head Coach Dirk Wedd retiring after 19 years with the Lions. 

All three Head Coaches have accomplished incredible records for their respected High Schools of which they have been part of. 

There is no doubt that Dustin Delaney has left a great legacy within the hallways of SM East and the City of Prairie Village, KS. His steps will be hard to follow, but the support you will get from the community will be abundant in support for the future of SM East Football. 

Thank you for all of the hard work you and your Coaching staff, student-athletes, team managers and SM East Faculty who actively are involved with Lancer Football have accomplished over the last five years. It will be not be forgotten, and Lancer Football has once again become relevant for your investment of teaching and coaching the game of Football and promoting sportsmanship from within the program. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

BREAKING: ONW Football Change at the Top

Chip Sherman resign's from Olathe Northwest Raven's

This week, the Olathe Northwest Raven's have become the first Sunflower League Football program to start the search for a new Head Football Coach. 

After five seasons of play, the Raven's under Chip Sherman finished 21-25 in 46 games played, with a .456 W% from 2013 to 2017. Prior to joining the Raven's Chip Sherman was the Head Coach for the SM East Lancers of Prairie Village, KS from 2009 to 2012. The accomplishments that his Lancers achieved prior to the arrival of Dustin Delaney have been nothing short of spectacular and to say the least, unexpected by many. 

Coach Chip Sherman's Kansas City Football lore alone, could take up column, after column, in local news outlets but that is okay. 

I have to admit, that I was not quite sure what to expect when I first encountered Chip Sherman in the summer of 2009 at Indian Hill Middle School of the SMSD. With the current SM East Weight room  undergoing a massive remodeling, the Lancers were forced to work out in the IHMS cafeteria. After returning from a family vacation in the Ozarks, a friend notified me that Chip Sherman was coming to SM East and I had to take the opportunity to meet him. The day I showed up to meet him, he was, like myself a pleasure to get to meet from the start and we kicked off a great relationship of Football talk and more. 

Having been an outsider to the SFL despite living in Platte County, MO, he did not really have much of an SM East Football backround to go by. Fortunately, I was able to provide him an insight as to what the program currently was, and the comings and goings of past, and present staffs and records. Needless to say, he took it to heart, and found the research to be very profound in a changing of the guard of the Lancer Football program. His impact since that 2010 to 2017 season is seen today, though all of his former Lancers are now in college or soon to be graduating in the semesters ahead.   

In many of our talks, on and off the record, his impact on students, and student-athletes from every school he has taught, and coached at has left an impression on too many to count. It is something that no student will ever forget.  

During his tenure with the Platte County Pirates from 1988 to 2007, his Pirates won three back-to-back-to-back State Titles from 2000 to 2002. His son was a player of his during his time with the Pirates and he too, is now in the high school coaching ranks. Sherman's final totals at Platte County, Salina South, SM East and Olathe Northwest read as follows: 

Chip Sherman's overall record is 246W-80L-326 GC-754 W%

Platte County Pirates
1988-2007 (20) 191W-37L - Overall
1988-2007 at 19W-9L - MO State Playoffs
League Champions multiple times over with KCI & Midland Empire

Salina South Cougars
2008 8-3 Regular Season, 1-1 in 5A State Playoffs

SM East Lancers 
2009-2012 (4) 26W-15L - Overall
2009-2012 - 1-4 in 6A State Playoffs

Olathe Northwest Ravens
2013-2017 (5) 21W-25L - Overall 
2013-2017 - 1-2 in 6A State Playoffs and 1st playoff win ever in Ravens Football History


Thank you for allowing me to become a small part of your life and your many accomplishments in and outside of the classroom. You have become a confidant, and friend throughout this great run in the Kansas 6A/Sunflower League. I hope that the student-athletes, parents, teacher-colleagues, Administrators that have become a part of your life will be thankful for the impact you have made of the young men walking the hallways of their local High Schools. The Kansas City Meto-area is fortunate to call you one of our own. 


Monday, November 6, 2017

6A East & Week-11 Playoff Preview


1) SME vs. 4) BVN (BVN leads the series 8-4) @ SM North
* These two great Johnson County schools are mostly known for facing off with each other in the 6A State Tennis, Golf, and Swim & Dive Finals in those Varsity sports and trading State Title runs for years at a time. 

However, this is a different story, as the Mustangs and Lancers will meet on the gridiron for a rare meeting. The last time these two met was in 2011, under very different circumstances for both programs. An upstart Lancers beginning the start of an incredible eight year run, and a downtrodden Mustangs searching for a new Football identity. Coach Andy Sims is up for the challenge, as the pass happy Mustangs will the Lancers defensive secondary off course. This could be a very high scoring game depending on how both teams prepare and take care of the ball. 

2) BVT vs. 3) ONE (ONE leads the series 4-3) @ Blue Valley 
* In perhaps one of the biggest games, all four of these are, locally, the Football atmosphere at Blue Valley High School will be rocking! 

For any one time that these two have met or played since the 2004 season, five of the seven games have been in the 6A playoffs this will be a tale of two Football powerhouses. Like ODAC, Blue Valley Football stadium too is an intense place to play, and even harder to win at on the road. Both the Tigers, and Eagles will take their playoff experiences to another level from the start. 


1) LFS vs. 5) DER (Derby leads the series 2-0) @ Free State
* In recent seasons (2015 and 2016) the Derby Panthers have appeared to be a thorn in the Firebirds side for a possible return to the 6A Final in the west. Of the four games to get to the State's Final Four, this will by far be the game of the week! The hype in addition to the great student-athletes that you will see on the field are going to be worth the wait as the anticipation towards game day arrives. 

2) WNW vs. 6) GAR (leads the series since 2010) @ Wichita - Northwest
* Here on the eastern side of the state, exposure to the western 6A's are few and far between. Unfortunately without a major back round of the two schools, starting in 2010 is the best available information found. 

Wichita-NW led by Steve Martin is 3-2 in the last five games against the Garden City Buffaloes and long time Coach Brian Hill. This will be a rematch from a week-6 game in which the Grizzlies came away the winner. The 8-2 Buffaloes will not be any pushover at the sixth seed. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

6A East & Week-10 Playoff Preview


1) SME vs. 9) ONW (SME leads the series 6-2)
* Since Olathe Northwest began their Varsity program in 2004, these two have only met eight times as the league has continued to evolve and grow. For many current Lancers and Ravens fans, most of you might be able to recall the last time these two met. It was 2013 in week-3 with a new era of Lancer Football about to begin with Dustin Delaney, and former Head Coach Chip Sherman left to rebuild a struggling Ravens Football team.

This game will be a great match up for both teams. Both on opposite ends of the Coaching spectrum. Chip Sherman's Ravens will have a pass/run offense to the Lancers Flexbone, which is, and can be notoriously deceptive. Olathe Northwest sports some very large student-athletes to the Lancers, just a tad smaller on their O & D lines. The Ravens will be able to score, no doubt, as this game could go both ways on the scoreboard.

For the Ravens, their week-9 win against SM South was their first playoff win in Team history. From 2004 to 2016 they had three appearances in the old playoff format going 0-3.

4) BVN vs. 5) OEH (OEH leads the series 5-3)
* In another local, and rare match up, the Mustangs and Hawks will meet in a tale of two 5-4's. Both schools have been very successful, despite a slow start to get the season going. The Mustangs last trip up was a couple weeks back vs. the Mill Valley Jaguars, while the Hawks have slowly been climbing the Sunflower standings in the last few weeks to dig deep in the middle of a very large pack.

Of their eight total games played, two have came in the playoffs in 2007 and 2011. Unfortunately, these two have not seen each other since the 2013 week-7 game in which the Hawks won. This game should be great for a chance to move on to the next round. Both the Mustangs' Andy Sims and Jesse Owen, are two highly respected Coaches by their student-athletes.

2) BVT vs. 10) OSF (BVT leads the series 5-0)
* The Tigers and Falcons origins date back to their first meetings in the EKL from 1981 to 1988. Olathe South under Bud Wheeler was an impressive 7-1 vs. a very young Steve Rampy at that time. Once the Falcons left for the Sunflower League in 1989, a span of 19 seasons took place before their next meeting.

While the Falcons came out on the short end on each of their previous meetings in 08, 09, 14, and 15 all in District play, the Tigers kept them in the game in each meeting. Second year Coach Craig Lewis, and his Falcons are looking to avenge their 2016 week-10 loss to the Tigers falling 49-35 at Blue Valley against first year Head Coach Allen Terrill.

3) ONE vs. 6) LAW (ONE leads the series 19-14)
* As week-10 approaches, these two will reunite from an earlier week-5 game in which the Eagles came away the better team with a 33-28 win. Since 2006, the Eagles are 7-3 against the Chesty Lions, while the Lions have won their prior meetings in 2015 and 16.

Look for both teams to bring their offense power in droves. All-everything Lawrence QB Donte Jackson will be looking to provide a huge spark along with RB Hunter Krom to get through the Eagles defense. This could easily be high scoring affair keeping the pressbox-faithful busy.


1) LFS vs. 9) JCB (Series tied 1-1)
* The Firebirds will have a tough task on their hands as they face a talented and Junction City Blue Jays of the Centennial League.

Digging through the Sunflower archives, finding a history against much of the 6A West can be a challenge at times. For the Firebirds faithful, who love this program inside and out, they may recall a huge meeting in 2008 taking on the Blue Jays in the 6A Final only to fall short in their first and only appearance to this day.

A few years later the 2014 Firebirds came away week-10 winners against the Blue Jays winning by 20 only to lose to Hutch the following week. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

6A Playoffs Under-Review: 1st Round


Lawrence Free State: The Firebirds (9-0) had no worries going into their Week-9 match-up with a hapless Wichita North (0-9) and they left the game feeling no different. The Indians could barely stop anything on defense, leading to some crazy stats. One stat that stood out is Jax Dineen's rushing average, a set of numbers that are still awaiting further confirmation. The JR runningback didn't get the ball much, but he didn't need it as he amassed an earth-shattering 153-yards and three touchdowns on four carries (statistics reported by LJWorld). The scores came came on runs of 70, 51 and 15 yards and were all made in the first half.

Dineen was not the only back to score big, as SR Zach Wilson got a trio of scores himself on runs of 4, 12 and 39-yards. In total, five Free State players scored on offense to go along with a blocked punt recovered by Lovette Epelle on special teams. Free State might have a little more challenge against the Junction City Blue Jays (5-3) who only has a single win against a team with a winning record this season.

Time to Hit the Panic Button?

SM East/Gardner-Edgerton: While the end result was more-or-less typical for the Lancers, fans likely felt hints of panic as halftime came around and G-E still held a 21-14 lead. The tensity was even higher after a scoreless third quarter, but that dissipated quickly with East hitting the turbo button and blowing out the Trailblazers 28-7 in the final period. 

Despite the late-game collapse, Gardner-Edgerton once again brought up questions on SM East's ability to keep it together in the playoffs for the second year in a row. The Lancers will get another chance to see what they're made of in their first match against Olathe Northwest (4-5) since 2013 (It seem's we'll need to have a conversation about that fact in the future). Despite the feisty nature of the Trailblazers, it's still safe to say that SM East can be expected to take care of business when the Ravens come to town.

Lawrence/BVNW: We were a failed two-point conversion away from another jaw-dropping exit for Lawrence, who fell to SM North 49-52 in the second round last year. For their credit, the Lions at least led throughout the entirety of the game. Unlike SM East, the team was on the opposite end of the situation, trying with all their might to halt an increasingly desperate Huskies squad.

Sticking to their normal gameplan, three Lawrence players split both the caries and scores. The Lions were led mostly by SR quarterback  Dante Jackson (143-yards, 1TD) and SR runningback Angel Garcia (123-yards, 2TD's), with SR Hunter Krom tacking on 89-yards and a score of his own before leaving the game with an injury midway through the game. Garcia showed that the starting RB spot is safe, but if Krom has to miss the team's 2nd Round rematch with Olathe North (6-3), there may be another source of concern for the team's chances.

Flaws Creeping Up?

Olathe North: Lawrence would have a ton more to worry about if Olathe North's offense managed to at least score more than twice against one of the worst defenses in Class 6A. The BV West Jaguars (1-8) gave up an average of 46 points per game and never gave up less than 26 points before facing Eagles. What was considered a cakewalk against a team who's lone win came against win-less Gardner became a frustrating slog as the team never managed to put the game away.

The silver lining of the match may be that the score isn't  completely indicative of what occurred, as the Jags only managed their single score very late in the fourth quarter, at a point where it was too little, too late. If the defense can keep up it's momentum (they have allowed an average of 13ppg since their Week 5 win at Lawrence), the Eagles should still have hope of reaching the Sectional round with another win over Lawrence.