Top 11 and All-Class football teams are selected by The Wichita Eagle with the help of coaches across Kansas.
Every coach in the state is mailed a ballot to return to The Eagle, by mail or online, by the end of the season. Coaches may nominate their own players and players from other teams. They also are asked to supply statistics and comment on players they nominate.
The teams were selected by Joanna Chadwick. She tabulated nominations from the ballots and received additional input from coaches and other media members.
Top 11 teams are selected regardless of position, while All-Class teams are selected by position.
Shawnee Mission East
Senior defensive end
*** Ball (6-2, 235) led the Lancers to their first Class 6A title, a 33-14 win over Hutchinson, one season after they made their first appearance in the championship game. He had 118 tackles, 37 for loss, with 10 sacks. He led a defense that gave up 146 points, 97 in the first 11 games.
*** Ball, a three-year starter, had 229 tackles in the past two seasons with 67 tackles for loss and 18 sacks. He has put in the work to improve, gaining 25 pounds of muscle over the past two seasons and increasing his strength dramatically.
*** Ball, an Eagle scout with a 3.9 GPA, moves so well that he’s hitting the quarterback most plays because of his ability to cover so much space in such a short period of time.
Coach Dustin Delaney: “He’s a stud. It’s his absolute, relentless motor. He plays harder than any kid I’ve coached. He makes plays, and at defensive end, he makes plays sideline to sideline, which you just don’t see. In practice we have enough problems dealing with him. Do we run at him or away from him? You can’t move him on double teams, and he runs you down when you run away. He’s a matchup problem.”
Senior running back-defensive back
*** Barnes, who has made a non-binding commitment to play at Kansas State, had 2,361 rushing yards and 36 rushing touchdowns, with 4,835 career yards. Defensively, he had 66 tackles, four interceptions, two blocked field goals, a defensive score, and a punt return for a touchdown.
*** Barnes (6-0, 212), who led the Dragons to a 9-2 record and the 5A quarterfinals, spent his first two seasons as a starting linebacker, leading the Dragons in tackles with more than 100 each season.
*** Because of his ability to cover the field from one side to the other and the likelihood of playing defensive back in college, he moved into the secondary. His instincts and speed erased most mistakes that the Dragons made.
Coach Tom Nickelson: “He’s just a very natural athlete. He has great patience. A lot get excited when they get the ball in their hands. He waits for his blocks. He’s good at setting up the block — dipping in, setting up the block, jumping outside. His vision, when you watch on the sideline, it’s ‘no, no, no, no. Oh, good cut, good cut.’ He’s kind of a handful. What do you do in the open field? He’s big enough if you sit there, he’ll run over you. He can run around you, can jump over you.”
Kansas City Piper
*** Beebe (6-2, 252) had 152 tackles, 23 for loss, four sacks and an interception. As a blocking fullback. he had 13 touchdowns and 427 yards.
*** Beebe, a four-year player who started 47 of 48 career games, had 512 career tackles, 41 for loss, and 12 sacks along with 37 career touchdowns. He had 10 or more tackles 31 times and twice had 19 tackles.
*** Beebe led Piper to the Class 4A-Division I semifinals with a 10-2 record. He is Piper’s first Top 11 selection.
Coach Chris Brindle: “His first game was my first game as a head coach, and I was trying to develop some things. He still ended up scoring a touchdown and leading in tackles. He forced us to play him, even though he didn’t start that game. He was just proving to be a force on the field already that year. He pretty much forced us to start him as a freshman middle linebacker. But he’s a great fullback, too, and that’s what Minnesota wants him for.
“He’s quite a load to take on in practice. He does what he does naturally. He takes his steps and runs into them, and it’s like, ‘why wasn’t there some resistance there? He drives through blockers to get to the backs. I’ve never seen anyone physically shed blocks like he can.”
Lawrence Free State
Senior offensive lineman
*** Frantz (6-5, 295) led Free State to the Class 6A semifinals and an 8-4 record. He anchored an offensive line for an offense that averaged around 330 yards.
*** When Free State needed yards, it went to its left side because he was such a dominant presence that the Firebirds knew they could pick up those necessary yards. Frantz set the blocks on the edge and was so strong that he could push the pile.
*** He significantly improved his footwork since his sophomore season, while also gaining quickness. Add that to his already aggressive style, an additional 20 pounds, and he was difficult to stop.
Coach Bob Lisher: “He was the anchor to our offensive line, plus he was a huge leader for our football team. He’s got a nice story, and a lot of work behind the player that he turned into. He came in as a skinny freshman, 6-3, toothpick. Now, he’s almost 6-6, 295 pounds and it’s all strength. He’s worked extremely hard.”
Senior running back
*** Goolsby (5-11, 205), a four-year starter, was a versatile, speedy athlete and played a variety of positions for the Eagles his first three seasons. In his senior season, he became a focal point of the offense.
*** Goolsby, who has made a non-binding commitment to play at Kansas State, played 31 1/2 quarters through Carroll’s 13 games. He played in two games into the fourth quarter and one quarter of another. He had 162 carries for 1,641 rushing yards. He had 31 touchdowns. He also had 16 receptions for 251 yards and seven touchdowns.
*** On 13 punt returns he had five touchdowns, and scored on his lone kickoff return.
Coach Alan Schuckman: “He’s just very dynamic, very versatile, very explosive. Every time he touches the ball, he can go the distance. He’s just a rare kid, unlike anyone we’ve ever had in our program.
“… He just has an incredible work ethic, combined with talent and is just an unbelievable competitor. I see guys who are blessed with a lot of God-given talent and don’t use it. But he’s going to. He’s not just one of the best players around, he’s going to outwork you, too.”
Senior offensive lineman
*** Harris (6-4, 280) is a two-time Top 11 selection and a three-year starter, who has made a non-binding commitment to Missouri. He was a key blocker as Blue Valley gained 12,813 yards and had 143 touchdowns in his career.
*** Harris helped lead Blue Valley to a 9-2 record and a quarterfinal berth in the Class 6A playoffs. Blue Valley, which won the 2013 5A title, had nearly more than 4,000 yards of offense and 48 touchdowns.
*** Harris’ dominance was due to his physicality, speed and agility, along with his understanding of leverage and the necessary footwork.
Coach Eric Driskell: “He’s been a special player all of the last three years that he’s started for us, and not just as a great physical attribute to our team, but as an emotional leader. He’s an unbelievably smart football player, as well as having the whole package — great player, great character, great person.
“… His abilities allowed us to do many things, and he raised the level of the offensive linemen playing next to him. That helped everyone, including me as a play caller and all our backs and quarterbacks over the years.”
Senior defensive back
*** Jackson (6-foot, 190), who has multiple college offers, including from Kansas State, scored seven touchdowns, yet never took an offensive snap. He returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns, as well as two interceptions and a fumble recovery for scores. Opponents began kicking out of bounds to avoid Derby’s returners.
*** Jackson, who played in Texas his first three seasons before moving with his family, stepped into a leadership role on and off the field as he helped the Panthers reach the Class 6A quarterfinals and finish 9-2.
*** He had 145 tackles, 121 unassisted, and had five interceptions, two forced fumbles, five fumble recovers and a blocked kick.
Coach Brandon Clark: “He’s a natural talent, fearless. I think he sees something five yards past the guy he’s tackling, and he just tackles through people.… He played corner, safety, middle linebacker and outside linebacker and took one snap at defensive end, too. He’s football savvy, he’s fast and aggressive. We could put him anywhere and he could still be the best football player on the field.
“(On special teams), he keeps his feet moving all the time. He plays low, never gives up, doesn’t run out of bounds. He took some plays, that we thought were over, to the house. That’s a tribute to him.”
Senior running back-defensive back
*** Knoblauch, a three-year starter, led a deep Andale team to the Class 4A-Division II ttle and a 13-0 record. It is Andale’s third title, all with unbeaten records.
*** Knoblauch (6-foot, 180) suffered an ankle injury and missed most of four games before returning for the playoffs. He finished with 1,241 rushing yards on 147 carries for 21 touchdowns. He also had 39 tackles, two interceptions.
*** In his three-year career, he had 69 touchdowns and 3,832 rushing yards, 117 tackles, seven interceptions. Andale was 33-3 in that span.
*** He had 131 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in the title game, when he also had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown.
Coach Gary O’Hair: “I think the biggest thing is he’s just so good at everything. He’s not really an offensive player or a defensive player. He’s our best player on both sides of the ball. He’s our best return guy. Everyone punts away from him, kicks away from him. He’s our punter. He’s ambidextrous, he can punt on the run, go rugby left, go rugby right.
“He’s a gifted athlete. He’s multi-dimensional. And his instincts. He always seems to be at the right place at the right time and always knows what is going to happen next.”
Senior running back
*** Middleton (5-10, 174) transferred to Hutchinson after his father, Todd, was hired as an assistant at Hutchinson Community College. Middleton helped lead the Salthawks to the Class 6A title game and an 8-5 record.
*** Hutchinson, which started the season 2-4, was led by Middleton’s 2,788 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns. He had 357 rushing yards in the semifinal win over Free State. He owns the single-season rushing record at Hutchinson, more than 700 yards over the previous record set by Kansas’ Ben Heeney.
*** A quick, physical back, teams struggled to stop him, especially when he became more comfortable in the offense.
Coach Ryan Cornelsen: “Probably his biggest attribute is his speed and quickness. He has good vision, so when he sees a seam — he uses that good vision with his speed — and then he can find seams that others can’t. He can hit it so fast that he caused people problems.
“… As he was adjusting to the offense, he was still rushing for quite a few yards, still making plays. But they didn’t seem easy. He got a feel for the ‘I’ and I think his vision got better drastically.”
Senior defensive back
*** Quaney (6-0, 190) led a dominating defense, whose starters allowed their first points in the Class 5A title game, a 39-7 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas. The Eagles allowed 65 total points.
*** Quaney, a three-year starter, played all of 2012 but missed the Eagles’ 2012 title game with a back injury. He helped lead Carroll to a 36-1 record in the past three seasons and two unbeaten title runs.
*** Quaney had 48 tackles and, coming from the secondary, had 14 tackles for loss. He had five interceptions, returned one for a touchdown and had five fumble recoveries. He also recovered four of his team’s onside kicks.
Coach Alan Schuckman: “He’s a linebacker in a defensive back’s body. He’s very physical. He always seems to be around the ball, always in the right place. If there was a ball to be intercepted or a ball to be knocked down or recovered on a fumble or on an onside kick, he always seemed to be in the right place. That doesn’t happen by mistake. That happens by having a good sense of who you are and where you’re at.”
*** Willis (6-4, 205), who has made a non-binding commitment to play at Kansas, led Miege to a 13-0 record and the Class 4A-Division I title. Miege beat Hayden 42-35 in the championship, and Willis passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns.
*** Willis threw for 3,003 yards and 35 touchdowns, completing 63.2 percent of his passes for 35 touchdowns. In his career, he had 5,986 passing yards, 65 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
*** Primarily a passing QB who can throw the deep ball and hit his receivers in stride, Willis improved his footwork and extended drives by scrambling.
Coach Jon Holmes: “It’s his arm that has kind of set him apart from the other guys we’ve had come through here. He’s an accurate passer, a career 62 percent completion guy with close to 500, 600 attempts in his career.
“He’s not afraid to throw any ball. Some quarterbacks might think twice about it, but he thinks he can make any throw. Big window, small window, he thinks he can do it.”
Shawnee Mission East
In two seasons, Delaney, who coached at Emporia and was an assistant at Hutchinson previously, led the Lancers to a 25-1 record.
Under Delaney, SM East went to its first Class 6A title game in 2013 with an unbeaten record, and then this season, the Lancers finished the season unbeaten with the 6A title. The Lancers beat previously unbeaten Olathe North 36-35 in double overtime in the 6A semifinals, when Delaney chose to go for two points instead of a third overtime. SM East beat Hutchinson 33-14 in the championship.
SM East senior Kyle Ball: “Coach is really energetic. He brings a lot of enthusiasm to practice. If we’re doing a workout, he makes it fun with the amount of energy he brings. He gets everyone else into it just by being around him.
“… When he came in, his philosophies were a lot different than what we were used to. We watch film every day before practice, and then we do a lot of 1s vs. 1s, No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense, that really helps us a get a good look. His offense is a ton different. None of us had ever seen it before, and it was really strange.
“… I give coach a ton of credit for (winning 6A). We’re this successful because of all the work and time he puts in. I think he’s an amazing coach. He will find our strengths and weaknesses, and I think that’s part of why he’s so successful.”