Youth teams reach high levels of success this fall
Some area youth teams recently ended the fall slate with a bang, such as the Jackson Heights fifth and sixth-grade tackle football team.
The Cobras competed in the Topeka YMCA Tackle Football League where they finished 3-4 overall in the regular season before roaring through the playoff field on the way to a tournament title in the AFC division.
Coach Topher Dohl noted a key to the Cobras’ playoff push was strong all-around play from the linemen, as well as fundamentally strong, assignment-sound play from everyone on the defensive end.
On the way to the team title, the Cobras took down the top-seeded Topeka Rage in the semifinals before handling second seed Rossville in the championship game for a 16-13 victory. This is the third year that Jackson Heights has competed in YMCA Tackle Football after Rob Wareham and several Jackson County business sponsors helped get it going, it was reported.
The championship game was played at Hunt Family Foundation Field (the Chiefs’ practice facility) in Kansas City on Nov. 8 and it was noted that more than 100 Cobra fans made the trip in order to support the team.
“Everyone was very excited and just happy for the kids,” Dohl said of the coaches’ and fans’ reactions.
Players on the championship team included Reece Williams, Dylan Thompson, Jude Williams, Brantley Dohl, Wyatt Bacon, Jason White, Garrett Klahr, Jason Bosley, Carter Montgomery, Alex Browning, Kaden Cattrell, Haden Doyle, Taylor Wamego, Gavin Barnes, Ryan Schumann, Hudson Roles, Grant Amon and Colby Doyle.
Members of the coaching staff who helped lead the squad were Dohl, Ryan White, JD Roles, Matt Bosley, Russ Bacon and Brandon Schumann.
Topeka YMCA 5/6 football playoffs
Jackson Heights 24, Topeka Renegades 12
Jackson Heights 22, Topeka Rage 12
Jackson Heights 16, Rossville 13
Jackson Heights wasn’t the only young football team to end the season with some success in Kansas City. Holton’s third and fourth-grade tackle football team got to make the same trip and play on the Chiefs’ practice field the week prior (Nov. 1) while also claiming a championship trophy.
The Wildcats dominated on defense, giving up just two touchdowns (and 15 points total) in nine games this fall, and went into the championship game undefeated before taking down Osage City 27-7.
With all of the players in their first year of tackle football, coach Chris Boswell noted something as simple as the players’ open-mindedness was at the root of their success.
“Really, I think the thing that was key to us being successful is they just listened really well to what we were trying to teach them,” Boswell said.
Strong play on the offensive and defensive line was also important as Boswell noted the young players bought in quickly, leading to a pretty impressive pay off.
“From day one, we showed them a picture of the Chiefs’ stadium and we set the goal out in front of them that if we go through the season and we get better every week, this is where we’re going to end up and the kids really bought into that,” Boswell said. “It was amazing. As a coach, that’s kind of the gratification we get is seeing the kids succeed.”
Players on the Holton team who fought through the season and worked for the championship included Asher Larson, Cale Hein, Jayden Fletcher, Ashton Schrick, Dalton Roush, Garyson Booth, Brody Page, Talon Fox, Mathew Watkins, Tucker Gilliland, Charlie Gilliland, Ty Phillips, Matthew Lierz, Jace Boswell, Kobe Black, Sam Miller, Parker Crouch, Cooper Baxter and Tracer Dillon.
The team was coached by Boswell, Brady Black, Rick Crouch, Brett Fletcher and Raymond Schrick.
Topeka YMCA 3/4 football playoffs
Holton 6, St. Marys 0
Holton 27, Osage City 7
Meanwhile, a Royal Valley student participated and excelled on another type of football field in what turned out to be a pretty stellar fall season for the Topeka Select Juventus soccer club.
Phoenix Cannon, a third-grade student at Royal Valley Elementary School, was a member of the Juventus team and played defender/wing for a squad that racked up the trophies in tournament play.
In four tournaments during the fall season, Juventus finished no lower than second in competition and claimed tournament trophies at the final three (Topeka Select Capital Cup, Overland Park Challenger Cup, Topeka Harvest Cup).
That was in addition to the team claiming the league title in the Heartland League (U9 division 2) in Overland Park this fall with an overall record of 23-2-1. Following that strong fall season, Cannon and the rest of his Juventus teammates will be bumping up to division 1 in the Heartland League in the spring.
Cannon is the son of Ricky and Shannon Cannon of rural Hoyt.