Oakley High School junior running back and safety Ethan Abell is one of the fastest football players in the state of Kansas. Abell has 4.49 speed in the 40, ran at the Sports in Kansas/Shrine Bowl Combine and has used that speed for over 400 yards of offense in the Plainsmen (1A) 2-1 start to 2019.
Abell, who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 160 pounds, has rushed for 330 yards on 19 carries this season, six of those going for touchdown. For those math people out there, that’s an average of 17 yards per carry. He also has seven receptions for 84 yards and two scores. Abell had just over 500 yards of offense last year in one of, if not the best, small school league (MCL) in Kansas as he earned honorable mention all-league honors as a sophomore.
Abell is also an accomplished track athlete earning all-state honors in the 100-meter dash at the state track meet last year. He has qualified for state track and each of his years of high school, with two full-seasons left. He will be a sprinter to watch in the smaller classifications of Kansas this season.
It's not just Abell that has shined on this team either. Ellis Slack is one of the better receivers in 1A football and Eric Cain is also having a solid year. Abell also credits solid offensive line play for big gains in 2019.
The Plainsmen are back in action on Friday as they take on Goodland (0-3) at home. Abell and Oakley, led by head coach Jeff Hennick, will have their work cut out for them in a district that features Plainville (3-0), La Crosse (3-0), and Ellis (1-2). Oakley also gets Smith Center in week five, the back-to-back state champion in 1A. We caught up with Ethan below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
This feature is presented by Kenny's Auto Repair in Oakley and Logan County Implement (NAPA Auto Parts Dealder) in Oakley, Kansas. Proud to support Oakley High School Sports!
Q&A w/ Abell
How did you get involved in football?
My friend Dawson Lehman (now a player at Erie HS) convinced me to go out my 6th grade year, ever since I have loved it.
What are your goals this season?
For our team to have a winning record this year and get this program going in the right direction.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
If we stay healthy and come to play every game with the physicality I know we have, we can definitely make a run this year.
What makes you such a force as a player?
My teammates and coaches that surround me help bring out the best in me. As far as skills, I think my speed is my most valuable attribute.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
It’s pretty awesome, our student section is always getting really excited and loud and our team thrives off of that energy.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
Most of our community comes out to support the team and it’s a great small-town atmosphere.
Who are other key players on your team?
Definitely Ellis Slack and Eric Cain. Ellis is one of the top receivers in the state in my opinion, you triple team him he’s still coming down with the ball. Eric has become very good and if he stays healthy and keeps working every day, he is going to turn a lot of heads soon. We also have a very good offensive line, they may not be the biggest, but they will get after it each and every play and give you everything they have.
Favorite thing about football?
It is a team sport. Every person on the team has their own job to do and if each of you execute it, good
things will happen, if one player doesn’t do his job, bad things will happen. All people on the team have
to come together and win, no one can do it just by themselves, you have to work together.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I also play basketball and run track but I’m thinking about doing wrestling this year. I play a point guard in basketball and I run the 100, 200, 4x100, and 4x400 in track.
What is it like to play for your coach?
It’s an awesome feeling. Knowing Coach Hennick since my freshman year when he came to Oakley, he has pushed me in every way to be the best player and man I can be. I know he loves me and my teammates but he gets after you and is always looking for things we can work on or improve. He brings excitement every day and there is no one else I would rather be coached by.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
We came in at 6:00 am every Monday-Thursday in the summer, lifted and then conditioned right after. We also came in on Wednesday nights and worked on fundamentals and more conditioning. In late August we went to the Garden City jamboree where we scrimmaged against Garden City and Meade which improved our skills and teamwork.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
Hopefully I will get some offers and continue my football career in college. I’m willing to go wherever anyone offers me to play some ball!
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
Hanging out with my family and friends. I have an awesome fun-loving family that I love to be around and do anything with. Going out, driving around and hanging out with my friends is something I like to do also.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully graduated from whatever college I go to, have a career I love, have a family, and live in a small town like Oakley or live in the country. I hope to be coaching a football team also, or at least assistant coaching.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
I really like history and learning more about the past and what has happened. I also like anatomy and physiology because it’s very interesting to see how the body works and I might want to go into the medical field. As far as GPA it is a 3.9
Who is your role model?
My role model is my brother, Wyatt. He is two years older than me and is a freshman at WSU. Ever since I was little, I’ve always seen him do the right thing when no one is watching, he helps me with anything and I can always trust in him. He is a great leader, man, brother, and friend. I strive every day to be more like him.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
Probably IHOP. It’s cool when you live in a small town to go to a popular restaurant that many other cities have.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
I love going on mission trips with my church and youth group. Two years ago, we went to Mexico to build a house for a family in need, it was just a really cool experience and I love helping those who need it. Seeing the smiles on their faces was awesome.
Anything else to add?
No, but I am very grateful for this opportunity and I would like to thank you for everything you do around the state with all of the athletes.
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