Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sunflower Football: 12 Thoughts of Thanks

Entering the 2016 year, this 2015 season has brought us quite a bit of success within the Sunflower League. Although we were unable to represent the East side of the bracket as we have for many years, we are still a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron each and every year.

Here are 12 thoughts of Sunflower Football that I am thankful for entering the 2016 season:

12 - Lawrence, Free State, Leavenworth, OE, ON, ONW, OS, SME, SMN, SMNW, SMS, & SMW

11 - 11 healthy student-athletes on offense and defense.

10 - Where SM West Head Coach Tim Callaghan ranks all-time on the Sunflower League Football Coaching History. With 97 wins, needing only three (3) to reach 100 Sunflower wins, and joining a class of nine other Coaches once this feat is reached

9 - Chip Sherman's inspiration to keep going every day

8 - Eight (8) months until the start of the 2016 season

7 - The future additions of Gardner-Edgerton Trailblazers and Olathe West Owls to the family

6 - Six (6) straight seasons of SM East Football winning seasons 55-13 since 2010

5 - Bill Freeman's 5 State Championships for Lawrence 1979-1984-1986-1987-1989

4 - SM South Raiders winning their 250th game in their 50th season of Football

3 - Good friend and mentor, SM North Principal Richard Kramer for his constant pushing and encouragement to make each day, and week better to bring the best Sunflower Football to you

2 - Isaiah Simmons (Olathe North) and Amani Bledsoe (Lawrence) consistent honors both locally and nationwide by our own US Military for his nominations to play in Senior games

1 - Eli Underwood for allowing Austin and I to continue on bringing the best coverage we can for our many viewers! Thank you all

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Loss of a Legend: Chesty Lions Bill Freeman

Tribute to a legend: Bill Freeman (84), passed December 18, 2015. Born January 27, 1931.

The name, the legend of Bill Freeman spans throughout the High School hallways within Osawatomie and Lawrence High Schools forever having left a footprint of success. That success, comes from his many hundreds of student-athletes he coached at both schools before retiring at the conclusion of the 1989 season.

32 years of Coaching, both Football and Track & Field, led him on a path beginning at Baxter Springs, Parker Rural, Nickerson, Osawatomie Trojans, and the Lawrence Chesty Lions. In his time with the Osawatomie Trojans, they finished State with Titles in 1966 and 1973 respectively. 

Bill Freeman retired from Education after the 1989-90 school year with the Chesty Lions. 

Although he was not one for slowing down after leaving the classroom, he returned to central Kansas where he became Mayor for 21 years of LeRoy, KS. In this capacity, he was also a Deacon of his local church, and owner of a local bank wearing quite a few hats. 

Enclosed are some features of his impact on the Lawrence Football program, and the Sunflower League Football History

* 6A State Titles: 1979-1984-1986-1987-1989 (5)
Sunflower Champions: 1977-1979-1981-1985-1986-1987 (6)
District Titles: 1981-1982-1983-1984-1985-1986-1987-1988-1989 (9)
* Kansas Hall of Fame Class of 2014 
* Shrine Bowl Coach 1973 - Osawatomie Trojans 
* 2 State Track & Field Titles with the Chesty Lions

Osawatomie Trojans
1969    6-2-1      ---    
1970    unknown
1971    unknown
1972    8-1         ---
1973  12-0     3-0             12-0   3-0 - STATE CHAMPIONS  
Lawrence Chesty Lions 
1974    3-6        ---             3-6     --- 
1975    5-4        ---             8-10   ---
1976    5-4        ---           13-14   ---
1977    8-2        0-1         21-16   0-1
1978    9-3        2-1         30-19   2-2 - 2nd Runner up to Wichita Southeast
1979  11-1        3-0         41-20   5-2 - STATE CHAMPIONS #1
1980    6-3        ---           47-23   ---
* Winning streak of 8 dating back to week 9 of the '79 State season 
1981    9-1        0-1         56-24   5-3
1982    7-3        0-1         63-27   5-4
1983    6-5        1-1         69-32   6-5
1984  11-1        3-0         80-33   9-5 - STATE CHAMPIONS #2 
1985  10-1        1-1         90-34  10-6 
* Winning streak of 20 games from week #3 of the 1984 season vs SM North to week #9 of the 1985 season before falling to SM West in the 6A State Semi-Finals vs. Harold Wambsagans Vikings
1986  12-0        3-0       102-34  13-6 - STATE CHAMPIONS #3
1987  11-1        3-0       113-35  16-6 - STATE CHAMPIONS #4
* Winning streak of 17 games starting in week #1 of the 1986 season with a win over Topeka West Chargers to week #5 over Bill Stiegemeier's Lancers with a 27-0 shutout. In week #6, the Lions fell to Wambsgan's Vikings again two seasons later after the '85 season was complete
1988  10-2        2-1       123-37  18-7 - 2nd State Runner up to Manhattan Indians
1989  11-1        3-0       134-38  21-7 - STATE CHAMPIONS #5
* Concluded Head Coaching career with 8 straight wins from week #4 with a 41-7 defeat of SM East to the 6A State Final game in which the Manhattan Indians fell victim to the Lions 28-21. This was a revenge game of sorts as the Lions lost in the 6A State Final during the 1988 season to Manhattan losing 14-7. 

* Ranks #4 All-Time in Sunflower League Coaching with a record of 134W-38L-172 GC-779 W%
- 3 more wins than SM South Raiders Coaching legend John Davis with 131 All-Time Wins
- 21W-7L-28 Playoff Games-750 W% - Ranks 3rd All-Time in Playoff Wins (in todays Modern era)

Head Coach - School(s) - Playoff Records (Sunflower Only)  
Gene Weir     Olathe North                    24-7 - Richland Rebels TX post-season not included
Dick Purdy    SM West & Lawrence     23-9 - Lee's Summit Tigers post-season not included
Bill Freeman  Lawrence                         21-7 - Osawatmomie Trojans post-season not included

Coach Freeman's success of his own, helped many of his former Students from all over the State. You can read those thoughts about him in post' throughout the interwebs. His ability to teach his students about life outside of the classroom is documented so well that many of his footprints have made their way to the Kansas City metro area.   

Thank you Bill Freeman for your contributions to the Sunflower League. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Interview - Formation of Olathe West and How it Works

Here is a recent interview with Olathe #233 Athletic Director Tim Brady on how the opening of Olathe West will work in 2017-2018.

Curious Sunflower League fans are wanting to learn more about Olathe West. Where can our readers find out about the future fifth school? May we have permission to post the link(s) to the website?

Tim Brady
The best place for information is will be updating this site regularly as we get closer to the opening of the building. 

Your department recently conducted a survey of future colors and mascots for the school. When does the district plan on revealing this information?

Tim Brady
After the November Board of Education meeting, the district announced on the website, Facebook and Twitter that Blue and Silver and the Owls was the final choice for mascot and colors. Once we have finalized the design of the owl, we will release that as well.

Outside of hiring the first official Principal of the building, who are the next hire’s to help build the faculty?

Tim Brady 
The district will be hiring the principal during second semester and that person will start his/her duties on July 1, 2016. Subsequent staff members will be hired later, with the majority hired sometime during the 2016-17 school year.

Who or what sport is generally the first Teacher/Head Coach hired within the school?

Tim Brady
We don't know yet at this time.

It is my understanding, that Olathe West will be a Junior Varsity Football program in 2017, prior to becoming Varsity in 2018. Does this allow for enrollment to build once the school is in its second year?

Tim Brady 
Correct - we will play a sub varsity schedule in 2017. 

Does Olathe #233 plan to fall in to a 5 or 6A enrollment with the KSHSAA?

Tim Brady
Boundaries have not been set by the BOE.  We don't know this information at this time.

Thank you again to Olathe #233 AD Tim Brady for your time in explaining how the process of Olathe West started, and what the future has in store in the months ahead. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Breaking: Sunflower Football Scheduling

Week-3 2016 and 2017 Thursday/Friday Night Games

As many of you may have heard, a fellow High School website has broken huge news about the open scheduling similar to these past two Sunflower seasons.

Beginning in 2016 and 2017, the Sunflower League will partner with our neighbors from across the state line in the Suburban League.

The Suburban League is made up of 25 local Kansas City, MO metro High Schools from as far north as Platte County, to as far south as Ray-Pec. These 25 schools are featured each school year under enrollment divisions of Blue, Red, White, and Gold, formerly known as the Big 7, Big 6, Mid 6, and Small 6.

Once the seasons begin, there will be 10 total match ups (20 games total) while the SM North Indians face the Lansing Lions, and SM East will play Rockhurst.

Sunflower vs Suburban (Week-3) - Home and Home Series
Lawrence Chesty Lions vs Lee's Summit West Titans - 1st meeting
Free State Firebirds vs Park Hill Trojans - 1st meeting
Leavenworth Pioneers vs North KC Hornets - 1st meeting
Olathe East Hawks vs Liberty Bluejays - 1st meeting
Olathe North Eagles vs Blue Spring South Jaguars - 1st meeting
Olathe NW Raves vs Lee's Summit North - 1st meeting
Olathe South Falcons vs Lee's Summit Tigers - 1st meeting
SM Northwest Cougars vs Grandview Bulldogs - 1st meeting
SM South Raiders vs Winnetonka Griffins - 1st meeting
SM West Vikings vs Blue Springs Wildcats - 1st meeting

SM East Lancers vs Rockhurst Hawklets
SM North Indians vs Lansing Lions

Congrats to both leagues on great non-conference games entering the following school years ahead.

For now, some rivalries will now be on hold due to these games.

The SM East Lancers and SM South Raiders will not see each other unless it is a playoff game in week-9, similar to the Olathe North Eagles not playing the Olathe East Hawks.

Thank you again to Olathe North AD Jason Herman and fellow officials spearheading these games.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Withering Giants: Sunflower League's Dominance Waivers

It was bound to happen eventually, with multiple schools toeing the line of the 5A and 6A classifications, there was bound to be a team that could sneak up on the Sunflower League. Because of that, I'm not all that surprised to say that the Blue Valley Tigers have made history by becoming the first non-SFL team representing the 6A East in the state championship since the inception of the playoff system in 1969.

Up until now, SFL teams have shared the spot with some Blue Valley squads challenging in the Sub-State rounds but failing to get over the hump. The most notable one is the class Sub-State battle between Olathe North and Blue Valley in 2009, a game Olathe North survived after a last second field goal to win the game.

Since then, teams from the EKL have shown a lot of promise with 2012 featuring future SFL member Gardner-Edgerton sweeping their district that included Olathe North, Olathe South, and Olathe Northwest before falling to Lawrence in the first round of the playoffs. BV Northwest followed in 2013 by running through SM South and Olathe East on the way to a 7-2 record before failing to move the ball and eventually losing against Olathe North in the first round. Next up was Blue Valley in 2014 who showed the same dominance that the previous teams showed, and took the next step by defeating SM South in the opening round. That step was all she wrote though, as the Tigers fell in another close EKL/SFL bout against Olathe North.

As we all know, things are different this year, despite having a team in both Sub-State Rounds, the state championship will not hold an SFL team. While the Sunflower League isn't just going to die away or anything like that, what does this year tell us about the future of the league?

Gardner-Edgerton is set to join in 2017
First off, one of the better teams in the EKL a few years ago will now be joining in 2017 following reports that Gardner-Edgerton has been accepted to fill out the 13th spot before Olathe West joins to make things even again at 14 teams. So in terms of numbers, we don't have much to worry about even if schools like Leavenworth decided to leave at any point. However, we'll have to see how GE handles the current slump they are in before we can tell whether or not they will actually compete and become a competitor in the league. The Trailblazers are looking like they have a long way to go before they reach the levels of the squads that brandished players like Bubba Starling and Traevon Wrench. Including a 2013 playoff loss to Olathe East, GE suffered through an 11-game losing streak and had to wait two years to get another win. Things didn't get much easier as their only other win came against an Olathe South team that was in the exact same position.

It's really difficult to predict how brand new schools will perform, but all we can say for sure is that Olathe West will mainly be taking students from both Olathe North and Olathe Northwest based on location, but the division of middle schools overall might be switched up to accommodate. This doesn't mean the schools will be immediately hurting from the new guys in town, but I can see this helping fuel the downward spiral the current four find themselves in currently as a whole.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sunflower Football All-League Selections

Congrats to all of the Sunflower Football Student-athletes who received 1st, 2nd, and Honorable Mention Honors and a season well done!

Your hard work has paid off during the off-season weights programs, and throughout the weeks of practice prior to our Friday Night Lights!

Special Thanks to Olathe North AD Jason Herman for the 2015 Selections 

1st Team
QB -

Bryce Torneden - SR - Free State

RB -

J.D. Woods - SR - Lawrence
Vinnie Shabazz - SR - Olathe North
Sam Skwarlo - SR - Free State

WR -

Isreal Watson - JR - SM West
Isaiah Simmons - SR - Olathe North
Sky Tate - JR - SM East

TE -

Price Morgan - SR - Lawrence

OL -

Amani Bledson - SR - Lawrence
Jeff Heath - SR - SM East
Trey Georgie - SR - Lawrence
Jared Green - SR - SM West
Markus Sawyer - SR - Olathe North


DB -

Bryce Torneden - SR - Free State
Isaiah Simmons - SR - Olathe North
Ivan Hollins - SR - Lawrence
Carl Young - JR - SM East

LB -
Price Morgan - SR - Lawrence
Sam Skwarlo - SR - Free State
Rustin Heibert - SR - Olathe North
Simon Bradley - JR - SM East

DL -

Amani Bledsoe - SR - Lawrence
Chase Miller - SR - Olathe North
Jose Montoya - SR - SM West
Trey Georgie - SR - Lawrence

2nd Team
QB -

Matt Wright - SR - Olathe North

RB -

Wyatt Edmisten - SR - SM East
Nigel Houston - JR - SM West
DaeVonte Nance - SR - Olathe South

WR -

Zack Sanders - JR - Free State
Gerritt Prince - SR - SM Northwest
Parker Williamson - SR - SM North

TE -

Darian Lewis - SR - Free State

OL -

Stephen Gill - SR - SM East
Chase Houk - JR - Free State
Tyler Brewer - SR - SM West
Tanner Liba - SR - Free State
Brandon Huntley - SR - Olathe North

DB -

Deion Poindexter - JR - Olathe North
Ben Karlin - SR - SM West
Dion Union - SR - Olathe East
Storey Jackson - SR - Olathe North

LB -

Jay Dineen - JR - Free State
David Burton - SR - Olathe Northwest
Josh Compton - SR - SM West
Ryan Workman - SR - Olathe North

DL -

Luke Heisdorffer - SR - SM East
Zack Burks - SR - Olathe North
Darian Lewis - SR - Free State
Jack Murphy - SR - Olathe South

Honorable Mention

(6) Olathe East - Kurt Paldino, Kameron Barnes, Wesley Burris, Andrew Luce, Alex Conley, Nick Zinn

(11) SM West - Kirby Grigsby, Jason Potter, Alec Green, Tre Carter, Terrion Brewer, Montel Madlock, Adam Rellihan, Byron Sherwin, Conner Riley, Jay Hawkins, DJ Turner

(8) SM East - Justin Finnigan, Mike Bamford, Jack Tyler, Eli McDonald, Calen Gilmore, Trevor Thompson, Luke Kaiser, Milton Braasch

(8) Free State - Paul Bittinger, Logan McKinney, Drew Tochtrop, Jalen Galloway, Zion Bowlin, Jay Dineen, Zack Sanders, Kameron Lake

(6) Olathe South - Devin Brown, Jared Hester, Matt Burton, Kendal Engelken, Jaden Walker, Ben Smith

(3) SM Northwest - Cole Young, Cole Jonson, Xavier Perry

(8) Lawrence - Trey Moore, Nate Koehn, Tanner Green, Konnor Kelley, Luke Padia, J'Mony Bryant, Alan Clothier, Jacob Unruh

(12) Olathe Northwest - Ashton Avery, Ryan Leeper, Saylm West, Chase Helling, Tanner Keating, Bo Steele, Bailey McAuley, Elijah Roland, Brendan Watkins, Kyle Rinck, Trey Espy, Jesse Rose

(6) Leavenworth - Drew Sachen, Wade Jackson, Nick Starnes, Avery Bartlett, Arik Parker, Xavier Lelea

(11) SM North - Will Schneider, Danny Presler, Marcos Garcia, Tyler Burnett, Taylor Knowles, David Curtis, David Curtis, Reese Sila, Talbot Ebberts, Andrew Gonzales, Avante' Williamson, Dalton Morris

(3) Olathe North - Conner Vandevord, Jake Campbell, Rustin Heibert

(2) SM South - Cody Corbin, Cameron Union

Sunflower Post Season Awards and Nominations

Congrats to Sunflower Coach of the Year Dirk Wedd of the Lawrence Chesty Lions.

Coach Wedd owns a record of 93W-78L in 171 games coached in his 17th year at the helm.

Lawrence SR Amani Bledsoe was named the Andre' Maloney Player of the Year.

Sunflower League Selections - Including Student-athletes from around the KC metro area.

The 2015 Football season marks the 33rd season for the Thomas A Simone Awards presented to the top High School Football Athletes in Kansas City.

6th Annual Simone Team (2010-2015)
Amani Bledsoe - Lawrence
Isaiah Simmons - Olathe North

QB - Bryce Tornedon - SR Free State
RB - JD Woods - SR Lawrence
WR - Isaiah Simmons - SR Olathe North
OL - Jared Green - SM West

DL - Amani Bledsoe - SR Lawrence
LB - Price Morgan - SR Lawrence

Additional Awards Presented

All Simone Team

Frank Fontana Award - Frank Fontana was a former SPX Warriors Football player

Junious "Buck" Buchanan Award - Former KC Chiefs great
Amani Bledsoe - SR - Lawrence

Bobby Bell Memorial Award - Former KC Chiefs great

Otis Taylor Award - Former KC Chiefs great
Isaiah Simmons - SR - Olathe North

The Nathan Stiles Inspiration Award - former Spring Hill Broncos player who died on the field of play

The Gordon Docking Award - A former WDAF-TV 4 Sportscaster, and former emcee

Metro Sports Coach of the Year - Presented to a KS and MO Head Coach each year