KCK school board changes academic eligibility requirements for athletes

The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools Board of Education amended the athletic eligibility policy on Tuesday night.

The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools Board of Education voted 5-2 on Tuesday night to approve changes to academic eligibility requirements for athletes and for students involved in activities.

The new policy amendment calls for athletes who are failing or whose grades are below a C average to have a student support plan in place at their school in order to practice or play. The students who do not follow their student support plan would not be allowed to practice or play, according to the policy.

The plan calls for students to attend after-school tutoring for 30 minutes before they go to practice. Also, weekly grade checks are part of the program.

Those students who do not participate in the student support plan would not be allowed to practice or play, according to the policy.

School board members discussed whether or not the students would be required to bring their grades up within a certain time period, such as two or four weeks.

Board member Dr. Valdenia Winn, who voted against the policy change, said an end time was not clearly stated in the written policy. Dr. Winn said there were internal contradictions in the policy.

She said she was for a policy with more accountability.

Tammie Romstad, the district’s athletic director, said if students who need to bring up their grades do not make an appointment to work with their teachers the next week, they would not get to play.

Romstad said she surveyed districts in Wyandotte County, and that other districts did not have any eligibility policies different from Kansas State High School Athletic Association on their websites. The KCK district had stricter eligibility guidelines than KSHSAA. The KSHSAA guidelines are measured by grades at semester, according to officials.

Romstad said she was a proponent of setting higher standards. However, there has been a difference in getting assignments done and graded, caused by quarantines, she said.

She said the athletic directors at schools would be sending her weekly reports on grades, and she would review them. If the student support plan for each individual wasn’t working, it would be modified, she said.

Stephen Linkous, chief of staff, said they went to weekly grade checks two years ago, and the students’ grades greatly improved,prior to COVID.

“This does bring a positive push to keep students engaged,” Linkous said.

Dr. Stacy Yeager, a board member, supported the change in eligibility policy.

“Students and coaches are doing everything possible to do the best they can do,” Dr. Yeager said.

Parents are telling board members to give them policies similar to their counterparts, Dr. Yeager said.

Board Vice President Yolanda Clark said a lot of kids need their coaches, and when they remove students from the coaches, they set them up to fail.

Board member Wanda Paige said students should be required to keep their grades up in order to play, and that federal funds are available to help athletes with mental health counseling.

She suggested making mental health counseling a part of the SSP program, “because something is obviously wrong.” However, the board did not amend it to add mental health counseling.

Voting yes for the eligibility policy change were Yolanda Clark, Maxine Drew, Janey Humphries, Randy Lopez and Stacy Yeager. Voting no were Wanda Paige and Valdenia Winn.

The issue also was voted upon in September, with a similar result. It was a “third reading” for the policy.

Bonner Springs loses 29-7 to Louisburg

Senior running back Brandin Andrew stiff-armed his way through a tackle. Andrew scored Bonner Springs’ only touchdown of the game on a fumble recovery. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Louisburg pulled out its bag of tricks Friday night in Bonner Springs, defeating the Braves 29-7.

The Wildcats caught Bonner Springs off guard by starting the game with an onside kick, which they recovered to get an early possession advantage.

Though the maneuver didn’t pay off in points on that drive, it set the tone for a game. Louisburg recovered two onside kicks, faked a punt, scored on a flea flicker, and drew two encroachment penalties with hard snap counts.

The teams traded long but unproductive drives and ended with a scoreless first quarter. In the second quarter, the Wildcats scored first, hitting a field goal after the Braves stopped them at the 6-yard line.

Bonner Springs handed the ball back with less than a minute in the half. Louisburg quarterback Declan Battle appeared to fumble on the second play from scrimmage. Bonner Springs recovered the ball, but the referee had already whistled the ball carrier down.

After a lengthy, heated discussion among the officials and coaches, the players lined up again and on the next play, Louisburg scored a trick-play 80-yard touchdown. The extra point kick was blocked by Bonner’s James Andrewjeski to hold the Wildcats to a 9-0 halftime lead.

The Wildcats scored on a 19-yard pass play after halftime. Louisburg was in a bind at 4th down and 7 yards to go, but used a fake punt to gain a first down and keep the scoring drive going.

Bonner’s only score came on a defensive play in the third quarter. Brandin Andrew recovered a Louisburg fumble and ran it back 20 yards for a touchdown, bringing the Braves within one score at 15-7.

On the Braves’ next drive, they drove the ball with determination, and running back Peyton Parks kept the sticks moving with strong runs. The drive stalled out in the Louisburg end, and an incomplete pass on fourth down handed the ball back at the 32-yard line.

Louisburg pushed the advantage again in the fourth quarter. Bonner safety Wyatt Caldwell knocked running back Ashton Moore out of bounds at the 1-yard line, but the stop was only temporary. The Wildcats earned the touchdown two plays later on a 5-yard quarterback keeper.

The final margin was decided when Bonner gave up a fumble on a late drive, returned by Louisburg for a 29-7 score.

The loss drops Bonner Springs to 1-4. The Braves will play host to the Tonganoxie Chieftains at 7 p.m. next Friday.

Senior quarterback Kaleb Farmer looked down field for a receiver. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior safety Wyatt Caldwell dived to stop Louisburg freshman running back Ashton Moore short of the goal line. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Participants in the Bonner Springs Little Cheer program performed a routine after the first quarter. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Bonner Springs Dazzlers dance team performed at halftime. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Bonner Springs marching band performed at halftime. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Bonner Springs cheerleaders performed stunts before the fourth quarter. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior linebacker Jermiah Ledbetter brought down Louisburg freshman running back Ashton Moore. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Defensive back Tyler Keltner hauled down Louisburg receiver Jackson Kush after a catch. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior defensive end Anthony Fortin closed in on Louisburg quarterback Declan Battle. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior running back Peyton Parks ran around the right side of the line. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

A hard hit on senior receiver James Andrewjeski prevented a catch. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

Piper defense holds off Chieftains’ late charge, 23-20

Senior defensive back Divante Herrig-Brittian (4) came down with an interception that sealed the Pirates’ 23-20 victory over Tonganoxie. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Piper held off a second half comeback attempt from the Tonganoxie Chieftains for a 23-20 win on Friday in Piper. Divante Herrig-Brittian was the late-game hero for the Pirates, making two game-saving defensive plays in the fourth quarter.

Herrig-Brittian’s first game-changer was a downfield tackle that kept Tonganoxie from a go-ahead touchdown. Tonganoxie receiver Sam Kleidosty broke away for a long run and was headed for the end zone, but Piper’s speedy senior gave chase and brought him down at the Piper 11-yard line.

The tackle proved decisive moments later when the Piper defense forced a fumble and kept Tonganoxie off the board.

Herrig-Brittian sealed the game with an interception after Piper punted the ball back to the Chieftains with just under two minutes remaining. He kept his position in front of Tonganoxie receiver Jesse Young and timed his leap to haul in the pass. From there, Piper ran out the clock from the victory formation.

Tonganoxie was able to challenge in the fourth quarter because of two Piper miscues in the third quarter. Piper held a 23-7 lead at halftime, but an extremely short punt let Tonganoxie start an early third quarter drive from the Piper 20. The Chieftains converted the touchdown but failed the 2-point conversion, trailing 23-13.

On the ensuing drive, Piper fumbled the ball back to Tonganoxie at the Pirates’ 21-yard line. Once again, the Chieftains seized the opportunity, and climbed within 3 points.

Senior reserve quarterback Blake Porter filled in for regular starter Logan Ladish, sidelined with an injury. Porter threw two touchdown passes to Colin Vigil, and scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. Porter was also effective with intermediate passes to Ethan Walker.

Kicker Zane Busick opened the scoring with a field goal when Tonganoxie’s defense forced a stop on the opening drive.

The win gives Piper a 4-1 record, and they remain undefeated at 4-0 in the Pioneer League. They have another conference home game at 7 p.m. next Friday against the 2-3 Paola Panthers.

Senior defensive back Divante Herrig-Brittian prevented a touchdown by running down Tonganoxie receiver Sam Kleidosty. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior quarterback Blake Porter scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior receiver Ethan Walker found a seam in the Tonganoxie secondary and leaped for a reception. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Piper stands were packed for the game, with the student section dressed for “Pink Out” night. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Piper cheerleaders performed a routine at halftime. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior quarterback Blake Porter was stopped by Tonganoxie defender Jaxon Smith on fourth down at the goal line. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior receiver Colin Vigil caught a first-half touchdown pass. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior Caton Lanter defended a Tonganoxie pass attempt. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior running back Miguel Martin ran around the right end of the Tonganoxie line. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior quarterback Blake Porter threw to junior receiver Colin Vigil along the right sideline. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior lineman Christopher Craig set up a block. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior kicker Zane Busick converted a field goal and two PATs. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Piper cheerleaders celebrated the win after the final whistle. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)