Category Archives: Washburn

Washburn well-represented in Super Bowl (and so is the Jayhawk … again)


You read it right.

Washburn, an NCAA Division II school in Topeka, will be well-represented on the field when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around. Our friends over at did a great job of breaking down the careers of Baltimore defensive back Cary Williams and San Francisco linebacker Michael Wilhoite.

Wilhoite is in his first season on the roster for the 49ers after spending a season on the practice squad. If you’ve watched the Ravens’ playoff run, or the NFL in the last decade, you probably know who he is already.

And of course the Jayhawk is well-represented in the Super Bowl once again with San Francisco defensive back and former Coffeyville Red Raven Dashon Goldson.



Washburn/Bishop Carroll product Joe Hastings signs with 49ers


A pair of MIAA standouts signed free-agent contracts with NFL teams Tuesday – right after the lockout came to a close – and will be in camp with those teams within days.

And one of them’s a Wichitan.

Washburn wide receiver Joe Hastings, a Bishop Carroll product, signed with the San Francisco 49ers and will head to Santa Clara, Calif., for camp starting on Thursday. Hastings led the MIAA in receiving yards (1,546) and receptions (87) last season, setting his school’s single-season records for both. He had eight 100-yard games in 2010 and tied a Washburn single-game record with four touchdown catches against Nebraska-Omaha … a game in which he only played the first half.

Also signing on Tuesday was Fort Hays State wide receiver O.J. Murdock, who will start camp with the Tennessee Titans on Friday. Murdock set the single-season record for the Tigers this year with 1,290 receiving yards and holds the MIAA career record for yards per catch at 20.9.


Tip of the hat to Washburn’s Logan Stutz



Washburn senior Logan Stutz became the first 4-time recipient of the MIAA’s player of the week award Monday, which means there’s no better time to give the senior from Kansas City his due here at Sunflower Slate. The brother of WSU center Garrett Stutz, he’s torn up the MIAA this year to the tune of 20.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game and seems like a lock for All-MIAA honors and has a definite shot at being an All-American. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound senior played his freshman year at Butler Community College and, while he was a solid player his whole career, I don’t think anybody expected what he’s done this season. He’s been phenomenal.

Also, we’ve got the Turnpike Tussle tomorrow in Topeka. ESU vs. Washburn is always fun, and especially when there’s something on the line like this year — the Ichabods have a real shot at second in the MIAA if they can beat the Hornets and close out with a win over Lincoln.

I’m out. TA

Breaking down Fort Hays State, Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Washburn

My MIAA preview hit newsstands today and the focus was on Washburn CB Pierre Desir and his unique story. Desir, in case you didn’t know, might be the very best Division II cornerback in the country. Here’s a look at the 4 MIAA teams in Kansas and some thoughts on them:


Junior quarterback Dane Simoneau had a breakout season in 2009, his first year as a full-time starter. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Salina native threw for a school-record 2,955 yards and 26 touchdowns on his way to second-team All-MIAA honors and is a leading candidate for MIAA Offensive Player of the Year this season. Simoneau, who is also an all-MIAA shortstop for the Ichabods, was a serious candidate for MIAA MVP last year until a few tough losses late in the season. With Simoneau, NW Missouri’s Blake Bolles, Fort Hays State’s Mike Garrison and Central Missouri’s Eric Czerniewski, this could be the year of the QB. Ickies will be hard-pressed to replace MIAA Defensive player of the year Zach Watkins at LB, but safety Casey Curran is no slouch.


Longtime Pittsburg State assistant coach Tim Beck takes over for Chuck Broyles, and will try to steer PSU back to the top of the MIAA after going 5-6 last season — the first losing season for PSU in 30 years. Senior free safety and Ness City product Alex Kuhlman is a two-time All-MIAA performer and the team’s top returning defender, recording 71 tackles and two interceptions last season. Starting quarterback is going to be either Mark Smith or Zac Dickey, although I’m not sure if either can make that much of a difference. Running back Terrance Isaac ran for almost 1,000 yards last season and was a second-team all-MIAA pick. He’ll shoulder most of the load on offense.


Last season’s 2-9 record capped another disastrous year for the Hornets under Garin Higgins, whose teams are 9-24 since he arrived in 2007 and haven’t had had a winning season since 2003. Honorable mention All-MIAA linebacker Nathan Linsey is the bright spot on the defense, recording 82 tackles last season and leading the league in fumble recoveries. It’s amazing to me that ESU can be so good in so many sports but fall short in football over and over again. They should be better, point blank. You’ve got to think time is running out for Higgins.


The Tigers went 6-5 last season for their first winning record since 2004 and first since joining the MIAA. Fort Hays returns 9 of 11 starters on offense, including second-team all-MIAA quarterback Mike Garrison, who led Butler Community College to a national title in 2007. Garrison is a dual-threat QB who passed for 2,606 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 375 yards and five touchdowns in 2009. Tigers should also get a boost on defense from Michigan State transfer Roderick Jenrette, a linebacker/safety type.

I’m out. TA.

Ps. Headed to Butler-Navarro tomorrow. Check back here for live, in-game blogging and tweets.

Sunflower Slate Q&A: Washburn CB Pierre Desir



I caught up with Washburn defensive back Pierre Desir on Monday evening — he’s in Topeka for the rest of the summer getting ready for the Ichabods’ Aug. 28 opener against Colorado School of Mines. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound All-American and St. Charles, Mo., native  opened up about a lot of things, including expectations for his upcoming sophomore season, his pro prospects and his family coming to the U.S. from Haiti when he was 4 years old. He also talked about the impact that the January earthquake in Haiti had on his family that still lives there. I’m not about to mince words: This was one of our best Q&As yet.

Here you go:

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Early honors for Washburn’s Pierre Desir & Ottawa’s Clarence Anderson



It’s never too early to talk football … or pick All-American teams.

Washburn sophomore cornerback Pierre Desir and Ottawa junior wide receiver Clarence Anderson, a Wichita Southeast product, both picked up some early 2010 honors in the last week. Desir was named a first-team NCAA Division II All-American by Consenseus Draft Services and Anderson was named a first-team NAIA WR by Sporting News. Both were All-Americans last season, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as both were arguably the best at their positions in both the MIAA and KCAC last year. Here’s the release on Desir from Washburn and on Anderson from Ottawa. You can see the full lists of both teams on those links, too. Washburn offensive tackle Bill Boyer (6-foot-4, 312 pounds) was on the honorable mention team, as was Pittsburg State safety Alex Kuhlman. Anderson was the only player from the KCAC named to the Sporting News team.

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Washburn’s Zach Watkins signs deal with Vikings



I knew Washburn LB Zach Watkins was going to get a shot somewhere — and it looks like it’s going to be in Minnesota as ZW signed a free-agent deal with the Vikings on Monday.

And I credit — along with Watkins’ natural skill, leadership abilities and four All-MIAA seasons for the Ickies — Sunflower Slate karma after ZW stepped it up and gave us one of our best Q&A’s during football season last year.

What are his odds of actually making the team? It’s 50-50. What he’s got going against him is he’s a little undersized to play LB in the NFL — 6-foot, 230 pounds during his senior season — but what he’s got going for him is that if he’s been a special teams guy all four years at Washburn, including being a long snapper. It’s also hard to gauge what a free agent’s prospects are for making a team because each team handles their FAs differently — some bring them in and give them a legitimate shot at making the team and some bring them in as cannon fodder and they never really get a good look. Here’s hoping ZW gets a real look.

Out. TA.

Dane Simoneau making case for MIAA Offensive MVP



First things first: Yes, I did think the Jayhawk Media Day was today. Yes, it is next Monday. Yes, I got up before my pre-set 10 a.m.-11 a.m. wake-up call and was going about my day when I called Mike Kessinger circa 7:30 a.m. to ask if he was in Wichita yet and he said, in not so kind words, that it wasn’t until next week. These long nights at Sunflower Slate International Headquarters are really getting to me. So you’ll have to wait until next week to hear what’s going on with Steve Eck.

Onto bigger (and better) things.

Mainly, I think Washburn sophomore quarterback Dane Simoneau should be in the discussion for MIAA Offensive MVP at this point. Numbers don’t lie.



The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Salina Sacred Heart product leads the league in passing and total offense with 2,265 yards, 23 Tds and just 6 interceptions. The thing that struck me watching him pick apart Pittsburg State on Saturday was the zip in which his passes were thrown. He looked like he was playing shortstop out there the way he was zinging it around the field (which he also does for the Ichabods, BTW). Check that, he looked D-I.

But here’s the thing, I think, that makes him a real candidate: His team is winning. I know WU coach Craig Schurig had to make a tough decision last year to bench his starter midway through the season and go with Simoneau, but now CCS looks like a genius. And now the Ichabods are No. 16 in the country and have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs.

If you think I’m crazy for putting this out there, just ask yourself this: If not Simoneau, then who else? I think the NW Missouri trio of QB Blake Bolles, WR Jake Soy and RB Laron Council each make good cases, but nobody means as much to their team as No. 9.

I’m out TA

Sunflower Slate Q&A with Washburn LB Zach Watkins



I caught up with Washburn senior linebacker Zach Watkins on Wednesday afternoon and came away extremely impressed — and ready to dole out some serious Sunflower Slate karma.

Here’s the skinny on Watkins — the 6-foot, 235-pound linebacker from Independence, Mo. (hometown of Harry Truman) is only the second player in Washburn history to go over 400 tackles, with 403, and could break the career mark of 459 this season. He’s had 100 tackles in each of his first three seasons; 100 in 2006, 143 in 2007 and 119 in 2008 and has led the Ichabods to a No. 17 ranking and 4-1 record this season.

Dude didn’t really want to give himself too much credit — but that’s what we’re here for. Gotta love when your linebackers wanna talk more about their defensive line than themselves. And his pregame music? Killswitch Engage. The Ichabods have got Fort Hays State coming to town on Saturday in Topeka.

Here’s our talk:

Sunflower Slate: You’re in your final year at Washburn and closing in on a pretty lofty record in the career tackles mark. In the middle of all of it do you ever catch yourself thinking about your accomplishments?

Zach Watkins: I really haven’t because I’ve been so focused on trying to help this team win games and be a leader out on the field. I get so wrapped up in the day-to-day stuff that all the personal stuff … I just never think about it.

SS: Did you think you’d have this type of impact coming out of high school?

ZW: You can’t go into college football thinking you’re going to be the best player, but once I got on the field I felt like I could definitely make an impact. As the years progressed I feel like I’ve become more of a leader and a player that the other teams need to prepare for.

SS: You’ve been on some teams that have come really close to being great but couldn’t seem to quite get over the hump when it came to the heart of MIAA play. What is it about this group that you think is different?

ZW: My sophomore year we made the playoffs, but we do feel like we’ve fallen short a couple of times. We feel like we’ve got a special group this year … we’re excited about keeping up what we’ve started this season.



SS: We’ve all got the idea  — well at least I do — of the stereotypical middle linebacker who is kind of the frothing at the mouth, always ready for battle type of guy. Do you fit into that role? What are you like before games?

ZW: I feel like I’m pretty laid-back, and I’m not against pulling a prank … but when it comes to practice and to games I definitely am able to get that really intense focus and put everything else aside. I feel like I’m a hard-nosed player and to have any type of success I’ve got to be able to get into that mode. And it doesn’t hurt to have a great d-line.

SS: Nice. Giving the d-line props is never bad.

ZW: Without them I’m not going to get where I need to be. They play the way they do and it makes my job a lot easier.

SS: So what are you listening to before a game? Anything in particular?



ZW: (Laughing) That’s easy. Killswitch Engage.

I show my age and have him repeat the name of the band several times.

SS: What about away from football? What do you do for fun?

ZW: Play a lot of basketball, a lot of golf. We’ve got a group of seniors who have been together for four or five years and we’re pretty close. Just typical college-kid stuff … anything competitive usually catches our attention.

SS: Are you any good at golf?

ZW: Consistent low 80s.

SS: Last question. Biggest hit ever? College, high school, pee-wee football … what’s the biggest?

ZW: Mo-Kan All-Star game, senior year of high school. Tight end came right across the middle.

SS: Thanks for doing our Q&A. Best of luck this year.

I’m out. TA

Washburn scores 82/No. 22 Busters upset



Holy Moly.

Here’s this: Washburn just threw up an 82-spot on New Mexico Highlands tonight in Topeka. That’s 82 points. That’s a 61-7 halftime lead. That’s a school-record for points. Sophomore quarterback Dane Simoneau only played the first half, but he made good use of his time with four touchdown passes and 127 yards passing.

Oh, and Zach Watkins had five more tackles.


Here was a big WOW that came across my desk a couple of hours ago — No. 22 Garden City Community College upset by Air Force Prep 20-13 out in Colorado Springs. Were the Busters thinking ahead to Cessna and Butler? Probably. On a side note, while I was covering the Busters for the GC Telegram back in the day (actually just a couple of years ago) I got super duper sick headed out to Colorado Springs to cover a GCCC-AFP football game. It’s a three hour drive from Garden City to Colorado Springs and my plan was just to head another hour up the road after the game to hang out with family. I got about two hours in and after having to pull over at least 10 times … I finally checked into a hotel room, called my editor and told him it wasn’t happening, called my Grandma B to tell her I wasn’t coming … and then had about 18 hours of fever dreams and tiny sips of Gatorade, in which I thought I hallucinated a K-State game against Colorado playing on the TV. Not pleasant. But the Busters won that day. Trust me, this one isn’t going to play very well in the WK.

Tomorrow, look for scores updates from the MIAA and Jayhawk as I get them. All … night … long.

I’m out. TA