To say the eastern part of Kansas Class 5A goes through Mill Valley or St. Thomas Aquinas is an understatement. The last four years, the state finalist – or champion - in 5A has come from one of the two programs, with Mill Valley winning the title in 2015 and 2016, and Aquinas in 2018.
It looks to be the same tale again, with Aquinas being loaded and Mill Valley reloading the cupboard too. The Jaguars were 7-4 last year, and those four losses came to state champions (Aquinas – 2 times, Bishop Miege) or runner-ups (Blue Valley North).
The Jaguars will rebuild again, returning just eight starters from 2018. However, Mill Valley will see most of its returners offensive line with senior Kyle Kelly (6-foot-6, 230), junior Robbie Dervin, junior Sam Hecht (6-foot-3, 240) and junior Ethan Kremer (5-foot-11, 235).
“If you’re having to start a lot of new faces, it’s a great starting point to have experience on offensive line,” said head coach Joel Applebee, who enters his 10th season at Mill Valley with a 71-29 record at MVHS.
Junior Cooper Marsh will take the helm at quarterback. He’ll have experience in the backfield with the Jags leading rushing coming back in senior Tyler Green (5-foot-10, 195), who rushed for 695 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. Junior Quin Wittenauer also will garner a lot of carries.
Senior Tyler Green led the Jaguars in rushing last year. (Photo: MVJaguar.com)
Ty Reishus, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior receiver, looks to be the top target after Mill Valley graduated five seniors a year ago.
Defensively, senior Justin Sanders (5-foot-9, 295) and Kremer, who notched 48 tackles – 10.5 for a loss – anchor the line. Senior linebacker Carson Caldwell will lead a new corps after registering 37 tackles in 2018.
The secondary also will be young though seniors free safety Jack McGuire and strong safety Grant Frost (5-foot-9, 185) leading the way.
“It will be a challenge for us with the EKL schedule and Pittsburg as well, but we’ll be ready and looking to go 1-0 each week,” Applebee said.