By CONOR NICHOLL Cnicholl1@gmail.com for Sports in Kansas
Maize South opened in 2009. Football and boys’ swimming quickly established themselves as consistent contenders. For football, Brent Pfeifer is the only coach in program history.
Known for defense, the Mavericks have five top-eight finishes, with quarterfinals in ’14, ’15, ’17 and ’19 and a semifinal finish in ’16.
As well, boys’ swimming has five top-eight showings.
Maize South earned seventh, third and tied fourth from ’12-14. Then, Maize South picked up eighth in ’18 and seventh in ‘20. Like Pfeifer, coach Tedd Gibson is a stalwart in the school district. He has served 20-plus years in a variety of coaching roles.
Senior Brandon Bowles has been as a key part of both teams’ success.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Bowles holds the Wichita city record for the 25-yard backstroke in the eight and under age group.
At the 2020 Class 5-1A state high school meet, Bowles was fourth in the 50 freestyle, and eighth in the 100. He took fourth in the 200 free relay, and third in the 400 free relay.
Bowles was part of three team records. At the ’19 state prelims, the 200 medley relay posted 1 minute, 40.90 seconds. The 200 free relay swum 1:29.59 at the state finals to set another Maverick record. This winter, the 400 free relay broke the school mark in 3:21.79. Bowles collected second team all-state swimming.
In football, Bowles has helped Maize South continually rank as one of the state’s top defenses, regardless of class. The Mavericks have ranked as a top-10 defense each of the last four falls in their classification.
Last year, Maize South had a plus-four-win improvement from 6-4 to 10-1. The Mavericks improved their defense from 21.8 points per contest to 12.1 last fall, No. 2 in Class 5A.
Maize South is 68-19 from 2012-19. In that span, the Mavericks have allowed 15.78 points per game. Bishop Carroll, which has won three 5A state titles and a runner-up in that time, has allowed 15.74 points per contest from ’12-19. Maize South has long run a 4-3 and overcame multiple injuries in ’19.
“Playing for coach Pfeifer is great but you always have to be careful because discipline is a big thing for him,” Bowles said. “He also stresses the way our team displays ourselves in school or anywhere, always making sure we are a “class act,” as he calls it. Our other coaches on the staff are terrific as well.”
Bowles started as a sophomore and junior. He recorded 80 tackles and picked up honorable mention all-conference in ’18. Last year, Bowles was first team all-state Class 5A KPreps, and first team Sports in Kansas Non-Senior and a 5A Defensive Player of the Year finalist. He delivered 112 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
“I study lots of film and prepare mentally for the game,” Bowles said.
Bowles has a Highland Community College offer. He carries a 3.7 GPA and calls science his favorite subject in school.
“Brandon is a special player,” Pfeifer wrote in an email during the playoffs last year. “Very gifted at reading and understanding offenses.”
Maize South has consistently posted top-eight finishes in a variety of sports, and picked up three state titles. The cross country teams swept crowns in ’16, and baseball won in ’17.
This year, Maize South returns seven offensive and four defensive starters after the second 10-win season in school annals. The Mavericks have senior quarterback Colin Shields. He is 16-2 since taking over as a starter and has picked up an offer from Division II Wayne State (Neb.).
Shields is among the state’s most experienced signal callers. Maize South was No. 12 in 5A in scoring offense at 25.7 points per game. Class 5A is still headlined by Aquinas, Mill Valley and Wichita Northwest, with Maize South, De Soto, Hays High, Bishop Carroll and Maize among top contenders.
Senior running back Hunter Niemann has posted strong measurables this summer and led the Mavericks with 856 total yards. He has a Sterling College offer.
Senior linebacker Harper Kennedy carries a 3.9 GPA and is a talented baseball player. Kennedy is known for his one-handed pick-six interception against Andover Central last year. Maize South won the Week 5 game, 24-17; AC eventually earned 4A state runner-up.
Senior offensive lineman Logan Bolinger (4.042 GPA) has recently picked up an offer from Dodge City and is back after injury. Senior lineman Alex Bonilla (3.8 GPA) has plenty of talent as well, including Sterling and Bethel offers. Maize South is known for its defensive backs and senior Braden Niemann and junior Ladislao Jaimes III both return.
How did you get involved in football?
I’ve been playing football since I was 7.
What are your goals this season?
My goals are to have a successful season and create memories.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
I think we will have a solid team entering the season.
What makes you such a force as a player?
I study lots of film and prepare mentally for the game.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
The atmosphere is incredible and we always have a great turn out of fans thankfully.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
The atmosphere is amazing and our team never gives up regardless of the situation, making it enjoyable to watch.
Who are other key players on your team?
Colin Shields, Harper Kennedy, Byron Fitzpatrick, Jake Johnson, Peyton Weichman, and many more.
Favorite thing about football?
My favorite thing about football is the pure joy I get while playing.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
Aside from football I swim the 50 and 100 freestyle.
What is it like to play for your coach?
Playing for coach Pfeifer is great but you always have to be careful because discipline is a big thing for him. He also stresses the way our team displays ourselves in school or anywhere, always making sure we are a “class act”, as he calls it. Our other coaches on the staff are terrific as well.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
With the Coronavirus it has been harder to get together as a team but we have been doing whatever we can. For example we might try to get the team together to condition even if it isn’t a lot. It’s just good for the team to get together.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I’ve been talking with some college coaches here and there, but the only plan as of now is to keep working.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
Without a doubt hanging out with my friends.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I see myself surrounded by family and friends, regardless of what I’m doing.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject in school is Science because there is still so much to learn. I am a hard working student who cares much about my grades. My GPA is a 3.7.
Who is your role model?
My role model is my father because he has taught me the important things about life and given me great advice on how to live it. I look up to him because he is a selfless man who is always trying to help others whenever he can. He has raised me to work hard, respect others, and to care for everyone.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
My favorite place to eat is Five Guys without hesitation.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
I hold the Wichita City record for the 8 and under 25-yard backstroke.
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