The 33rd Annual Kansas 8-Man All-Star Games will take place this Saturday at Trojan Field in Beloit. 80 of the top 8-Man football graduates in the State of Kansas checked in to camp on Tuesday and are working in practices in preparation for Saturday’s contests. The 8-Man DI All-Star Game will get things started with kickoff at 10:00. The 8-Man DII All-Star Game follows at 1:30. Pregame coverage begins at 1:00 on KD Country 94 and the 8-Man All-Star Game Radio Network, which is also online at www.8manallstars.com.
One won’t have to look to hard to see the impact that Pike Valley will have on the DII East squad. Three players as well as longtime coach Don Melby will all be representing the Panthers for their final time on Saturday.
Melby announced his retirement shortly after the 2017 season ended. He spent 37 years roaming the sidelines in Scandia as the head coach of the Panthers. In that time, his team’s went 216-143. The last two seasons, the Panthers have gone 21-3, with all three of their losses coming to eventual state champs. In 2017, they were 11-1, falling in the Sub-State round to DII champ Hanover. In 2016, they went 10-2, losing to eventual champ Hanover that year in the same round, while falling to Osborne, the DI champ during the regular season. Three of the players from those squads were selected as all-stars as well. Melby, who is the head coach for the DII East is excited to have one last opportunity with Davante’ Hammer, Lane Peters and Cole Strickler.
Davante Hammer was the starting quarterback for Pike Valley dating all the way back to his freshman season. He was a very instrumental part in the aforementioned 21-3 record over the past two seasons. In 2017, he threw for 1,146 yards and 19 TD compared to just two interceptions. He also ran for 547 yards and 13 scores. As a junior, he threw for just under 1,200 yards with 22 TD and 4 INT. He finished his career with 3,350 passing yards and 59 passing TD. Hammer is also excited to play for Coach Melby one last time.
Hammer is attending Kansas State University in the fall and majoring in Biology.
One of the most well-known names for Pike Valley over the past few seasons has been Lane Peters. The speedy running back ran for over 4,500 yards in his career and had over 6,300 all-purpose yards. He broke onto the scene as a sophomore when he rushed for just under 1,600 yards and 25 TD and had 2,150 all-purpose yards. He added 1,500 yards and 28 rushing TD and 2,100 all-purpose yards as a junior. His production went down as a senior as he battled injuries and missed most of the latter part of the season. He still ran for 650 yards and 14 TD in seven full games and parts of two others. Peters is also excited to have one last chance to play with his teammates and will miss them next year.
Peters will attend Kansas Wesleyan University and participate in football and track and field. He is the two-time defending 1A state champion in both the 100m and 200m dash.
Cole Strickler has also had a great career for Pike Valley. He had 877 yards and 16 TD rushing and added 513 yards and seven receiving touchdowns his senior season. He was also the second leading tackler on the Panthers defense, registering 105 stops with 13 TFL and adding three interceptions from his LB spot. He finished his career with 1,350 yards and 22 TD receiving and 1,268 yards and 20 TD rushing. He had 341 career tackles with 26 for loss and eight interceptions. Strickler echoed his previous teammates thoughts about playing one last time together.
After the 8-Man All-Star Game, Cole will attend Kansas State University and major in Chemical Engineering.
Tune in to KD Country 94 and on the web at 8manallstars.com this Saturday to see how all of the Pike Valley representatives perform in the 8-Man Division II All-Star Game. Again, pregame coverage begins at 1:00 with kickoff at 1:30 from Trojan Field in Beloit.