Validation Week

by David Brox, davidbrox@shukc.com

In sports there is such a thing as timing to build the drama for the event.  I am throwing that out the window and almost forgetting about last night to focus on an event coming up next Friday night.  A seasons worth of chatter is over as a team fighting against history and perception gets the stage.  The Schlagle Stallions white washed Highland Park 57-16.  Ivan Webb went Tecmo Bo or Madden Vick or what ever cheat you could use in a video game football game.  Webb rushed for 10 carries 304 yards and 4 TD’s in route to a 57-16 victory in the first round of the 5A playoffs.

Lets lay everything out on the table right now.

It is my belief that Ivan Webb at minimum is a Simone finalist.  If he is not then the award is not attainable for a good section of the metro and shouldn’t be considered a metro award any longer.  In making this statement I am acknowledging that Ivan Webb no matter what happens next week has secured himself the 2017 SHUKC Offensive POY award.  Drama in this discussion I have decided is pointless.  Since I started the award 6 seasons ago I have always had 3 candidates.  I am making a clear cut statement about what I think about Webb’s ability, season and stats.  He is the best offensive player in my coverage area.  As the saying goes on twitter, don’t @ me.  2783 rushing yards and 34 TD’s blows away the numbers of the 2016 winner Neil Ruff (2019 yards, 27 TD’s) in one less game.

I want to also call out the offensive line by name.  Tylen Wallace, James Hampton, Paul Beasley, Miles Davis, Steve Sanchez, Devin Hines and Robert Suttington.  I don’t do this enough but these young men deserve the recognition right along with Webb as a collective unit.  I think if we narrow down the individual level we have to point out Tylen Wallace who is a beast of a player on offense and defense.  He deserves plenty of next level looks.  The defense has been equally as dominant this year.  They have allow 84 points the entire season which is very good.

Lets acknowledge now that Schlagle can not control their schedule or skill with in it.  It is the elephant in the room, well one of the elephants.  Southeast is currently (2-7), Central (3-7), Atchison (4-5), Washington (2-7), Wyandotte (1-7), Sumner (4-4), Northeast (1-9), Harmon (0-9), Highland Park (0-9).  A combined 17-57 record is no doubt the softest schedule in the state.  Also considering that 10 of the 17 wins are within this group and another win against Bishop Ward really drives home the point that the road has not been hard.  As indicated above how good the teams are on this schedule is out of their control.  I don’t know that I would say that any of these schools were not trying and the Stallions blasted them all 419-84.  No other player or team has posted these types of numbers.

There are two important factors for the Stallions and specifically in the case for Ivan Webb.  This schedule and the KCAL has been what it is for years.  Good teams like the 2011 Stallions walked through the regular season behind J’Veyon Browning and Tyler Wallace.  2012 Wyandotte led by Dominic McKinzy, 2013 Washington led by Javeon Williams and Kalem Harrison.  2014-2016 Atchison led by Wykeen Gill Jr.  All the winners in this league dominated to varying degrees to win this league.  Hell we can go back to the 2010 Sumner Academy team who blitzed the league. My point is two fold.  There are levels of team football schools in this state and frankly KCAL is in the lowest of the 3.  Even with in the 3, gaps there are incredibly large.  Harmon -> Schlagle this year is tremendous.  Mill Valley -> the top tier of a Bishop Miege is also tremendous.

All that said I think and believe what Schlagle has done this year is different than their peer teams from years past.  2010 blinded me when Sumner Academy who stumbled in districts against Piper was able to travel to Basehor-Linwood and defeat them in the first round of the playoffs.  That team is the only exception to the rule up until last year when Schlagle defeated Highland Park.  I would in no way compare that playoff win to what Sumner accomplished in 2010 because of the tiers that I referenced.  Highland would clearly be in that bottom tier but Basehor would be in the second tier at that time.

2016 Schlagle last year after defeating Highland faced off against a legit tier 2 team in St. James Academy from the EKL (which is by far the best league in the state, again don’t @ me) got beat 53-17.  Reality check for sure and gave the Stallions an opportunity to see what they had to do and what they were truly facing if they wanted to have playoff success.  I give Coach Williams and staff a world of credit because I think they responded.

The Stallions don’t have a feeder system.  There isn’t a clear cut route to work and develop the future talent.  You get what you get with 5 high schools with in a 30 miles of each other.  The talent is random and distributed.  With transfers some teams have been stacked up but by no means is this school afforded a youth program.  They are not seeing kids from across the state and state lines beating down the door to play.  While all reports are that Schlagle off season program was good I don’t know if it has reached the level of Mill Valley.

Coach Applebee who claimed another playoff win to run his team’s streak to 11 straight including the 2 state titles could not be any more the opposite of the Schlagle team we have been discussing.  They will come into the matchup with the Stallions with a 5-4 record out of the EKL.  They have been boat raced in a few of the loses to the upper tier of Kansas high school football teams (Miege, St. James, Aquinas and Blue Valley).  So comparing the schedules alone you will understand why the Jaguars will be the over whelming favorite Friday.  Couple that with a weird 4-1 record on the road.

Mill Valley is the epitome of a high school football program.  The 73 man roster filled with players that have been groomed to be Jaguars since middle school.  The middle school players are on the side lines watching and dreaming of their time.  Players are platooned to specific positions and molded into talent that wins state titles.  This team however is not perfect by any means.  They have turned the ball over an alarming number of times during the course of the season.

Despite the turnovers Brody Flaming will be the first legit QB that Schlagle has faced.  The DB’s for the Stallions will be tested and the defensive coaches will have some game planning to do.  Mill Valley’s coaching staff which is double digits in size will have a week to prepare for Schlagle’s offense which will focus on stopping 1 player.  Brayden Sosa and Larmon Witt will have to be the secret weapons if Schlagle is going to pull this upset.

This is validation week for this team that has gone 9-0.  The staff believes that this is the team that can take us back to 2010 when Sumner Academy shocked the state.  I was a KCAL apologist 2011-2014 when I realized the deep rooted issues are with in Kansas City high school football.  I don’t need the Stallions to win Friday to be proud of what they have accomplished.  I challenge the city as well to get out and support the Stallions.  Mill Valley is going to travel and travel well.  They could turn Schlagle’s stadium into a home game if the fans don’t get out.  I heard the crowd last night was very low on numbers.  All KCAL team should come watch this game.

If Webb gets shut down and the team boat raced then all the critiques would be right.  History will show another reminder of just how wide the gap is between the city and the rest of the state.  Being competitive or even winning would be a huge plus for this team’s credibility and validation for a good season.  Either way I wish both these teams good luck and I am looking forward to watching the game.  In the end we have 2 SHUKC schools and 1 will get to move on.

 

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