Derby 2020 state champions

Derby’s eyes lit up at the sound of a three-peat and who could blame them? 

Senior quarterback Lem Wash was the last player to leave the field at the College Boulevard Activity Center in Olathe and was nearly speechless at the thought. 

It wasn’t for himself, but the program that he and 19 seniors helped guide to its first set of three-straight championships and six titles in the last eight years. 

Derby rattled off 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, guiding it to a 56-31 win over BV North in the Class 6A state championship game. It came in its sixth-straight state appearance and gives it seven state championships in school history. 

This was also the Panthers’ second win against the Mustangs in the last four years, splitting the first two matchups at state.

“I can’t put it into words,” Wash said. “This program has been so good to me and my teammates for four years and to end it like this is so special.”

Wash was one of two seniors to score three or more times as the quarterback ran for three and connected with classmate Reid Liston for three touchdowns in its blowout win.

It was a perfect ending to arguably Derby’s most up-and-down season during its state streak. It  lost two regular season games for the first time in nine years and sat out two weeks because of a COVID-19 quarantine. 

Liston said he and his Derby teammates heard the doubts after its losses in the regular season, giving Saturday’s result an even sweeter taste. 

“We had a lot of doubters and over time we played Derby football like we know we can.”

Head coach Brandon Clark challenged his team, in particular his seniors, to take the reins of the 2020 roster and the trust paid off when it mattered most. 

After giving up three-straight touchdown drives to open the game, the defense held BV North to 10 points over the remaining 35 minutes. 

“We told our seniors starting on defense that this was a statement game,” Clark said. “You want to make your mark and they did that, especially in the second half.”

Senior linebacker Jack Hileman and the Derby defense watched as its offense converted a pair of fourth-down conversions late in the second quarter. After failing to convert a third in a 21-21 tie, it fell on its defense to make a stop and keep BV North from striking again after an 80-yard touchdown pass on the previous drive. 

The defense, which was discussed as the Panthers’ biggest question mark this fall, put its best foot forward. Senior linebacker Coleson Syring stopped BV North wide receiver Mekhi Miller on a shovel pass and it led to punts on back-to-back drives. 

Its offense took the baton and scored on two consecutive plays, which came on 44 and 15-yard connections from Wash and Liston. 

The Mustang sideline went silent after the two scores and was even more shocked as quarterback Henry Martin was picked off by Panther senior safety Cason Lindsey in the final 40 seconds of the second quarter. 

“We just had to overcome the adversity,” Hileman said. “We couldn’t play down. We had to keep ourselves up and move on to that next play.”

Leading 35-21 with less than 20 seconds left in the first half, Wash pitched the ball to Liston and he connected with junior tight end Drake Thatcher for a 38-yard score. 

“That has been in the playbook for awhile and it’s a play you have ready just in case,” Liston said. “Lem called it in the huddle and I said, ‘oh no, no way we’re actually running this play.’ I just threw it up and [glad Drake caught it].”

As good as Wash had played previously as Derby’s quarterback, Clark felt his senior was prepared to finish on a high note. He has now scored 11 touchdowns in the last two state championship games.

“His maturity level has increased each and every game and isn’t forcing stuff,” Clark said. “He’s not forcing stuff and our offensive line played a heck of a game too.”


BV NORTH: 14 7 3 7— 31  

DERBY: 14 28 7 7— 56



D: Edwards 18-yard pass from Wash (Simmons kick)… 7-0 

BVN: Freberg 5-yard pass from Martin (PAT good)… 7-7 

D: Wash 13-yard run (Simmons kick)… 14-7 

BVN: Hendrickson 46-yard pass from Martin (PAT good)… 14-14 


D: Wash 28-yard run (Simmons kick)… 21-14 

BVN: C. Stratton 80-yard pass from Martin (PAT good)… 21-21 

D: Liston 44-yard pass from Wash (Simmons kick)… 28-21 

D: Liston 15-yard pass from Wash (Simmons kick)… 35-21 

D: D. Thatcher 38-yard pass from Liston (Simmons kick)… 42-21 


D: Liston 24-yard pass from Wash (Simmons kick)… 49-21 

BVN: Sprenger 22-yard FG… 49-24 


D: Wash 16-yard run (Simmons kick)… 56-24 

BVN: Bullock 3-yard run (PAT good)… 56-31 



Passing: Lem Wash, 16-19-239-4; Reid Liston, 1-1-40-1 

Rushing: Dylan Edwards, 22-170; Lem Wash, 19-110-3; Derek Hubbard, 3-6; Reid Liston, 1-1

Receiving: Reid Liston, 8-142-3; Mercer Thatcher, 4-60; Drake Thatcher, 2-48-1; Dylan Edwards, 2-21-1