Welcome to the fifth watch list for the Varsity Kansas Player of the Year award, something I have created for this high school football season.
It’s pretty simple: the best offensive players who make the biggest plays in the biggest games will be rewarded. Varsity Kansas will publish a new watch list every Monday at 7 p.m. and ultimately crown the Player of the Year on Monday, Oct. 30.
Disclaimer: Players must be in Sedgwick, Butler and Harvey counties to be ranked.
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1. Blake Sullivan, Goddard senior QB (LW: 1)
Week 5 recap: In Week 4, Sullivan got the job done with his legs. Last week he showed if a defense tries to limit his running, then Sullivan can beat them through the air. The senior signal-caller threw for 195 yards on 11 of 20 passing and four touchdowns as Goddard blanked Salina South 38-0. Sullivan also added 30 rushing yards on 11 carries. The Lions remain undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class 5A with Sullivan serving as the heartbeat of the team’s offense.
Season stats: 44 for 94 passing (47 percent) for 784 yards (156.8 yards/game) with 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. 93 rushes for 626 yards (125.2 yards/game, 6.7 average) and 9 touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Goddard (5-0, No. 1 in 5A) at Arkansas City (1-4) on Friday.
2. Brody Kooser, Derby senior RB (LW: 4)
Week 5 recap: Take out the Goddard game, which Kooser only received 10 carries, and the Derby tailback has rushed for an average of 168 yards per game. Kooser added another big game in a 54-45 win over Bishop Carroll, as he rushed for 154 yards on 23 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Derby’s offense has been on a roll ever since the Goddard loss and Kooser has played a big role in that.
Season stats: 86 rushes for 732 yards (146.4 yards/game, 8.5 average) and 13 touchdowns. 1 kickoff return touchdown.
Looking ahead: Derby (4-1, No. 2 in 6A) at Salina Central (0-5) on Friday.
3. Braden Howell, Bishop Carroll senior QB (LW: 2)
Week 5 recap: It was the shootout everyone wanted last Friday between Derby and Bishop Carroll, as Howell came out blazing and ended up throwing for 466 yards and four touchdowns. But Derby prevailed 54-45, as Howell threw two interceptions (one wasn’t his fault and the other came on a last-ditch hail mary) and lost two fumbles in Carroll’s first loss of the season.
Season stats: 88 for 142 passing (62 percent) for 1,515 yards (303.0 yards/game) with 15 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. 55 rushes for 141 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Bishop Carroll (4-1, No. 4 in 5A) vs. South (1-4) on Friday.
4. Breece Hall, Northwest junior RB (LW: 3)
Week 5 recap: Up against what had been an elite defense, Hall was able to rush for 121 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown in Northwest’s 26-14 victory over Kapaun. He was held under five yards per carry for the first time this season, but Hall still showed his ability to grind out yards while his team’s passing attack finally took off. He will have another big showdown this Friday, as undefeated Garden City comes to town.
Season stats: 101 rushes for 924 yards (184.8 yards/game, 9.2 average) and 8 touchdowns. 5 catches for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Northwest (4-1, No. 4 in 6A) vs. Garden City (5-0) on Friday.
5. Nick Channel, Kapaun Mt. Carmel senior RB (LW: 5)
Week 5 recap: Kapaun lost its first game of the season in a 26-14 defeat to Northwest, but Channel still produced a standout stat line with 19 carries for 130 yards. Although it was the first game this season Channel hasn’t found the end zone, something he will look to do in another difficult game against Heights this Friday.
Season stats: 75 rushes for 673 yards (134.6 yards/game, 9.0 average) and 8 touchdowns. 5 catches for 117 yards and 1 touchdown. 1 special teams touchdown.
Looking ahead: Kapaun Mt. Carmel (4-1) vs. Heights (3-2) on Friday.
6. K’Vonte Baker, Heights junior QB (LW: 10)
Week 5 recap: Since Baker returned in Week 3, Heights has rolled over three straight opponents 174-22. He already has 720 yards rushing for the season after tacking on 85 more in last Friday’s 71-8 victory over North, as he scored touchdowns on three of his five carries. Baker also threw for a season-high 163 yards on 4 of 5 passing for another two scores. He will receive his first stiff challenge of the season this Friday on the road against Kapaun.
Season stats: 9 for 18 passing (50 percent) for 230 yards with 3 touchdown and 0 interceptions. 37 rushes for 720 yards (240.0 yards/game, 19.5 average) and 13 touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Heights (3-2) at Kapaun Mt. Carmel (4-1) on Friday.
7. Cody McNerney, Collegiate senior QB (LW: 9)
Week 5 recap: Collegiate took a different approach in its 28-13 win over Wellington last Friday, as the offense relied less on McNerney creating everything and more on the running game. The result was a win, as McNerney guided the way with 117 passing yards and two touchdowns to go along with 40 rushing yards to snap Collegiate’s two-game losing streak. If the Spartans are going to take down undefeated Andale on the road, then McNerney will likely have to come through with a big performance this Friday.
Season stats: 60 for 126 passing (48 percent) for 1,052 yards (210.4 yards/game) with 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. 67 rushes for 343 yards (68.6 yards/game, 5.1 average) and 4 touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Collegiate (3-2) at Andale (5-0, No. 5 in 4A I) on Friday.
8. Sam Hardin, Trinity senior QB (LW: 7)
Week 5 recap: Trinity fell behind big against undefeated Conway Springs at home, then rallied in the fourth quarter as Hardin ended up with a nice stat line of 28 of 47 passing for 301 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions to go along with 12 carries for 71 rushing yards in a 62-35 loss.
Season stats: 95 for 160 passing (59 percent) for 1,411 yards (282.2 yards/game) with 16 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 83 rushes for 441 yards (88.2 yards/game, 5.3 average) and 3 touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Trinity (2-3) at Belle Plaine (0-5) on Friday.
9. Riley Petz, Cheney sophomore RB (LW: UR)
Week 5 recap: Maybe the biggest breakout running back in the area this season, Petz has thrived in first-year coach Shelby Wehrmann’s run-first offense. Petz has proven he can handle the full work load and is averaging more than 160 yards per game in Cheney’s 5-0 start. In last week’s 74-46 win over Sedgwick, Petz delivered his biggest line of the season with 17 carries for 285 yards and three touchdowns. Cheney will once again be heavily favored this Friday before heading into its district gauntlet with three other of the top 3A teams in the state.
Season stats: 76 rushes for 815 yards (163.0 yards/game, 10.7 average) and 9 touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Cheney (5-0) vs. Independent (0-5) on Friday.
10. Caden Williams, Trinity senior WR (LW: UR)
Week 5 recap: No receiver is producing at the volume that Williams has through the first five games of the season, as he has tallied 39 catches (nearly eight per game) for more than 600 yards and nine touchdowns. Up against a solid Conway Springs’ secondary, Williams came down with 11 catches for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Trinity’s 62-35 loss.
Season stats: 39 catches for 641 yards (128.2 yards/game, 16.4 average) with 9 touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Trinity (2-3) at Belle Plaine (0-5) on Friday.