Caplinger excited to join NAIA national runner-up Benedictine
Louisburg senior Blue Caplinger, who earned first-team all-league defensive honors last season, is excited for his new challenge after he recently signed with Benedictine College.
Blue Caplinger played a lot of
positions during his time with the Louisburg football team.
Caplinger saw some time at quarterback, was used as a blocking back – and then for his senior year – had some snaps at running back. However, the place where he felt right at home was at safety.
The Wildcat defensive back loved
to hit the opposition whenever he had the chance and he thrived at that
position. However, now that his time as a Wildcat is over, he needed to find a
new place to bring the pain.
Caplinger found the perfect spot
with one of most successful programs in the NAIA. In front of family and
friends last month, the Louisburg senior made it official as he signed his
letter of intent to play at Benedictine College next season.
“They are a really awesome
football program,” Caplinger said. “Their campus is great and academically they
just really fit me well. They have a great group of coaches and they were
honest with me. I am looking forward to getting to work when I get down there.”
Benedictine is coming off one of the best seasons in its program’s history as the Ravens advanced to the NAIA National Championship game and finished second in the nation.
The Ravens have had a lot of
success in the Heart of America Conference under head coach Larry Wilcox and
his staff. Wilcox just finished his 40th season as the Ravens’ head
coach and has won more than 250 games during that span.
“In a way, their success played a part in my decision,” Caplinger said. “I was looking at Baker too, and they are both really good programs, and both have had a lot of success, but Benedictine was a great option for me and it was hard to pass up.
“They have an older group of
coaches, but they are all great guys. Coach Wilcox and his defensive
coordinator have been there for over 40 years so they definitely have the
experience and they have a great program. I feel it is a great fit for me.”
Caplinger was a key figure in a Wildcat defense that helped Louisburg to a 10-1 finish and a regional championship this past season. From his safety spot, he finished with 31 tackles, two for a loss, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
That performance helped him earn first-team All-Frontier League honors on defense and Caplinger was also a second team selection at running back after racking up 544 total yards and six touchdowns.
It’s his experience with the Wildcat football program that helped him mature as a player and get ready for the collegiate level.
“Louisburg football has done everything
for me,” Caplinger said. “Growing up as a kid and getting all that football
experience with my friends, and then getting into high school and having
awesome seasons is something that I will always remember.”
As much fun as his high school
football days were, Caplinger is looking forward to the challenges of playing
college football at one of the NAIA’s best programs.
“I don’t expect to play right away
and I will probably redshirt, which is fine for me because their engineering
program is five years,” Caplinger said. “After that, hopefully I can make my
way onto special teams and maybe get a starting position one day. That is the
goal. I am really excited for the opportunity and can’t wait to get down there.”
DePriest ready to make his mark with Ottawa football
Louisburg senior Jonathan DePriest was a big part of the Wildcat offensive line this past season and hopes to do the same next season at Ottawa University.
He may not have played football
till the sixth grade, but football has always been a big part of Jonathan
DePriest’s uncle, Adam Helm,
played quarterback at Kansas State under Bill Snyder in the late 90s and engineered
one of the best comebacks in K-State history in 1999. His grandfather, J.D.
Helm, was an assistant coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1980s and was
the assistant director of player personnel before that.
Needless to say, DePriest has
always been around the game and he got a chance to make his mark with the Wildcat
football team this past season.
The Louisburg senior was on the
Wildcat offensive line that helped Louisburg finish the season with a 10-1
record and a regional championship. It was a year to remember for DePriest and
the Wildcats, but his football career is far from over.
DePriest made it official on Feb.
6, in front of family and friends, as he signed his letter of intent to play
football for Ottawa University as an offensive lineman for the Braves.
“Honestly it is a huge blessing to
have the opportunity to play at the next level and I am really excited for it,”
DePriest said. “It is a great campus and they have great coaches and I think it
is going to be a great experience there.”
DePriest will join an Ottawa
program that has found a lot of success in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic
Conference (KCAC) and in the NAIA. He will play under head coach Kent
Kessigner, who is in his 16th year with the Braves and during that time
he has won four KCAC titles.
Kessinger also guided the Braves
to a successful season in 2018 that ended with a No. 20 national ranking.
Kessinger and his coaching staff have a completely different philosophy
when it comes to football than other colleges and that really resonated with
me,” DePriest said. “The Ottawa football program is more like a family in the
way they support you, hold you accountable and make you strive to be the best
you can be. The campus is easy to navigate, everyone I met was welcoming
and the athletic facilities are state of the art.
see me fitting in on the offensive line, probably at the guard spot or
something like that. They have won some championships and they have a really
good coaching staff. The whole campus was really nice and I couldn’t turn it
Playing collegiate football is something
that takes a lot of dedication and hard work, but DePriest is ready for the
challenge and he believes playing for the Louisburg program has helped prepare
him for what to expect.
As a member of the Wildcat
offensive line, DePriest helped pave the way for 3,500 yards of total offense
at the tackle position.
“It has taught me a lot of things,”
DePriest said of the Wildcat program. “It has made me a better person, whether
it is waking up at 6 in the morning for weights in the summer or the practices –
it builds a lot of character.”
DePriest, who would like to major
in psychology, is excited for what his future holds with the Braves’ program
and he hopes to be a big part of it.
“I am just very thankful for the
opportunity that I have been given,” DePriest said. “I am ready to work hard
and hopefully this is just the beginning.”
Tucker ready to take next step in football with Emporia State
Louisburg senior Kiefer Tucker, who earned first-team all-league honors last season, is excited for his opportunity with the Emporia State football team.
Kiefer Tucker remembers the exact
moment and time when he fell in love with football – at soccer practice.
Tucker was in first grade, and
like many other kids his age, he was learning how to play soccer when he looked
around and noticed some other kids at a flag football practice.
“I told my parents I wanted to
play football, so the next day they took me over to the practice and I was on
the team,” Tucker said. “I have loved football ever since.”
As it turned out, that day put Tucker on a course that would eventually give him the opportunity to play the sport he loves on a high level.
During a signing ceremony on Feb.
6, in front of family, friends and teammates, the Louisburg High School senior
made it official as Tucker signed his letter of intent to play football at
Emporia State University.
“This really means a lot,” Tucker
said. “It is going to be sad that I won’t be able to play football anymore with
the same guys I have played with since first grade. Even with the ones starting
in high school, I made a lot of memories with them too. It will be sad to see
that go, but I still love the game and I am excited to have the opportunity to
continue to play it. I am excited to see what the next four or five years have
for me and see how the program will develop me.”
Tucker enjoyed the family
atmosphere with the Louisburg program and he was looking for the same type of
fit in college. It didn’t take long for Tucker to find it with the Hornets.
While on a campus visit, Tucker
listened to the players and coaches talk about the program and he knew it was
going to be the right landing spot for him.
“When I first went there, they
told me that they have this brick that they give out to players who that week
showed toughness, character, had a good attitude and showed that family is more
important than anything,” Tucker said. “Right when they said that, I was sold.
I really believe that all the players follow that mantra and you can tell that
by hearing them talk. They had some bad years, but they are grinding now and
they are on the up and up. It will be fun and it is a good town. Emporia just
felt like home.”
Tucker will line up on the defensive side of the ball for Emporia State and he expects to play a little different position in college. Tucker, who lined up at defensive end for Louisburg, will do some of the same at Emporia, but the coaches also see him as a walk-up linebacker in certain situations as well.
Tucker was among the
leaders on the line scrimmage for the Wildcats as he helped pave the way for
more than 3,500 yards of total offense. Defensively, Tucker was a force from
his defensive end position as he recorded 55 tackles, three tackles for a loss,
three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a sack.
His season helped him earn first
team All-Frontier League on both sides of the ball and he was also honored with
an all-state selection as well.
Despite his success in high school, Tucker knows it is going to take him awhile to get acclimated to the college level.
“It will take a little time for them to teach me up and get a little more size on me, but I am fine with that,” he said. “Everything is a process and I am not going to go in there and be a starter as a freshman. I fine with grinding for a couple years, and then when my time comes, I know I will be ready.”
As for his time in Louisburg, life
under the Friday night lights and the relationships he has built is something
Tucker won’t soon forget.
everything,” Tucker said. “These guys are my friends. When I came to Louisburg
in kindergarten I didn’t know anyone. I truly
believe that the Louisburg football program made me who I am today. The coaches
taught me everything I know and it taught me to be strong minded and how to
deal with problems.
“Most importantly it has taught me how to be a good teammate and
help the community that supports you and how to be man. Football is a
brotherhood and is something you never forget.”
Moore signs on with K-State football program
Louisburg senior Austin Moore had big season for the Wildcat football team on both sides of the ball. Moore, however, will walk-on to Kansas State next season as a linebacker.
Austin Moore has spent most of his
young life rooting on the crimson and blue of the University of Kansas.
It was all Moore knew as he was
raised a Jayhawk fan and had visions of maybe one day playing in Lawrence.
His rooting interests have now changed – at least on the football sides of things – and he is pretty happy about it.
On Feb. 6, Moore made it official that he would be attending Kansas State University as a preferred walk-on for the Wildcat football team. Playing Division I football trumped any loyalty he might have for his – now – rival school.
“That has always been a goal of
mine, ever since I was little and it has been a dream to be able to play
Division I football,” Moore said. “It makes me happy to be able to accomplish
that and have that chance to play at that level.”
Moore will join the K-State team as a linebacker as he slowly works his way up the depth chart and hopes to one day earn a scholarship – something several walk-ons have done with the Wildcats over the years, including another former Louisburg Wildcat, Kody Cook.
The recruiting process was a stressful one at times for Moore as he weighed his options about whether to take a scholarship at a smaller school or walk-on at K-State. The Louisburg senior is definitely satisfied with his decision and is looking forward to his time in Manhattan.
“I am definitely grateful for the
opportunity,” Moore said “I definitely wanted a scholarship and I was waiting
to see if I could get some at other places. I had a couple smaller schools that
gave me offers, but I wanted to be able to play at the highest level I could. K-State
has a good walk-on tradition and I thought this would be a good opportunity for
Moore was recruited by head coach
Bill Snyder and his assistants, but when Snyder retired and defensive
coordinator Blake Seiler left for a different job, the Wildcat assistants
wanted to make sure to let Moore know they were still interested.
Kansas State special teams coach
and Director of Recruiting, Taylor Braet, stayed in touch with Moore and he got
a chance to meet the new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Scottie
Hazelton. Moore also chatted with new head coach Chris Klieman the day before he
made it official, and Moore felt comfortable with his decision.
“I talked with Coach Klieman and
he said that by next spring I will have a really good chance of getting a lot
of playing time,” Moore said. “He told me they were excited to have me and some
the other younger kids they signed.
“The main coach who was recruiting me, coach Seiler, left and went to West Virginia. But I still knew Coach Braet and I met the new defensive coordinator (Hazelton) and really like him as well. It was a tough decision to make, but I knew I wanted to stay close to home and it was a good fit.”
Moore would have been a good fit
on several teams as he had a big senior season that ended with a regional
championship and first team all-league and all-state honors on both sides of
Prior to breaking his collarbone in the next to last game of the year, Moore led Louisburg in tackles with 83 and had seven tackles for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception.
he tallied 1,554 total yards, with 1,428 yards of those on the ground and also
had 21 touchdowns. Those stats also helped Moore earn a spot on the Shrine Bowl
roster this summer as he prepares for his journey to Manhattan.
“I am very excited for Austin,” Louisburg
coach Robert Ebenstein said. “K-State will be very young at linebacker after
next season, which should give Austin a great opportunity to compete for a role
on defense or special teams.”
As for becoming a K-State fan, Moore
knows it will be a difficult transition outside of football and it will be an
“Basketball season might be kind
of weird,” he said. “I might have to cheer for KU every once and while, but now
it is time to start cheering for K-State.”
First NFL touchdown was years in the making for Griffin
New Orleans Saints tight end, and Louisburg High School graduate, Garrett Griffin was all smiles after catching his first NFL touchdown on Jan. 20 in the NFC Championship game.
NEW ORLEANS – Garrett Griffin put
his hand on the Superdome turf waiting for the snap, knowing this could be his
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees
took the snap and rolled to the right, and Griffin from his tight end position,
did the same. For some, it was a play that happened in slow motion.
Griffin’s friends and family
watched the No. 45 make his way across the endzone as two Los Angeles Rams defenders
collided with each other. Griffin made a cut and sprinted to the right, and as
he got close the sideline, he turned and looked toward Brees.
Brees fired the ball to where only
Griffin could get it. As it came spiraling his way, Griffin had only one thought
“Oh crap,” Griffin said to himself.
To put this in some context, Griffin, a 2012 Louisburg High School graduate, spent much of the last three years on the New Orleans Saints practice squad. He got the call up and was on the 53-man roster a year ago late in the season, but a foot injury ended his season prematurely.
During the 2018 regular season, Griffin found himself on the practice squad again. Then following the regular season, he made the move to the active roster for the NFL Playoffs and the Saints’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Jan. 13.
Griffin was the team’s No. 3 tight
end in the Saints’ win over the Eagles and provided some key blocks on their
way to the NFC Championship game the following week.
Blocking was mostly what Griffin was
planning on doing in the championship game against the Rams, but fate had other
The team’s No. 1 tight end, Ben
Watson, was unable to play due to an appendix issue and Josh Hill, the back-up,
suffered a concussion early on in the game. That left Griffin and Dan Arnold as
the team’s only tight ends for much of the contest.
As the Saints drove down to the
Rams’ 5-yard line in the first quarter, the play was called into huddle and
Griffin realized his time might be coming on what was one of the biggest stages
in the NFL.
“We ran that play in practice
against our scout team and we were able to score on it so we knew it was going
to be an option,” Griffin said. “I think about 2-3 plays before one of our
other tight ends (Josh Hill) went out with an injury and he was supposed to get
most of the plays. So we were all kind of scrambling on the sidelines to see
what plays were going to what other tight ends.”
With 1 minute and 36 seconds left
in the first quarter, it was Griffin’s time to shine.
Brees took the snap, rolled right,
and found Griffin who went on his knees to scoop up the 5-yard touchdown pass.
The touchdown was his first in the NFL and was just his second career catch.
“They ended up calling the play we
worked on in practice and I got my opportunity,” Griffin said. “I figured
someone else was going to get it, but the play kept going and I was getting
closer to the sideline so I looked over and he (Brees) found me.”
Although most players would find a
creative way to celebrate their first NFL touchdown, Griffin was more
interested in one thing – keeping the ball.
“Honestly, a lot of people were
making fun of me after it happened because I didn’t really celebrate or
anything,” he said. “We have a rule on the team where you can only keep a ball
if it is your first touchdown or milestone or something like that. I had a
teammate earlier this year that got his first touchdown, he spiked it and then
he never got his ball back.
“I knew that I didn’t want to lose
it, so I just tried to find some guys to celebrate with. It was a pretty cool
moment and something I will always remember.”
It was a moment that left a few
fans in tears, most notably, his parents, Gary and Lori Griffin who were at the
game. Gary, who coached Garrett in high school, had a clear view of the
touchdown as he sat about 20 rows behind the endzone in which he caught the
“It was surreal,” Gary said. “It
was directly in front of us. I looked up at the sky and the first thing I
thought was, ‘Did that really just happen?’ I looked over and those two guys
were getting kind of emotional and I was getting pretty emotional. I just
couldn’t believe it.”
Those two guys sitting next to Gary were Garrett’s former high school teammates and long-time friends, David Embers and Ross Dvorak.
Both made the trip to watch Garrett
play in his first NFC Championship and he didn’t disappoint them.
“Our hometown buddy
playing in an NFC championship game was enough for us to get there,” Dvorak
said. “Then having him catch a touchdown, and it literally being right in front
of our seats, was just surreal. The atmosphere made it all the better. I’d imagine Griff doesn’t shed tears
too often, but it was an emotional minute for all of us for sure.
“It’s been a lot of
fun to watch him over the years and that moment was kind of a culmination of
his journey. Small-town Kansas kid, small school in college, plenty of injuries
along the way and for him to have a significant impact in a game of that
magnitude, was just super special. So happy for Lori and Gary.”
It has been a long
road for Garrett to get to this moment.
He helped Louisburg
High School to its first football state championship in 2010 and then went on
to the Air Force Academy to play football after not getting much Division I
interest out of high school.
Garrett then worked his way up the Air Force depth chart, but suffered an injury his senior year and was forced to miss half of that season after having strong sophomore and junior campaigns.
He went undrafted and later signed with the Saints as a free agent. Garrett eventually worked his way up the roster on the practice squad before getting the call last year and then for the playoffs this season.
“Most of the people close to
Garrett know how hard he has worked to put himself in a position to always be
ready,” Embers said. “Obviously the planets aligned a little bit with the
injuries and the play call, but Garrett has always been prepared for the next
step and he capitalized in the biggest moment.
“It gives you some nostalgia when
you watch his games at Air Force and then even back in high school. It was
pretty special to see in person and I know he was fired up too, even if his
touchdown celebration was underwhelming.”
Not only was it the first
touchdown of Griffin’s career, but it was also the first touchdown of the game
and it gave the Saints a 13-0 lead at the time. It also left a lot Saints fans
wondering who exactly No. 45 was.
“You end up kind of standing there
in disbelief, looking around like ‘did that really just happen?’” Embers said. “Saints
fans all around us were just going bananas and fans in front of us were pulling
out their phones and looking up Garrett’s bio on ESPN not knowing his dad was
right behind them.”
As a dad, Gary was filled with pride when his son caught his first NFL touchdown and then went on to catch another 7-yard pass later in the game. It was an emotional moment because of everything his son has gone through.
“It has been surreal throughout
the whole thing and just following him along the way,” Gary said. “The whole
Saints thing was an accident. One year the military lets their graduates go
play professionally and he just so happens to fall in that window and he was
able to try and play in the NFL. He was lucky.
“Then the Saints snagged him and put
him on the practice squad. Then he gets that foot injury last year and I honestly
thought he might be done there. He wasn’t fully healthy until right before
training camp and he had a great camp. He has just stayed really positive
throughout the whole process, even when he got put back on the practice squad.
He just had great attitude this entire time and it paid off.”
There were certainly plenty of
people who knew Garrett Griffin’s name in Louisburg and throughout Kansas as
people took to social media to congratulate their hometown boy.
“I think I had over 100 text
messages from people congratulating me on the touchdown and I didn’t even go on
social media for several days after it was over because I knew there would be a
lot of negative stuff on there after we lost,” Garrett said. “Overall, I heard
from probably close to 200 people from Louisburg, from the Air Force, along
with high school and college coaches calling me. It was kind of a surreal
experience to be honest. It was amazing.”
Just seconds after the touchdown,
Lori’s phone starting exploding with messages congratulating her on her son’s
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Lori
said. “That was my child out there that just caught a touchdown in the NFL. I
knew he was going to do something when Josh went out with a concussion. He was
the only one left to do it and it was just amazing. My phone was just going
crazy. I had more than 100 messages and some from people that I didn’t even
know that followed him.
“I heard from people from everywhere, whether it was Gary’s and my hometown of Frankfort, Louisburg or people watching in New Orleans. Even one lady I worked with 20 years ago instant messaged me and didn’t realize that was my son. It was crazy. Now everyone wants jerseys, shirts and autographs. The kids I work with at Blue Valley want him to come to our school and it is pretty cool.”
The Saints did go on to lose to
the Rams in overtime after a controversial no-call on a pass interference play
late in regulation that would have all but sealed a trip for New Orleans to play
in the Super Bowl. Instead, there was no flag on the play and the Rams won on a
57-yard field goal in overtime.
It was the second year in a row
the Saints had suffered heartbreak in the postseason after losing to the
Minnesota Vikings last season in the divisional round of the playoffs on the
‘Miracle in Minneapolis.’ The Vikings defeated the Saints on a touchdown on the
final play of the game.
“I think what made the loss even
tougher was last season when we ended up losing to Minnesota the way we did on the
last play,” Garrett said. “We have a passionate fan base in New Orleans and
they are taking the loss pretty hard. We were so close to making it to the
Super Bowl and were just kind of a play away, kind of like the Chiefs against
the Patriots. Both games were pretty intense.
“As far as the call goes, you just
never want to leave the game in the hands of the referees. We had some chances
to do things a little better and we could have made more plays. It is going to
take a while to get over, that is for sure. Hopefully, maybe after the Super
Bowl is over then maybe we can start to put it behind us.”
Following the game, Garrett met up
with his family and friends in what was a weird moment for everyone. Although
they were disappointed with the outcome, they were all still thrilled for what
Garrett had accomplished just a couple hours earlier.
“A lot of people were pretty upset
after losing the game and how we lost it, so that was hard,” Garrett said. “But
at the same time, everyone who was there to watch me was really proud. It was
great to have both my parents there, my girlfriend and then Ross and David as
well. For them to able to see me catch the touchdown in person was really
awesome and it really means a lot.
“I even heard my dad cried a little bit, which he might not want out there, but I know he is proud of me. I think he is getting a little soft in his old age.”
Just like his parents, there are plenty of people out there cheering for Garrett, including the town of Louisburg that has adopted the Saints as their new favorite team.
“I don’t think Garrett has any clue that this whole town is now Saints fans,” Gary said. “He doesn’t realize yet just how many people still follow him and care about how he does. People tell me all the time about how they much they are rooting for him and want to see him do well.
“Even people he doesn’t know are
rooting for him. I teach in Adrian (Mo.) now and some of the students there
have Griffin jerseys on and they don’t even know him. They just know me and
want to see him do well. It is the same with Lori in Blue Valley. There are a
lot Garrett fans out there and we couldn’t be more proud.”
Although he just finished his
third year in the NFL, his parents believe there are bigger things to come with
“I am proud of him no matter what
he does and I tell him that before every game,” Lori said. “Even if he doesn’t
do something right, I am so proud of him. I don’t think that he gets that he is
living every kid’s dream of playing in the NFL. I was thrilled that he could
show other people what he could do.”
The news kept getting better for Garrett
as the Saints signed him to a three-year minimum contract when he was called up
to the practice squad. It is similar to the rookie deal he signed, which
guarantees him a spot in training camp.
Garrett was in his final year of
his contract with the Saints before the extension and could have become a free
agent. Instead, the Saints showed faith in him with the multi-year deal.
Depending on what happens in the
draft and free agency, he will have the opportunity to move up on the depth
chart next season and he is excited about the opportunity.
“In my eyes, it is my position to
lose,” Garrett said. “Next year will be my fourth year with the team, and I
feel like with a couple of guys retiring that I will have a good opportunity to
make the team. You never know what guys the team will bring in through the
draft or free agency, but I feel like I know the system and that will help me.
I just have to keep working hard and do whatever I can to put myself in a good
Top 10 Stories of 2018
It was a successful, and eventful, 2018 for Louisburg High School athletics and for those who are connected to the Wildcat program. This past year created a lot of school history for LHS and several programs brought back state hardware to Louisburg.
Below are the Top 10 stories from 2018, along with a brief explanation of each. Included in the explanation is the link to the actual story from the event.
This year was a blast to cover and I was blessed to have the opportunity to go along for the ride with many of these. As much fun as it was, I can’t wait for 2019 to begin. Looking forward to it!
10. Dillon medals at state golf for second straight year
EMPORIA – All season,
Calvin Dillon had been atop or near the front of leaderboard and that didn’t
change in what was his biggest tournament of the season.
He guided the Wildcats to a 14-7 record and a spot in the
state championship match, where the Lady Cats finished second overall. The
finish was something to remember for Wildcat fans as that was accomplished in
just the program’s third year of existence.
He has posted a
41-18-2 record during his time as the Wildcat girls head coach and also guided
the Louisburg boys soccer team to its best finish in program history in 2017
with a fourth place finish at state.
As for Ebenstein, he
guided the Wildcats to 10 straight victories and a regional championship to
start the 2018 season, before getting knocked out in the sectional round
against eventual state champion, Bishop Miege.
Holtzen finishes Louisburg career with 12 varsity letters
Once Isabelle Holtzen
received her diploma and walked out of Louisburg High School for the last time
as a student, she officially became one of the most decorated female athletes
in school history.
No, she doesn’t have any individual state championships, or even
one as part of a team. Holtzen’s decorations aren’t ones in the form of
trophies or all-state honors, but instead, they can be found on the front of
her letter jacket.
In research done by Louisburg Sports Zone, it was unable to find
the last athlete to accomplish the feat, which could mean Holtzen could be the
first Lady Cat to do so. She competed in cross country, basketball and track
The last athlete to come close was in 2001 when Krystal Bowes
earned 10 varsity letters before moving on to a collegiate track career at
“The biggest thing that it means to me is to just have an
opportunity to participate in three sports at a school like Louisburg,” Holtzen
said. “The bigger the school that you go to, the harder it is to play multiple
sports at the varsity level and I think Louisburg is unique in that fact. The
best part of this whole journey was I think my freshman year because there was
no pressure and no one was expecting anything from me. It was surprising and
exciting to be able to letter in all three sports.”
Holtzen is currently at
Northern Iowa, where she received a scholarship to pole vault for the Panther
Track and Field Team.
Dixon earns All-American, Player of the Year honors, signs with Kansas State
senior Anna Dixon led the Lady Cat volleyball program all season and she was recognized
for her play on the court.
“I have always known Kansas State was going to be my
home,” Dixon said. “Even since I committed as a sophomore, I always wanted to
go up to Manhattan and see the girls and spend time with the team. K-State is where
I need to be.”
6. Louisburg wrestling sends six to state, Holtzen
earns first state medal
SALINA – As the final
whistle sounded in his blood round match, Cade Holtzen looked up into the
rafters of the Tony’s Pizza Events Center and smiled.
“It is one of the best
feelings that I have had in my life,” Holtzen said. “Just knowing that I’m
going to place – you just can’t match that with anything else.”
It certainly wasn’t
easy for the Louisburg freshman as he faced a win or go home with nothing
scenario heading into his match with Porter. Holtzen pulled out the victory and
eventually finished sixth overall at 113 pounds to give Louisburg a state
medalist for the third consecutive season.
“It is pretty cool,”
he said. “I have been working for this all season, so to get a state medal is
great. It may not have been as high as I wanted, but any state medal is pretty
Holtzen had a special
year for the Wildcats as he finished with a 45-6 record and broke the school
record for most wins in a single season. He won four different tournaments and
was a Frontier League and regional tournament runner-up.
To add to his resume,
he became only the second freshman in school history to earn state medal –
second to only Austin Hood, who would go on to with three state titles.
Austin Moore finished
one victory shy of earning his first state medal, while Ryan Adams, Thad
Hendrix and Blue Caplinger also picked up wins at the state tournament.
5. Moore, Johnson
finished in top 10 at state cross country, girls qualify for second straight
WAMEGO – It was going
to be hard for the Louisburg High School girls cross country team to duplicate
its magical season of 2017.
Not only did the Lady Cats qualify their team for state for the
first time in program history, but they also had a top five finisher in Trinity
Fast forward to 2018, Louisburg wasn’t able to match that successful
run – the Lady Cats took it a step further.
Moore, along with freshman Reese Johnson, each had a top 10 finish during the Class 4A Kansas State Cross Country Championships at Wamego Country Club, and it is the first time in school history that two female runners had medaled at a state meet. Louisburg added on to that as the girls finished fifth in the team standings with 154 points, which is also the highest finish in school history.
Moore, who finished
fifth at state a year ago, bested her performance by one place as she took
fourth with one of her better performances of the season. Johnson was right
behind her as she crossed the finish line in sixth.
Shaylor Whitham, Carlee Gassman, Kaitlyn Lewer, Delaney Wright and Kennady Wilkerson were also members of the Lady Cats’ team to run at state. Emily Williams was a member of the regional team that finished second overall.
4. Louisburg track
earns six state medals, Gassman state runner-up in 300 hurdles
WICHITA – Carlee Gassman had broken the Louisburg High School 300-meter hurdle record three different times in 2018 prior to the state track meet.
It was the Louisburg sophomore’s first time competing at the
Kansas meet as she transferred in from Iowa last year, where she qualified for
the state meet there in the 400 hurdles.
Gassman’s medal in the 300 hurdles was just one of six the
Wildcats were able to bring home following the two-day meet. Those six medals
were the most Louisburg has earned since 2011, when the Wildcats combined to
medal in 10 events and the boys won their first team state title.
The 300 hurdles wasn’t the only event Gassman found success in
as she also medaled in the long jump. Gassman, who hadn’t competed in the event
prior to this year, finished fifth with a mark of 17 feet, 0.25 inches.
would go on to finish sixth in the pole vault, the boys 4×400 team of Chris
Williams, Blue Caplinger, Ben Wiedenmann and Justin Collins went on to take
seventh. Williams finished eighth in the 400-meter run and Trent Martin medaled
eighth in the boys pole vault.
volleyball takes runner-up at state for second straight season
HUTCHINSON – The
feeling was much of the same.
The pride of finishing as a state-runner up was a popular one
among the members of the Louisburg volleyball team. At the same time, the
frustration of taking second in state in back-to-back seasons was just as
Louisburg wasn’t quite sure what to feel following its 25-13 and 25-14 loss to Bishop Miege in the championship game of the Class 4A state tournament Saturday at Hutchinson Sports Arena.
In 2017, the Lady
Cats fell to Rose Hill by two points in the championship match, and fast
forward to the present, they were in the same spot – holding the state
runner-up trophy. It was the 15th time in
program history that Louisburg finished in the top four at state.
The Lady Cats rattled off four straight wins to start
the tournament, including knocking off No. 1 seed Independence, and defending
state champions Rose Hill and Topeka Hayden. Louisburg then battled back to
defeat Andale in the state semifinals.
“The loss was tough,”
Louisburg coach Jessica Compliment said. “To come so close to a state title two
years in a row, only to come up short is tough. But with that being said, it is
a huge accomplishment for this team to get back to the state championship and
make it two years in a row. Finishing second is nothing to hang our heads on.
Last year’s finish fueled the fire for the team this year, and I challenged the
returning players to use this loss and feeling to fuel them for next year.”
Louisburg has been
one of the more dominant teams in Class 4A in the last decade as the Lady Cats
have made the state tournament seven out of the last nine years and have
finished as a state runner-up on three different occasions, along with several
third and fourth place finishes. They finished 2018 with a 36-9 record.
2. Louisburg girls
soccer advances to title game, has best finish in program history
NORTH NEWTON – The obstacle
seemed insurmountable – and it was.
The Louisburg High School girls soccer team found itself in the
Class 4-1A state championship match in the program’s third year of existence,
but if they wanted to take it another step further, the Wildcats were going to
have to knock the defending state champion of its perch.
Unfortunately, Bishop Miege wasn’t about to be moved.
In a state title game that was played in the sweltering heat in late May at Bethel College, the Wildcats couldn’t stay with the Stags in a 5-0 defeat. It was the third consecutive title for Bishop Miege, while Louisburg earned a state plaque for the first time in its short history.
It was special season for the Wildcats as the night before they knocked off Topeka Hayden, 1-0, in the state semifinals to secure the program’s first state plaque. In 2017, Louisburg both games in its state tournament appearance and finished fourth.
The road to this state
championship appearance has been an interesting one for the Wildcats. More than
three years ago, a group of Louisburg parents and citizens raised enough money
to begin the girls soccer program and fund it for three years.
Louisburg was in the final year of that funding, and while the
program isn’t going away, the team realized they needed to play for more than
“We played for the community tonight,” Louisburg senior Bailey Belcher
said after the Hayden win. “We have to remember that when they raised money for
this program, it was just through this year, so I think we owed it to them to
play well. I really think it might have helped with how we played and I think
it was one of the best games we played all season.”
“It is a third-year program
with 41 wins, three regional championships, two state final fours and now a
state runner-up,” Louisburg coach Kyle Conley said after the title game. “We
just have kids who come in and work their butt off. They are not soft, they
aren’t weak and from top to bottom they are going to work hard.
“We worked hard, but we just played Miege. That is one of the
best teams in the state, and that stinks, but our kids played hard, worked
their tail off and it was a great year. We had people criticize us for how we
got there, but we won games and that really motivated the kids. It got them
fired up to go do something bigger than themselves. I couldn’t be more proud of
they stuck together and what they accomplished.”
1. Football wins 10 straight, takes Frontier League title and regional championship
It had been almost two
months since Louisburg and Piper squared off on the football field in what was
one of the more entertaining games on the Wildcats’ schedule.
Back in early
September, Louisburg left Piper High School with a seven-point win – a victory
that would help propel them to a Frontier League championship and a perfect
The two teams squared
off again and the stakes were a bit higher. The game, at least for Louisburg
anyway, was even more exciting.
The Wildcats dominated action from the opening kickoff and never looked back in a 48-0 win over the Pirates. In the process, Louisburg won the school’s first regional championship since 2016 and are off to a 10-0 start for the first time since 2010.
It was as season
marked with special moments, including a 28-7 victory over then-undefeated
Paola late in the year to secure a league title.
“Being 10-0 and then having
that first loss of the season was very disappointing,” Louisburg coach Robert
Ebenstein said. “Losing always sucks, but losing in the playoffs and having to
wait until next August is the worst. At the end of the day, Miege is a
very good team and we did some good things. We got them to fourth down on
multiple drives in the first quarter, we just couldn’t make the plays on
those big downs. Then we got behind a little and started pressing.
“Overall it was a great year.
I am very proud of our guys and excited for them that they were able to get
double digit wins for only the third time since 2000, and there was a
lot of really good football played during that time period. It was a lot
fun to be a part of.”
With all that success, honors
started to roll in for its players as running backs Austin Moore and Blue
Caplinger, along with linemen Brayden White and Kiefer Tucker all earned
Moore and White went on to be
semifinalists for the Simone Awards and Moore was also selected to participate
in the Kansas Shrine Bowl in the summer of 2019. Ebenstein was also named as
coach of the year by the football coaches association.
Most recently, Moore was
named the Kansas Small-Class Player of the Year and Running Back of the Year by
810varsity.com, while White was named the Small-Class Lineman of the Year.
Ebenstein was also named Kansas Small-Class Coach of the Year by 810 Varsity.
Ebenstein named Coach of the Year, 4 Wildcats earn state, metro honors
Louisburg head football coach Robert Ebenstein was recently named the Class 4A Coach of the Year by the Kansas Football Coaches Association. Ebenstein just finished his second year as head coach and led the Wildcats to a Frontier League title and a regional championship.
The Louisburg High School football team had one of the better seasons in its history as the Wildcats won their first 10 games of the season and finished with a regional championship.
It only makes the sense that several of the Wildcat players and coaches are receiving postseason recognition.
The latest came from the Kansas Football Coaches Association as Louisburg head coach Robert Ebenstein was named Class 4A Coach of the Year. Ebenstein, who is just in his second season as head coach, has a 16-4 record with the Wildcats as he guided his team to a Frontier League championship this year.
“To be named coach of the year is an honor for sure,” Ebenstein said. “Many guys coach for years and never get that, but to be honest this award is a just a reflection of the assistant coaches we have and the commitment these players give to this program.
“I cannot say enough about the guys that I have the honor to coach with, Doc D, (Drew)Harding, (Joel) McGhee, (Ty) Pfannenstiel, (Pete) Skakal, (Alex) Gentges, (Kade) Larson and (Jeff) Lohse are some of the best football minds in the state as well as role models and mentors for our players to look up to. I am fortunate to coach with them and Louisburg is lucky to have them.”
Seniors Austin Moore and Kiefer Tucker joined Ebenstein on the KFCA all-state team as both players were named to the first team all-state offense on the senior-only list.
Moore tallied 1,554 total yards, with 1,428 yards of those on the ground at the running back spot and also had 21 touchdowns, while Tucker, played guard on the offensive line was a big part of a lot of those yards.
Junior lineman Brayden White and Moore were also recognized as some of the top players in the Kansas City area. Moore was a semifinalist for the Small-Class Players of the Year when the annual Simone Awards were announced. The Simone Awards recognize some of the best players in the Kansas City area on both sides of the state line.
White was also a semifinalist for the Bobby Bell Award, which is for the best small-class lineman or linebacker. He was also named to the All-Simone second team as an offensive lineman.
“Having a player nominated for the Simone Awards is an honor, but to have two players in the same year is unreal,” Ebenstein said. “It is awesome to see that the Greater Kansas City media has noticed Louisburg football and our players.”
If that wasn’t enough, both Moore and White were named to the Class 4A All-State first team by both the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Wichita Eagle. Wildcat teammates Blue Caplinger and Tucker were both recognized as honorable mention all-state players.
“It was really cool to see all-state honors for Blue and Kiefer,” Ebenstein said. “They played great football all season long, and for other coaches and media members to take notice is awesome. I may be a little biased, but I honestly feel like we had a few more players compete at an all-state level, but there are a lot of great football players in 4A and the Greater Kansas City Area.”
Moore, Tucker lead Louisburg as Cats awarded 16 slots for all-league
Louisburg seniors Austin Moore (left) and Kiefer Tucker were both awarded first team All-Frontier League honors on each side of the ball. The Wildcats were awarded 16 slots on the team.
The Louisburg football team reached several milestones this season, including winning its first 10 games for the first time since 2010 and was only the third Wildcat team to reach double-digit wins since 2000.
Throw in the fact the Wildcats also won their first Frontier League title in eight years and captured a regional championship, it was a year to remember for Louisburg football. With all that success, the individual honors are starting to roll in.
All-Frontier League teams were recently released and the Wildcats were awarded 16 slots overall, including eight on each side of the ball.
“Overall I was very happy with how we were represented,” Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein said.
Seniors Austin Moore and Kiefer Tucker led the Wildcats as the two players were first team selections on offense and defense. Moore was named a first-team running back and linebacker, while Tucker earned first team honors on the offensive and defensive lines.
Offensively, senior Brayden Gage (wide receiver) and junior Brayden White (line) were named to the first team. Junior Madden Rutherford (quarterback) and senior Blue Caplinger (multi-purpose player) were second team selections.
(From left) Brayden White, Blue Caplinger and Brayden Gage were each selected to the All-Frontier League first team.
Caplinger (defensive back) was also named to the all-league first team defense, as was Rutherford (punter). White (line) and junior Charlie Koontz (linebacker) were second team selections. Senior Noah Larson and junior Garrett Harding earned honorable mention honors as linemen on both sides of the ball.
Moore had a big season for the Wildcats, prior to breaking his collarbone in the next to last game of the year. He led Louisburg in tackles with 83 and had seven tackles for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Offensively, he tallied 1,554 total yards, with 1,428 yards of those on the ground and also had 21 touchdowns. He was also the leading point-getter in the all-league voting on both sides of the ball.
“Austin had an outstanding year,” Ebenstein said. “The kid is just a stud and you know it shows on Friday night, but he’s earned it all in the weight room. Within the last week, he has had collarbone surgery and Austin was already was doing kettlebell squats with his good arm, with his other arm in a sling. That’s the type of work ethic that gets you first team on both sides of the ball.”
Tucker was among the leaders on the line scrimmage for the Wildcats as he helped pave the way for more than 3,500 yards of total offense. Defensively, Tucker was a force from his defensive end position as he recorded 55 tackles, three tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a sack.
“Kiefer also had a great year, and you know the thing about him is he’s so disciplined and does his job on every single play and he goes 100 percent all the time,” Ebenstein said. “On the offensive side of the ball, he’s one of the smartest lineman that we’ve ever had since I’ve been here. He pretty much knows where every single person is supposed to go and he relays that on almost every play.”
Madden Rutherford (left) and Charlie Koontz were each named to the all-league second team. Rutherford was also a first team selection at punter.
White, along with Tucker, Larson and Harding, played vital roles on the Louisburg offensive and defensive lines. White was among the league’s best offensive tackles and also played well on the defensive line with 51 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack.
Gage, who split time at wide receiver and running back, earned first team wide receiver honors as he led the Wildcats with 283 yards receiving with three touchdowns. He also had 258 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
Caplinger had a big season on both sides of the ball as he had 310 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. He also had 234 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Caplinger had 31 tackles from the safety spot and also had two tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
“I am just excited for all those guys,” Ebenstein said of his first teamers. “They all had a great year and I’m glad that the other coaches in the league saw that as well and were willing to vote for them. It’s just a testament to how hard all those kids worked as a whole.”
Noah Larson (left) and Garrett Harding were each named as all-league honorable mentions on both sides of the ball.
Rutherford was just edged out of the first team quarterback spot, despite throwing for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for 354 yards and had four touchdowns on the ground and had one more score receiving.
Koontz had a good year from the linebacker spot as he recorded 50 tackles, including six for a loss. He also had three fumble recoveries and a sack that helped him earn second team honors.
Larson and Harding also had good seasons on the Wildcat defensive line. Larson had 43 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. As for Harding, he had 34 tackles despite missing three games due to an injury at the defensive tackle spot.
“I was very happy for those guys to get noticed,” Ebenstein said. “They all had great seasons and the difference between the guys who got first and second team were slim in the voting numbers. At the end of the day, if you are being noticed by other coaches, even if you are honorable mention, you have done something really well so I’m super excited for all those kids.”
LINE – Carson Downes, Spring Hill, junior; Garrett Harding, Louisburg, junior; Noah Larson, Louisburg, senior; Tucker Mace, Ottawa, senior; Jacob Miller, Tonganoxie, senior; BJ Walker, Piper, senior
LINEBACKER – Brayden Beerbower, Eudora, freshman; Brennen Feeback, Spring Hill, senior; Zach Flowers, Baldwin, senior; Dustin Rhoads, Tonganoxie, junior; Bryce Scholtze, Spring Hill, senior
BACKS – Brandon Ahart, Piper, sophomore; Conner Hasz, Paola, junior; Cy Hockey, Baldwin, senior; Noah Verbraken, Spring Hill, senior
PUNTER – Johnny Tapia, Bonner Springs, junior
Wildcats’ perfect season comes to close with loss to Miege
Louisburg junior Charlie Koontz gets a block from teammate Josh Casey as he was able to score one of the Wildcats’ three second half touchdowns in their 55-21 loss to Bishop Miege on Friday in the Class 4A sectional playoffs.
As the Louisburg football players walked off the field last Friday night following their sectional playoff game with Bishop Miege, the Wildcats felt something they hadn’t experienced this year.
It came at the hands of the four-time defending state champion Stags, who made things difficult on the Wildcats from the start and didn’t let up, as Louisburg fell 55-21 at Wildcat Stadium.
The Wildcats finished their season with a 10-1 record, a Frontier League championship and a regional championship. Still, the fact that their season is over is hard feeling for the Louisburg players to shake.
“Being 10-0 and then having that first loss of the season was very disappointing,” Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein said. “Losing always sucks, but losing in the playoffs and having to wait until next August is the worst. At the end of the day, Miege is a very good team and we did some good things. We got them to fourth down on multiple drives in the first quarter, we just couldn’t make the plays on those big downs. Then we got behind a little and started pressing.”
On a frigid night that featured a slick and hard Wildcat Stadium field, both teams battled tough field conditions and it affected the Stags early as they mishandled several snaps. Louisburg was able to force Miege into third, and fourth and long situations, but the Stags converted several big plays to get out of it.
Bishop Miege scored 27 first quarter points, with three of those touchdowns coming on passes of more than 30 yards. The Stags added two more scores in the second quarter and jumped out to a 41-0 halftime lead.
Junior Garrett Harding (left) and senior Noah Larson team up for a block Friday against Bishop Miege.
“They have big time play makers all over the field, and their offensive line was able to give time in the pocket and they just made those plays,” Ebenstein said.
The Stags had two losses on the season coming into the game, but those were against the No. 1 team in 5A in St. Thomas Aquinas and a perennial power in Missouri, Rockhurst. They also play in a 5A and 6A dominated league throughout the season.
Miege has since feasted on Class 4A opponents when its gets to the playoffs, and the talent discrepancy made it difficult for the Wildcats to overcome.
Despite freezing cold temperatures and a large halftime deficit, the Wildcats didn’t give up and played hard in the second half.
In the third quarter, senior Blue Caplinger scooped up a Miege fumble and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown to get Louisburg on the board.
The Wildcats added two more scores in the fourth quarter as junior Charlie Koontz broke free for a 21-yard touchdown run and then senior Brayden Gage returned a kickoff 77 yards for the Wildcats’ final touchdown.
“As a coaching staff we challenged the guys to show their true colors and grit and I was very pleased with the fight and character our guys showed,” Ebenstein said. “We came out and won the second half.”
Seniors Brian Houck (23) and Jonathan DePriest bring down a Miege runner Friday at Wildcat Stadium.
It was a special season that saw the Wildcats win 10 straight games for the first time since 2010 and they also came away with a pair of championships. Despite all that, it was tough to say goodbye to a year that brought many great memories.
Add in the fact that 18 seniors played their final football game at Wildcat Stadium, it was an emotional ending.
“Overall it was a great year,” Ebenstein said. “I am very proud of our guys and excited for them that they were able to get double digit wins for only the third time since 2000, and there was a lot of really good football played during that time period. It was a lot fun to be a part of.”
LOU 0 0 7 14 – 21
BM 27 14 7 7 – 55
B: Deaunte Parker 2 run (kick failed)
B: Hudson Bentley 38 pass from Sam Pedrotti (run good)
B: Phillippe Wesley 31 pass from Brison Cobbins (kick good)
B: Jaylen Scruggs 39 pass from Pedrotti (kick failed)
B: Cobbins 9 run (run good)
B: Wesley 9 pass from Pedrotti (kick failed)
L: Blue Caplinger 67 fumble return (Drake Varns kick)
B: Jude Putz 20 pass from Harrison Braudis (kick good)
L: Charlie Koontz 21 run (Varns kick)
B: Jake Ryan 36 pass from Timothy Dorsey (kick good)
L: Brayden Gage 77 kickoff return (Varns kick)
RUSHING: Charlie Koontz 9-48; Blue Caplinger 2-8; Brayden Gage 1- -2; Madden Rutherford 4- -5
PASSING: Madden Rutherford 3-13-16
RECEIVING: Josh Casey 1-6, Weston Guetterman 1-6, Michael Waldron 1-4
TACKLES: Charlie Koontz 11, Brayden Gage 8, Jorge Lebron 5, Brian Houck 5, Ben Wiedenmann 4, Kiefer Tucker 5, Brayden White 4, Beckett Rasmussen 3, Blue Caplinger 3, Tanner Belcher 3, Noah Larson 2, James Foote 2, Hunter Day 2, Jonathan DePriest 2, Gabe Rader 1, Dylan Knipp 1, Garrett Harding 1.
Wildcats to play underdog role against Bishop Miege
Louisburg quarterback Madden Rutherford hands the ball off to senior Blue Caplinger during the Wildcats’ win over Piper last week. Louisburg will host defending state champion Bishop Miege tonight in the Class 4A sectional playoffs.
The Louisburg football team enters today’s sectional playoff game with Bishop Miege as the No. 1 seed on the east side of the state and currently boasts a 10-0 record on the season.
Despite all that, the Wildcats are a heavy underdog.
Bishop Miege, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A, has won the last four state championships and has dominated 4A in the last decade, including a 76-8 win over Labette County and a 49-20 victory over Pittsburg so far in the playoffs. Last season, the Stags outscored their playoff opponents 230-60.
The Stags’ only losses this season have come to the No. 1 team in Class 5A, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Missouri power, Rockhurst High School.
Despite all that, the Wildcats are excited for the opportunity to play one of the state’s best teams on their home field. Kickoff for tonight’s game is set for 7 p.m., in the sectional round of the playoffs. The winner of this game will meet the winner of Paola and Basehor-Linwood for the sub-state title.
“It is going to be awesome and the whole team is super excited,” Louisburg senior Blue Caplinger said. “A lot of people have been saying, ‘Oh, you are playing Miege, this is going to be your last game of the season.’ I think we have some advantages too. Our field is an advantage, the snow and the cold, too, so I think that it will be a good game.”
The Wildcats have put together a dominant season of its own as they have outscored their two playoff opponents, Ottawa and Piper, 104-8 the last two games.
“Our kids and coaches get excited for every game, but I would be lying if I said the focus this week wasn’t a little bit different than some others we have had,” Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein said. “Our kids are excited for the opportunity to play Miege and give them our best shot on our home field.”
The Wildcats will have to account for a lot of weapons with the Bishop Miege offense and come up with their best performance of the season defensively.
Stag quarterback Sam Pedrotti leads the way with more than 1,700 yards passing and 19 touchdowns. Receivers Phillippe Wesley and Hudson Bentley each have more than 600 yards receiving and seven and five touchdowns, respectively.
Running back Brison Cobbins is another weapon for the Stags with nearly 1,000 yards on the ground and 16 touchdowns. The Stags also have a big offensive line that the Wildcat defensive front is going to have to deal with.
Defensively, Miege linebacker Dylan Downing is one of the best players in the state with 100 tackles on the season, including 10 for a loss. Defensive lineman Jalen Williams is also a big factor with 17 tackles for a loss and a team-high 11 sacks.
Louisburg realizes Miege will be the toughest team it has faced all season and it will be playing at a disadvantage at times.
“When you watch them on film, they are just solid all around,” Ebenstein said. “They have good schemes and amazing athletes all over the field. Every one of their players only play one side of the football and they never look tired. When a starter does go out, the person who replaces them never seems to be a downgrade.
“They also have about 18 coaches on the sidelines, and with players only playing one side of the ball, they make adjustments very well and have plenty of coaches on the sideline who can coach it up by position, which is tough for us. For example, when our quarterback comes off the field our QB coach (Jeff Lohse) is calling the defense so he never really has that chance to talk to him from a position coach perspective. It is just one of the many differences schools like Miege have that public schools are not granted.”
The Wildcats will also be without their leading rusher and tackler, Austin Moore, who was injured last week with a broken collarbone. Sophomore Ben Wiedenmann will fill in at running back and linebacker for Moore.
Still, the Wildcats have plenty of depth at the running back position with seniors Blue Caplinger and Brayden Gage, who have been big contributors all season.
Quarterback Madden Rutherford has been a steady presence for Louisburg as he has thrown for almost 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also has four more scores on the ground.
However for the Wildcats to be effective, it all starts up front with a veteran offensive line of Kiefer Tucker, Brayden White, Noah Larson, Garrett Harding and Jonathan DePriest.
“The play on the line is going to be huge,” White said. “We need to be able to have a run game and we need to be able to mix it up a little with the pass too. But the run game is going to be big for us, especially in the wet, soggy grass.
“It is going to be hard to replace someone like Austin. He is a big part of our team and he has probably given the most out of anyone here. I think Ben is going to do really good and I think he is going to surprise people and Austin has been supporting him the whole way.”
The Wildcats are hoping for a big crowd tonight at Wildcat Stadium, similar to the one they saw in Paola when they captured the Frontier League crown less than a month ago.
“Our community has been so supportive this season and their support at every home game is very much appreciated,” Ebenstein said. “Looking up and seeing those bleachers packed every home game is just a reminder of how amazing this community is and how much this school and team is supported.
“The Paola game also is another example that place was crazy that type of atmosphere could be a huge advantage against a team like Miege as they like to call and check almost every play at the line of scrimmage. As for being the underdog, we will take it. Nobody thought we would be league champions but we are. Nobody thought we were going to beat Paola, but we did, and now nobody thinks we will beat Miege.”
It is that underdog mentality that the Wildcats hope to use in their favor tonight against the highly-favored Stags.
“Honestly I think every coach and every player on our team believes we will win this game,” Ebenstein said. “Miege is an amazing team, and their track record proves they are, and have been one of the best teams in the state of Kansas over the past five years. The good news is we don’t have to beat them every week, we only have to beat them this week.
“I think we have a good plan to get that done, and a team full of kids working their butt of to carry out that plan. Those nerves are always there for me personally, but once kickoff comes, everything just settles in and we play the game.”