In high school football, it's rare for a sophomore to earn all-state honors. Even more so for one to earn the level of respect from his teammates necessary to be named a team captain.
In 2011, Hiawatha (KS) High star Peyton Newell was both – an honorable mention all-state performer from multiple publications as well as an elected team leader.
Though the Red Hawks struggled as a team, going 3-7 and 1-5 in league play, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end recorded an astonishing 74 tackles, including 26 tackles for loss, forced four fumbles, logged six sacks, blocked four PATs and even blocked a punt. As a tight end on offense, had caught 12 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
Beyond his individual success, Newell was proud of how the team came together during crunch time, winning two of their final three games to claim a district title for the first time in 11 years.
"We were actually a young team," he said. "Two years ago, I was the only freshman that played. This year, seven sophomores started on the defensive side. It definitely went really well."
It's obviously still extremely early in the recruiting process for the Class of 2014, but Newell is already attracting more than his fair share of attention. Of late, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Oklahoma State have all invited him to attend Junior Days events in the weeks ahead.
"I've gotten quite a few letters," Newell said. "This September they can start calling me, which I'm looking forward to, so that's good to be a good experience."