Week 2 of the Kansas high school football season brings a huge matchup in the Eastern Kansas League, as Bishop Miege hosts Gardner-Edgerton Friday night.
Playing for the third time since the Blazers joined the EKL in 2010, Gardner looks to avenge last year's 34-0 loss to the Stags that marked the first home setback for coach Marvin Diener's squad since 2008.
In one of the Kansas City-area's best years for talent in recent memory, this game boasts at least four Division I prospects:
- Bishop Miege three-star quarterback Montell Cozart, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior and reigning Kansas Player of the Year, is the headliner for the Stags. In his first year as a starter, the dual-threat completed 65% of his passes for 2,448 yards and 31 TDs, adding 534 yards and 7 TDs on the ground in 2011. He received offers from Illinois, Indiana, Kansas State, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, and West Virginia before verbally committing to the University of Kansas and head coach Charlie Weis.
- Gardner-Edgerton junior running back Traevohn Wrench is already the best back in the state of Kansas, and, is a Scout300 candidate in the class of 2014. Standing 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, Wrench rolled for 2,424 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground as a sophomore, and has set his sights on becoming only the sixth back ever in the state to eclipse the 3,000 yard mark in a single season. He currently holds offers from Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Nebraska.
- Miege linebacker Bradley Ivey leads the charge for the Stags defense. A 6-foot-2, 215 pound junior, Ivey was selected First-Team All-State in 2011. After starting the final four games of his freshman year, Ivey became a fixture for Miege, starting every game in 2011. He logged 134 tackles, 26 Tackles For Loss, 14 quarterback hurries, 6 Sacks, 4 tipped passes, 1 interception, 3 fumble recoveries, and a defensive TD. Ivey has yet to land a scholarship offer, but he attended several Junior Day events and is visiting Kansas State on Saturday.
- Gardner senior linebacker Matt Plank was a First-Team All-State selection in 2011, following in his father's footsteps. Jeff Plank was an All-State LB for Gardner-Edgerton in the early 1980s. Like Ivey, Plank is 6-foot-2, 215 pounds. And, Like Ivey, his numbers in 2011 were staggering—127 tackles, 11 Tackles For Loss, 5 quarterback hurries, 2 Sacks, 2 tipped passes, and 2 interceptions as the focal point of the Blazers defense. Plank has received an offer from North Dakota State. He has visited both Kansas State and Kansas, participating in KU'S Friday Night Lights camp in June.
Last season's matchup marked the only time in 2011 that Gardner's Wrench was held under 100 yards rushing, picking up 48 yards on 18 carries in Week 3. The Blazer offense mustered just 120 total yards in what was Ivey's coming out party.
Exploding for 14 tackles, Ivey was key to the Stags containing Wrench. If Miege is to move to 2-0 under first year head coach Jon Holmes, their success will depend on Ivey's ability to get downhill quickly against the Blazers power running game.
Gardner Junior quarterback Jared Hobby looks to improve on his first year as a starter, when he completed 50% of his passes for 1,175 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with 5 scores on the ground. If Hobby can take advantage of the eight and nine-man looks they will see from defenses keying on Wrench, the Blazers offense could be the most diverse it's been in Diener's tenure. A legitimate passing threat could make Wrench's quest for 3,000 much easier in 2012. Coming off a Week 1 defeat of 5A power Blue Valley in which Gardner posted just 58 yards of total offense in typhoon-like conditions, the Blazers will look to get back on track.
Last year, Cozart was at his best against the Blazers. Completing 19 of 28 for 233 yards and 4 TDs, Cozart connected for scores with speedy junior wide receiver McKinley Johnson, his top returning target, as well as Otis Taylor Award Winner and current Kansas freshman Tre' Parmalee. In a 35-8 Week 1 win over Blue Valley North, Cozart completed 5 of 9 for 164 yards and a TD in a driving rainstorm. The Miege ground game took the lead, sloshing out over 200 yards rushing for senior running backs Connor DeLeon and newcomer Dante Hutton. It was enough, but the Stags will need more versus Gardner. On what should be a picturesque Friday night for high school football, Cozart must move the Stag offense to keep minimize Wrench's touches. If ever there was an example of the best defense being a good offense, this is it.