The high school football season is finally here. It wasn’t a full slate in Week 1 for the city teams, with Topeka High, Topeka West and Highland Park all off due to TPS 501 cancellations. The other four schools in Topeka were able to play this week, however, and there were a few special performances deserving of recognition with helmet stickers.
-DESMOND PURNELL, SR, HAYDEN: Hayden recorded seven touchdowns in a dismantling of Emporia on Friday night, and it was Purnell who scored four of them. That included an interception return for a score, a 26-yard touchdown run and two receiving touchdowns of over 50 yards. He finished the 47-7 victory with 182 total yards from scrimmage.
-WILL DeVADER, SR, HAYDEN: The Wildcats’ other three touchdowns in Week 1? They were all propoerty of DeVader. He carried the ball eight times in the win and racked up 74 yards, including six on his first score and one on his second, both of which came in the first quarter, and 40 on the last of his touchdowns.
-REID COWAN, SR, SEAMAN: The Seaman Vikings came out of the gates with a fervor and fury this season, and their senior quarterback was one of the biggest reasons why. He thrived through the air with 177 yards on 11-of-17 passing with a touchdown, and he also scored once once on the ground. Cowan was a force on defense, too, recording a sack and multiple tackles for loss in Seaman’s 42-8 win over Washburn Rural on the Envista Credit Union Game of the Week.
-NATHAN ZEFERJAHN, SR, SEAMAN: The Vikings got out to a 28-0 halftime lead this past Friday and Zeferjahn was one of the biggest reasons why. He led all rushers in yardage in the win with 70 on 12 carries and scored three first-half touchdowns in Seaman’s blowout win. He played a major role in the defense’s big game as well, with numerous tackles and a pass breakup.
Other top performers in northeast Kansas this week:
-DEVIN NEAL, LAWRENCE: In a Week 1 demolition of Shawnee Heights the future Kansas Jayhawk rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries, and he caught two passes for 51 yards and another score.
-TORREY HORAK, ROSSVILLE: Horak was one of several big key performers for the Bulldawgs in a win over reigning 1A state champion Centralia this past Friday. He scored three of Rossville’s six touchdowns in the 42-6 rout, including the last three of the night.
-WILLIAM WELCH, PERRY-LECOMPTON: The Kaws cruised to a win over Jeff West in Week 1, with Welch completing 9-of-11 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns, plus a 35-yard rushing touchdown.
-SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION, GOODLAND: No, the Goodland Cowboys are not in northeast Kansas. In fact, not even close. And this is a far more bizarre nomination than for any one player. But this story is worth sharing.
The COVID-19 era is already giving us some all-time unique moments in high school football.