On The Dotte: Stars Are Out

by David Brox, davidbrox@shukc.com

One thing that is beautiful about high school sports is the constant evolution of the players.  As training methods improve there are always a few students that are able and willing to go the extra mile to stand out during the season.  I think each year that we will see a drop off in talent and always find myself pleasantly surprised by the new stars that shine bright.

The Schlagle Stallions have been flush with talent at the RB back position since I started work with KCK Preps and now SHUKC.  J’Veyon Browning who is now a RB for University of Northern Iowa broke out 6 years back and set a firm standard at the position.  He passed the baton to Neil Ruff who is now at Kansas State University and became the first 2000 yard rusher in SHUKC history last season.  Ruff’s offseason training heading in 2016 set the gold standard for how well hard work can pay off.  It should not be a surprise that his backup last season soaked up that knowledge.

Ivan Webb who backed up Ruff last year showed all the signs of a break out performer this season but you just never really know what you are going to see.  Webb who competed at Elite 7 on 7 was definitely putting in the work to be successful this year.  The only question would be how well would he do?  If week 1 is any indication the rest of the KCAL should be worried.  He took the opening carry of the season 80 yards for a TD and finished the day well over 300 yards and 2 TD’s.

I am not signing the young man up to run for 300 yards a game but that total is not anything to just chalk up as luck either.  What I can say is that I was there to watch it first hand and he ran the ball like a man among boys.  I was down the sideline on his second TD run and it was very smooth and looked effortless.  The other fact was that he was also able to man up and break tackles.  The signature run of the game wasn’t the 80 yard run or even his second long TD run rather a 15-20 yard run in the second half.  He was hit by 4 or 5 players before he got 5-7 yards down field and proceeded to drag the Southeast secondary for the rest.  The stars have aligned for Webb as he has Larmon Witt who is another playmaker outside to keep the defenses honest.  We know that Schlagle is willing to run the rock so we will see if Webb is able to keep producing.

Webb’s game was a stand out performance for sure but Schlagle playing on Saturday allowed me to see 2 games.  Call it luck but I saw another potential stand out star at Sumner Academy.  Fighting injuries last year TaVaughn Sappington has come into 2017 stronger, faster and with a big chip on his shoulder.  We saw the footage of Sappington in the weight room squatting 500+ pounds to get prepared for his senior season.  It was impressive to see but the biggest factor that would get lost in achieving that much weight was that he posted a video of him doing just ~475 earlier in the summer.  In order to get gains like that in such a short time shows the heart and dedication.  Two factors I would hope college coaches look at.  So the question last Friday was how well would he do?  220+, 2 TD’s and an INT to boot.

I think some things I notice are obscure because like Webb, TaVaughn had a number of long runs but none of them caught my eye.  He had one run though up the middle where he got in behind one of his blockers and came to a near stand still.  A good number of RB’s the play is over if they get stopped like this but Sappington showed the ability to maintain his vision down field, pick a new path and burst into the secondary.

So this is a message to anyone working to perform at a high level.  If the work you put in during the offseason is consistent and hard, only then can you put yourself in a position to excel.  To me there is a difference between excelling and succeeding.  Young men driven to excel like Sappington and Webb set a standard for anyone following them.  Some would watch both of these performances and think goodness they have a good amount of athletic ability.  I think that is short sighted because to me, it means that yes they have athletic ability but it also means they sacrificed and worked to get these types of results.

I will start forming my watch lists for 2017 and these two young men arenew names to keep an eye on.  The rushing title could prove to be a bit of fun this year as it was last season.

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