The last four years have been all about getting comfortable and getting confident for Bishop Miege quarterback Ryan Willis.
It shows first and foremost in the way he landed at Miege after starting his career at Olathe East. Although he said he enjoyed his time with the Hawks, he missed the religious environment he had come to appreciate in nine years at Ascension Catholic School in Overland Park.
It would have been easy at that point to follow his two sisters to St. Thomas Aquinas, but he broke the mold with his decision to go to Miege.
This Spring, he made another bold pick when he committed to the University of Kansas over Kansas State where his father was a kicker in the early 80s. He will join recent graduate Montell Cozart, who preceded him at quarterback for the Stags.
“KU is right in my backyard and it is a good fit for me playing-time wise,” Willis said. “I really think that the program is headed in the right direction and that is where I felt most comfortable on my visit.”
His careful decision-making extends to the pocket as well, where coach Jon Holmes says the team relies on his unique vision to make adjustments during games.
“He calls half our plays at the line of scrimmage based on what he is seeing,” Holmes said. “We put a lot of stress on him and a lot of pressure on him, but he has done a good job making plays for us.”
The Stags will turn to Willis once more. Miege will face Topeka Hayden for the Kansas Class 4A Division I state title Saturday. The game will kick off at 1 p.m. at Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka.
So far, the Stags’ confidence in Willis has worked out well.
Willis, the two-time Eastern Kansas League Offensive Player of the Year, has completed 165 of 262 passes for 2,683 yards and 32 touchdowns as the Stags built up a 12-0 record this season.
“We have had a couple good ones before him, but he is the best one we have had,” Holmes said. “He has really developed into a great player and great quarterback here. He gets better each week, which is hard to do but he does it by pushing himself in practice and working with our wide receivers constantly.”
One of those top receivers is Danny Murphy, who said Willis’ biggest attribute is his ability to stay calm and to pass on that trait to others.
“He’s been here and done all of this before,” Murphy said. “He will bring us to the side and calm us down. He’ll tell us what to do and what to work on. It makes us feel even better.”
To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to email@example.com.