Varsity Football

Campus hires state champion as next football coach

Campus has replaced a rebuilding master with a state champion.

Successing Greg Slade, who resigned after the 2018 season and Campus’ first home playoff victory, Pratt’s Jamie Cruce has been hired. He won a title in 2016 and reached the Class 3A championship game this season.

In his past three seasons at Pratt, the Greenbacks have posted a 31-4 record. Cruce said he could have stayed in Pratt for the rest of his coaching career, but he felt it was time.

“The players have obviously bought in to what we’re doing here, but decided to take a leap of faith,” he said. “Campus has some of those similar advantages with the administration and the setup there. I think it’s set up for success.”

Campus finished 6-4, and all four of its losses came to teams that reached the second round of the Kansas high school football postseason. It was the Colts’ first winning season in over a decade.

The Greenbacks finished 12-1, its only defeat coming to unbeaten Sabetha 43-42 in overtime of the title game. Cruce took over in 2013 and had only two losing seasons.

He said Campus is a growing program and is excited for continuing what Slade started.

“The challenge is always part of the allure for sure,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a challenge but certainly not something we’re going to shy away from.”

Pratt was home to one of Kansas’ top players last season. Travis Theis, senior running back-turned-quarterback, ran for 2,608 yards and 43 touchdowns and threw for almost 1,000 more yards and 11 scores. He was chosen to The Eagle’s All-State and Top 11 teams.

Similarly, Campus graduated a lot of talent. Three players — lineman Seth Falley, linebacker Quinton Hicks and receiver Tyler Kahmann — were all chosen to The Eagle’s All-Metro team and have signed to play college football.

Cruce said he knows there will be challenges with the Colts’ 2019 team but plans on using the same systems he ran at Pratt that helped him to become Kansas’ coach of the year in 2016.

The Greenbacks ran a flexbone option offense that was well-oiled and gave Class 3A fits and a 3-4, man-to-man defense that pitched six shutouts.

Cruce said he looks forward to getting with his staff and players and implementing those schemes. He said above all, reaching Campus’ potential is the key.

“That’s on and off the field,” he said. “We want to push the kids to be successful in all they do. You say, ‘What if you’ve reached your full potential?’ Then our goal is to raise the potential.”

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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.