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Sports in KS: 2017 Football Player of the Year Honors

Carter Putz was named 4A-I POY and SIK All-Class OPOY. (photo: Susan Goodwyn)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Dec 3, 2017

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click on the name for player story/bio full release per classification

2017 Sports in Kansas All-Classes Football Player of the Year

Offense: Carter Putz, Miege Sr. (click for bio)

Defense: Dalton Kuhn, Smith Center Sr. DE (click for bio)

2017 Sports in Kansas All-Classes Non-Senior Player of the Year

Offense: Graham Mertz, BV North Jr. QB (click for bio)

Defense: Dylan Downing, Bishop Miege Jr. LB (click for bio)

6A Offensive Player of the Year/Non-Senior Player of The Year

Graham Mertz, Blue Valley North, Jr. QB (click for story release)

Mertz had one of the best years in the state passing for 3,684 yards with 45 touchdowns to just six interceptions on the season. His biggest accomplishment was leading the North Mustangs to their first ever state football title by doing that on a 90-plus yard drive at the end of the game to take the title over Derby on a 19-yard quarterback keeper. Mertz threw for 462 yards and four touchdowns in the title game. Over the playoffs he has 1,204 yards with 14 touchdowns to just one interception. Mertz, a Wisconsin commit who spent the last two seasons at Miege as a back-up, still has his senior year left.

6A Defensive Player of the Year

DeMarcus Elliott, Garden City, Sr. DL (click for story release)

Elliott, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound, senior defensive lineman, is perhaps the best player in Kansas without an FBS offer left on the table as of now. He had a monster senior year that followed an outstanding junior season. He registered 81 tackles and 18.5 tackles for loss for the Buffalo defense in 2017. He also had an interception and blocked three field goals. Elliott is a three-sport athlete also playing basketball and track and field. He is the defending 6A state champion in the shot put. He has 5.0 forty-yard dash speed, squats over 500 pounds, benches over 300 pounds and has a 290-pound clean.

5A Offensive Player of the Year

Braden Howell, Bishop Carroll, Sr. QB (click for story release)

Braden Howell led the Golden Eagles to their first state title in three years in 2017 under first year head coach Dusty Trail. Howell earned 5A honors by passing for 3,086 yards with 33 touchdowns to go along with 708 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. What really got him fame this year was his domination in the state title game win over Aquinas. He passed for 324 yards and rushed for 94 more with five total touchdowns. Howell and his brother, Colton, now have something in common, a state football title as a senior Carroll quarterback. Colton is a junior quarterback at Northern Iowa.

5A Defensive Player of the Year

Nick Allen, Blue Valley Southwest, Sr. LB (click for story release)

The Eastern Kansas League is the best league in the state and its defensive player of the year in 2017 was Nick Allen, so it’s no surprise for him to take home 5A honors. Allen registered 151 tackles in just nine games (16.7 per game) this season for the Timberwolves. He had 21 of those tackles go for TFLs. Allen also had an interception for touchdowns and 3.5 sacks. Allen was also named All-5A by several publications and to the All-Simone team in Kansas City.

4A-I Offensive Player of the Year

Carter Putz, Bishop Miege, Sr. QB (click for story release)

What more is there to be said about a senior quarterback that led his team to three state titles as a starter as Miege won its fourth consecutive 4A-I state football title. Well a lot actually, because he rewrote the record books in Kansas this season. The 6-foot-0, 190-pound, senior, threw for 9,336 yards in his career (state record) to go along with 124 passing touchdowns (state record) at Miege. He threw just 13 interceptions in 720 passing attempts. He had 2,844 yards passing with 38 touchdowns as a senior with only five interceptions. He also added with his legs this season with 596 on the ground and another 11 rushing. We aren’t saying he’s the best football player of all-time in KS or a major football recruit, he’s a Notre Dame baseball signee, but it’s hard to argue that he may have had the most accomplished high school career out of any passing quarterback in Kansas high school football history.

4A-I Defensive Player of the Year

Wyatt Seidl, McPherson, Sr. DE (click for story release)

Seidl was one of the top two-way lineman in the state this season. He’s such a good player/teammate that he voluntarily moved to offensive line form the backfield to help his Bullpups squad become more of a contender. Seidl has 15 sacks on the defense and was named his league’s player of the year as an offensive lineman. He had 45 solo stops, 1 fumble recovery, 26 pressures and a blocked punt. He was perhaps the best pash rusher in the state this season along with Dalton Kuhn of Smith Center. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound, senior, defensive end, is also a baseball and basketball player for McPherson.

4A-II Offensive Player of the Year

Trey Gilbert, Holcomb, Sr. QB (click for story release)

Gilbert led the Longhorns to the 2017 4A-II title with a dominating performance in the state title game with 264 yards passing (4 TD) and another rushing score. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound, senior, quarterback, threw for 2,293 yards this season with 28 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also added 484 more on the ground with six scores. Gilbert was the signal caller of perhaps the most balanced offense in Kansas that averaged 170 yards rushing and 176 yards passing per game. In his career as a two-year starter at quarterback, he threw for 4,253 yards with 53 touchdowns to just 15 interceptions over 25 career games. The Longhorns were 43-7 while he was in high school since Kent Teeter arrived. Gilbert was also a second team Sports in Kansas 4A-II basketball player last season for the defending 4A-II champion Longhorns.

4A-II Defensive Player of the Year

Broc Ginavan, Frontenac, Sr. DE (click for story release)

Ginavan, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound, senior, defensive end, was one of the best two-way players in the state this season. Despite double teams Ginavan had a monster year defensively with 57 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, two force fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an INT. For his career he had 20.5 sacks, 168 tackles, six forced fumbles, and a blocked field goal. Ginavan’s pressure was instrumental in the takeaway game for the Raiders as they produced 17 interceptions as a unit, including huge ones in the 2017 state playoffs. He produced just as much on offense with 614 yards receiving on 39 catches with nine touchdowns. Ginavan is a rising recruit in the state and holds an FBS offer from Wyoming. He also became his schools first top 11 (all-state all-classes) selection since 1965. He joins his dad Steve on the very elite Top 11 in Kansas, an all-conference player at Pitt State in 1989, who was a standout at Emporia High School in the 1980s. Ginavan was the only 4A-II player on the Top 11 teams by the states major newspapers and was a first team all-classes non-senior last year from Sports in Kansas.

3A Offensive Player of the Year

Jack Blumer, Marysville, Sr. QB (click for story release)

Marysville had an incredible season coming out of nowhere to take 3A runner-up honors in 2017. The main reason for that was the quarterback play of senior Jack Blumer. Blumer played like one of the best players in the state this year, regardless of what classification. The 6-foot-2 senior passed for 3,165 yards with 31 touchdowns in 2017. His most impressive stat was his completion percentage of 70 percent. And it didn’t stop with his arm as he racked up 994 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Blumer had two targets that became his favorite in Gabe Pieschl (1,269 yards, 14 TDs) and Jacob Backus (926 yards, 7 TDs). Just three seaons ago the Bulldogs were on a 32-game losing streak go going 12-2 and the 3A state runner-up in 2017, losing state by just one point, 7-6. Blumer was a Top 22 pick by both of the states major newspapers.

3A Defensive Player of the Year

Elliott Strahm, Sabetha, Jr. (click for story release)

Strahm, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound, junior, was the top two-way lineman in 3A this season and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football picking up first team all-league Big 7 on offensive and defensive line. He was also a first team all-3A pick by the major newspapers in the state. Strahm had 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks, a punt block and three forced fumbles. A nose guard isn’t known to usually pick up a lot of tackles, their job is to plug holes but Strahm does both and he’s already registered 153 tackles over his career with a season left to play. He was instrumental and getting pressure on the quarterback this season to let a defensive unit pick up 24 interceptions as a group, which ranked second in Kansas this season only behind the 25 by Phillipsburg. On offense he helped paved the way for a unit that averaged 335 rushing yards per game. Strahm is very strong for a junior in high school with a 500 squat and a bench of 300 pounds.

2-1A Offensive Player of the Year

Dexton Swinehart, Lyndon, Sr. WR/RB/ATH (click for story release)

Swinehart has been one of the top small school utility players over the last three seasons. Teams always keyed on him and he still found a way to produce. He had 4,056 rushing yards in his career, 2,019 receiving yards and passed for 445 yards. He had 6,628 all-purpose yards in his four-year career and three-year career as a starter. He also registered 267 tackles, seven fumble recoveries and 10 interceptions in his career. He also had 500 total return yards over his career, three returns that went for touchdown. In his career he scored 88 total touchdowns and 93 when you count touchdown passes. He scored a touchdown six in different ways in his career: rushing, passing, receiving, punt return, kick return and fumble return.  The senior has been a three-time 2-1A first team all-state pick. He is also a second team all 2A basketball pick from Sports in Kansas last March.

2-1A Defensive Player of the Year

Dalton Kuhn, Smith Center Sr., DE (click for story release)

Kuhn has size, is quick and is powerful to say the least. You should take a glance at his HUDL video just to see what exactly what we are talking about, that is if you like hard hits. The 6’2” 235-pound senior had 95 tackles this season, 20 of which went for loss, in limited time due to blowouts in many games. The Redmen defense was one of the most impressive units in the state as they won their first state title since 2008. Kuhn has an offer from Fort Hays State and a preferred walk-on offer from Kansas State, which is very elite as the Cats only offer about a hand full of those out in Kansas a year. Smith Center only allowed 35 points over their last 10 games of the season and outscored opponents 242-to-21 in four 2-1A playoff games. Kuhn also helped pave the way for nearly 340 rushing yards per game in 2017. Kuhn was a Top 11 all-state all-classes pick from the states major newspapers. 

8M-I Offensive Player of the Year

Latham Schwarz, Hoxie, Sr. RB (click for story release)

Schwarz helped Hoxie to their first state football title since 1981 as he had 1,718 rushing yards with 37 total touchdowns over his senior year. On defense, he registered 77 tackles, blocked two punts, and had two fumble recoveries. In the 54-14 win over St. Paul in the 2017 8M-I title game he went for 204 yards on 33 carries with four scores in the game. Hoxie finished the season 12-1 under head coach Lance Baar.

8M-I Co-Defensive Player of the Year

Anthony Albertini, St. Paul, Sr. DL (click for story release)

We only have had three co-player of the year selections in all of the classifications in the six seasons we’ve been doing this but both Albertini and Lee were so valuable to their teams you couldn’t leave one off and have one on. Albertini was a three time all league and all-district offensive and defensive lineman. He was also a two-time first team all-state selection in 8M-I. The 6’2” 225-pounder helped lead the Indians to their first state championship appearance in 15 years. The Indians, led by head coach Keith Wiatrak, finished 11-2 in 2017. Albertini has several NAIA offers and is seeing Division II interest. Wiatrak describes Albertini as one of the best football players he has coached, that is a self-made player with his work ethic.

Tristan Lee, Burlingame Sr., DL (click for story release)

Lee, just like Albertini above, was so valuable to his team over the last several seasons. The 6’0” 240-pound defensive end had 141 tackles this season, 21 of which went for loss with 8.5 sacks. He also had 55 quarterback hurries. He is a two-time All 8M-I pick for head coach Jeff Slater and was part of a program that went to three straight state semifinals. Lee was also a multiple time unanimous pick on the Lyon County League Offensive and Defensive lines. Lee also gets it done in the classroom as a Kansas Honors Scholar with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Lee could project as a fullback, center or defensive lineman at the next level.

8M-II Offensive Player of the Year

Jacob Salmans, Hodgeman County Sr, QB (click for story release)

Salmans has been around forever as a four-year starter for the Longhorns in leading them to an 8M-II running up finish and a solid effort that fell short on the late comeback, 54-48. For his career he has thrown for 5,244 yards with 68 touchdowns while rushing for 1,801 with 33 more scores. As a senior this year he accounted for 28 touchdowns and over 1,900 yards of offense. If the name Salmans sounds familiar that’s because his father, Oliver, was one of the best 8-man players of all-time, making a Top 11 all-state all-class team for the Hanston Elks back in 1989. His uncle, Luke, also was a Top 11 selection for the Elks in 2001. Hanston consolidated with Jetmore a few years back to form Hodgeman County. Salmans was a first team All 8M-II quarterback this season and has been a three-time all-league selection at quarterback.

Carlos Emmanuel, Hanover, Sr. DL (click for story release)

Emmanuel is the strongest football player in the state and hails from the 8-man ranks. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound, senior, lineman, had 87 tackles this season along with three quarterback sacks. When we said he was strong, we meant it as he features a bench press of 455 pounds. Emmanuel was named a first team 8M-I selection this year by every publication. Emmanuel is a rising prospect in the state and has a preferred walk-on offer from Kansas State.