Class 6A championship preview: Derby vs. Blue Valley Northwest

By Blake Chadwick

Who: Derby (11-0) vs. Blue Valley Northwest (11-1)

When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Where: Emporia State

Overview

  • Derby looks to win its fourth straight class 6A state championship. 
  • Blue Valley Northwest is in search of its first football state championship. 

Derby Panthers

Coach Brandon Clark

Key players 

OL Alex Key, senior, 6-4, 290 pounds

OL Jonas Vickers, senior, 6-3, 290 pounds

OL Dylan Conn, senior, 6-4, 290 pounds

RB Dylan Edwards, junior, 5-9, 165 pounds (182 rushes, 2,341 rushing yards and 36 rushing touchdowns)

WR Cayden Brown, senior, 6-4, 165 pounds (11 receptions, 223 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns)

LB Miles Wash, junior, 5-10, 205 pounds (113 total tackles and 5 sacks)

DT Andon Carpenter, senior, 6-2, 260 pounds (76 total tackles and 4 sacks)

LB Cole Minton, senior 5-10, 190 pounds (53 total tackles)

LB Kade Sheldon, junior, 6-0, 185 pounds (37 total tackles)

What makes your team special? 

“Great community, great school, great kids and great coaching staff.  We have built a relationship with most of these kids for over 10 years. There is a strong sense of faith and trust within our team.”

Who have been key players for you this season?  

“Our OL and DL have done a really great job making our athletes look great.  Behind (the offensive line), we have Dylan Edwards who is a dynamic running back and Miles Wash and Cole Minton behind (the defensive line).

Have any players been a surprise?  

“Sophomores Mason Hopper and Derek Hubbard have been playing very well for us.”

What got your team into the state championship game?  

“Our players.”

What does your team need to do in order to win the state championship game?  

“Peak on Nov. 27th.”

 

Blue Valley Northwest Huskies

Coach Clint Rider

QB Mikey Pauley, senior, 6-5, 200 pounds (1,759 passing yards, 22 touchdowns/6 interceptions, 1,053 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns)

RB Grant Stubblefield, junior, 6-0, 185 pounds (237 rushes, 1,535 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns)

WR/TE Max Muehlberger, 6-4, 200 pounds (24 receptions, 364 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns)

OL Easton Wasinger, senior, 6-2, 240 pounds

LB Drew Ranallo, senior, 5-10, 180 pounds (84 total tackles)

S Drew Kaufman, senior 5-11, 165 pounds (73 total tackles and 5 sacks)

What makes your team special?

“This group of young men have seen our program at its very worst (0-9 freshmen year) and taken it to heights it has never been (state championship). The character and work ethic of this group makes each game, practice and moments a joy to be a part of.” 

Who have been key players for you this season?

“This team truly relies on the efforts of each individual. They do their 1 of 11. Their abilities and efforts compliment each other well. Mikey Pauley and Grant Stubblefield have enjoyed great statistical seasons aided by their offensive line and wide receiver units.

“Defensively, they play with speed, discipline, and physicality. They swarm to the football and do a great job keeping ball carriers in front of them. Game Peterson has been a disruptive force on the defensive line. Drew Ranallo and Drew Kaufman have been outstanding at the linebacker positions. Zach Yates and Sebastian Meriano have commanded the secondary & provided big plays to spark the defense.”

Have any players been a surprise?

With so many returning starters, it has provided great continuity to our team. Gavin Biancalana has made huge strides at the OLB position. Josh Cusick has made a great transition from WR to corner and provided stability to the position. Trey Ridley, sophomore, has stepped up in a big way on the back end as a free safety.” 

What got your team into the state championship game?

Togetherness, belief, and hard work. This team has busted their tails for four years to put themselves in a position to have a chance to compete in this game. They’ve always been a great practice team, but after the loss to Aquinas, they committed to never having that feeling of regret again. That commitment to each other has paid off the last 5 weeks.”

What does your team need to do in order to win the state championship game?

“We need to be who we are. We do not have the experience of playing in this game before. Treat it as another game and don’t let the environment be a factor. Derby’s rushing attack is a huge challenge for our defense and their Front 7 on defense is at the very top of teams we have played this year. Derby is traditionally known for its game-changing plays on special teams so we will have to be prepared for whatever they may throw at us. The last five weeks we have not turned the ball over. That will be paramount in keeping huge momentum swings from being a deciding factor in the game. If we play disciplined and with confidence, it will put us in the best position to be there at the end.”