Centralia is one of the most tradition-rich sports towns in Kansas. How could it not be, being the hometown of NFL Hall of Famer John Riggins. It’s also the home of a volleyball powerhouse under Kimbrook Tennal. The basketball teams have also had a lot of success.
Football is huge in the tiny town in Northeast Kansas and it’s no different this year under head coach Larry Glatczak. This year’s group looks primed for a big run at the 1A state title, going for their first state title since 2013. The physicality and running game of the Panthers is as dominant as anyone in the classification. They are a team that is built for November football. Glatczak has state titles in 2009, 2011 and 2013. The scary thing about Centralia is they could actually play 8-man football if they wanted to based on enrollment but choose to play 11-man.
A big part of that running game is Kamble Haverkamp as he is having a breakout year for the Centralia Panthers as they head into the 1A playoffs this Friday.
The 5-foot-11, 160-pound, junior quarterback, has 1,206 rushing yards (16 touchdowns), while passing for 473 yards and seven touchdowns. A lot of that success can be contributed to the outstanding line play that has helped pave the way for six straight wins since starting 0-2 with losses to Rossville and Riley County, both 2A programs. Derek Vandorn, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound, leads the big boys up front and is likely 1A’s best lineman for 2018. Dagen Steinlage is also a 6-foot-6 force at tight end.
Haverkamp is a three-year starter for the program in his third year of high school and helped them to a sub-state runner up finish last year at 8-3 as a sophomore. They would lose to Colgan, the eventual 1A state runner-up. They got that loss back in this year’s regular season in a dominating win over Colgan, 20-0. Haverkamp is a multiple sport athlete that also shines in basketball. He was an all-state honorable mention pick for the Panthers who finished fourth in 1A-I last season. Haverkamp also earned all-state honors in the 1A 800 meters last spring as a sophomore. He’s also a standout baseball player but his high school doesn’t have a team but does play summer ball in nearby Corning for the American Legion team.
For now, his primary focus is on football and getting the Panthers to a title game. Haverkamp and the Panthers will open up the first round of the 2018 1A playoffs on Friday at home with a matchup against Jefferson County North (2-6). We caught up with the outstanding senior athlete at Centralia below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
This feature is presented by JED Enterprises and Super Seven Supplies, proud supporters of Centralia Panther Athletics. Best of luck to the Panthers football team in the 2018 playoffs!
How did you get involved in football?
I’ve been playing football since I can remember, just in the yard with my dad and two brothers and at my grandparents with my cousins. I went to Centralia games as a kid and became ball boy/manager for the team in 2012 as a 5th grader and did that until I was in high school and was able to actually play on the team.
What are your goals this season?
Obviously every team sets out to win a state championship and that is our goal for sure. We want to take the season one game at a time and focus on the next game. The biggest game of the season is always the next game on the schedule.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
Absolutely. I think we have a lot of potential and we are a very tight group. The guys on the team are brothers and I think that is a big part of a team if you want to be good. The key for us to end up where we want to be is the same as it is for most high school teams, to stay healthy.
What makes you such a force as a player?
A big part of it is the great guys around me. The offensive line is doing a phenomenal job up front protecting and making big holes for me, without those guys I wouldn’t be the player I am. I think the reason for this is also the fact that I am super competitive. Obviously I am not the biggest or the fastest kid, but I absolutely hate to lose. My goal is to be the best player I can be and do anything I can to help my team win. I love to compete and use the abilities God has given me.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
It’s one of a kind, something you can’t get anywhere else. There is nowhere I would rather be than playing football on Riggins Family Field on a Friday night. The smell of hamburgers grilling, everyone in town is standing along the sideline or in the stands watching. There’s nothing like the small town feel we have at Centralia.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
The atmosphere, like I said, is one of a kind. Amazing food, great halftime entertainment by our Panther dancers and drumline, and even better people to watch the game with. Along with that you will get to watch some smash mouth football. Our offense is a grind it out type of offense but can break open a big play at any time which makes you want to keep watching. We are a physical football team and that is something people love to see. If you come to a game at Centralia you won’t regret it.
Who are other key players on your team?
This is probably the toughest question because there are a lot of guys who make our team go. We are only as good as the last guy as coach says. First of all, our offensive line has some beef and creates big holes. Without the big boys upfront I wouldn’t be answering these questions right now. 6’4” 285 lbs. Derek Van Dorn, Diesel as we call him, is one to watch. The kid can block with the best. 6’6” tight end Daegan Steinlage, otherwise known as Sasquatch, is also big not only with blocking but a great target to throw to as he his tall and has the biggest hands I have ever seen. Our fullback Noah Quigley is a big part of our blocking scheme and improves more and more each game. Our tailback Isaac Gore is impressive as well with almost 1,000 yard rushing. He is quick and can cut on a dime. On the defensive side our linebackers all have a nose for the ball. Austin Holthaus, Nathan Haufler, and Ian Haverkamp are all a huge part to our scheme on defense and do an amazing job of filling and making tackles. Our defensive line is no slouch either and Tyler Heinen plays a hellacious defensive end.
Favorite thing about football?
The bonds it builds. The guys I play alongside are like my second family, my brothers. They would do anything for me and me for them. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of something this special.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I love sports in general and have since I can remember. I am a four-sport athlete, although we don’t have a school baseball team. In the summer, I play baseball for our local town team in Corning as well as the legion team we have. I play shortstop and pitcher and usually bat leadoff. In the fall obviously I play football. In the winter, it’s basketball season and I play point guard. In the spring, I run track and do the open 800 and all three relays. Everyone asks what my favorite is and it’s whatever sport is in season.
What is it like to play for your coach?
I love playing for Coach Glactzak. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else. He doesn’t treat us like we’re below him, he treats us as an equal, but at the same time we still know who the man in charge is. Not only him but our entire coaching staff are all Centralia alumni and take a lot of pride in what they do. I have never seen a group of people so committed to one goal.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
It really started with last year’s graduating class. We went 1-8 two seasons ago and the class of 2018 took it upon themselves to turn the program around. The main motivation for this offseason was losing a heartbreaker to Pitt Colgan that ended our season a year ago. We didn’t want to put ourselves in a position like that again and wanted to come back this season as best as we possibly could.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
If I was given the opportunity I would certainly be interested to see what I could do at the next level, maybe not as a QB but a receiver or maybe even a different sport. I’m not really sure what my plans are as I am still considering the variety of options of a career choice but I will for sure stay somewhat close to home because I couldn’t live too far from my family.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
Just hanging out with friends and family. That mostly consists of playing sports in the yard or driveway or card games, we make most everything a competition in my house because we love to compete.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
10 years from now I would like to have a career of some sort and be married and start my own family around here. I don’t ever see myself living anywhere besides Nemaha County after college. I think someday I will take over my Dad’s construction company, but I am really just keeping my options open.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject is probably history. I like learning about what has happened in the past, and Mr. Holthaus involves a lot of projects which is way better than reading and taking notes. I would like to think of myself as a good student as I do my best in school so maybe I can get some college paid for. My GPA is a 4.0 right now and hopefully I can keep it that way through a tough junior year schedule.
Who is your role model?
My father always has been and always will be my role model. The guy has taught me everything I know. He had a ball in my hand as soon as he could. He played quarterback for Centralia and took his team to state his senior year in ’97. We watch his old game film together and like to talk smack about who was better. He is a great father, husband, Christian, you name it. He’s my best friend and inspires me to be the best man I can be. I hope to be half the man he is someday.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
Oh man that’s a tough one. We don’t have too many places to eat being it’s a small town but “The Scoop” on main street on Centralia makes one of the best burgers around. Our grocery store sells the best hunks of pizza you can buy.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about me is that I actually enjoy helping my dad pour concrete in the summer. I like how meticulous and detailed I have to be in this work and someday maybe I’ll be doing it as my career.
Anything else to add?
My Grandpa Linus Holthaus calls me every Saturday or Sunday to talk about Friday night’s game and the one coming up. No matter the sport, no matter how busy life is he calls. I really look forward to that phone call every weekend.Thank you for this opportunity! God Bless!