The Eagle presents our team honoring the top high school football players in Kansas. The top 11 players are selected regardless of position. All-Class teams are selected by position.
Player, School, Pos, Ht, Wt, Yr
Ian Allen, Blue Valley, LB, 6-3, 195, Sr.
Beau Bell, Bishop Carroll, DL, 6-0, 215, Sr.
Tyler Ewy, Louisburg, DL, 6-3, 260, Sr.
Ben Heeney, Hutchinson, FB, 6-1, 200, Sr.
Mason Pauly, Conway Springs, OL-DL, 5-10, 210, Sr.
Dreamius Smith, Wichita, Heights, RB, 5-11, 215, Sr.
Bubba Starling, Gardner-Edgerton, QB, 6-5, 200, Sr.
Christian Ulsaker, McPherson, WR, 6-6, 185, Sr.
Evan Wessel, Wichita Heights, S, 6-5, 200, Sr.
Cody Whitehair, Abilene, OL-DL, 6-3, 305, Sr.
Brandon Willingham, Olathe East, RB-DB, 5-9, 173, Sr.
Tanner Fisher, Buhler, RB, 5-9, 180, Jr.
Brady Foltz, Rose Hill, OL-DL, 6-4, 290, Sr.
Matt Galliart, Hutchinson, LB, 6-3, 200, Sr.
Drew Goodger, SM Northwest, DL, 6-4, 250, Sr.
Kirk Harris, Blue Valley, OL, 6-5, 285, Sr.
Jared Helfrich, Dodge City, QB, 6-2, 175, Sr.
Jordan McCallister, Junction City, OL, 6-4, 320, Sr.
Jordan Phillips, Circle, OL-DL, 6-6, 302, Sr.
Lucas Powell, Gardner-Edgerton, OL, 6-4, 285, Sr.
Derek Racette, Hutchinson Trinity, QB, 6-0, 180, Sr.
Shane Ray, Bishop Miege, DL, 6-4, 231, Sr.
Jeremy Boyd, Silver Lake, LB, 6-0, 240, Sr.
Zerrance Brickhouse, Wichita Heights, DL, 6-0, 180, Sr.
Morgan Burns, Trinity Academy, RB-DB, 5-11, 190, Sr.
Jake Hattabaugh, Andale, RB-LB, 5-8, 175, Sr.
Skylar Hawkins, Paola, RB, 5-10, 175, Sr.
Tyler Matthews, McPherson, QB, 6-3, 195, Jr.
Adonis Saunders, Olathe North, RB-DB, 5-11, 170, Sr.
Victor Simmons, Olathe North, QB-DB, 6-2, 185, Sr.
Zach Smith, Pittsburg, Colgan, RB-LB, 5-11, 185, Jr.
Boston Stiverson, Andover Central, OL-DL, 6-5, 299, Sr.
Alec Steuber, Topeka Hayden, LB, 5-10, 185, Sr.
* Allen led Blue Valley to a 12-1 record and the Class 5A title, a 35-14 victory over Bishop Carroll.
* Blue Valley had a standout defense, but Allen was the clear leader. He played three games with a painful quadricep injury, but still made a difference on the field.
* He had 161 total tackles, including 95 solo tackles. He had four sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. For his career, he finished with 298 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Coach Eric Driskell: “He’s a combination of everything -- speed, athleticism and he’s unbelievably physical. I just mean, he wasn’t going to go around blocks, he runs through people and through tackles. He demoralizes offenses because he plays so physical. That physical nature can get in the heads of offenses.”
Senior defensive lineman
* Bell led Carroll to a 10-3 record and the Class 5A title game. In the championship game, Bell had eight tackles, two for loss, and a fumble recovery.
* He is a physical player, who uses his quickness and aggressiveness to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. He used his explosiveness, speed and toughness to bull through offensive linemen to get to the ballcarrier.
* Bell had 97 tackles, including 38 for loss, and 17 sacks. He also recovered four fumbles.
Coach Alan Schuckman: “I think Beau has a tremendous motor. The inability to one-on-one block him created a lot of problems and allowed a lot of other kids to make plays. Teams were forced to put two guys on him and they still weren’t effective. He’s just a tremendous player because he plays so hard and so fast. Kids who play at that high speed are few and far between.”
* Ewy led Louisburg to a 14-0 record and its first Class 4A title, a 24-16 win over Holton.
* Ewy, a three-year starter, had 140 tackles, averaging 10 per game, including 31 solo tackles and 10 sacks. He had 25 tackles for loss, he forced two fumbles, recovered one.
* Louisburg’s defense revolved around Ewy, also the long snapper. Opponents usually ran away from him but still double-teamed him.
Coach Gary Griffin: “You cannot not double team him. The kid makes plays from sideline to sideline like I’ve never seen a defensive tackle do. Some kids just have a knack for getting off blocks and finding the football, and he’s a kid that does it. ... We were watching film on him one day and his stance wasn’t very good. One of our defensive line coaches said, ‘We’ll work on that.’ I said, ‘No, leave him alone. Let him go play. Tell him to find the football. That’s what we do. We tell him to go play.’ ”
* Heeney was a standout defensive player as a sophomore and junior, and will likely play defense at Kansas, where he has made an oral commitment.
* He moved to fullback as a senior, a position he played before high school, and excelled. He set a school record with 2,038 rushing yards on 246 carries (8.5 yards per carry) and had 39 touchdowns.
* Heeney, who led Hutchinson to a 10-2 record and the Class 5A semifinals, is a hard runner who can run over defenders. He also had loads of speed to get outside and out-race defenders.
Coach Randy Dreiling: “We were willing to make the change (to offense) because he had some things that you can’t coach. I just knew that his athleticism would make up for the lack of reps (at fullback) from over the years. And he has a desire to run the ball hard. ... It was a pretty easy decision for me, knowing that we needed somebody that was a difference maker.”
* Pauly was a four-year starter on the defensive line, a three-year starter offensively.
* Pauly, who is strong and quick, runs a 4.7 40-yard dash. He used that speed to block for Conway Springs’ quick backs, often racing downfield with them.
* Pauly was a key in leading Conway Springs to a 13-1 record and the Class 3A title game. He helped block for an offense that gained 5,164 rushing yards. Defensively, he had 43½ tackles, 33 unassisted. He had three sacks, 16 tackles for loss.
Coach Matt Biehler: “He’s very athletic, and he is very intellectual with the way he reads defenses and knows whether he can pull or can’t pull because of the way we’re running. He starts all our line calls. We tried to rotate players to keep them fresh, but offensively, we didn’t substitute him very often. ... And defensively, he was somebody who didn’t come off much. He was on the kickoff team, kickoff return and punt return teams. He didn’t leave the field.”
* Smith led Heights to a 13-0 record and the school’s first Class 6A football title. He also plays basketball and helped the Falcons win two straight 6A titles. He has orally committed to Kansas.
* He had 1,837 rushing yards on 143 carries (12.9 yards per carry) and had 34 touchdowns. He had 3,288 career rushing yards and set a school record for yards in a single game when he had 286 yards — and four touchdowns — in the championship.
* Smith could bull over defenders or outrace them — he was the anchor on Heights’ 400 relay title team in May.
Coach Rick Wheeler: “We expect for him to run inside for the tough yardage situations, sometimes with a lead blocker, sometimes without a lead blocker. We expect for him to get out on the edge and do some things in open space. He has that unique ability to be comfortable in a crowd, to grind out tough yardage with his size and strength. He has speed that, when he gets into open space, only a handful of people can catch him.”
* Starling is a pure athlete, whether he’s excelling at football, basketball or baseball, where he has been ranked the country’s best player. He has committed to Nebraska to play football and baseball.
* He led Gardner-Edgerton to the Class 5A semifinals and an 11-1 record.
* Starling, who runs a 4.36 40-yard dash, had 172 carries for 2,417 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also threw for 812 yards and eight touchdowns. For his career, he had 472 carries for 4,980 yards and 61 touchdowns, and 3,453 passing yards and 37 touchdowns.
Coach Marvin Diener: “He’s just unbelievably dynamic on the field, in anything he does. If he’s on the basketball court, you can’t take your eyes off him. You just know, at any time, he’s going to do something absolutely extraordinary. ... He’s unbelievably fast and explosive, too, and strong. In the weight room, he’s just a creature.”
Senior wide receiver
* Ulsaker, also a standout basketball player who has signed to play basketball at Washburn, led McPherson to a 9-2 record and the Class 5A quarterfinals.
* A smart receiver who could adjust to passes while in the air, Ulsaker was McPherson’s go-to receiver in most third-down situations. Many of the Bullpups’ pass routes were built around his abilities.
* Ulsaker had 12 touchdowns and 67 receptions for 1,154 yards, averaging 17.2 yards per catch. In his career, he has 127 receptions for 2,072 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Coach Tom Young: “He was a pretty big target and he was athletic. He jumps very well, he runs fast, and he has a great sense of where the ball is at. That’s something that’s not always a given with receivers. When the ball is in the air, he seems to adjust to it easily. ... Anything that was close and that he could get his hands on, he could catch.”
* Wessel is also a standout basketball player. A two-year starting point guard, he helped lead the Falcons to two straight 6A titles. He has signed to play basketball at Wichita State.
* Wessel led Heights to the Class 6A football title, the school’s first, and a 13-0 record.
* He not only covers space in the secondary, he is a run stopper. Wessel had 99 tackles, 68 solo, and set a school record with eight interceptions. He also blocked a punt and a field goal. He had 12 career interceptions, 269 tackles and 172 were solo.
Coach Rick Wheeler: “He has a real cerebral side to him. He makes all of our checks, all of our alignments. ... He also is the most physical guy on the field. When he shows up, there’s going to be some noise, some pads popping. He enjoys both aspects of that on defense. He’s a student of the game, the quarterback of the defense. But he’s also one of the most physical players I’ve had.”
* Whitehair led Abilene to a 10-1 record and the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.
* Whitehair clearly has size, but he also is extremely mobile. He is a two-year starter on the basketball team and runs a 4.9 40-yard dash, which was faster than many of his teammates. Whitehair has made an oral commitment to play football at Kansas State, where he is expected to play offensive line.
* He had 81 tackles, 41 were solo. Whitehair had 17 tackles in two separate games, including in Abilene’s second-round playoff game.
Coach Jeff Geist: “(Offensively,) he did a nice job of being able to move people and use his body and seal people. But he could also get upfield and get that extra block. His ability to move was very big for us ... Defensively, he commanded double teams. There were very few kids who blocked him one-on-one. He just did a nice job of getting off the ball.”
* Willingham, whose sister, Danielle McCray was named to The Eagle’s All-State basketball team in 2006, was a two-year, two-way starter, a rarity in Class 6A.
* He led Olathe East to a 10-2 record and the Class 6A semifinals. A tough runner, he could get the difficult yards up the middle or use his speed on the edge. Willingham was also a punt returner.
* Willingham had 1,714 rushing yards on 275 carries and 23 touchdowns. Defensively, he had 41 tackles, two for loss, and two interceptions.
Coach Jeff Meyers: “He didn’t come off the field very often. He was carrying the ball 20-plus times a game, and that made it pretty physically demanding on him to be able to handle it. But he did it very well. ... He was also able to do different things for us — he threw a touchdown pass, he received a touchdown pass. Again, he’s got all the skill sets of a total football athlete.”
Wichita Heights coach
* Wheeler led Heights to the Class 6A title, a 48-14 victory over Olathe North. The title game was a rematch of the 2009 championship game. The last time a City League team won the Class 6A football title was 1983.
* Before Wheeler was hired as Heights’ coach in 1999, the Falcons had two winning seasons and had never been to the playoffs.
* In 12 seasons at Heights, Wheeler is 91-33 with six playoff berths.
Fullback Dreamius Smith: “He’s an awesome coach. We work hard, and he pushes us every day and makes sure our grades are on point. He gets the players where they need to be, gets them in the right position. He spends a lot of time working with us players, taking his free time to work with us. It’s the dedication to us and his players (that sets him apart).”