Class 6A state football preview: Derby vs. Blue Valley North

By Blake Chadwick

Class 6A

Who: Derby (8-2) vs. Blue Valley North (7-2)

When: 1 p.m., Saturday

Where: College Boulevard Activity Center, Olathe

Overview: The Class 6A state championship game on Saturday will be the third matchup in the last four years between the Derby Panthers and the Blue Valley North Mustangs. 

In the 2017 state championship game the Mustangs defeated Derby 49-42. 

In  2018, the two squared off again, and this time the Panthers were victorious in defeating BV North 24-16. 

The Panthers, who have won five of the last seven 6A titles, are looking to win their third straight state championship. 

Blue Valley North Mustangs

Coach: Andy Sims

Key Players 

    • ATH Dasan McCullough 6-5, 220, Jr.(Number 69 player in ESPN 300, 66.5 tackles, 4 int and 2 touchdowns) 
    • QB Henry Martin 6-0, 185, Jr. (2,522 passing yards, 29 passing touchdowns and 2 interceptions)
    • DL Nikko Taylor 6-5, 220, Sr.(41 total tackles) 
    • WR Mehki Miller 6-1, 190, Jr. (83 receptions, 924 yards, 14 receiving touchdowns and 4 rushing touchdowns) 
    • WR Cole Stratton 6-1, 175, Jr. (53 receptions, 499 yards and 3 touchdowns)
    • OL David Sjoberg 6-1, 245, Sr.
    • OL Omar Eldakak 6-1, 225, Sr.
    • DB Daeh McCullogh 6-2, 180, So. (29.5 tackles) 

What makes your team special? 

“This team has a lot of toughness and grit. We have lost starters due to transfer with the uncertainty of the season, COVID and injury. And the players that remain have rallied together with a never quit attitude and continue to battle through adversity.”

Who have been key players for you this season?

“Henry Martin, Mekhi Miller, Niko Taylor, David Sjoberg and Dasan McCullough.”

Have any players been a surprise?

“Alonzo Morgan. He is only a sophomore who missed his freshman year after breaking his leg.”

What got your team into the state championship game?

“They earned it. We’ve had to go on the road for Regional, Sectionals and Substate. We have climbed from the very bottom to eventually beat the No. 1 seed on our side of the bracket.”

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

“Derby is a great team and a great program. They have a great offense and defense.  Defensively, we must do a great job on first and third down and not give up the big play. Offensively, we need to be able to sustain drives and put points on the board after those long drives. Special Teams, we need to win the field-position battle, and be successful in PAT/FGs.  As a team we need to match their toughness, intensity and win the turnover battle.”

Derby Panthers 

Coach: Brandon Clark

Key Players

    • RB Dylan Edwards 5-8, 155, So. (184 carries, 1,663 yards and 25 touchdowns)
    • QB Lem Wash 6-0, 205, Sr. (1,074 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 1,182 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns)
    • LB Jack Hileman 5-9, 200, Sr. (84 tackles and 2 int)
    • S Tanner Knox 5-11, 180, Sr. (52 tackles in 7 games)
    • OL Alex Key 6-1, 270, Jr.
    • WR Reid Liston 6-1, 185, Sr. (32 receiving yards, 453 yards and 6 touchdowns)
    • LB Luke Stewart 6-0, 210, Sr. (57 tackles and 5 sacks)
    • LB Coleson Syring 6-2, 215, Sr. (82 tackles and 14 TFL)

What makes your team special? 

“They have become a very close family. We have had a ton of adversity as every team has, but the way this team has handled it, has been an amazing sight to see. I’m so proud of the way they have come to practice every day and gotten better.”

Who have been key players for you? 

“Dylan Edwards and Lem (Wash) are a great 1-2  punch in the backfield. They have built a huge chemistry together. Alex Key, Dylan Conn and Jonas Vicker have done an amazing job on the (offensive line).

“Our (linebacker) crew has been the staple to our defense: Jack Hileman, Luke Stewart and Coleson Syring have been playing very well. Getting Tanner Knox back late in the season has helped us out so much.”

Have any players been a surprise?

“Senior Cason Lindsey has been huge for us. He has started every game and done a great job at the safety position. He has also become a great leader.”

What got your team into the state championship game?

“Team chemistry. Almost all of these seniors have been playing with each other for 10 years.”

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

“Enjoy the week, but at the same time, put our hard hats on and come to work every day.  BVN is a very talented team. They have tremendous talent all over the field. They will be tough to defend and move the ball on.”