Varsity Football

Wichita-area players to watch at every position heading into the Kansas state quarters

The VK Pod: McPherson radio’s Jim Joyner helps preview the state quarterfinals

Preps reporter Hayden Barber talks with Jim Joyner, award-winning voice with Mid-Kansas Radio, as they preview the state quarterfinals and look ahead.
Up Next
Preps reporter Hayden Barber talks with Jim Joyner, award-winning voice with Mid-Kansas Radio, as they preview the state quarterfinals and look ahead.

Caleb Grill - Maize, Quarterback, Sr.

Maize quarterback Caleb Grill is one to watch in the sectional round Friday against Great Bend. Bo Rader The Wichita Eagle

He has the Maize offense cooking.

For most of the 2018 season, the Eagles’ defense has been the reason heads have turned to the west side of Wichita. But heading into the state quarterfinals, Grill and the offense have turned it up.

While the defense is still as sharp as ever, Maize has scored 91 points in its first two playoff games.

Breece Hall - Wichita Northwest, Running Back, Sr.

Northwest’s Breece Hall
Northwest’s Breece Hall will look to get past the Carroll defense in the sectional round Friday. Fred Solis Correspondent

After Northwest’s Week 1 win over Bishop Carroll, Hall said he had one of his worst games.

Since then, he has put up three 200-yard games, including in the Grizzlies’ first-round playoff game against Salina South.

Carroll always plays Northwest tight, and Hall will be needed big-time.

Gabe Hoover - McPherson, Receiver, Sr.

McPherson’s Gabe Hoover and the Bullpup offense has a chance to explode Friday against Arkansas City. @GabeHoover25/Twitter

Some count McPherson lucky to get No. 13 Arkansas City with three weeks to go in the 2018 season.

The Bulldogs won two games in the regular season and are into the state quarterfinals. McPherson hasn’t lost.

Hoover is the Pups’ top receiving option, and quarterback Kyler Hoppes is likely to look his way a lot Friday at home.

Blake Mitchell - Goddard, Tight End, Jr.

Goddard high school football: Blake Mitchell
Goddard junior tight end Blake Mitchell is one to watch in the state sectional against Wellington. @Kaeden_Hoefer/Twitter

With Carroll’s Clay Cundiff out for the rest of the 2018 season, Mitchell is the best remaining tight end type left in the Wichita area.

Goddard has one of the toughest matchups of the sectional round against a stout Wellington defense. But Mitchell might be the Lions’ top threat to breaking it down.

This will be Goddard’s first road game outside of the immediate Wichita area since last season.

Derby - Offensive Line

The Derby offensive line puts on a show week after week.

The Panthers are known for their defense, but behind their offensive line, they haven’t scored fewer than 30 since they played Carroll on the road in Week 4.

Topeka is prone to allow at least 20, and against Derby that could be more like 40.

Andale - Defensive Line

The Indians have their biggest test of 2018 against Scott City.

The Beavers have cruised into the final eight, as has Andale. The Indians are confident in their defense, but it will be challenged against a semifinalist from 2017.

Andale’s defensive line is headlined by senior Mason Fairchild, but its depth is why it’s considered one of the best in Class 3A.

Eric Kohncke - Sedgwick, Linebacker, Sr.

Sedgwick high school football: Eric Koehncke
Sedgwick’s Eric Kohncke is one of the top tacklers in Kansas heading into the state sectionals. Courtesy of Kelly Degraffenreid

Kohncke is an unlikely pick with three weeks to play.

A German foreign-exchange student, Kohncke has been outstanding for Sedgwick. He has more than 120 tackles.

Sedgwick is looking to take the next step toward its first state championship in school history with a win over Smith Center, one of the top teams in Class 1A.

Jose Ledesma Jr. - Maize, Cornerback, Sr.

Great Bend likes to throw it, and Maize doesn’t like to give up a lot of points.

Panthers quarterback Koy Brack has 1,891 yards this season, but the Eagles’ defense has shown an ability to clamp down toward the red zone. Ledesma has come up big in the back end.

He and the rest of the Eagles’ secondary will be key in helping to contain one of Class 5A’s top offenses.

Hunter Igo - Derby, Safety, Sr.

Maize defender #26 Carson Shively can’t quite catch Derby quarterback Hunter Igo. (October 19, 2018) Bo Rader The Wichita Eagle

If Topeka’s Ky Thomas gets to the second level of the Derby defense, Igo could be huge at stopping the bleeding.

Igo is one of the most versatile players in Kansas, and he will be needed against one of the state’s most dynamic offenses.

If the Derby front seven plays to its top potential, though, it’s possible Igo won’t need his name called on the defensive side of the ball.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle