Sports in Kansas is pleased to announce its Sports in Kansas Offensive Player of the Year & Defensive Player of the Year from 6A to Six-Man. SIK also has selected an All-Classes Coach of the Year and Classification Coaches of the Year on another feature coming out. Selections made through votes from a statewide panel of media who regularly cover high school football and represents all areas and classes. This year, over 20 media members were part of the committee with Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas and Conor Nicholl of Sports in Kansas calculating the votes and the final selection process. Input was also gathered from coaches, observations and statistics.
Class 6A Offensive Player of the Year: Lem Wash, Derby, QB
Wash, a FCS Tennessee Tech commit, enjoyed his second straight big season as Derby’s dual threat quarterback. Part of a long line of successful run-pass signal callers under coach Brandon Clark, Wash completed 94 of 131 passes for 1,313 yards (72 percent). He tossed 18 touchdowns against six interceptions.
He and sophomore Dylan Edwards formed an excellent 1-2 backfield behind an experienced offensive line that featured Top 11 all classes pick Alex Key and veteran Jonas Vickers. Edwards recorded 206 carries for 1,833 yards and 25 scores. Wash tallied 193 carries for 1,292 yards with 20 TDs. Wash narrowly won a very close vote over Shawnee Mission Northwest quarterback Ty Black and Lawrence running back Devin Neal. Black has committed to Air Force, and Neal, the state’s top recruit, to KU.
Derby finished 9-2 and won its third straight Class 6A state title. The Panthers are 6-1 in state games since ’13 and have played in six consecutive title contests. Derby won its last six contests and averaged 52.7 points per game in that span. That included a 56-31 state title win versus Blue Valley North.
In the final, the 6-foot Wash completed 16 of 19 passes for 239 yards and TD scores against zero interceptions. He rushed 19 times for 110 yards and three scores. Wash tied the 6A state championship record with Graham Mertz for single game passing scores, according to KSHSAA/historian Brett Marshall. Mertz, now the starting quarterback at Wisconsin, accomplished the feat in ’17. In the six wins to finish the year, Wash recorded a 12/1 TD/INT ratio. Wash was Top 11 All-Classes Seniors by the Kansas Coaches.
As a junior, Wash averaged more than 10 yards per carry en route to 1,211 rushing yards and 27 scores. He passed for 848 yards with 14 TDs against one interception. He was first team all-state 6A quarterback as a junior after he accounted for five touchdowns in the first half of the championship game.
Class 6A Defensive Player of the Year: Damian Illalio, Manhattan, DL
Last season, Illalio earned national recognition when he played very well against Lawrence Free State tackle Turner Corcoran, Kansas’ best recruit and a Nebraska commit. Illalio collected Centennial League Defensive MVP honors as a junior and replicated the award this fall. A Kansas State commit, Illalio led Manhattan with 61 tackles, 21.5 for loss.
He picked up a team-high 6.5 sacks and paced the Indians with three fumble recoveries. Manhattan finished 6-4 and forced 23 turnovers. The Indians allowed 20.4 points per game. The 6-foot-0, 270-pound defensive tackle received offers from Illinois State, Air Force, Army and Kansas. He is the No. 11 Kansas recruit via 24/7 Sports. He is a standout 285-pound wrestler. Illalio was Top 11 Seniors all classes by the Kansas Football Coaches Association. Illalio won a tight race that included Sterling Smithson and Dasan McCullough who both picked up several media member votes.
Sports in Kansas 6A Offensive Player of the Year Finalists
Ty Black, SM Northwest Sr. QB
Andrew Khoury, Junction City Sr. QB
Henry Martin, BV North Jr. QB
Lem Wash, Derby Sr. QB/ATH
Dylan Edwards, Derby Soph. RB
Devin Neal, Lawrence Sr. RB
Sports in Kansas 6A Defensive Player of the Year Finalists
Dasan McCullough, BV North Jr. ATH
Damian Illalio, Manhattan Sr. DL
Jack Hileman, Derby Sr. LB
Sterling Smithson, Blue Valley Sr. DL
Coleson Syring, Derby Sr. LB
Cole Mondi, Lawrence Sr. LB
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