SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months

2020 Football Defensive Player of the Year: Eagles' Newsom let play do his talking for him

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Grain Valley senior linebacker Hunter Newsom celebrates a sack against Kearney. Newsom amassed 173 tackles while being named first-team all-state and a Buck Buchanan Award semifinalist. He is The Examiner's 2020 Football Defensive Player of the Year.

Getting Hunter Newsom to talk about himself might be more difficult than sneaking past The Examiner’s 2020 Defensive Player of the Year near the goalline.

So to find out what type of impact the Grain Valley High School linebacker makes on the field, you talk with his teammates.

“He’s a beast!” said quarterback Cole Keller, The Examiner’s Offensive Player of the Year. “Man, I am so glad I don’t have to play against him. He gets that look and you know he’s going to make something happen.”

Added defensive lineman Donovan McBride: “Hunter is a great teammate, a leader, everything you would want from a linebacker. He’s made some big hits – big time hits on people!”

And sophomore defensive back Keagan Hart added, “He’s our leader. When you want to see how it’s done, you watch Hunter.

“And he’s really treated me like a teammate, not a new kid or a sophomore. He’s great.”

Hunter Newsom

In the spring of 2020, when all high school sports were canceled across the country, Newsom worried about his senior season.

“It was the summer of anxiety,” said Newsom, who will continue his football career at the University of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. “I knew I had to have a good season to get a scholarship, but even more important to me was being with my brothers one more season out on the football field. I can’t even imagine how those guys felt who lost their last season last spring.

“I was hoping that would not happen to us.”

It didn’t. 

And he responded with a stellar season that included 173 tackles (75 solo and 18.5 for a loss), 7.5 sacks, four hurries and one interception while helping lead the Eagles to a 10-2 record and a state quarterfinal appearance in their first season moving up to Class 5.

He was named Class 5 first-team all-state by the coaches and the media and was a semifinalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is given to the top lineman or linebacker in the metro area.

As a running back, he carried the ball 34 times for 207 yards and six touchdowns.

“Whatever we needed,” Keller added, “on either side of the ball, we knew we could get it from Hunter.”

The 6-foot-1, 200 pounder was also named the Suburban Middle Six Conference Defensive Player of the Year, the Grain Valley Defensive Player of the Year and the team MVP – winning the Hammer Award.

“I couldn’t have accomplished anything without my coaches and my teammates,” Newsom said. “I learned so much from (2020 grad and linebacker) Seth Dankenbring, who brought it every game.

“I’d watch Seth and do whatever he did, because he did it right – on the field and at practice.”

Newsom quickly became a team leader and was voted captain by his teammates.”

Eagels coach David Allie said he could spend hours talking about Newsom.

“Hunter is one of the best leaders we’ve ever had at Grain Valley High School and one of the best leaders I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching,” Allie said of Newsom, also a two-time state qualifier in wrestling. “I’m so happy he’s been honored by The Examiner, because I didn’t see everyone play last season, but I never saw anyone do for their team what Hunter did for ours.

“He’d live in the weight room if we let him and he’s relentless on the field. He is a prime example of why wrestlers make great football players and vice versa – the only way to make him quit attacking is to carry him off on a stretcher.”

While the Eagles enjoyed a successful season after jumping up to the Suburban Middle Six and Class 5, reaching the state quarterfinals, Newsom has an admission to make.

“The best thing about winning an award like this, and it’s a great award and I am so honored,” he said, “but I’d trade it all for one more win, one more game with Coach Allie and Coach (Pete) Carpino and my brothers at Grain Valley.

“I’m going to miss them, man, am I going to miss them. But it’s been a great ride.”

2020 Examiner All-Area Football

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

QB: Cole Keller, 6-4, 203, sr., Grain Valley — 80-125 passing, 1,408 yards, 16 TDs, 5 int.; 130 carries, 1,332 yards (10.2-yard average), 20 TDs rushing; All-Suburban Middle Six; Suburban Middle Six Offensive Player of the Year; all-district; MFCA Class 5 All-State third team (athlete); Missouri Media Class 5 All-State second team (athlete); Simone Award semifinalist (top player in metro area); 2020 Examiner Offensive Player of the Year.

RB: De'Andre Thomas, 5-8, 185, sr., Blue Springs — 164 carries, 1,025 yards (6.3-yard average), 11 TDs; 16 receptions, 198 yards (12.4-yard average); All-Suburban Big Eight; all-district.

RB: Jaxon Wyatt, 5-8, 170, jr., Grain Valley — 150 carries, 959 yards (6.4-yard average), 8 TDs rushing; all-district; All-Suburban Middle Six.

WR: Larenzo Fenner, 6-0, 160, soph., Fort Osage — 37 receptions, 593 yards (16-yard average), 6 TDs; 12 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD rushing; All-Suburban Middle Six; all-district; MFCA Class 5 All-State third team (kick returner).

WR: Xavier Loyd, 6-3, 180, sr., Blue Springs — 38 receptions, 526 yards (13.8-yard average), 9 TDs; All-Suburban Big Eight; all-district; committed to Kansas State (preferred walk-on)

WR: Logan Muckey, 6-1, 180, sr., Lee's Summit North — 35 receptions, 534 yards (15.3-yard average), 8 TDs; All-Suburban Big Eight; all-district; committed to Missouri (preferred walk-on).

OL: Jack Bailey, 6-2, 275, sr., Grain Valley — A top blocker for team with 2,895 rushing yards and 4.303 total yards; All-Suburban Middle Six; all-district; MFCA Class 5 All-State third team; Missouri Media Class 5 All-State second team.

OL: Zander Brinegar, 5-10, 224, jr., Oak Grove — A top blocker for team that averaged 300 rushing yards per game; MFCA Class 3 All-State second team; all-district; All-MRVC West on offense and defense.

OL: Cayden Green, 6-5, 288, soph., Lee's Summit North — A top blocker for team with 1,093 rushing yards and 3,186 total yards; all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight; interest from several NCAA Division I teams.

OL: Beau Stephens, 6-6, 310, sr., Blue Springs — A top blocker for team with 1,912 rushing yards and 3,516 total yards; 26 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks on defense; All-Suburban Big Eight; all-district; MFCA Class 6 All-State first team; Missouri Media Class 6 All-State first team; Buck Buchanan Award finalist (top lineman or linebacker in metro area); signed with Iowa.

OL: Trevor Taylor, 6-0, 276, jr., Lee's Summit North — A top blocker for team with 1,093 rushing yards and 3,186 total yards; all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight.

All-purpose: Parker Bosserman, 5-10, 150, sr., Grain Valley — 35 receptions, 577 yards (16.4-yard average), 7 TDs; 38 carries, 236 yards, 1 TD rushing; averaged 16.8 yards on 11 kickoff returns; 38.1-yard punting average (6 punts inside 10-yard-line); All-Suburban Middle Six; all-district.

All-purpose: Arlandes Mitchell, 6-0, 177, sr., Van Horn — 99 carries, 953 yards, 10 TDs; 31 receptions, 412 yards (13.3-yard average), 6 TDs; averaged 33.3 yards on 21 kickoff returns; returned three kicks for TDs; more than 2,000 all-purpose yards; All-Crossroads Conference; all-district; MFCA Class 4 All-State second team (kick returner).

K: Max Ellis, 6-1, 160, soph., St. Michael the Archangel — 2-2 field goals, 29-30 PATs (school record extra points for a season), 9 touchbacks.

DEFENSE

DL: Aden Birdwell, 6-4, 240, sr., Blue Springs South — 43 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sack, 8 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass deflection; MFCA Class 6 All-State second team, Missouri Media Class 6 All-State second team, all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight; signed with Central Missouri.

DL: Adrien Block, 6-3, 220, sr., Lee's Summit North — 68 tackles (41 solo), 18 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 23 QB hurries; all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight.

DL: Donovan McBride, 6-4, 280, sr., Grain Valley — 47 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 1 fumble recovery; All-Suburban Middle Six; all-district; MFCA Class 5 All-State third team; Missouri Media Class 5 All-State second team; committed to Murray State.

DL: Jason Skivers, 6-3, 240, sr., Van Horn — 64 tackles (39 solo), 14 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries; All-Crossroads Conference; Crossroads Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year; all-district; MFCA Class 4 All-State third team; committed to Missouri (preferred walk-on).

DL: Beau Stephens, 6-6, 310, sr., Blue Springs — 26 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, MFCA Class 6 All-State first team (offensive line), Missouri Media Class 6 All-State first team, all-district, All-Suburban Big Eight; Buck Buchanan Award finalist (top lineman or linebacker in metro area); signed with Iowa.

LB: David Jacquez, 6-0, 185, jr., Fort Osage — 121 tackles (91 solo), 13 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 blocked kicks; All-Suburban Middle Six; all-district; MFCA Class 5 All-State third team.

LB: Hunter Newsom, 5-11, 195, sr., Grain Valley — 173 tackles (75 solo), 18.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 4 QB hurrries, 1 interception; All-Suburban Middle Six; Suburban Middle Six Defensive Player of the Year; all-district; MFCA Class 5 All-State first team; Missouri Media Class 5 All-State first team; Buck Buchanan Award semifinalist (top lineman or linebacker in metro area); 2020 Examiner Defensive Player of the Year.

LB: Carson Willich, 6-1, 195, jr., Blue Springs — 48 tackles (34 solo), 12 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble; all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight.

DB: Silas Hicks, 5-10, 160, sr., Oak Grove — 31 tackles, 6 interceptions, 3 pass breakups; MFCA Class 3 All-State second team; all-district; All-MRVC West.

DB: Dewuan Mack, 6-0, 180, jr., Lee's Summit North — 39 tackles (32 solo), 1 tackle for loss, 4 interceptions (one returned for TD), 8 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries (one recovered for TD); All-Suburban Big Eight; all-district; committed to Kansas.

DB: Chris Rhodes, 6-0, 185, sr., Truman — 39 tackles (29 solo), 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception, 6 pass breakups, allowed only 3 completions for 22 yards all season, 18% completion rate; All-Suburban Middle Six; all-district; signed with South Dakota State.

P/all-purpose: Luke Fellers, 6-5, 202, sr., Blue Springs South — 30 punt, 37.6-yard average, 5 punts inside 20; All-Suburban Big Eight.

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

• QB: Sean Mitchell, 6-2, 180, sr., Van Horn

• RB: Ellis Edwards, 5-10, 165, jr., St. Michael the Archangel

• RB: Jayden Steele, 5-10, 190, sr., Blue Springs South

• WR: Devin Blaney, 5-10, 170, jr., Lee's Summit North

• WR: Michael Haggerty, 6-4, 195, jr., St. Michael the Archangel

• WR: Isaac Harkness, 6-2, 180, sr., Blue Springs

• TE: Gracen Bell, 6-7, 235, jr., Lee's Summit North

• OL: Alex Atagi, 6-4, 215, sr., William Chrisman

• OL: Ben Bryan, 6-0, 222, sr., Blue Springs South

• OL: Steven Gabb, 6-1, 290, jr., Fort Osage

• OL: Landen Hinton, 5-11, 240, sr., Grain Valley

• OL: Armand Membou, 6-4, 280, jr., Lee’s Summit North

• OL: Devron Rivera, 6-4, 375, sr., Truman

• K: Ricardo Delgado, 6-0, 164, sr., Oak Grove

DEFENSE

• DL: Caleb Berry, 6-2, 245, sr., St. Michael the Archangel

• DL: Ike Ezeogu, 6-6, 230, jr., Blue Springs

• DL: T'Andre Forbush, 6-3, 245, sr., Blue Springs

• DL: Edgar Hunley, 6-1, 280, sr., Lee's Summit North

• DL: Josh McCoy, 5-10, 210, sr., Grain Valley

• DL: Jaden McGhee, 6-4, 225, jr., Lee's Summit North

• LB: Aaron Barnhill, 6-0, 205, sr., Lee’s Summit North

• LB: Owen Cole, 5-11, 175, jr., Lee’s Summit North

• LB: Conner Foreman, 6-0, 195, sr., Blue Springs

• LB: Zach Kirk, 5-9, 185, sr., Grain Valley

• LB: Quincy Potts, 6-2, 205, sr., Truman

• LB: Ethan Watson, 6-0, 200, sr., Blue Springs South

• DB: Isaiah Frost, 5-11, 192, sr., Blue Springs South

• DB: Keagan Hart, 5-10, 150, soph., Grain Valley

• DB/LB: Cameron Mickelson, 6-4, 180, sr., Grain Valley

• DB: Blake Williams, 5-11, 155, sr., Fort Osage

• P: Ben Nettleton, 6-2, 185, sr., Fort Osage

HONORABLE MENTION

Blue Springs: Patrick Maloney, 5-11, 200, sr., QB; Dalesean Staley, 6-1, 200, jr., WR/LB; Lamana Tapusoa, 5-11, 195, soph., RB; Kevin Roberson, 5-10, 180, sr., DB; Blue Springs South: Joe Ward, 6-1, 182, sr., LB; Fort Osage: Greg Menne, 6-2, 195, soph., QB; Will Snodgrass, 6-2, 195, sr., WR; Grain Valley: Quincy Jones, 6-1, 280, sr., DL; Donovan McBride, 6-4, 280, sr., OL; Parker Stone, 6-4, 175, sr., TE; Lee’s Summit North: Quincey Baker, 5-8, 175, soph., RB; Tre Baker, 6-0, 190, jr., QB; Dre Beasley, 5-10, 164, soph., DB; DayInn Davis, 6-3, 270, jr., OL; Mike Dolman, 6-2, 330, jr., DL; Alphonso Hodge, 5-9, 170, jr., DB; Isaiah Mims, 5-7, 165, sr., RB; Randall Ward, 6-1, 215, soph., LB; Javion Watson, 5-10, 200, jr., LB; Kade Williams, 6-0, 180, soph., DB; Oak Grove: Jacob Andell, 5-10, 164, sr., LB/RB; Ricardo Delgado, 6-0, 164, sr., K; Carson Smith, 6-0, 173, jr., LB; St. Michael the Archangel: Zach Berry, 6-1, 215, soph., OL; Sumyl Hayes-Dunnell, 5-11, 165, sr., DB; Joe Kimbrough, 5-9, 175, sr., LB; Dillon Zaun, 5-10, 160, jr., QB; Truman: Jayson Boatright, 5-11, 215, sr., LB; Dmitri Smith, 5-10, 185, sr., RB; Van Horn: David Ballard, 5-10, 285, sr., OL; Lamonte Belshe, 5-8, 155, fresh., RB; Mason Igou, 6-0, 285, soph., OL; Treyvion Paige, 6-1, 180, sr., LB; Da'Marcus Penson, 5-8, 165, soph., WR; William Chrisman: Dayne Herl, 6-4, 185, jr., QB; Lance Nauer, 5-8, 185, fresh., LB; Kameron Thompson, 5-9, 175, jr., RB; Mason Walters, 5-10, 205, sr., LB.