Preps notebook: Top 5 moments from 2018 football season

photo by: Nick Krug

Free State head coach Bob Lisher celebrates a touchdown against Olathe South during the first quarter on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 at Free State High School.

Eight state football titles will be on the line across eight different locations in Kansas Saturday afternoon.

None of the area teams were able to make it that far, it was still a successful season for multiple programs. To close out the 2018 fall sports campaign, let’s recap the top moments from the latest football season.

Lisher’s last ride

Free State head coach Bob Lisher officially announced his plans to retire following the team’s 41-19 loss to Manhattan High in the 6A quarterfinals. It marked the end of an impressive career for the only head coach FSHS has ever known.

The last game wasn’t the ending Lisher wanted, but his final team was one of his more impressive squads since he took over the program in 1997. The Firebirds (10-1) began the year with three consecutive shutouts, scoring at least 41 points in all three outings. They outscored their opponents by 460-115 margin through the first 10 games.

Junior quarterback Malik Berry and senior receiver Keenan Garber, a Kansas State commit, linked up for multiple touchdowns on a weekly basis, while senior running back Jax Dineen bullied his way over most opposing defenses.

photo by: Carter Gaskins

Free State quarterback Malik Berry (5) runs by Manhattan Tyce Hoover (8) in the first quarter of the state playoff quarterfinals Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, at Free State High School.

Tonganoxie’s turnaround

After a flawless 9-0 run through the 2017 regular season, Tonganoxie was going to take a step back in 2018.

The Chieftains dropped their first two outings this season, but things changed after that. They went on a seven-game win streak, including a 28-26 win over Bonner Springs. THS eventually dropped a 35-13 decision at Paola to end its season with a 7-3 record.

Senior running back Korbin Riedel fueled the turnaround, leading Class 4A in rushing with 1,531 and 18 touchdowns on the ground. Junior lineman Cole Sample, who was 2018 Class 4A runner-up in shot put for track and field, helped pave the holes for Riedel in the run game.

Kaws cruise to winning record

For the second consecutive season, Perry-Lecompton finished with a winning record by posting a 7-3 mark. Prior to 2017, the Kaws had not recorded a winning season since going 7-3 in 2011.

Two of Perry-Lecompton’s three losses came at the hands of Sabetha, which won the 3A title last year and is set to take on Pratt in the 2018 state championship. The Kaws even dropped a 35-33 decision on the road in the regular season, in which they were unable to convert on the two-point conversion to force overtime.

Senior Dalton Kellum anchored the explosive offense, finishing the season with 1,416 rushing yards and 19 scores on 207 carries. Center Spencer Funk was instrumental to Kellum’s success on the ground. Colton Mallonee was Kellum’s go-to option through the air, catching 35 passes for 621 yards and six touchdowns.

Area coaches notch 1st wins in new stops

Lawrence High’s Steve Rampy and first-year head coach Sean Hayden of Eudora completed their first season at their respective programs.

photo by: Nick Krug

Lawrence High head coach Steve Rampy discusses a play with his assistants during the first quarter on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Free State High School.

Rampy took over as the LHS head coach after eight seasons as an offensive coordinator at Pitt State. Prior to that, Rampy spent 25 years as the head coach of Blue Valley. Lawrence went 1-8 in Rampy’s first year, with his lone win coming on a 21-6 victory over Olathe Northwest. After the game, senior linebacker Caleb Mondi handed Rampy the game ball.

Eudora also won only one game under Hayden, who was in his first year as a head coach. EHS, which went 1-8, claimed a 26-7 win over Ottawa. However, the Cardinals took Fort Scott to overtime in an eventual 21-14 loss during the final game of the regular season.

Firebirds victorious in ranked showdown

Free State was the lone area team to notch a win over a ranked team this season.

photo by: Nick Krug

Free State quarterback Malik Berry gives receiver Keenan Garber a pat on the head after the two connected for a touchdown during the second quarter on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Free State High School.

In the seventh week of the season, FSHS erased an early deficit to claim a 36-30 road win over Shawnee Mission East. At the time, the Firebirds were ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, while the Lancers were listed at No. 5. Both teams were eventually eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Garber scored four touchdowns to rally back from a 19-6 deficit in the first half. Garber even netted a 32-yard touchdown catch at the end of the half, despite Shawnee Mission East having three defenders on him in the endzone.


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