By Mark Schremmer for Kpreps.com
Posted: September 5, 2012 - 12:38 AM
If you’re a Kansas high school football fan, you’ve heard of Tanner Fisher, the Butler Community College recruit who rushed for more than 5,000 yards and 85 touchdowns in his career at Buhler High School. However, you may not have heard of Fisher’s understudy, Riley Allen. Well, at least not until this past weekend.
Buhler’s junior running back quickly made a name for himself across Class 4A as he rushed for 278 yards and four touchdowns in a 26-21 win against Rose Hill in the season opener.
Allen’s performance shows that the Crusaders will be able to keep marching in Fisher’s absence and that Buhler is starting a nice running back tradition.
Before Fisher, Jordan Oden set school rushing records. When Fisher took over, he exceeded Oden’s totals.
Now, it is Allen’s turn as Buhler’s featured back.
“We’re starting to get a tradition there,” Buhler coach Steve Warner said. “Kids are waiting in line to be tailback for us.”
Allen, a state runner-up in the 100-meter dash, ran for 370 yards and six TDs as Fisher’s backup last season.
However, Warner said he could have rushed for a lot more.
“He started one game last year and ran for 160 yards,” Warner said. “As a reserve, we didn’t want to put him in too much when we got the lead, because we were afraid he would score.”
Allen had already shown that if he’s given a crease, he can go the distance. He scored on two runs of more than 70 yards and one for 50 yards against Rose Hill.
“He has speed and athleticism, and he runs very hard,” Warner said.
Allen is just one of the many players who had breakthrough performances across the state in Week 1. Some, like Allen, are players who were put into different or expanded roles, and some stepped on to the varsity field for the first time.
Kpreps.com takes a look at several up-and-comers who had standout performances in the opening week:
· Alex Barnes, RB, Pittsburg – Barnes excelled at linebacker for the Purple Dragons as a freshman, but he is proving he can be a force on both sides of the ball as a sophomore. Barnes recorded 97 tackles with four sacks last season but played behind Marcus Striplin at running back. With Striplin graduated, Barnes ran for 162 yards and three touchdowns on only eight carries in Pittsburg’s 49-15 win against Labette County.
· T.J. Slade, QB, Rose Hill – Like Allen at Buhler, Slade has been asked to replace a star performer. Slade takes over at quarterback for All-State signal caller Derrick Decker. Last season, Decker led the Rockets to a 4A state championship by passing for 1,123 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushing for 1,526 yards and 15 touchdowns. Decker leaves big shoes to fill, but Slade did an admirable job in Week 1, passing for 163 yards and rushed for 35 yards and two TDs in the loss to Buhler.
· Alex Delton QB, Hays – The Indians fell 44-43 in overtime to Junction City in their opener, but Delton made some noise in his first start at quarterback. Delton, who is Hays’ first sophomore to start the season at quarterback since 1961, rushed for 102 yards and four touchdowns, while completing 3 of 6 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
· Jacob Holloway, QB, Manhattan – A wide receiver last season, Jacob Holloway has taken control of the Indians’ offense this season. Holloway completed 8 of 11 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 167 yards and three TDs in a 43-21 win against Mill Valley. It was a dominant win for Manhattan, which returned only two starters on offense and one on defense from last season’s 10-1 team. Holloway led the Indians down the field, taking a 43-0 lead and helping Manhattan extend its regular season win streak to 28 games.
· Michael Mason, RB, Mulvane – With the defense focused on Mulvane quarterback Ty Redington, Mason was able to go off for 146 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 30-9 win against Chanute. Mulvane ran for more than 300 yards as a team, and the first-year starter led the way.
· Andrew Ballock, QB, Eudora -- With Gregg Webb as head coach, the Cardinals have a history of running the football. However, Eudora could put the ball in the air more this season as the Cardinals showed in their 25-7 Week 1 win against KC Piper. Ballock completed 6 of 10 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. It was a good start for Ballock, who takes over the controls of the Eudora offense from Derek Webb a year after Webb helped the Cardinals to the 4A state championship game.
· Michael Moten II, RB, Shawnee Heights – The T-Birds opened the season with a loss, but there are several reasons for Shawnee Heights to feel good about its chances in 2012. First, the T-Birds played hard in a 27-21 loss to a ranked Emporia Spartans team. Another positive was the performance of running back Michael Moten II. Moten ran for 154 yards and a touchdown in the loss. The performance puts Moten in the lead for rushing yards in the city of Topeka.
· Riley Kearney, RB, Valley Falls – Kearney broke out in a big way for Valley Falls, rushing 30 times for 179 yards and four TDs in a 28-26 win against Valley Heights. Kearney’s 2-point conversion in overtime clinched the win.
· J.L. Savage, WR, Emporia – Opposing defenses know they better be focused on Emporia wide receiver Jerel Morrow, who has given his verbal commitment to Oklahoma State. However, defenses now have another receiver to worry about. While Morrow was limited to 61 yards on three catches, Savage caught three balls for 108 yards and scored the game-winner on a 90-yard kickoff return.
· Joseph Reagan, RB, Seaman – Reagan already made a name for himself in the spring when he set a Class 5A state meet record in the 100-meter dash (10.45 second) and also won the 200. Now, the sophomore has taken that speed to the football field. Reagan broke loose on an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown to help the Vikings upset rival Topeka Hayden 23-6. A constant big-play threat, expect the Vikings to try and get Reagan the ball in a variety of ways this season.
· Anthony Smartt, RB, Gardner-Edgerton – It’s safe to say that Smartt’s varsity career started better than he could have ever hoped, even if it came under difficult circumstances. The sophomore was set to receive the game’s opening kickoff when a raindrop hit him in the eye. The distraction caused Smartt to fumble the kick. However, Smartt was able to pick up the ball and find an opening for a 95-yard touchdown. The return was even bigger when you consider it was Gardner-Edgerton’s only touchdown of the game as the offense sputtered with rainy and windy conditions. The Trailblazers held on to beat Blue Valley 8-6. Smartt is expected to be used as a return man and a change of pace back for Traevohn Wrench the rest of the season.