Viking DB Ready for State
Andre Maloney is fired up. "To know that in 17 hours, I'm going to play in the biggest game of my life is amazing," the 2014 defensive back said the night before his Shawnee Mission West Vikings square off against Hutchinson in the Kansas Class 6A State Championship. "I can't even put into words how great it feels." The 6-foot-2, 175-pound corner has been a factor this season for Head Coach Tim Callaghan's defense. In 2012, Maloney has logged 41 tackles, 11 tipped passes, and 3 Interceptions. As college coaches have turned their attention to the talented junior, he has stayed focused on the ultimate goal. "A title would mean a lot to this team," he said, nodding his head. "It would be the output to all the hard work we put in this summer." Viking fans have helped Maloney and his teammates dig deep this season, pushing them to an 11-1 record, and the brink of the first football state championship for a Shawnee Mission school since 1985. That crowd will be in full-force in Topeka, KS on Saturday. "I can't wait to come out of the locker room and see all the black and gold up in the stands cheering and yelling," Maloney said, a smile spreading across his face. The Vikings face a juggernaut in the Hutchinson Salthawks. Coach Randy Dreiling's program has reached dynasty status, winning seven championships in the past eight years. While the players have changed, Hutch's reputation for a physical, power running game and rugged defense remains the same. With all that in mind, Maloney maintains the Vikings have stayed the course this week. "Practice has been no different than any other week," he said, confidently. "We work hard to improve, and we have fun doing it." Maloney is seen primarily as a defensive back at the next level, but he has worked hard to become a threat in every phase of the game. With 23 receptions for 497 yards and 10 touchdowns, he's the Vikings top receiver. He's also a terror in the return game, averaging nearly 17 yards per punt return, and over 28 yards per kickoff return. "We know hard work pays off," Maloney said of his efforts this season. "That's what we do. We work hard." Maloney understands the stage he will take on Saturday afternoon. As a junior playing in his first state championship game, nerves are to be expected. Much like the Vikings this season, he's prepared. "I usually sleep good, but this is the biggest game of the season," he said with a laugh. "I'll have a glass of milk before I got to sleep, and I'll be all good."