With Kansas state champions all crowned recently, the 2016 football season draws to a close. Here are five things worth remembering from the year:
Bishop Miege solidifies dynasty
The Stags bulldozed through their season, winning their 12 games by an average of 41.3 points. To tie it all together, Coach Jon Holmes led Miege to its third straight Kansas Class 4A-DI state title on Saturday, in a 53-21 win over Buhler. This year’s was the seventh championship in school history.
Quarterback Carter Putz set a Kansas state record for passing touchdowns in a single season (50), and wide receiver Jafar Armstrong now owns the state record for touchdown receptions in a career (45). The team racked up 5,500 total yards of offense this season on its way to averaging 48.6 points per game.
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Blue Valley vs. Shawnee Mission East lives up to the hype
One of the biggest matchups in the metro area this season had been anticipated all year: undefeated Blue Valley and one-loss Shawnee Mission East had won the two biggest conferences in the city (Blue Valley at 8-0 in the Eastern Kansas League, and SM East tied for first in the Sunflower League at 6-0). They came into the playoffs as the top two seeds in the eastern half of the bracket, and two of the most prolific big-class offenses in the city.
Finally facing off in the Kansas Class 6A semifinals, the two produced about as good of a game as anyone could have hoped for.
Tied at 27-27, the game went to overtime, and ended in a successful two-point conversion from Blue Valley to win on the final play. The Tigers went on to the state championship game, but lost to Derby on a last-minute field goal.
Mill Valley’s season comeback
Many had written off the Jaguars after they stumbled through their first season in the Eastern Kansas League with a 4-4 record. But come postseason time, Joel Applebee’s squad couldn’t lose. They ended the year on a six-game win streak, and successfully defended their Kansas Class 5A state championship.
It was a long way from where the team had started. The Jaguars’ regular season-ending win against Gardner Edgerton actually saved the team from having a losing regular season. But things began to click in the postseason, as Mill Valley allowed only 17 points a game in the playoffs, and put up 37.6 per game on offense. It took a double-overtime thriller in the state title game against Goddard for Mill Valley to finally put the cherry on top to its season.
Will Schneider sets career passing record in Kansas
Schneider has been a mainstay at Shawnee Mission North the past four years. A varsity starter since he was a freshman, Schneider tallied 8,901 passing yards in his career, which shattered the school record and set a new Kansas state record.
He had his best season yet this year, throwing for 3,035 yards and 31 touchdowns, on the way to leading Shawnee Mission North to its first playoff victory since 2003.
JJ Letcher’s season to remember for Piper
Piper finished 6-4 in 2016, and had the misfortune of playing future Kansas Class 4A-DI state champ Bishop Miege in the first round of the playoffs. But running back/linebacker JJ Letcher had one of the most well-rounded seasons in the metro area this year. In addition to rushing for 1,564 yards and accumulating 63 tackles, the Fontana Award semifinalist scored in nearly every way you can score on a football field.
By the end of the year, Letcher had scored touchdowns via rushing (17), receiving (three), passing (two), interception return (two), kickoff return (one) and punt return (one).