Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of feature stories highlighting the area high school football standouts who were selected to play in the June 11 Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Mo-Kan All-Star Game that was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caleb Tanis is a young man who has made the most of his explosive – but brief – time on the football field at Van Horn High School.

The all-district and All-Crossroads Conference wide receiver caught 28 passes for 597 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Not bad for a receiver who had not played since his freshman season. Tanis, a first-team selection on The Examiner’s 2019 All-Area team, was a second-team pick on The Examiner’s All-Area basketball team as well after averaging 18 points a game his senior season.

“I played football as a freshman, then decided to concentrate on basketball, until our football coaches talked me into coming back my senior year – and I am so glad they did because I had a great time and a lot of success,” said Tanis, who has signed to play football at MidAmerica Nazarene University, an NAIA school in Olathe, Kansas.

“I love both sports, but there was a lot more interest in a 6-foot-4, 190-pound wide receiver then there was a basketball player. I rediscovered my love for football last season and am really looking forward to the future and what happens at MidAmerica Nazarene.”

Tanis said he was shocked to get a tweet from Van Horn coach William Harris earlier this week, telling him that he had been selected to be on the Missouri team for the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Mo-Kan All-Star Game. The June 11 contest was scheduled to be played at North Kansas City High School, but has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I know he was really looking forward to playing in the game,” said Harris, who was the Missouri all-star coach last season. “I hate it for all of the kids. It’s an honor to play in it and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Being selected is an honor but the experience of playing with the best in the city can’t be replaced.”

While Tanis is disappointed, he is taking a glass half full approach and get ready to play for MidAmerica Nazarene, which went 7-4 last season.

“That’s life and there is nothing I can do about it – there’s nothing anyone can do about it,” Tanis said. “It is such a great honor to be selected. Our program has received so much attention and recognition.

“We were all so excited last year when Coach Harris was the all-star coach. He told us what a great experience it was for him, and I wish I could share in that, but I can’t. So I’m just going to keep working hard this summer to get ready for college.”

That type of commitment is what makes Tanis special, Harris said, both on and off the field.

“Caleb is a great representative of our school,” Harris said. “His dedication to being the best in everything he participates in is awesome. Whether it’s on the field or in the classroom, he shows up everyday and does his best. If I had 50 Caleb Tanises, my life would be fantastic.”