When Dustin Delaney met his Shawnee Mission East High School football team for the first time, he promised the players a state championship.
Two years ago, it seemed like a bold claim at the time — especially since the Lancers had never even played in a state title game. But Delaney was insistent. He even refused to schedule the team’s year-end banquet before the weekend of the state title game, a habit that had become routine.
Delaney has delivered on his promise, a feat that catapulted him to being selected The Star’s All-Metro football coach of the year.
The Lancers defeated Hutchinson 33-14 in the Kansas Class 6A state championship game on Nov. 29 and finished with a 13-0 record.
“They will run through walls for that guy,” Shawnee Mission East athletic director Kelli Kurle said. “When they left practices on Thursday, they thought they could beat the Chiefs. It’s amazing. He believes in them, and they have all bought in.”
While postseason success was new to the Lancers, it was familiar to Delaney. He started coaching at Hutchinson during its run of six consecutive state titles during 2004-09, then went to Emporia and made trips to the Kansas Class 5A state quarterfinals in each of his three seasons there.
He has also brought in a new style off the field, encouraging his football players to get out to area grade schools and read to the kids.
“We have heard from alums who graduated all the way back to when (SM East) started,” Kurle said. “It’s fantastic. It’s a lot of excitement, and it has (influenced) the other sports, too.”