Faces in KS: Ryan Rakestraw

Ryan Rakestraw of Southeast-Cherokee is back after earning all-state in 2013. (photo: Sicily Stahl)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Sep 10, 2014

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Ryan Rakestraw, Southeast-Cherokee senior, is one of the top all around high school football players in Kansas. When we say all-around, we mean it, as he plays multiple positions on both sides of the football. Rakestraw also stands out on special teams and barely comes off the field on Friday nights.

“I rarely ever come off the field, maybe a play on a kick off if I need a break,” Rakestraw said. “It’s a blast and I love being part of every situation to help my team win.”

Rakestraw, a 6-foot-3 185 pound senior, has excelled at multiple positions on the football field over the last four seasons for the Lancers. Last season, he was all-state at both the linebacker and running back positions in 3A. He was also a first team All-Underclassmen linebacker at Sports in Kansas, highlighting 28 of the state’s top non seniors for the 2013 football season. Rakestraw was one of the top receivers in the CNC league as a sophomore, putting up over 800 yards for the Lancers, before moving to running back last season. Rakestraw, has so much versatility, that he even earned all-league honors at kicker as a freshman in high school. He was on every preseason players to watch list in Kansas, including a #4 overall ranking at the athlete position by Sports in Kansas.

“Ryan is one of those kids that doesn’t come around too often. He is a very special player and I would put him up against anyone in the state,” said Clint Rider, Hesston head coach and former Southeast-Cherokee head coach, who coached Rakestraw as a freshman and sophomore.

We knew Rakestraw was a big time player after his junior year in which he rushed for 1,228 yards and 26 touchdowns in nine games last season.  He also added 90 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 12 sacks from his linebacker position. Even the league coaches know that Rakestraw is the real deal as head coaches, Chuck Smith (Colgan) and Beau Sarwinski (Galena), both noted him on being potentially the best back in 3A at the CNC League Media Luncheon last month hosted by ESPN 100.7 at Watco Companies.

“I think the Rakestraw kid might be as good of a running back as there is,” Smith said.

Not only does Rakestraw standout on the football field, he also is a successful track and field athlete for the Lancers. He has a 6’4 best in high jump, 40.3 in the 300 hurdles, 43’ in the triple jump and a personal best of 21’3 in the long jump. Rakestraw features a 37 inch vertical and a 4.61 forty but hasn’t received any official football offers. He also earned honorable mention honors in the CNC last year in basketball.

“Track and playing multiple sports helps me get better for football. I always want to be doing something that is going to consistently help me get better as an athlete.” Rakestraw said.

Rakestraw also knows how to adapt to new coaches and offenses. He has had three head coaches in the last three seasons at Southeast-Cherokee. This year, Jerrad Hansen is in his first year as the Lancers head man after taking over for Jake Lott who left for Royal Valley.

“The transition with Coach Hansen has went very smoothly, he also brings a lot of energy to our program in the weight room.” Rakestraw said.

Southeast (1-0) will play on the road this Friday against Columbus, the number two ranked team by Kpreps in 4A-II. The Lancers opened week one with a 36-0 victoy over Baxter Springs. Look for Rakestraw to have another big year for the Lancers. 

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How did you get involved in athletics?

My parents were both athletes and my older brother so it was just in the family to play sports and as a kid I just loved playing. 

Talk about how last football season went for you and your team?

I feel like there were two games that got away from us and we should've went 6-3, but for myself It went good, I feel like I made clear on my abilities.

Any goals for you this season?

I want to having a winning record. Last year I received all league and all state. I would like to repeat that same thing but better stats. I want to make sure I stay healthy all season and have fun playing the game I love.

What are the teams expectations in 2014?

We have a team goal to make the playoffs and go a few games deep. We want top three in the league if not the title.  

What will it take to make a run in 3A this season?

It's going to take all 11 guys on the field never taking a play off and playing good quality football. Everyone staying healthy of course. Also playing up to our teams potential every single game. 

What do your opponents look like this season?

I think Columbus and Galena are gonna very tough this year, having everyone back, just like us. They were tough last year. Colgan is always a good team as everyone knows. 

How has the new coach transition been?

It's been a lot easier and smoother than I expected. Everyone picked up all the plays like they aren't even new and we've been running them all year. In the weight room I feel like it's been a blessing having someone with a lot of energy as him and working our tails off. 

Biggest rival?

I feel like the game that always has the most tension in it is Frontenac 

How do you think the first game went for you against Baxter?

We came out of the gates running and ran the football on offense, which we obviously want to do. We also posted a shutout, we got the job done. 

What will it take to get the win over Columbus this week?

Offensively I feel like we will be fine. I think our defense will have to play every bit as good if not better than last week to come out on top.

Talk about some of the key returnees for the Lancers?

Having everyone player back but one, I think everyone is key. Especially our linemen, who don't get enough credit for what they do. But yes skilled position wise I think having an experienced quarterback is key ( Caleb Biancarelli) and our other running backs Jarod Watson and Colton Charlton. Us four have very good chemistry in the backfield and can fake anyone out.  

What do you use as motivation to become a better player?

I use the little guys in mini football as motivation and my hunger for college football too. All the kids always are watching me and talking to me all excitedly every time they seem and I know how they feel when they look up to me by I used to be them, wanting to be like who I thought was the best player. And I have a big desire to play college ball too so I know I always have to improve on something everyday. 

How important is the weight room to you? 

Being strong is pretty important I believe but yet the weight room Isn't always the most important. I think quality chalk talk and being smart at the game is number one first. You know I'm definitely not the strongest but I feel like I make the rest up with my intelligence of the game. 

How does track help you for football?

It keeps me in shape, but also I'm working agility, speed, and strength every single day too. I'm constantly getting better at some aspect of football by track. 

Who are you being recruited by in football?

I have 0 offers, there hasn't been really anybody that has really tried to recruit me hard, but I've been invited to Pittsburg States game and I've talked a little with their staff. 

Favorite subject in school?

Physics and Government.

Do you play any other sports besides football and track?

I do, I play basketball in the winter. 

What is it like to grow up in Cherokee area?

Well I actually live in Weir, but most of my friends live in Cherokee. Growing up in small towns is great, I love every bit of it. You get the small town restaurants and stores that close to go to the games and having small communities you do see everyone at the games cheering for you. 

Best opposing player you've faced in high school?

When I was a freshman I started both sides of the ball, and I would have to say Chris Smith of Colgan (now a junior defensive back at Princeton). He was very fast and strong. 

When you aren't playing sports, what do you do for fun?

I'm a huge hunter and fisherman. I do golf in my spare time too, also I ride dirt bikes and ATVs. 

One thing the average person wouldn't know about you? 

I'd probably say that I am one of the weirdest/ goofiest guys you'd meet. But I'm really down to earth.