Back in 2009 and before, the Osborne Bulldog football team was battling low numbers and a brutal 11-man Mid-Continent League schedule. Cullen Riner took over the program in 2006 and even though they went 8-29 in four seasons of 11-man, you could see improvement with the group and with their talent and speed at skill positions, a move to 8-Man would be a great benefit.
Osborne played their first season of 8-Man football in 2010. They went 10-2 that year and made it to the Sub-State round of the playoffs. Fast forward to the 2018 season this past fall, and in nine years and through four different coaches, the Bulldogs have compiled an 86-18 record, two 13-0 8-Man DI State titles in 2013 and 2016 and an 8-Man DII State Runner-up and 11-2 finish this season.
In those nine seasons, the Bulldogs have also shown out with an astounding 17 players that have been selected to the Kansas 8-Man All-Star Game. The latest three being this year’s picks, Darnell Holloway, Kade Miller and Jordan Wherry.
Each of this year’s all-stars took a different path to get to this point.
Darnell Holloway transferred to Osborne from Russell in 2016 as a sophomore. He was able to practice, but could not play varsity in 2016 when the Bulldogs won the state title. Once on the field, Holloway quickly showed how skilled he was. As a junior, he ran for 808 yards and threw for another 783 as Osborne went 9-2. His senior season, under first-year head coach Brandon Wise, he led a three-headed monster, triple-option offensive attack with 1,616 yards and 31 TD rushing and 992 passing yards with 15 TD compared to just 3 INT. He was named a 1st Team All-State At-Large and backfield selection and was the 8-Man DII District 5 Offensive MVP. Ultimately, Osborne finished just short of the goal of winning their third 8-Man state championship, but Holloway says he is happy he came to Osborne.
Holloway is headed off to Fort Hays State to play football in the fall.
Kade Miller is the one all-star pick this season that did play a significant role on the 2016 state championship team. As a sophomore that season, he gained the reputation of a ballhawk on the defensive side. It seemed whenever the Bulldogs needed a takeaway, he was there, intercepting nine passes and recovering three fumbles while being the third leading tackler with 76 stops. His play that season made opposing head coaches and offensive coordinators take notice, but he continued to strike fear into his opponents for the next two seasons anyway. He had 59 tackles in 2017, but led his team with 115 stops as a senior, being named a 1st Team All-State LB and the 8-Man DII District 5 Defensive MVP. Miller also became an offensive threat throughout his career. As a senior, he caught 28 passes for 530 yards and 10 TD. Kade is excited to play one last high school football game before heading to Bethel College to play football this fall.
When you look at the background of this year’s group of all-stars, Jordan Wherry may be the most unexpected one of all the rosters. He didn’t play football his first two years of high school, but by his senior season, he had developed into an All-State honorable mention lineman and a 8-Man DII District 5 1st Team pick on the OL and DL. Wherry had 78 tackles with two for loss in 2018 and his presence on the line the past two seasons gave the Bulldogs a lot more flexibility with their skill players that may have had to play on the line and not touch the ball had he not come out. Wherry recounts the experience and is glad the coaches got him to play.
Next up for Jordan Wherry will be Tabor College where he has signed to play basketball.
The Osborne all-stars will play for the West squad in Saturday’s 8-Man DII All-Star Game. The game kicks off at 10:00 from Trojan Field in Beloit. Any fans that are unable to attend the game can listen on KD Country 94 and on the world wide web at 8manallstars.com on the Kansas 8-Man All-Star Game Radio Network with pregame coverage beginning at 9:30 a.m.