HDN All-Area Super 11

Colby Benoit, 5-11, 155, Sr., HB/DB, Smith Center

Smith Center’s patented wishbone attack lends itself to big stats for running backs year after year. It’s still up to the athletes to make it happen. Running behind yet another solid line for the Redmen, Benoit was the top scorer for the Redmen in their run to the Class 1A state championship, a dominant effort outside of a Week 2 loss to 2A champion Phillipsburg.

Benoit carried the ball 113 times for 1,280 yards (11.3-yard average) and found the end zone 24 times. He was tied with Ethan Peterson for the team lead with seven 100-plus-yard games, and had a season-long run of 77 yards. He had five games where he scored three touchdowns. That included posting 118 yards and three scores in the 1A title game, a 59-0 blowout against Olpe. If that weren’t enough, Benoit was one of the top guys on a dominant defense. He collected 82 tackles (fifth best), picked off three passes and secured a fumble recovery. He also caused two fumbles and defended four passes.

Jared Casey, 6-0, 205, Jr., RB/LB, Plainville

To say Casey was a bruising running back probably is a bit of an understatement. The junior made the switch to help out the Plainville backfield, but made it a full-time job for the Cardinals this season. Bringing him down also was a full-time job for opposing defenders. Add to that his defensive power, and the fact he could catch almost anything thrown his way — sometimes even one-handed — and it made for a stellar junior campaign.

Casey finished with 962 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 324 yards and three scores. When Casey found the end zone, Plainville won. In games where the junior scored a TD, Plainville was 8-0. The Cardinals were 0-2 when he was kept from paydirt.

On other side of the ball is where Casey was even more formidable. The junior recorded a team-best 91 tackles with 11 tackles for loss and one sack. He also defended six passes, grabbed three interceptions and caused two fumbles.

Jordan Finnesy, 6-1, 175, Jr., QB/DB, Plainville

In his second year as the Cardinals’ starting signal caller, Finnesy showed another year of maturity, as well as athletic ability. Finnesy proved time and time again he could make something happen with his arm or his legs, as well as come up with a big play on defense.

The junior QB threw for a Mid-Continent League-best 1,511 yards with 19 scores to just nine interceptions. He also rushed 183 times for 956 yards and scored 12 times. Also one of the Cardinals’ kick returners, he had 1110 kick return yards. He averaged 205.6 yards of offense per game.

On top of that, he had eight interceptions, which was four more than anyone else in the MCL. He recorded 57 tackles from his safety spot, defended nine passes and had four fumble recoveries.

Treylan Gross, 6-0, 205, Sr., RB/LB, Phillipsburg

Gross was the most productive player out of a backfield that arguably featured four guys that could start for any other team in the state. In Phillipsburg’s dominant unbeaten run to the Class 2A state championships, Gross finished with a Mid-Continent League-best 1,363 yards, and was second in the league with 22 rushing scores.

He also made the most of his opportunities in the pass game, collecting 12 receptions for 218 yards, and scoring every other time he caught the ball (with six TDs). His biggest game of the season came against one of the Panthers’ toughest opponents when he rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns in an Oct. 19 game against Hoisington. He averaged 19 yards per carry in that contest against the Cardinals in the first meeting. The second time (a sub-state championship victory), Gross carried the ball 14 times for 87 yards and a score.

Austin Hobelmann, 6-1, 240, Sr., OL/DL, Smith Center 

Giving up just 109 points all season long, and posting Class 1A’s best scoring offense, Smith Center easily was the best team in Class 1A this season. It all starts up front, and Hobelmann was one of the best the state had to offer. The senior led the way on an offensive line for a team that had more than 4,000 rushing yards and 64 rushing scores. In 13 games, he had 14 pancake blocks, two coming in a dominant performance in the 1A state title game against Olpe.

In that contest, the senior also returned an interception 6 yards.

The 240-pounder was a monster on a Redmen defense that posted six shutouts and had just three games where it allowed more than a late touchdown.

Hobelmann finished the season with 119 tackles, nine tackles for loss and six sacks. He was the second-highest tackler on a defense that was nothing short of dominant. He recorded nine tackles in the state championship win against Olpe, and two sacks.

Darnell Holloway, 6-4, 195, Sr., QB//LB, Osborne 

A mind-blowing run against Dighton in the Eight-Man Division II sub-state championship game can paint a good picture of what Holloway was capable of for the Division II runner-up Bulldogs.

Though, the senior did so much more.

On a play where he seemed stopped in the backfield, Holloway broke free from four different Hornet tacklers on his way to a 45-yard score. That play was just one of many big ones for the NCAA-hopeful Holloway.

The 6-4, 195-pounder dashed his way for 1,616 yards and 31 scores on the ground, and was just as impressive in the Bulldogs’ pass game with 992 passing yards on 56 completions for 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions. The senior averaged 124.3 rushing yards per game for an always-explosive offense that nearly rallied for a win against an always-powerful Hanover team in the DII title game. Osborne was the easily the highest scoring team in Division II with 732 points.

Jonathan Hunnacutt, 5-11, 190, Sr., K/P/DE, Phillipsburg

With the Phillipsburg High School offense seemingly scoring at will the past three seasons, point-after-attempt after point-after-attempt kept the senior kicker for the Panthers climbing up the charts in the all-time record books. But, he often was used as a big weapon for the Panthers from long distance as well. It was a field goal against Hoisington that put the former soccer player over the top.

A 39-yard field goal in a 51-21 win against Hoisington in October gave Hunnacutt 217 kicking points for his prep career, as he broke the old record of 214 set by Olathe North’s Joe Garcia.

That number eventually climbed to 263 by the end of the season. He finished his stint with the Panthers with 197 point-after-attempts and 22 field goals made.

He made 71 of 74 attempts on PATs in 2018 and 10 of 11 field goals. That included a made 52-yarder for the collegiate hopeful.

On top of that, Hunnacutt was a key role player for Phillipsburg’s defense.

Palmer Hutchison, 6-2, 205, Sr., QB/LB, Hays High

Taking over under center under first-year head coach Tony Crough, Hutchison was charged with leading one of the best spread offenses in western Kansas. His numbers show it.

The Indian senior completed 124 passes for 1,658 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was second in the Western Athletic Conference in passing, but also was one of the top rushers with 127 carries for 703 yards and 10 scores.

Not-often used on the defensive side of the ball, Hutchison was still effective. He recorded 42 tackles, five tackles for loss, and picked off three passes — one of which he took to the house for a pick-6.

Hays High finished 3-6 in its first year under Crough, but was in every game. Three of Hays High’s losses were within a touchdown as the Indians lost 35-28 at Garden City, 34-33 against Dodge City and 15-7 at Great Bend. The Indians also lost in a shootout to open the season, 56-31 against Junction City.

Ethan Peterson, 5-9, 180, Sr., RB/DB, Smith Center

Also a beneficiary of Smith Center’s style of offense, Peterson put up a career year in the Redmen run game. Peterson led the team with 1,348 yards on the ground, and scored 18 times. He averaged 103.7 yards per contest, had seven games of 100-plus yards, and had a season-long run of an 81-yard touchdown against Sacred Heart. He scored three or more touchdown three times, including notching three TDs in the 1A title game against Olpe, a 59-0 win.

He had 17 carries for 211 yards and four scores in a 61-27 win against Sedgwick in the quarterfinals. Ten of his 18 scores came in three of the final four games of the season — his three biggest yardage totals as well.

The senior also played a key role for the Smith Center defense, recording 62 tackles (five for loss), and five sacks.

Trey Sides, 6-1, Sr., QB/FS, Phillipsburg

Heading into the 2018 season, Sides knew he might have to throw the ball a little more than he did in the Panthers’ run in 2017. A four-year starter for Phillipsburg, the senior was more than ready to handle the pressure. Sides proved he could even run the RPO to near perfection in the Panthers’ system this fall, guiding Phillipsburg to its first undefeated state championship in school history.

Phillipsburg coach J.B. Covington often said he wouldn’t hesitate to put the offensive calls in Sides’ hands, and let him change things on the fly. The trust turned into Sides putting up 1,175 passing yards and an MCL-best 21 scores in the title run. He also was used as one of a bevy of ball carriers in the Panthers’ loaded backfield, rushing for 283 yards on 44 carries with six touchdowns.

Sides, whose primary sports passion is basketball, found a favorite target in his younger brother, Ty Sides, who had 22 receptions for 416 yards and an MCL-best nine scores. Trey Sides also relied heavily in the passing game on Cha’Ron Ellis and Treylan Gross out of the backfield as the two combined for 26 catches for more than 400 yards and eight scores.

Jaret Shelton, 5-7, 220, Sr., C/NG, Phillipsburg

Someone had to lead the way up front for a Phillipsburg offense that was the second-highest scoring team in all of Class 2A with 565 points. Shelton is another in a long line of stellar lineman the Panthers crank out.

Shelton was part of a front line that helped Phillipsburg average 43 points per game, and was a hole plugger on a defense that gave up just 129 points, most of which came in the second halves as Phillipsburg’s No. 1s often were done by the early portion of the third quarter.

Shelton didn’t rack up a ton of tackles, but was among the MCL’s leaders in sacks and tackles for loss as he recorded six sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

Coach of the Year — Darren Sasse, Smith Center

It goes without saying that Smith Center was the best Class 1A had to offer. Even with what the Redmen lost to graduation a season ago, many predicted the Redmen would end up in Hays again to claim a 1A state championship. However, those same people might not have seen Smith Center being as dominant as it was.

Save for the loss against Phillipsburg, and a tight regular-season contest against Plainville, Smith Center’s nearly-entirely new group of players bought into the system once again. The Redmen led Class 1A in scoring with 549 points, led 1A in defense with 109 points allowed, and did it against the fourth-toughest schedule in the classification according to preppowerindex.

Like all good coaches, Sasse often has rightfully credited assistants Brock Hutchison, Mike Rogers, Shawn Stansbury and Matt Haack with Smith Center’s success.

HDN All-Area 11-man

First team

Jaden Atwood Jr. Smith Center

Hayden Brown Jr. Hays High

Tanner Copeland Sr. Plainville

Kaleb Hagans Sr. TMP-Marian

Ryan Junkermeier Sr. Plainville

Kasen Keeten Sr. Phillipsburg

Keaton Markley Sr. Hays High

Nathan Moon Sr. Phillipsburg

Jordan Schippers Sr. Colby

Hayden Wiltfong Sr. Norton

Logan Zabel Sr. Smith Center

Second team

Cha’Ron Ellis Sr. Phillipsburg

John Groff Sr. Ellis

Christien Hawks Soph. Norton

Cade Lewis Sr. Ellis

Hesston Maxwell Sr. Smith Center

Kade Melvin Jr. Norton

Joel Montgomery Jr. Smith Center

Logan Schulte Sr. Hays High

Will Sennett Sr. Hays High

Ty Sides Soph. Phillipsburg

Kobe Spiess Sr. Plainville

Third team

Trenton Colby Jr. Smith Center

Kory Finley Sr. Colby

Auntonio Jones Sr. Ellis

Glen Law Sr. Russell

Hunter Morgan Jr. La Crosse

Morgan Rains Sr. Oakley

Landon Reicks Sr. Goodland

Michael Showalter Jr. La Crosse

Ellis Slack Jr. Oakley

Charles Timmons Soph. Smith Center

Noah VanKooten Jr. Phillispburg

HDN All-Area Eight-Man

First team

Connor Born Sr. Hill City

Jarrod Dible Sr. Hoxie

Anton Foust Sr. Otis-Bison

Luke Higgason Sr. Otis-Bison

Darrien Holloway Jr. Osborne

Kade Miller Sr. Osborne

Jordan Raby Sr. St. Francis

Wylie Weems Jr. Hoxie

Second team

Cody Baxter Sr. St. Francis

Brady Dinkel Jr. St. Francis

Angel Guzman Sr. Ness City

Colton Heskett Sr. Hoxie

Jared Kennedy Sr. Hoxie

Brody McDowell Soph. Hill City

Jayvonn Pruitt Soph. Victoria

Nick Stutsman Sr. Northern Valley

Third team

Sam Bretz Sr. Hoxie

Wyatt Dreiling Sr. Victoria

Brandon Grauerholz Sr. Thunder Ridge

Edwin Rodriguez Soph. Ness City

Keegan Shubert Sr. Trego

Mason Schurr Fresh. Osborne

Jordan Wherry Sr. Osborne

Maitland Wiltse Sr. Otis-Bison

Honorable mention

Cooper Windholz, sr., Victoria; Mason Duskie, sr., Lakeside; Joseph Ferguson, jr., Thunder Ridge; Caden Bach, sr., Northern Valley; Luke Johnson, sr., Sharon Springs; Beau Batchman, Sylvan-Lucas; Tyler Barrrientes, Sylvan-Lucas Bevan Grading, jr., Otis-Bison; Seth Hoopingarner, jr., Otis-Bison ; Andres Rios, sr., Ness City; Taye Washington, sr, Hoxie ; Michael Daniels, sr., Logan-Palco; Brady Beougher, sr., Stockton; Caden Oberle, sr, Victoria.