VYPE National Site
Column: 2010 Football Players of the Year
February 1, 2011VYPE MAGAZINE - Central Kansas
Photo by Phil Zivnuska
PLAY OF THE YEAR Evan Wessel, interchangeable with any of the three Heights players above him on this list, came in at No. 10. His game-winning touchdown catch at sub-state against Dodge City, pictured, was spectacular.
By Tom Witherspoon
What role will homegrown talent play in rebuilding the Kansas Jayhawk football program? In his first full recruiting season as KU head football coach leading up to signing day in February 2011, Turner Gill is harvesting speed from his own backyard.
Speed in the state of Kansas this high school football season was easy to track. All we had to do was look for jersey No. 2 in the offensive backfield: Dreamius Smith, VYPE player of the year from Wichita Heights, is verbally committed to KU as a running back; Adonis Saunders, a former 6A sprint champion as a sophomore who lined up at tailback against Smith for Olathe North in this year's 6A state football game, is committed as a future KU defensive back; Ben Heeney, our runner-up on the players-of-the-year list from Hutchinson, is committed to the Jayhawks as an outside linebacker.
Deuces ran wild in south central Kansas this fall. Smith gained 1,837 yards on the ground in 11 games, averaging 167 yards per game. He set a single-game school rushing record in the state final against Olathe North with 286 yards. He set a single-season school record with 34 touchdowns.
Of all the accomplished fullbacks Hutchinson has produced in recent years, all their single-season marks were under fire when Heeney switched from safety to fullback for the 2010 season. Heeney became the Salthawks' first 2,000-yard rusher in program history, gaining 2,083 yards in 12 games. He piled up the scores with 41 touchdowns. Of course, anyone who watched KU football this past season knows they could use serious improvement in tackling, which Heeney did plenty of as a sophomore and junior on defense.
Saunders isn't the only Olathe North star committed to KU. Their quarterback Victor Simmons is also committed as a safety. But number of KU recruits was the only tally in which Olathe North bested Wichita Heights on the field of play in the 6A state game at Washburn's Yager Stadium. A year after being told they didn't belong after a 37-3 defeat at the hands of Olathe North in the 2009 championship game, Heights had the former defending champs completely outmanned, evident by perusing our players-of-the- year list. Heights leads this list of 60 players in the VYPE coverage area in number of selections with six.
As with all postseason player selection processes, other deserving players were left off. Accolades have to stop somewhere. Win-loss records, the chief indicator of each individual's success within the confines of the team, are the only postseason marks set in stone.
From the opening kickoff of the 6A state game, Heights, led by Smith, had its way against Olathe North. With Heights leading 7-0 early in the first quarter, Smith took a pitch right from quarterback Matt Reed, hesitated in the flat when a defender challenged him, then decided to forcefully bust the run outside and sprint up the sideline for an 85-yard touchdown run, untouched. The result from there was a foregone conclusion, a 48-14 drubbing.
No list of postseason honors does complete justice. Case in point: Heights safety Evan Wessel came in at No. 10 according to my ranking system. While he wasn't front and center for all the coaches in the area to see most of the season, he held down the back line of Heights' defense; however, at the end of the sub-state game aginst Dodge City, his full talents were on display for the Falcon program's two biggest plays of the year.
One more note on Heights: Reed, ranked all the way down at No. 32 on this list, was one heck of junior quarterback. He completed only 24 passes this season, but when he had to put two balls in a spot where Wessel could nab them, he did.
Let's put it this way. No matter where each kid lands on this list, it was an accomplishment to make it, and each is in good company.
All hail, Heights, and congratulations to every school and player, listed and unlisted.