BV North 2020 state title game

BV North wide receiver Cole Stratton evades an Olathe North defender in its 30-20 sub-state win on Friday, Nov. 20. The Mustangs are advancing to their third state championship game in four years.

The question is not what has, but what hasn’t happened to BV North over the last year?

The Mustangs entered 2020 with an itch to jump back on the field after a 5-6 season. While the record might be average on paper, it didn’t sit that way for coach Andy Sims’ roster, dropping four games by seven points or less.

While it began its fall with a 2-2 record, it washed out the taste of a below .500 season with five-straight wins and a trip to the 6A state championship game. Its 30-20 win over Olathe North in sub-state sets up a third championship game against Derby (8-2) in the last four years. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. Nov. 28 from the College Boulevard Activity Center in Olathe, Kan.

Like any other sport across the country, BV North wasn’t immune to the challenges surrounding COVID-19 both in preseason and in season.

All activity was at a standstill for much of the summer due to health protocols by the county and the Blue Valley school district. They had zero football activity and were also left without conditioning until running was allowed later in the summer.

Much like its Johnson County and league counterparts, BV North also endured some preseason transfers when the schedule was in flux.

“We never had a practice and we weren’t allowed to have camps,” coach Andy Sims said. “… we didn’t do a squat all summer.”

Not a single tackle was made until it dressed to face BV Southwest in its modified season opener on Sept. 18.

“To go from that [kind of preseason] to this schedule certainly has been challenging,” Sims added.

While the Mustangs didn’t go unblemished through their 2020 schedule, they saw the maturation of a young, but very talented corps. Junior quarterback Henry Martin (6-1, 190) and Topeka transfer and wide receiver Mekhi Miller (6-1, 185) make up just one pair of weapons on their offense.

“Henry is a kid I had in my youth camps when I first got here,” Sims said. “… He loves football, but it’s special when it’s at the quarterback position and we’re a quarterback-driven offense that [spreads it out].”

Defensively, brothers Daeh (CB, 6-1, 175, SO) and Dasan McCullough (S, 6-5, 220, JR) make up two of three returning starters in the secondary.

Dasan, who’ll play linebacker at the next level, made his pledge to Ohio State on Aug. 18. Younger brother Daeh is still balancing offers from, among others, Arizona State, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan and Penn State. The football roots are deep in the family in part to their father Deland, who is the running back coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The eldest McCullough brother had 10 tackles, an interception, forced fumble and blocked an extra point in its win against Olathe North on Friday.

“Dasan is phenomenal,” Sims said. “Like Henry he has taken on a leadership role. You can do a lot of stuff from the secondary, but you need [your front seven] working together if the ball gets to you.”

Its sub-state win also included 24 unanswered points against the defending 6A East state representative. The fact that it was Olathe North that ended its season one year prior only added to the celebration of the sub-state win.

Even though BV North is two years removed from a state title game, Sims hasn’t had to worry about his roster’s ability to prepare for a state-caliber opponent.

A gauntlet of a league schedule through the Eastern Kansas League (EKL) has both helped and sometimes knocked Sims’ program. Even just two losses can be detrimental in playoff seeding as it learned this fall. It fell to the No. 6 east seed after dropping games to Blue Valley and BV West.

“Yeah we play a 4A school, but it’s called Bishop Miege,” he said. “We play 5A schools and they are called Mill Valley [now in the Sunflower League] and St. Thomas Aquinas. The other 4A school is St. James Academy and that doesn’t include a lot of really good 6A programs.”

At the same time, Sims said its experience is only one part in facing Derby for a third time in four years. The longtime coach highlighted Derby’s depth, noting its football development at a younger age.

“Everybody over here respects Derby and a lot of coaches would love to emulate what they do,” Sims added.

The tape of Derby’s 45-14 season-opening loss at Mill Valley does offer some intrigue to Sims, given his experience against Clark’s program and the matchups they had against the Jaguars while both playing in the EKL.

“You can look at Mill Valley tape, but you better be as good as Mill Valley to do some of the same stuff they were doing in that game,” he added.

Sims, however, said development over the course of nine games paints a different picture of the Derby roster it’ll see on Saturday in Olathe.

“Derby is hitting its stride and it has players that are back from previous [state] games,” Sims said. “… Its coaches have been making corrections over the 10 weeks since with those kids. Pick a position, those players have gotten so much better this season.”

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