Maize South required a new quarterback for 2018. In the summer, sophomore Colin Shields and junior Justice Morris battled for the spot. Shields eventually won the job, but Maize South opened the season 0-3 and averaged 12.3 points per contest.
The Mavericks hadn’t dropped more than three games in any of the previous six seasons. Morris, though, continued to provide encouragement to Shields – one of several present and past signal callers who stays in contact with the junior.
“He was always in there supporting me, saying, ‘Hey man, you’ve got this. It just takes one game to break out, and you will break out.’” Shields recalled. “He just kept believing in me and that really helped me go through the season as well.”
In Week 4, Shields delivered his first victory in a 24-17 home win versus Arkansas City, and AC’s veteran quarterback Cevin Clark.
“Everyone was just like ‘Yes, this is the team we all know we can be. We have got one wheel on the train track. Now let’s get some more on and keep it rolling,’” Shields said.
In Week 5, Shields engineered a last-minute drive to beat Andover Central, 21-20. Overall, Maize South delivered six straight victories, including a 23-22 double-overtime home win versus Goddard in Week 7.
Goddard eventually took Class 4A runner-up. In the winning streak, Maize South averaged 29.3 points a contest. Shields completed 64 percent of his passes in the six-game run. He ended the season with 1,406 passing yards with a 12/3 TD/INT ratio.
“Everyone started getting used to playing with each other more I’d say, and we also started to believe each other,” Shields said.
Maize South took a 20-3 loss to Andover in Week 2. Seven weeks later, the Mavericks showed its offensive improvement with a 21-17 victory versus the Trojans in a Week 9 bracket pool game. In Week 10, the Mavericks fell 35-0 at rival Maize in the playoffs.
This year, Maize South is among the Class 5A favorites, especially in the west, and in position to reach the first state championship game in school annals. Maize South has had a football program since ’09, hasn’t posted a losing season since the second year and made one semifinals, a 10-2 mark in ’16.
Shields said the team’s goal “undoubtedly” is to reach state. He has been very impressed with the work ethic and daily weight room attendance from the returners all the way down to the JV and freshman.
“Push themselves to be the best they can be, setting themselves up for opportunities,” Shields said.
Coach Brent Pfeifer has led the program since its inauguration. Maize South returns several standouts - offensive lineman Cody Fayette, running back Mason Edwards, defensive lineman Zach Saville, and perhaps the state’s best returning defensive back with senior Trevion Mitchell. Fayette has committed to South Dakota. Shields listed Morris, who has moved to tight end, as another key returning player.
Shields has received some collegiate interest, mainly from Division II schools. He spent part of his childhood in Texas, and his father is retired Air Force.
“Cody, he is one of the top ones in the state, and he is a great person to be around,” Shields said. “He has always offered to be a leader to everybody, asks if anyone needs rides after practices or anything, if anything needs a ride to practice. He is never skipping reps in the weight room. He is always working his butt off to get better.”
Shields was effusive in his praise of Saville, too.
“He’s a true leader,” Shields said. “He is always helping people out. He’s always hanging out with people.”
As well, Maize South has added Justin Burke as the new offensive coordinator/strength coach. Burke has served as head coach at several places, notably Dodge City and Chaparral. Burke coached Kale Pick, a former KU player and current Fort Scott coach, at Dodge City.
At Chaparral, Burke went 45-24 in his last seven years and led the Roadrunners to 38.45 points a contest in that span, including 7-3 and 39.4 points a game last fall.
Maize South has enjoyed several great quarterbacks in recent seasons. In ’15, Korie Frausto delivered more than 2,500 yards of total offense and was conference MVP. Frausto opened his career at Army and played in one game. He transferred to Oklahoma State and saw action in two contests last year.
Then, Ethan Richardson started in ’16 and made the Shrine Bowl. In ’17, Ryan Grabman threw for more than 1,350 passing yards as Shields saw some spot time as a freshman.
Shields especially has gotten to know Richardson and his brother, Cooper, a senior offensive lineman last year. Ethan was the backup quarterback as a freshman for Sterling College in ‘18.
“Extremely down to Earth guy, and he’s always humble, but he’s always working,” Shields said of Ethan. “His brother Cooper is the same way. They’ve got an awesome family.”
Richardson texted Shields when he was a freshman in ’17.
“‘Hey man, just go out there and believe in yourself, because they are only going to put you out there if you believe in yourself,’” Shields recalled hearing from Richardson. “And that really helped me my freshman year and even into my sophomore year.”
Richardson and Grabman texted Shields before ’18 games.
“They would just say ‘Hey man, you’ve got this, go out and do you,’” Shields said.
Against Andover Central, Maize South started off strong and then struggled to score in the second and third quarters. Maize South went 86 yards in the final minute. He threw a 50-yard pass and a 36-yard game-winning touchdown.
“One of the most fun games that I have ever played in just because there wasn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind,” Shields said of winning.
Braden Pfeifer made a huge catch on the 50-yard play. Shields was flushed out to the left, and Pfeifer caught the ball between his legs – and falling away from the ball.
“It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen on one of the craziest catches I’d ever seen,” Shields said.
Then, Shields had to throw the ball away twice before he unfurled the touchdown pass.
“Just putting it right where he needed it,” Shields said.
The Goddard game was a signature victory, and helped Pfeifer earn co-coach of the year awards in the conference. Maize South led 16-0 before Goddard quarterback Kyler Semrad led a comeback.
Maize South couldn’t score on the first overtime drive, but Maize South blocked Goddard’s field goal and forced the second overtime.
In the second overtime, Goddard scored before Maize South blocked the extra point.
Shields completed the comeback with a touchdown pass to Corey Minks. He caught the ball in the flat and broke multiple tackles for the score. Minks had a 68-yard touchdown score earlier in the contest, one of several plays that Shields labeled “unbelievable.”
“That was just one to cap it all off,” Shields said.
Q&A w/ Shields
How did you get involved in football?
When I was 6 weeks old my parents took me to my first OSU game, we had season tickets, so I was always around football. My Dad was stationed in San Angelo Texas with the Air Force when I was in first grade, and that’s where I started playing flag football. In third grade I started playing tackle football for the Maize Junior Football league.
What are your goals this season?
My goals for this season are to put the ball in a spot where my receivers are in a position to make plays, to make the right reads in the run game, and to give our team as much of a chance to win as I can.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
I'm confident we can make a run with the experience we have coming back. We have a couple of big time players coming back and want to send them out the right way.
What makes you such a force as a player?
My biggest strength on the field is being able to make the correct read and put the ball in the right position so our playmakers can make plays. Coach Pfeifer, my former QB coach Monty Lewis, and my personal QB coach Joe McCulley have all helped me a lot to know how to read defenses, make the right reads, and be confident in my decisions.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
Our fans do a really good job of cheering us on, and being loud at the right times. They give us a ton of energy. We had a lot of close games last year and they made a difference. In my opinion they are also the classiest in the area. I think our best tradition is when all our students come onto the field and congratulate us win or lose.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
We have a bunch of exciting players. If you come watch one of our games, you'll see a bunch of guys who work hard whatever the score is and never give up. We had some of the most exciting finishes in the state last year.
Who are other key players on your team?
We have a couple of returning all state players in Cody Fayette at OL, and Trevion Mitchell at DB. We have some other guys who were all league in Mason Edwards at RB, Zach Saville on the DL, and Ethan Wiens at K. We also have a bunch of underrated guys in Coleman Koehn, Brandon Bowles, Justice Morris, Tysaak Noland, Brian Vanderhoof, Calvin Benefiel, Ryan Hays, Braden Pfeifer and Drew Wolf who all stepped into starting roles last year on our defense and made a big impact. I'm listing everybody it seems like, but I’m excited about all our guys, so I know I'm leaving guys out, but I think our Oline and Dline will be solid, and we're reloading at receiver. I’ve seen the plays our younger guys have made in camp so I expect to be a fun team to watch.
Favorite thing about football?
My favorite thing about football is the amount of time you get to spend with your teammates and the bonds that you create during that time whether it be in the weightroom, during film study, or on the field. It's truly something that will stick with you forever.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
Yes, I play first base for the Maize South baseball team. I don't play summer ball so I can work on football, but I love those spring nights on the diamond with the Mavs. I was ACVTL Division 2 honorable mention, and SIK HM All State.
What is it like to play for your coach?
Coach Pfeifer is a great coach to be around and learn from. He's tough on us, but I always feel like he's tough because he wants the best for us. I wouldn't want to play for anyone else.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
We really made an effort to get stronger in the weight room, I think it will show on the field. We also played a lot of 7on7 in the spring against each other on our own time. Finally, I was fortunate to be able to get our receivers and backs to run routes for me whenever I needed them to since February. We have a bunch of new starters at receiver, so we're working to perfect our timing.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
Most of my interest right now is at the Division 2 level, I was invited to a couple of FBS and FCS camps and received good feedback, but the goal right now is to just focus on doing all I can to help my team reach our goals, and the rest will work itself out.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
I really like to Bass fish, play NBA 2k with my friends, and I used to do a sports podcast called Excuse My Take with my buddy Beau Grant.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I want to major in broadcasting or communications, so hopefully I have a job covering sports in a place that is a bigtime sports town.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject in school is Social Studies/History. I am an A student and have a 3.92 GPA.
Who is your role model?
My role model would definitely have to be my dad. He's always been around my games to watch me play and is one of my biggest supporters. He also treats each and every person with the same amount of respect which is a trait I hope to one day have.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
Stearman Field Bar & Grill in Benton, it’s not that close...you can sit next to the runway and watch the planes fly in and out. Besides that, going to Old Chicago after games with my teammates is awesome.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
One thing most people wouldn't know about me is I was diagnosed with a mild/moderate hearing loss when I was born, so I've had hearing aids since I was two months old.
Anything else to add?
I play summer 7v7 on the Sharp Performance team. I had a lot of fun meeting and playing with a lot of great players from across the state. Coach Sharp and all the coaches are really fun to play for, and are really helping athletes in KS.