Eagles are semifinalists for Simone Awards

Karl Zinke
The Examiner
Grain Valley senior quarterback Cole Keller breaks free on a run against Truman earlier this season. Keller has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the Simone Award, which is given to the top high school football player in the metro area.

Grain Valley, which made it to the state quarterfinals for the second straight year, has a pair of players up for major awards.

Senior quarterback Cole Keller has been named as one of the 10 semifinalists for the 2020 Simone Award, which is presented to the top overall high school football player in the metro area.

His teammate, senior linebacker Hunter Newsom, also was named as one of the 10 semifinalists for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented to the top large school lineman or linebacker in the metro area. Joining Newsom on the Buchanan short list is Blue Springs senior offensive and defensive lineman Beau Stephens.

Grain Valley senior linebacker Hunter Newsom. celebrating a sack this season, has been named as one of the 10 semifinalists for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented to the top large class lineman or linebacker in the metro area.

The pair helped the Eagles to a 10-2 record and a Class 5 state quarterfinal appearance. They were eliminated one step away from the state final four with a loss to Platte County.

Keller, who was named Suburban Middle Six (White) Offensive Player of the Year, led the Eagles’ high-powered offense, amassing 2,540 yards. He rushed for 1,232 yards and 20 touchdowns while passing for another 1,308 yards and 16 scores while completing 60% of his passes with just five interceptions.

Newsom was named Suburban Middle Six Defensive Player of the Year after tallying 160.5 tackles, including 15.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 11 games (Grain Valley won a district game by forfeit because of a COVID-19 quarantine).

Stephens, who has committed to the University of Iowa and earned all-state honors as a junior, is one of the more highly recruited lineman in the region. He tallied 28 tackles, six tackles for loss and two sacks on defense while leading the Wildcats’ offensive line at center.

Blue Springs senior lineman Beau Stephens (70) kneels over Park Hill quarterback Anthony Hall (10) after sacking him in a game this season. Stephens, who has committed to the University of Iowa, is one of 10 semifinalists for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented to the metro area's top lineman or linebacker.

Joining Keller as Simone Award finalists are Shawnee Mission Northwest quarterback Ty Black, Raymore-Peculiar quarterback Conrad Hawley, Blue Valley North quarterback Henry Martin, Mill Valley quarterback Cooper Marsh, Lawrence running back Devin Neal, Platte County quarterback Chris Ruhnke, Liberty running back Wentric Williams III, Liberty North running back Zach Willingham-Davis and St. Thomas Aquinas running back Tyrone “Tank” Young.

Lee’s Summit West senior defensive lineman/linebacker Cam Careswell joined Newsom and Stephens as a Buchanan semifinalist along with St. Thomas Aquinas offensive lineman Danny Carroll, Ray-Pec defensive lineman Ethan George, Mill Valley two-way lineman Ethan Kremer, Lawrence linebacker Cole Mondi, North Kansas City defensive lineman Domonique Orange, Platte County linebacker Trevor Scott and Liberty linebacker Jalen Weston.

Ray-Pec sophomore Jaidyn Doss is one of the 10 finalists for the Otis Taylor Award, which goes to the best receiver in the metro area.

Joining him are Basehor-Linwood junior Jordan Brown, St. James Academy junior Tyler Clairborne, St. Pius X senior David Deters, Winnetonka junior Jason Essex, Mill Valley senior Jacob Hartman, Park Hill senior Jaylin Noel, Blue Valley North junior Mekhi Miller, Platte County senior Dayton Mitchell and Bishop Miege senior Mack Moeller.

Odessa has a pair of players on the list for the small school awards, and Summit Christian Academy senior quarterback Grayson Sprouse made the list for the Frank Fontana Award for the best small-class player.

Odessa junior running back Blake Heitman was also named to the Fontana list. His teammate, senior two-way lineman Houston Eagan, is a semifinalist for the Bobby Bell Award, for the top small-class lineman or linebacker.

Joining Heitman and Sprouse on the Fontana list are Paola junior running back Jovanni Blackie, Tonganoxie senior running back Tyler Bowden, Bishop Miege senior quarterback Tim Dorsey, St. Pius X junior quarterback Jack Mosh, Mid Buchanan senior quarterback Javan Noyes, Harrisonville junior running back Jace Reynolds, Basehor-Linwood senior quarterback Isaac Stanton and St. James Academy senior running back/defensive back LaJames White.

Joining Eagan on the Bobby Bell list are Tonganoxie senior lineman Dallas Bond, Lansing junior linebacker Caden Crawford, Smithville junior lineman Mason Crim, Piper senior linebacker Anthony Ferguson, Tonganoxie senior linebacker Branden Martin, St. Pius X senior defensive lineman Charlie Palmentere, St. Pius X senior linebacker Anthony Ross, Paola senior lineman Carter Stanchfield and Mid Buchanan senior lineman Creed Webster.

The finalists will be announced Sunday on KSHB 41 Action News and on PrepsKC.com.

The awards have been handed out at the school of the Simone Award winner in the past and last year at Arrowhead Stadium, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the winners will be announced on Channel 41 on various newscasts.