High School Sports

Little guy puts up huge passing numbers

Northern Heights coach Greg French didn't start DJ Bronson at quarterback in 2009 until the latter part of the season. Even though French knew Bronson was talented, he just couldn't bring himself to do it.

Bronson, then a junior, weighed all of 99 pounds.

When French finally relented, Bronson threw for more than 1,000 yards in four games.

Seven games into his senior season, Bronson leads the state with 2,835 passing yards. He's completed 173 of 275 passes (62.9 percent) and has 38 touchdowns, seven interceptions.

And he weighs 125 pounds.

"He's smart, he's agile and he's a pretty tough kid, too," French said.

Bronson benefits from Northern Heights passing 80 percent of the time out of the spread offense. He also has outstanding receivers — Nick Mendez has 1,036 receiving yards and has twice had five touchdowns in a game this season.

"He's a smart kid," French said of Bronson. "He understands what we're doing. He worked hard in the offseason with the system. He understands it and does a great job of making reads, throwing the ball."

Fire? No problem _ The north side of the Heights press box caught on fire on Wednesday, but the Falcons' game with Southeast will still be played there tonight.

"Structurally, it's safe," Heights coach Rick Wheeler said. "The floor on that one side (of the coach's box) is burned through; that's where the fire started."

Wheeler isn't sure if the press box will have electricity, though.

Maintenance work had been done on the press box, which led to the fire inside the wall.

"It was one of those freak things that happened," Wheeler said.

Dual threat — Trent Stucky is what makes the Sedgwick offense run. The junior quarterback is dual threat that has accounted for 1,300 passing yards, 1,000 rushing yards.

Stucky's play is one of the reasons Sedgwick sits at 6-1 with a 1-0 record in Class 3A-District 10. Cardinals coach Jeff Werner says it is a result of Stucky's commitment to become a complete player. He wasn't always a dual threat.

"He rushed for 1,200 yards last year but threw for just 700," Werner said. "He was not a very good thrower. He really set out this offseason to improve his passing. That's really where we've seen an improvement in our offense this year. We're able to throw the ball."

As a result of Stucky's development as a passer, Sedgwick's receivers have gotten better too. It takes some of the pressure off of the team's second-leading rusher Dylan Todd. Todd has provided 600 rushing yards and five touchdowns for the Cardinals as a speedy change of pace back.

He and Stucky will have their work cut out for them in their final two district games. Sedgwick plays host to No. 3 Garden Plain tonight and No. 5 Hutchinson Trinity next week.

"We think that we are a better team this year because of our balance," Werner said. "But unfortunately we've got Garden Plain and Hutch Trinity in our district. Beating Garden Plain is a huge task for our program. We're trying to take strides to be able to play with those elite teams in 3A.... We've been beating the bad teams in our league, but I think this year we've been able to beat some of the better teams. I think that's really where we've seen an improvement."

Gaining ground — East quarterback Desmond McGee has a chance to pass the 1,000-yard passing mark in tonight's game at Derby. While it wasn't all that long ago that East had a 1,000-yard passer — Matt Byers did it in 2008 — it is a rarity for the Aces.

McGee would be the fourth East player to do it, joining Byers, Greg Esaw (1967) and Phil Alldritt (1976).

"Starting in the spring, he got more and more confident in what he did," East coach Brian Byers said. "He works at it pretty good. He's very competitive. He's a lot more competitive than you would imagine. He's a quiet kid, doesn't say much."