By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas - email - Cnicholl1@gmail.com
Southeast of Saline coach Mitch Gebhardt served as the Lincoln head football coach from 2000-2007, according to the online database at Kansas Football History. His son, Jaxson, was able to see “the inner workings of football” at Lincoln.
“I have always had kind of that feel of Friday Night Lights,” Jaxson said.
When Jaxson was five, the family moved to Southeast of Saline, located 60 miles away. Coach Gebhardt eventually took over as head Trojan football coach in ’10, when Jaxson was in second grade. Jaxson became a ball boy for his father and really enjoyed the experience.
“Expanded my love for football,” Jaxson said.
Coach Gebhardt has made SES into a consistent winner. After a decade with the Trojans, Gebhardt has delivered a 62-35 record, including 36-12 in North Central Activities Association play.
Since ’11, SES has won seven or eight games seven times. The only two losing seasons came with 4-5 showings in ’12 and ’17. The following year, the Trojans posted three- and four-win improvements. Coach Gebhardt is long known for his dual-threat quarterbacks and high volume of snaps, trends that have continued with his son. SES is also known for its home-field advantage.
From ’13-19, SES is a collective 24-8 at home, and 23-14 on the road. Every quarterback has thrown for at least 916 yards and rushed for at least 481 in that span. Six of the seven years have produced at least 21 touchdowns accounted for at quarterback. Jaxson labeled his dad his role model and has enjoyed playing for him.
“We are exciting to watch because of the fast pace offense we play,” Jaxson said. “We also have a great fan base. And our stadium is unique because it sits in the bottom of the hill.”
Jaxson took over as the starting quarterback as a sophomore and helped SES to an 8-2 record, tied for the most wins for the school since a 10-1 season in ’06. Last year, SES posted a 7-3 record.
Jaxson’s twin brothers, Luke and Jake, were freshmen last fall. While Jaxson is one of Kansas’ most experienced quarterbacks, he especially shined on the defensive side with seven interceptions in ’19. SES had an average score of 35-17 and posted its fourth undefeated league slate in the last five years.
“I think the bond is really good between me and my dad on the field,” Jaxson said before the ’19 season. “He is obviously coach to me, and at home, we can sit down and have a normal conversation about football, and never have grudges ever, like it’s just a really good relationship with me and my dad. He is coach to me on the football field and dad at home.”
This season, SES is highly experienced and will play in Class 3A, District 6 with Colby, Goodland, Smoky Valley, Russell, and Scott City. It’s a big change from the last two seasons where SES had to go east with Riley County, Rossville, St. Marys, Council Grove and Mission Valley. The Trojans were a combined 1-5 against Riley County and Rossville in the past two falls.
Gebhardt said the team’s goal is a state title. SES’ only season ever past the quarterfinals was a state championship in ’05 with former coach Pat Haxton, now at WaKeeney-Trego.
“The coaching staff at Southeast is one of the best and all the coaches complement each other very well,” Jaxson said.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Gebhardt can bench 225, squat 320 and clean 255. SES returns nine starters on offense, 10 on defense. Gebhardt earned All-Non Senior SIK honors & 2A all-state defensive back after 50 tackles, seven interceptions, 1,238 passing yards, 955 rushing yards and 21 offensive scores accounted for.
In addition, Gebhardt was all-league honorable mention basketball in ’19-20, and 3A all-state honorable mention in baseball in ’19. He mainly plays point guard in basketball and primarily a catcher in baseball. He enjoys history and carries a 3.6 GPA.
Overall, Gebhardt has completed 222 of 403 passes with 2,631 yards and an 18/19 career TD/INT ratio. He has rushed 309 times for 1,471 yards and 18 scores. Defensively, he has 77 tackles and eight career interceptions.
“I see myself as a good leader on the field,” Gebhardt said. “I start on both sides of the ball and I feel like I can make plays the entire game.”
SES returns 95 percent of its rushing yards and its top-eight tacklers for ’20. Senior Bryant Banks led the team with 174 carries for 969 yards and 21 scores. Junior Matthew Rodriguez enjoyed a huge junior year with 94 tackles, 20 for loss. Seniors Tyler Breeding, Sterling Harp and Eli Harris all return after they made between 47 and 75 tackles and each had between six and eight tackles for loss.
In ’13, coach Gebhardt had Cody Schlesener at quarterback. He passed for 916 yards, rushed for 481 yards and accounted for 26 scores. The following year, Schlesener delivered 1,145 passing and 1,052 rushing with 27 TDs accounted for.
Then, Bryce Banks started for two years and passed for 3,820 yards and accounted for 51 touchdowns. Hunter White started in ’17 with a mammoth season – 1,329 passing, 1,481 rushing and 42 scores accounted for.
In the last four years, SES has delivered 56.5, 59.6, 61.9 and 58.2 plays per game. Last year, SES played faster than many 2A teams, including all four semifinalists. Other 2A notables include Rossville (57.1 plays/game), Norton (56.1), Nemaha Central (52.3), Hoisington (49.2), Riley County (48.4), Conway Springs (47.4), Maur Hill (43.1), and Humboldt (33.6).
“We have been playing together for a long time, so we have a really good connection with each other,” Jaxson said.
This feature is presented by Jeff Wells of American Family Insurance in Salina. Proud to support local athletics and the Trojans.
This feature is presented by Southeast of Saline Booster Club. Best of luck to all of our teams this school year.
Jaxson Gebhardt Q&A
How did you get involved in football?
At a young age my dad was the head football coach in Lincoln, Kansas and I was able to see the inner workings of football. When I was five we moved to Southeast of Saline. When I was a 2nd grader my dad took the head football jobs at southeast and I was able to be ball boy. I really enjoyed this experience and expanded my love for football.
What are your goals this season?
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
Our atmosphere at our field is electrifying. As soon as warm-up starts you can feel the intensity rising. It is one of the best places to play.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
We are exciting to watch because Of the fast pace offense we play. We also have a great fan base. And our stadiums is unique because it sits in the bottom of the hill
Who are other key players on your team?
Bryant Banks, Sterling Harp, Matthew Rodriguez, Tyler Breeding, Eli Harris
Favorite thing about football?
My favorite thing about football is the brotherhood I share with the people I play with.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
Basketball- I start at point guard but play all positions.
Baseball- I catch most of the games but play all play outfield and pitch as well
What is it like to play for your coach?
The coaching staff at Southeast is one of the best and all the coaches complement each other very well
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
We started to hit the weight room really hard in the winter and continued to do so until covid-19 hit and we started doing work outs at home. Hopefully as the summer progresses we can get back to making gains as a team in the weight room
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I have not got a lot of interest and the next level but I would like to play college football
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
I love spending time with my family, cutting wheat and swathing hay
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I want to be a small business owner working on farm equipment and working during the summer working with my family custom cutting business
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
History. Good student. 3.625
Who is your role model?
My dad is a role model to me because he is a really good leader and does what is right
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
I have twin brothers that I played with last year and this upcoming year
Anything else to add that we won’t want to miss in this story?
My dad has been my coach the last three years and I have enjoyed playing for him.
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