Derby’s starting quarterback the past two seasons has been a transfer — Goddard transfer Todd Freeman in 2011, Buhler transfer Chandler Shantz in 2012.
But this season Derby will start senior Jeremy Dunham, who has patiently been waiting his turn. He has had his moments in the spotlight, including playing in key games as a sophomore in 2011 when injuries sidelined Freeman and Kellen Sims. As a junior, he became a wide receiver before he an injury ended his season.
“He was very happy to play receiver last year,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said. “But he’s excited to be in charge this year. I trust him with everything. He can audible out of stuff and he will do what’s best for the team.
“ He’s a heck of an athlete. He’s starting to get some size to him. He’s the leader everyone wants to follow. He’s such a likable guy.”
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Dunham (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) also has the ability to throw or run, which is crucial for the Panthers, who are a favorite to win the Class 6A title.
“He finally gets to show his stuff, 100 percent,” four-year starting running back Tyler West said. “He’s ready to go, he’s patient, and he reads the defense well.”
Dunham proved that in July as he steered the Panthers to second place at the Southwest Elite 7-on-7 tournament in Springdale, Ark.
He takes over an ideal situation with nine returning starters on offense, including West, highly recruited senior tight end DeAndre Goolsby and an offensive line anchored by two-time All-Metro selection Cole Hansen.
“We’ve got eight senior offensive line guys who are ready to step up,” senior safety Travis Young said. “Yeah, I’d be safe back there if I were Jeremy or Tyler.”
Derby’s focus is on finishing. The Panthers figure if they finish the play, the practice, the game, they’ll finish on top in 6A.
“Our motto this year is ‘unfinished business,’” West said. “Last two years we’ve gotten to the state semifinals and lost. We have business to finish.”
Coach: Brandon Clark, eighth season, 47-30
League: AV-CTL Division I
Last season: 10-2, lost in 6A semifinals
Last five seasons: 41-17
Projected 2013 playoff team? Yes
Top skill players
|Sept. 6||Salina South|
|Sept. 13||at Andover Central|
|Sept. 27||at Salina Central|
|Oct. 4||at Campus|
|Oct. 25||East (at South)|
Travis Young on his team
What Derby does well: “We do have a bunch of leaders. Not all of them are vocal leaders, but we have 20 leaders that just like to show everyone what to do. You have 42 seniors and every single one knows what the program is about.”
What has to improve: “On defense, we’re not looking bad. But when you come up against the flexbone like Hutch and Heights, we have to learn how to play the flexbone. By the time we play them, we should be able to run it for them.”