The Thomas A. Simone Memorial Football Award is presented annually to the most outstanding high school football player in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. The award was originally established in 1932 in the name of Dr. D.M. Nigro and continued until Dr. Nigro’s death in 1976.
No award was given from 1976-83, until Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Simone, as a tribute to their 12-year old son Tommy, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident in April 1983, reinstated the award.
The recipient of this prestigious award is selected by a vote of the high school football coaches and select media members in the metropolitan area. The award is given to the football player most representative of excellence on the playing field. The trophy presented today symbolizes the qualities of love, courage and friendship – qualities young Tommy so aptly displayed. Along with the trophy, which resides at the high school of the recipient for a period of one year, the Simone-Fontana Foundation presents a donation of $1,500 to the athletic department of the recipients’ high school.
Led the Huskies to their first-ever state championship with a dominant 41-21 win over three-time Kansas Class 6A defending champion Derby. In the title game Pauley ran for 178 yards and four touchdowns and threw for 112 yards and another score. He finished his senior year with 1,788 yards passing and 23 touchdowns and 1,235 yards rushing with 22 more touchdowns.
The winner of the 38th Thomas A. Simone Award as the top all-around player in the Kansas City Metro is Raymore-Peculiar quarterback Conrad Hawley. The senior was surprised at his house with the award early today and it was formally announced on 41 Action News during the 6 p.m. Newscast. Hawley completed a senior season that saw him lead the Panthers to the Missouri Class 6 championship with a 23-0 win over defending champion DeSmet. In an outstanding year, Hawley threw for 2,722 yards and 25 TDs as the Panthers finished 12-2. He is the second Ray-Pec player to win the Simone Award. Chase Coffman won the honor in 2004 before starring at the University of Missouri.
Arland Bruce the IV took home the Thomas A. Simone Award as the top high school football player in the Kansas City area. He finished his season with 2,487 yards and 43 touchdowns on the ground. Helped Olathe North to an appearance in the Kansas Class 6-A title game. His father, Arland Bruce, III, won the 1995 Simone Award.
Joining recent winners Drew Lock and Skylar Thompson, quarterback Graham Mertz made the leap from finalist as a junior to Simone Award winner with a record-shattering senior season. He threw for 4,008 yards and a Kansas-record 51 touchdowns. He completed 61-percent of his 419 passes while only throwing 10 interceptions. He added four touchdowns on the ground and led Blue Valley North to the Kansas Class 6-A state title game. He threw for 3,684 yards and 45 touchdowns during his Simone-finalist junior season, leading Blue Valley North to the school’s first-ever state championship. His 96 career touchdown passes are also a Kansas state record. In addition to winning the Simone Award, Mertz was the 2018 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and a two-time Class 6-A all-state selection. He was the MVP of the All-American Bowl in January. He was an Elite 11 quarterback and four-star recruit. ESPN listed him as their No. 1 pocket passer in the Class of 2019. Mertz was probably the most sought-after quarterback recruit ever in the Kansas City metro and chose Wisconsin over offers from college blue-bloods Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame and many others. Mertz is redshirting this season but has completed 9 of 10 passes for 73 yards in two games of limited action.
The Suburban Gold Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Ronnie Bell had one of the most prolific receiving seasons in Missouri history. He caught 89 passes for 1,605 yards and 21 touchdowns, the fourth-best total ever in the state. He was also a threat on the ground, scoring three touchdowns on his 15 carries. Bell, a unanimous pick for first-team all-conference receiver, added a punt return touchdown as well for the Class 6 semifinalist Trojans. His coach also called him the best blocking skill position player he’s seen as he tallied 28 pancake blocks on the perimeter. In addition to the Simone Award, Bell received the Otis Taylor Award as the metro’s outstanding receiver at the 2017 Simone Awards. He was also a Class 6 first-team all-state selection at receiver. Bell was an outstanding player for the Park Hill basketball team, averaging over 14 points per game. He originally signed to play college basketball at Missouri State, but when Jim Harbaugh and Michigan came calling with an offer to play football he was allowed to pursue the opportunity. He’s had a breakout season as a sophomore in Ann Arbor, leading the Wolverines with 44 catches for 705 yards. Against Michigan State he set career highs with nine catches and 150 receiving yards. As a freshman, Bell earned the team’s offensive Rookie of the Year award after tallying eight catches for 145 yards and two scores.
After gaining just over 1,000 rushing yards in his career coming into his senior year, Julian Ross ran for more than double that total in a memorable final season at Staley. The Suburban White Conference Offensive Player of the year, Ross finished with 2,257 yards and 37 touchdowns on the ground, both school records, leading the Falcons to the state semifinals in Missouri Class 5. He added 277 yards and four touchdowns on 15 catches. The first-ever Simone winner from Staley, Ross was also the Kansas City Star’s All-Metro Player of the Year and was a first-team all-state pick. Ross topped the 200-yard rushing mark six times in 13 games, including a season-high 295 in a 28-10 win over the defending Class 4 champioin Kearney Bulldogs. Ross finished his junior year with 976 yards and 15 touchdowns and was unanimously chosen first-team all-conference. Ross played his college football at the University of Ohio.
Quarterback Skylar Thompson capped the best season in Fort Osage history by winning the most prestigious individual high school football award in Kansas City. Thompson lead the Indians to the school’s first state football title and 10 days later was announced as Fort’s first Simone Award recipient. Fort Osage won the state title game with a record-breaking performance from the two-time Simone Award finalist. Thompson threw for 253 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 202 and three more scores – a championship game record 455 total yards – as the Indians rolled to a 63-28 win over Chaminade. He finished 2015 with 2,127 passing yards and 25 touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions. He added nearly 1,100 yards and 21 scores on the ground. A three-year starter after getting some playing time as a freshman behind 2012 Simone finalist Steven McBee, Thompsopn finished with over 6,200 career passing yards and 71 touchdowns. In addition to his Simone Award win, he was the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year and a two-time first-team all-state selection. One of the top-ranked dual-threat quarterback recruits nationally in the 2016 class, Thompson signed with Kansas State and moved into the starting lineup for the last four games of his redshirt freshman year. Made 10 starts as a sophomore, throwing for 1,391 yards and nine touchdowns and running for another 373 with five scores. He finished the season ranked seventh in the Big 12 in total offense. Thompson has had a break-through junior season in 2019 under new Wildcats head coach Chris Kleiman. He has thrown for 2,191 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 402 yards and four scores on the ground, leading the Wildcats to an 8-4 regular season. In an upset of fifth-ranked Oklahoma, Thompson was magnificent, throwing for 213 yards and running for four scores.
A two-time Simone Award finalist, Drew Lock took home the hardware as a senior after capping a career for the record books with 272 passing yards per game and 28 total touchdowns. In three years as a starter at Lee’s Summit, Lock threw for over 7,000 yards and 80 touchdowns, both among the top 10 career marks in state of Missouri history. He finished his high school career in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes for the East team playing with and against some of the best high school football players in the country. While at the Army All-American Bowl, he also received the prestigious Felix “Doc” Blanchard Award for demonstrating leadership, character and a sense of community. Lock also participated in the Elite 11 quarterback competition, finishing sixth nationally. He was ranked by Rivals as the top recruit in Missouri and was among the top 10 quarterback recruits nationally. Lock committed to play football at Missouri over a dozen major college offers in both football and basketball. He became a third-generation Tigers football player, following in the footsteps of his dad, Andy, an offensive lineman in the late-80’s, and grandfather, Jerry, who played for Mizzou in the early 60’s. Lock’s first college season was a memorable one. Expected to back up returning starter Maty Mauk, Lock instead became the first true freshman to start at QB at Mizzou since Corby Jones in 1995, starting the final eight games of the year when Mauk was suspended. Lock threw for over 1,300 yards his freshman season and gained valuable experience. As a sophomore, Lock threw for 3,399, tops in the SEC and 10th-best in the country. In 2017, Lock set a Mizzou and SEC record with 44 passing touchdowns while also passing for a career-high 3,964 yards. He was named first-team All-SEC. Lock finished his MU career with the second-most passing yards in SEC and Mizzou history (12,193). His 99 career touchdowns were third-best in SEC history and second-best all-time at MU. He started 46 of his 50 games and was voted team captain three times. The Denver Broncos selected Lock in the second round with the 42nd overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. He suffered a thumb injury in the preseason and was on injured reserve most of the year before making his NFL debut as the starting quarterback against the San Diego Chargers on December 1st, officially beginning the Drew Lock-era in Denver.
Dalvin Warmack made history in 2013 becoming the first player in the 31-year history of the Thomas A. Simone Memorial Award to win it twice. In his senior year, he posted nearly identical numbers to his Simone-winning junior season, rushing 251 times for 2,221 yards and 30 touchdowns and catching 20 passes for 347 yards and another three scores. In two seasons as the full-time feature back, Warmack ran for 4,500 yards and 70 TDs. More importantly, in those seasons the Wildcats went 27-1 and won back-to-back Missouri Class 6 state titles. Warmack was the top playmaker for an offense that averaged 40.5 points per game. Warmack chose to play college football at Kansas State over offers from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma State. He received the Red Raider Award as the top scout team player for KSU during his redshirt year. He finished his four-year Wildcats career averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He amassed 671 career rushing yards and three touchdowns, plus 162 yards and a score as a receiver.
Just the second junior to ever win the Simone Award, Dalvin Warmack had a monster 2012 season. He rushed 255 times for 2,279 yards and 40 touchdowns and caught 19 passes for another 236 yards and five TDs. He ran for 181 yards and two TDs in the Wildcats’ 42-3 state championship win over Francis Howell. He had a career-high 415 rushing yards and six touchdowns on just 19 carries in the regular-season finale against Lee’s Summit. He also caught a TD pass in that game and none of his seven scoring plays was shorter than 50 yards. After the season he was unanimously chosen as Big 6 Offensive Player of the Year as the Wildcats captured the fourth state title in school history.
Offensive linemen are rarely the stars, usually settling for taking a measure of pride in awards won by their skill position teammates. Evan Boehm redefined what was possible for a player in the trenches, becoming the first offensive lineman to win the Simone Award. He was twice his conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. He also became the first two-time winner in the 20-year history of the Buck Buchanan Award. The No. 1-rated offensive guard in the country for the Class of 2012, according to ESPN, Boehm signed with the University of Missouri where he set a Mizzou record by starting all 52 games of his career. In the 2012 season opener, he became the first true freshman to start on the offensive line for Missouri under head coach Gary Pinkel. He finished as the only lineman to start every 2012 game for the Tigers and was named 1st-Team Freshman All-American by College Football News. In 2013 he moved to Center and was one of 44 linemen nationally named to the prestigious Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List. He was also on the 2014 Rimington and Outland Trophy watch lists. The Arizona Cardinals picked Boehm in the fourth round (128th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. He appeared in every Cardinals game as a rookie. He’s now played in over 50 games with 20 starts in four seasons with the Cardinals, Colts and his current team the Miami Dolphins. Boehm and Lee’s Summit West, coached by Evan’s father Royce, won the Missouri Class 5 state football championship in 2010. He also captured individual state titles in wrestling (heavyweight) and track (discus) in a standout athletic career for the Titans.
Known for his speed and athleticism at quarterback, Bubba Starling racked up 2,418 yards on 174 rushes with 31 touchdowns, an average of 14 yards per carry. He tallied nine rushing touchdowns of 50 yards or more. Starling also threw for over 800 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. The Trailblazers offense scored 53 points per game. A truly elite athlete, Starling also averaged 28 points for the basketball team as a senior and had a standout career as a pitcher and hitter on the baseball diamond. The first-ever Simone winner from Gardner-Edgerton, Starling was a highly-rated football and baseball prospect. He committed to play college football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers but ultimately chose to pursue professional baseball after the Kansas City Royals selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft. KC inked Starling to a club-record $7.5 million bonus at the signing deadline. Starling made his long-awaited major league debut July 12, 2019 against the Detroit Tigers. He played in 56 games, batting .215 with four homers and 12 RBI.
from Olathe North, most of any school. Despite that tremendous history of individual stars, Franklin captured numerous school records in his Eagles career. He ran for 2,803 yards and 31 touchdowns in a senior season that saw Olathe North win an undefeated Kansas Class 6A state title. Franklin went out with a bang, running for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the state championship win over Wichita Heights. For his career, Franklin ran for 5,916 yards, breaking the record previously held by Darren Sproles by almost 700 yards. He also set a new single game rushing record at Olathe North with 340 yards. Franklin signed to play football for the University of Nebraska-Omaha. After a productive freshman season in which he tallied 766 rushing yards and a team-best 10 touchdowns, Franklin was forced to transfer when UNO dropped football. He landed at Northwest Missouri State where he immediately had one of the top five rushing seasons in school history with 1,247 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011. Sadly, James died in January 2015 at the age of 23. He is missed.
Blaine Dalton finished an amazing four-year varsity career with a trip to the Missouri Class 6 Title game and the Simone Award. As a senior, Dalton passed for 2,335 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,164 yards and 14 more scores. He helped his team to a state title as a sophomore, and was 34-5 overall at Blue Springs South, including 1-1 as a freshman. His final career numbers at Blue Springs South were 5,604 yards passing and 60 touchdowns, to go along with 2,275 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns.
Nathan Scheelhaase was the first underclassman to ever win the Simone Award. As a junior at Rockhurst, he led the Hawklets to a perfect 13-0 record and the Missouri Class 6 Championship. He passed for 1,764 yards and 18 TDs and rushed for 799 yards and 12 scores. He followed that up with a senior year of 1,726 yards and 17 TDs while rushing for 864 yards and 18 TDs, but narrowly lost out on a repeat Simone by one of the closest votes in the award’s history. Scheelhaase went on to a record-setting career at the University of Illinois. In his final game for the Illini he set the school record for career total offense with 10,634 yards (2,066 rushing, 8,568 passing), the seventh-best total in Big Ten history. He threw for 3,272 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2013 as a senior. He closed out his career ranked in the Illinois record book in numerous categories: second in career rushing yards by a quarterback and 15th in career rushing yardage (2,066 yards), third in career passing yardage (8,568 yards), third in career touchdowns (55), and second in career completion percentage (63.0 percentage). Also recognized for contributions beyond football, during his redshirt year in 2009, he earned the Faculty Award for exemplary leadership in community, classroom and on field. Scheelhaase returned to the Simone Awards as the featured speaker in 2012 at Blue Springs High School. He started his college coaching career at his alma mater Illinois and is now the wide receivers coach at Iowa State. He was named to the 2019 247Sports list of “30Under30” rising stars in college football coaching.
Zach Rampy’s senior season was unblemished, as he led the Tigers, coached by his father Steve, to the Kansas 5A Championship and a perfect 13-0 record. He finished the year with 1,917 yards passing and 27 passing TDs, while also rushing for 588 yards and 11 more scores. He went on to play collegiately at Emporia State University. Unfortunately, he was forced to retire from football due to head injuries he suffered his redshirt sophomore year after starting three games. He went into coaching, following in his dad’s footsteps. After a stint as a graduate assistant at Pitt State and Butler County Community College, Rampy was named the head coach at Shawnee Mission North for the 2018 season.
osh Freeman won the Simone Award after an outstanding senior season at Grandview High. He led the Bulldogs to a District title while passing for 29 touchdowns in 11 games. He opened the season with a 403-yard, 4 TD performance against St. Joseph Central. Later in the year, he tossed six touchdown passes at Raytown. He would finish his prep career with 7,175 yards passing and 78 touchdowns. He signed with Kansas State University, where he earned the starting nod as a true freshman. He was the only freshman in the country to lead his team to a bowl game. A three-year starter with the Wildcats, he finished his three-year career with 8,078 yards passing and 44 touchdowns. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded up two spots to draft Freeman in the first round, No. 17 overall, in the 2009 National Football League Draft. He was a two-time NFC Player of the Week in 2010 and an alternate for the Pro Bowl. He eclipsed 4,000 passing yards in 2012, the second-best single-season total in Bucs history. He finished his NFL career with nearly 14,000 passing yards and 81 touchdowns over six seasons.
The son of former NFL player Paul Coffman, Chase Coffman earned the 2004 Simone Award while leading the Raymore-Peculiar Panthers to the first football State Title in school history. Catching footballs from his younger brother and QB Carson, Coffman was a big target for the Panthers. Twice the brothers hooked up for three touchdown games in 2004. He would finish the year with 41 receptions for 886 yards and 16 TDs. Chase went on to the University of Missouri, where he became one of college football’s top tight ends. In four years with the Tigers, he amassed 247 catches for 2,659 yards and 30 TDs. The 247 catches is an NCAA record, and helped Coffman win the 2008 Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end. Coffman was selected in the third round of the 2009 National Football League Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, pick no. 98 overall. Coffman made his NFL debut for the Bengals November 14, 2010. He also played for the Atlanta Falcons before joining the Tennessee Titans in 2014, grabbing his first NFL touchdown reception on Monday Night Football versus Pittsburgh. Coffman just finished his first season as a full-time assistant, coaching receivers at his alma mater Ray-Pec for his former head coach Tom Kruse.
Michael Keenan was an outstanding tailback for the Northmen, leading them to a 7-3 record in 2003. A workhorse of a back, he produced 287 yards rushing and 5 TDs against rival Park Hill. In Districts that year, he carried the ball 42 times for 323 yards and three touchdowns, but Oak Park came up a point short against Blue Springs. He finished the year with 1,908 yards and 23 touchdowns. Keenan signed to play college football at Nebraska as a linebacker.
In 2002, Olathe North featured another star tailback that would go on to win the Simone Award. Jim Bouknight broke Darren Sproles’ rushing record at Olathe North by tallying 2,793 yards and 34 touchdowns for the Eagles. He rushed for a school-record 330 yards in a win over Olathe East. The Eagles won the Kansas 6A Championship for the sixth time in seven years. Bouknight went on to play at Central Missouri State as a running back.
Following in the footsteps of Darren Sproles and other great tailbacks from Olathe North, Maurice Mack produced 2,089 yards rushing as a senior and 24 TDs. He also passed 3-for-3 on the year – all three for touchdowns. In the Kansas 6A Title game, he rushed for two scores and passed for another as Olathe North won the State Championship for the fifth time in six years. Mack signed with Kansas State as a linebacker. He played 49 games in four seasons, finishing with 99 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Sproles is arguably the most prolific running back the Kansas City area has ever produced. At just 5-foot-6 he runs with power and speed alike. In his senior season at Olathe North, he rushed for 2,485 yards and 49 touchdowns while leading the 12-0 Eagles to their fourth State Title in five seasons. His numbers would have been even greater if he hadn’t sat out many fourth quarters and some third due to the Eagles’ lopsided scores. He finished his high school career with 5,230 yards, 79 touchdowns and 8.4 yards per carry. Sproles went on to Kansas State, where Division I defenses had no more success stopping him than high school defenses did. In 45 games over four years, Sproles rushed for 4,969 yards and 45 touchdowns. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting his junior year after amassing 1,986 yards and scoring 11 TDs. The San Diego Chargers drafted Sproles in the fourth round of the 2005 National Football League Draft, pick No. 130 overall. Initially a punt and kick returner while backing up LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner with the Chargers, he set an NFL record by returning a kick and punt for his first two NFL touchdowns – the only player in league history to ever achieve that feat. In 2009, he filled in for the injured Tomlinson at running back in the AFC Wild Card Game. Sproles ran for two touchdowns, rushed for 105 yards, had 45 yards receiving and 178 return yards. The 328 all-purpose yards were the third-most in a single game in NFL history. Sproles signed a free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints before the 2011 season and had his best year as a professional, setting new career highs for rushing, receiving and punt return yards. Sproles signed with Philadelphia in 2014 where he had three elite all-purpose seasons before injuries have hampered his last three campaigns. Last month, he again suffered a season-ending injury and signs point to retirement. If his NFL career is indeed over, Sproles made a compelling case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as he stands fifth all-time in all-purpose yards with 19,696, just behind Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. Only two players in NFL history have ever had a game of at least 50 yards rushing, 50 yards receiving and 100 return yards – Sproles in 2008 and the great Gale Sayers with the Chicago Bears.
Brandon Shelby was an exciting two-way player for Rockhurst in 1999. A star running back, he rushed for 2,181 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior. He also returned 22 punts and kicks, and finished with 2,362 yards of total offense. Shelby played college football at the University of Oklahoma, where he was a four-year letterwinner and two-time Academic all-Big 12 selection. He has continued his football career as a college coach, making stops at the University of Oklahoma (2006), University of Arizona (2007), University of San Diego (2008), Portland State University (2009), and University of Lousiana-Monroe (2010). He is now in his ninth season with the Indiana Hoosiers as the cornerbcks coach.
A hard-hitting linebacker and fullback for the Hawklets, Sean Doyle put fear in an opponent from both sides of the ball. He helped the Hawklets to a 12-1 record and State Semifinals appearance by posting 139 tackles and rushing for 615 yards and 9 TDs. He also scored 38 points as the team’s kicker. He later starred at the University of Missouri. He started two games and played in all 11 as a true freshman. In his sophomore year he recorded 80 tackles and six sacks. As a junior, he led the Big 12 Conference in tackles with 131, while twice posting 17-tackle games. He finished his career with 358 tackles, No. 7 all-time with the Tigers.
osh Brewer took over as the starter at quarterback in the seventh game of his junior year and helped the team to an undefeated State Title. As a senior, he again led the Eagles to an undefeated season and their second consecutive Kansas 6A Title. He rushed for 972 yards and passed for 1,451 yards, combining for 16 touchdowns. He also had eight interceptions as a defensive back. Josh signed on with Mid-America Nazarene University and became the starter at quarterback in his freshman season. He left Mid-America Nazarene at the end of his first semester to fulfill his goal of becoming a United States Marine. Josh has quickly ascended through the Corp. As of 2009, he has attained the rank of staff sergeant in charge of two platoons in Japan.
A powerful runner out of Blue Springs, Ladell Betts led the Wildcats to a 10-1 record as a senior. He finished the year with 2,263 yards and 32 touchdowns while playing most of the season with a broken right hand. He went on to the University of Iowa, playing four seasons. As a junior in 1999, he rushed for every one of Iowa’s 1,090 yards that season. As a senior, he led Iowa in rushing again and was named second-team all-Big Ten. He finished his career at Iowa playing in 43 games and rushing for 3,686 yards (2nd all-time at Iowa) and 25 touchdowns. He is the only Hawkeye to ever lead the team in rushing in four different seasons. Betts was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the second round of the 2002 National Football League Draft, no. 56 overall. After eight seasons with the Redskins, Betts signed with the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints for 2010, his last year in the league. For his career, Betts rushed for over 3,300 yards and 15 TDs.
Arland Bruce III is the original Olathe North all-purpose running back. As a senior he rushed for 1,696 yards. He finished his high school career with more than 3,000 yards rushing and 50 TDs. After two years at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, Bruce played two years at the University of Minnesota. As a wide receiver, he helped the Golden Gophers to an 8-3 record and Sun Bowl berth as a senior. Although he had brief stints in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, Bruce amassed big numbers in the Canadian Football League. He finished his career with 12,765 receiving yards and 100 touchdowns, including playoffs, in 12 seasons in the CFL with stints in Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, BC and Montreal. He topped 1,000 receiving yards in a season six times, including a career-high 1,370 yards in 2006. Bruce won two Grey Cup championships in his career, was a three-time CFL All-Star and in 2011, he became just the 14th receiver in CFL history to go over 10,000 receiving yards for his career.
Eddie Brooks helped propel the Blue Springs South High School team to a perfect regular season and a defeat of rival Blue Springs High in the playoffs. He finished the season with 48 catches for 895 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also returned three punts for scores and had an interception return for a touchdown. For his career, he finished with 116 catches for 1,882 yards and 24 TDs. Brooks’ finest moment was his five-touchdown performance against Blue Springs. He had four TD catches and an interception return touchdown in the game.
Jason Thoren helped Lawrence win the final two of five consecutive Kansas 6A Championships in 1992 and 1993. A hard-hitting linebacker and running back, he amassed 170 tackles and 1,260 yards rushing as a senior. Thoren was a three-year starter at the University of Kansas after his prep career. From 1994-97 he amassed 306 tackles to rank 10th all-time at KU. He also earned All-Big 8 and All-Big 12 honors. He played professionally in NFL Europe and the Arena Football League before beginning a football coaching career. After stints at Lawrence Free State High School and the University of Minnesota, Thoren began a 15-year stint as Defensive Coordinator at Baker University and was three times named the Heart of America Conference Assistant Coach of the Year. In February of 2019, Thoren was promoted to the head coaching position at Baker. The Wildcats went 9-3 in Thoren’s first season, capturing a fifth-straight Heart of America South Division title.
Nate Minnis led Blue Springs High School to its first-ever football State Championship. The Wildcats finished 13-1 and defeated Parkway Central in the state title game. Minnis passed for a then-state record 353 yards in the win. As a senior, he passed for 3,026 yards and 34 touchdowns while hitting 216 of 381 passes. He ran for 566 yards and nine touchdowns. He also returned a kick for a score. In two seasons, he led Blue Springs to a 24-3 record. Minnis would sign with Truman State University. He played for the Bulldogs from 1994-97, finishing seventh at the school in career passing yards (4,646) and seventh all-time in total offense (5,011 yards).
Andy Murray helped the Blue Valley Tigers to the 1991 Kansas 5A Championship, the first in the school’s history. The Tigers finished a perfect 12-0 that season, as Murray rushed 274 times for 1,740 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also caught 10 passes for 125 yards and one score. On defense, he compiled 140 tackles as a linebacker for the Tigers. Murray went on to play at Washburn University as a fullback.
As a quarterback and defensive back, Kevin McIntosh had a fine senior season for the Cougars. He passed for 1,038 yards and seven scores. He rushed for 886 yards and 16 TDs. He also returned one punt for a touchdown. On defense, he finished with 48 tackles and six interceptions.
Jeff Handy is one of the most prolific passing quarterbacks in Missouri history. As a senior at Blue Springs, he was 281 of 417 passing for 3,452 yards – all Kansas City metro records. He also tossed 42 touchdown passes in just eight games. He went on to the University of Missouri where he continued to set records. Handy holds Missouri records for single-game attempts (73), single-game completions (43) and single-game yards (480). His 2,463 passing yards in a single-season and 6,959 career passing yards also rank among the best marks all-time at Mizzou.
Hart led the Schlagle Stallions to a 9-2 mark his senior season as a quarterback and defensive back. He passed for 1,394 yards and 10 TDs, while rushing for 341 yards and 10 more scores. On defense, he contributed three interceptions. He went on to sign with Arizona State University.
Kenyon Rasheed gave Rockhurst back-to-back Simone Award winners. A bruising tailback at 5-foot-10 and 245 pounds, he helped the Hawklets to a 12-1 record and a Missouri Championship as a senior. He rushed for 1,628 yards with 18 TDs and finished with more than 1,800 yards in total offense. He went on to the University of Oklahoma where he played four years and was named to the Big 8 all-Academic team four years. He went on to play three seasons in the National Football League for the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Tim Ryan helped the Hawklets to an 11-1 record as a senior and the Missouri Class 5A Championship. He finished with 17 catches for 203 yards and four touchdowns. Defensively, he contributed 106 tackles. He would sign on to play offensive line at the University of Notre Dame, lettering all four years. After his collegiate career, Ryan played three seasons (1991-93) on the offensive line for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He appeared in 37 games, including one start.
Craig Phillips led the Lee’s Summit Tigers to the state playoffs after a perfect regular season. As a dual-threat QB, Phillips rushed for 478 yards and six touchdowns. He also passed for 403 yards and four more scores. In a semifinal victory over St. Louis University High School, Phillips returned a kick 97 yards for a touchdown and ran an interception back 52 yards for another score.
The Grandview Bulldogs enjoyed their best season in school history with Shawn Long at quarterback. The senior passed for 1,779 yards and 10 TDs, while rushing for eight more scores. Those efforts helped lead the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record and the school’s only appearance in the State Semifinals. He also garnered all-conference, all-district, all-metro and all-State honors. He went on to sign with Indiana State University. Shawn is an active member of the Simone Award Committee, regularly attending meetings and participating in the execution of the annual awards ceremony.
Jeff Kelso was a prolific high school football and baseball player at Park Hill. Although his senior year team finished just 3-7, Kelso passed for 1,402 yards and five TDs. He also rushed for 296 yards and four more scores. As a punter, he averaged more than 38 yards per punt. After winning the inaugural Simone Award, Kelso went on to play football at the University of Missouri. After his college football career, Kelso was drafted in the 1988 Major League Baseball June Draft, a ninth-round pick of the California Angels. As a minor league baseball player, Kelso played three seasons in the Angels organization. Kelso has embraced his role as the first Simone Award winner, actively supporting the Simone-Fontana Foundation in a variety of ways.