Winning state championships three out of the last four years puts a massive target on Derby’s back. It brings a sense of pride to the Panthers, understanding what they’ve accomplished since their first title under coach Brandon Clark in 2013.
Despite those accolades, the program isn’t taking its attention off the week-to-week process as it eyes another playoff run.
Derby (9-0) will welcome Wichita West (6-3) in the Class 6A Regional round, facing coach Weston Schartz’s program for the first time since 2015. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
“We have to be very thorough with everything,” Clark said. “We have to think of every trick play or formation that teams will throw at us … We’re on high alert right now and it’s important we get better every day.”
The Pioneers have quietly put together a successful run in Schartz’s second tenure with the program. Since 2012, they’ve reached five or more wins five times. It’s also a team that he took to the 1997 state championship game over his tenure from 1987 to 2001.
Wichita West is loaded with underclassmen, playing primarily freshmen and sophomores last fall. One year older, Clark said the athleticism and growth is evident for a group that’s climbing the ranks in the City League.
“They are a young group, but they don’t look young,” Clark said. “They’re really physical. They’re a mature and disciplined group, too, and Coach Schartz has done a great job with implementing his system there.”
Replacing eight starters in its defense brought an unknown to Derby’s season.
Clark said the potential of the Panthers’ 2019 defense was never a question, but nine weeks in, he believes the group took the baton and ran even faster than expected.
The unit has allowed 154 yards per contest, including a meager 62 yards on the ground. The perspective is even more impressive as Derby’s offense has run for nearly five times as many yards as its opposition.
2019 Derby football statistics (through week 9)
Lem Wash, 26-of-46 (56%), 766 yards, 9 TD, 1 INT
Grant Adler, 43-of-68 (63%), 735 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT
Tre Washington, 121 carries, 1,091 yards, 16 TD
Lem Wash, 56 carries, 707 yards, 14 TD
Grant Adler, 56 carries, 490 yards, 8 TD
Cavion Walker, 20 catches, 388 yards, 7 TD
Jacob Karsak, 15 catches, 329 yards, 3 TD
Reid Liston, 10 catches, 156 yards, 2 TD
Tanner Knox, 3 INT, 1 FR
Terry Ginyard, 3 INT
Brecken Kooser, 1 INT, 2 FR
Cole Minton 1 INT, 1 FR
Ladell Clemons, Coleson Syring, Corey Akins 1 INT
Daniel Archer, Jack Hileman, Tyler Dorsey 2 FR
Jace Jenkins, Trent Voth, Reid Liston, Cason Lindsey, 1 FR
4,071 yards of offense (446 ypg)
2,778 rushing yards (308 ypg)
1,239 passing yards (137 ypg)
3rd down conversions: 24-for-56 (42%)
4th down conversions: 13-for-28 (46%)
Opponent total yards: 1,388 (154 ypg)
Opponent rushing yards: 558 (62 ypg)
Opponent passing yards: 830 (92 ypg)
Opponent 3rd down: 22-for-114 (18%)
Opponent 4th down: 10-for-28 (35%)