Few will argue that Maize doesn't have the best boys soccer team this side of the Kansas City area. And while regional championships are important, when you're as good as the Eagles, you study the Ricky Bobby school of success — if you're not first, you're last.
The Eagles were one of three Kansas teams entering Thursday's games having won them all.
But the Eagles don't put any stock into what they could take to the state tournament. Their focus is on what they could bring back.
"Winning a state title is the goal, absolutely," Maize coach Mike Darrah said. "You have intermediate goals, but all teams want to win a state title."
The Eagles have been playing like champions. Maize is dominating the competition, having outscored opponents 60-7. And they're not just beating up inferior teams; they've defeated several ranked opponents including Liberal, Newton, and most recently Hutchinson.
Even more impressive is Maize has won games with offense and defense. Maize has eight wins by three or more goals and has yet to give up more than one goal.
"They are the best team in this area," Southeast coach Thomas Rhodes said. "Most teams can't handle their aggressive style. I think if you take them deep into a game you could have a chance, but if they score early in the game, it is over."
Even with their success, Darrah said his team can get better.
"Sometimes we don't play as intense the whole way through," Darrah said. "That's something that isn't easy to for high school kids to do."
In 15 years as the Maize coach, Darrah has seen a lot of talent go through Maize. But this year's team could be the best collective group. The Eagles have depth, size, and speed.
"It's hard to compare teams because they have different skills," Darrah said. "Each team is unique. But this team does have a lot of talent."