Five Lions nab All-Kaw Valley League football honors
Lansing High senior Joe Kohl has spent the past two seasons as one of the most feared linebackers in the Kaw Valley League.
He was recognized last week for his stellar play when the league coaches selected him to the All-Kaw Valley League first team. Kohl headlined the LHS defense with a team-high 96 tackles. Of those tackles, a team-high 38 were unassisted. He also had a team-high three fumble recoveries and was second on the team with two interceptions.
In addition to the defensive honor, Kohl earned honorable mention status for his play as a tight end. He was Lansing's top receiver with 27 catches for 377 yards and four touchdowns.
"He was a one-way player a year ago, and he was suddenly a two-way player for us this year," LHS coach Bill Pekarek said. "Plus, he played some special teams. There were times when he wasn't even able to come off the field. He was big for us."
In addition to Kohl, four other Lions were recognized by league coaches for their play this season. Senior defensive end Angelo Barron earned second-team honors. Senior offensive lineman Peter Willcott, junior wide receiver Stephen Didde and junior tailback Chris Hill all were honorable mention selections.
Barron was Lansing's seventh-leading passer with 40 stops. He also had a fumble recovery.
"It seemed like teams ran away from him," Pekarek said. "That's our monster side, so people were trying to run away from him, our monster and Joe Kohl."
Pekarek said he was pleased to see Willcott recognized for his play on the line because Willcott has been one of the Lions' most consistent performers year after year.
"He was a three-year starter for us at left tackle," Pekarek said. "When we needed short yardage we went left. I knew any time we needed short yardage that was the side we were going to, and we generally got the yards."
Willcott was the go-to blocker, but Hill emerged as a go-to runner during the last half of the season after senior Kyle Grape tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Hill stepped into the starting position and had 72 carries for 358 yards. That's an average of five yards per carry. He also caught four passes for 52 yards. Hill ran for more than 100 yards two times in four starts and had a career-best 179 yards rushing against Mill Valley.
"The weird thing is Chris made a lot of yards between the goal lines, but he only got into the endzone once," Pekarek said. "He certainly gave the defenses something to think about and worry about because he is the kind of player that could break one and go the distance in one play."
Didde started the season slow at receiver, but by the second half of the season he was Lansing's most reliable target. He was second on the team with 23 catches for 370 yards. He also had four touchdowns.
"He was a big target, and that's what we like about him," Pekarek said of the 6-foot-5 Didde. "He came up with some huge catches for us."
Although Pekarek was happy for the players who were recognized by other league coaches, he said there were a few more Lions who deserved a spot on the All-KVL team that were left off. Specifically, Pekarek said senior quarterback J.T. Collins, junior linebacker David Dickson and junior defensive back Tim Torchio all merited recognition.
Collins threw for more yards (1,258) than any other quarterback in the league and also had 249 yards rushing despite being sacked numerous times.
"I felt like he should at least get honorable mention," Pekarek said.
Pekarek said Dickson deserved to be at least a second-team pick after finishing sixth in the league in total tackles with 89. He also recovered two fumbles and had 1.5 sacks.
Pekarek's biggest beef was with Torchio being left out. His five interceptions were the most by anybody in the league. He also returned those picks for a league-best 88 yards.
"That's unbelievable that we have a guy leading the category in stats and he doesn't even make honorable mention," Pekarek said. "That's where this deal is not right. Tim got ripped off. He made some great plays this year and I thought he deserved to be at least second-team."