Faces in KS: Tucker Horak

Tucker Horak of Rossville is the top quarterback returnee in Kansas. (photo: Shari Gentry)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Sep 4, 2015

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If there were such thing as a preseason high school Heisman in the state of Kansas for football it may be none other than Rossville senior quarterback, Tucker Horak.

Horak, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 180 pounds, is one of, if not the top returning player in the entire state of Kansas for 2015. Last season he rushed for 2,089 yards (28 TD) and passed for another 1,651 yards (22 TD) in leading the Bulldawgs to their first ever 3A state football title. He earned Top 11 all-classes from the Topeka Capital Journal, All Non-Senior Team from Sports in Kansas, and 3A all-state from Kpreps. It wasn’t a surprise because as a sophomore in 2013, he had nearly the same numbers, going for 1,807 rushing yards (33 TD) and throwing for 1,706 yards (14 TD). The numbers which total 97 touchdowns are video-game like and almost seem made up.

“Last year was indescribable. What a special feeling it was to finish on top. It was definitely the perfect moment.” Tucker Horak said.

For Rossville, to just get to the state title was a huge deal. They had lost the previous eight semi-final playoff meetings to rival Silver Lake and coaching legend C.J. Hamilton, who is just five miles away. The “War on 24” rivalry is one of Kansas’ best. Since 2002, a Mid-East league football team has played in the 3A state championship on the East all but one time, Silver Lake making all of those league appearances but last year when Rossville made it.

Horak not only helped his team to the title game he carried his team to the title over Scott City (21-14) by rushing for 212 yards and scored the game winning touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining. So just how good is Horak?

“I don’t think everyone will realize just how good he is until he is no longer playing for us.” Rossville head coach, Derick Hammes said.

What a magical season it was for the Dawgs as the program had experienced what some may call bad luck. The 1979 Rossville squad went 11-0 to open the season with 11 consecutive shutouts, only allowed three points the entire year, and lost 3-0 in the state semifinals to Smith Center to finish at 11-1. That almost seems made up, right? The 1992 team lost on a field goal (3-0) to Hesston in the 3A state championship. Last year was finally their time to shine with the first ever state football title in school history.

“We finally got that monkey off our back in beating Silver Lake and winning that state title.” Jason Perine, all-state quarterback on that 1992 Rossville team and now owner of Doug’s Pharmacy in Rossville, said.

Things don’t look to change too much in Rossville as the Dawgs are primed for another run in Class 3A. Gone is all-state selections Nick Reesor and Thatcher Horak, but several return including Christian Roduner at receiver and Dawson Hammes in the backfield. Rossville also returns several guys on the offensive line, only graduating one player from last year. Horak and Rossville are ready for a repeat, but they know it will be a week by week process this season.

“Our goals are the same as last year, we are looking to finish as the number one team. We need to keep improving every week as a team and become closer.” Horak said.

Although he isn’t the biggest guy on the field, Horak is one of the better smaller class players we have seen in Kansas in quite some time. Whoever takes a chance on this kid is going to get a special player at the next level. Look for another huge year for the Rossville all-state quarterback. We caught up with him below.

This feature is presented by Doug’s Pharmacy & Flowermart in Rossville, proud supporter of Rossville High School Athletics.

Q&A w/ Horak

How did you get involved in athletics?

I have kind of always been involved in athletics. With both of my parents playing sports at the college level; my mom playing softball and my dad playing baseball, it has just been something that they have expected to do and something that I enjoy doing.

How special was last season winning the 3A state title?

Knowing that we finished the season on top was a special feeling, almost indescribable. With football being the ultimate team sport, it was the perfect moment. And getting to share it with our family of 50 made it that much better.

What are your goals this season?

Our goals as far as a team are pretty much the same as last year. We are looking to keep improving every week and to become closer as a team. Then at the end of the year, our goal is to be #1 again.

What will it take to get back into the state championship?

With us graduating the class of seniors that we did last year, we are going to have to work on regaining our team chemistry that we had last year. That plays a big factor in the tough, close games that we get into late in the season. I believe we have made big strides in getting our chemistry back and are headed in the right direction to where we need to be to get back into the big show again.

What did you do to work in the off-season?

What we worked so hard on during the off-season is getting the young players on the team familiar with the offense and also making sure we were executing well on both sides of the ball. 

What is it like to play for Coach Hammes?

It's very special getting to play for Coach Hammes. With all the time he takes out of his weekends and the late nights he stays up making sure we are prepared for Friday nights shows that he truly cares about us and gives us the best possible chance to win. 

Just how tough is the Mid-East League?

The MEL is a diverse league. Every week we are guaranteed to see a different offense than we saw the week before. Then you count in the winning tradition that most of the teams have, it makes any preparation week for a league game just that much more serious. It is a fun, competitive league to play in.

Who are some of the key players to watch for on your team this season?

On the offensive side of the ball we will be looking for a lot of success from Christian this year through the air and also look for a big year on the ground from Dawson. Then when you look at our front five from last year only graduating one starter, we will be super explosive and sound up front. We have many weapons on both sides of the ball that I believe will surprise some people throughout the year.

What are your plans at then next level and who are you getting recruited by?

I would like to continue my football career at the next level. Right now I am being recruited by Washburn, Butler, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Emporia State.

What is it like to grow up and live in Rossville?

With football being my favorite sport, growing up in Rossville is awesome! The atmosphere during the season is different than any time of the year. Our community loves supporting us and cheering us to a win every Friday night. The flood in our town over summer really exposed how close we are as a community. Everyone came together to help anyone that needed it. It is an amazing place to have grown up in.

Favorite subject in school?

Math is probably my favorite subject. It is something that has always come easy to me and I enjoy being in class with Mrs. Copeland.

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

I am incredibly ticklish. My friend Kole always uses it to his advantage whenever we wrestle.