For the first time since 2014, Bishop Miege will not enter the season defending a state title.
The Stags, which had won six straight Kansas Class 4A state championships, looks to start another streak. This time, they’ll have an opportunity to gain revenge in the regular season finale on St. James, who knocked off Miege in an overtime thriller in the playoffs, then went on to the state title.
“We’re pretty motivated entering the 2021 season,” said Miege head coach Jon Holmes, who’s racked up a ridiculous 93-19 record with six state crowns. “We’ll have a lot of new faces at the varsity level, but will be ready come playoff time.”
Bishop Miege will replace 14 total starters – seven on each side of the ball. The biggest two on offense will be quarterback Timothy Dorsey and wide receiver Mack Moeller.
Quarterback looks to be a two-man race between juniors Aidan Wing (6-foot-3, 190) and Mac Armstrong (5-foot-10, 160). Regardless of the starter, they can lean on a solid returning cast at running back in senior Jaylen Burch, who darted for 921 rushing yards in eight games. Others at tailback will include junior Griffin Loehr (5-foot-8, 185), sophomore David Garcia (5-foot-8, 16) and soph Justyce Betts (5-foot-10, 180).
Senior Jaylen Burch raced for 921 yards in just eight games in 2020. (Photo: Darryl Woods, 810 Varsity)
While Moeller takes 1,116 yards and 12 touchdowns over to the Kansas Jayhawks, Miege does return Rohan Putz at receiver. The junior hauled in 31 catches for 570 yards and seven scores last year. Also serving as targets will be junior tight end Daegen Jensen (6-foot-3, 205), sophomore receiver P.J. McCallop (5-foot-7, 150) and junior wideout Tommy Wright (6-0, 160).
“Finding depth at receiver is going to be key, as well as getting in sync with our quarterback,” Holmes commented.
Rohan Putz celebrates one of his seven touchdowns in 2020. (Photo: Darryl Woods, 810 Varsity)
Miege returns senior offensive linemen Jackson Hoshor (6-0, 260) and Collin Keeney (6-foot-2, 250). Another big returner is Chiefs Hall of Famer Tim Grunhard as line coach, after three years away from the program. Grunny will look to develop likely starters in junior Pablo Montoya (6-0, 265), sophomore Dominic Werner (6-foot-5, 275) and soph Jeremy Schleicher (6-foot-1, 260).
Across the line, the defensive front is the deepest unit for the Stags. Returning starters in Jensen and senior Collin Williams (6-foot-4, 250) – who registered 4.5 sacks - will help ease fellow linemen senior Jordan Wolf (6-0 210), junior Lonnie Reed (6-foor-2, 320) and sophomore Kai Nelson (6-0, 255) into the trenches.
Senior Jake Welsh returns at inside linebacker, as he notched 76 tackles – 11 for loss – as a junior. Joining Welsh will be seniors Ben Eshelbrenner (5-foot-1, 185) and Jordan Wolf (6-foot-1, 190). Also seeing action will be sophomore Tyler Pankey (6-foot-1, 180) and junior Griffin Loehr.
While Wing is in the quarterback mix, the junior will be a definite starter at free safety, as will McCallop and Burch at cornerback. Betts also figures to start at strong safety, while seniors Charles Cahalan and Dalonzo Bagley, and sophomores Jack Baird and David Garcia also will provide depth.
Jensen will boot the ball at punter, and junior Stephen Neenan figures to toe kicking duties for the Stags.
As usual, the schedule will be stout with Eastern Kansas League foes, as well as road games to Rockhurst and Lutheran North.
“We’re definitely going to get our tests week in and week out with the league schedule and the non-con opponents, but that’ll make us that much better as the season goes along and playoff time,” touted Holmes.