Seven Kearney players share Hy-Vee 41 Five-Star Athlete of the Week

Posted at 1:19 PM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 14:13:59-05

History was made on Tuesday night as our 45th president was elected. But history was also made with respect to the Hy-Vee Athlete of the Week program.

Seven Kearney football players were honored as the Hy-Vee 41 Five-Star Co-Athletes of the Week: senior QB Anthony Pritzel, senior WR Jess Davis, senior OT Clayton Mordecai, senior OG Zack Mlika, junior OC Garrett Barker, junior OT Alex Updike and senior OT Garrett Miller.

The fantastic quarterback-wide receiver duo of Pritzel and Davis lit up the stat sheet in last Friday's 58-41 playoff win over Platte County. Their performance in the Missouri Class 4 District 8 Championship was nothing short of spectacular. Pritzel threw for 311 yards and six touchdowns, in addition to 122 yards rushing. Davis was the main beneficiary of Pritzel's dominance, with 213 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

"I didn't expect it to be anything like this," said Pritzel. "Me and Jess, we really clicked when we first got on the field. It's just gotten better as the year went on." 

Wide receiver Jess Davis certainly agrees that he and Jess have clicked this year in a big way.

"Well I mean, me and Anthony have been building as the season went on," senior wide receiver Jess Davis said. "We just found our rhythm and we stuck to it. And, you've gotta give credit to those big heavies over there protecting him. So, it was good stuff."

The big heavies Jess was referring to were the five offensive lineman that were also honored. The big Bulldogs offensive line has been a huge factor in all of the skilled offensive players to make magic happen on the field. For Kearney (11-1, 5-0), history may end up repeating itself in 2016. Last year, the Bulldogs defeated Webb City 17-14 to capture the 2015 Missouri Class 4 State Championship. While some of the players are big from last year's championship season, some want to make a name for themselves.

"We were part of the team, but we weren't playing," Zack Mlika said. "This year, we wanna leave our own legacy. We have a really strong chemistry together. And, I feel like when we're all together, we're the best we can be and, we can't be stopped."

Head coach Greg Jones said that the offensive line's terrific play hadn't always been that way. In fact, he had to light a fire underneath them early in the season.

"They took in a lot of rear-end chewing at the beginning of the year," Coach Jones said. "We got better as the year went. But, like we told them, I don't know what clicked with them. About the middle of the first quarter when we played Platte County the first time, something clicked and it was like, 'Where did this offensive line come from?' Since then, they've been playing lights out."

Several offensive lineman agreed with their coach that they weren't playing very good early on. However, they've stepped up to the task.

"I still think [playing 100 percent is] yet to come hopefully as we keep progressing through the playoffs," junior offensive lineman Alex Updike said. "I think we're getting gradually better. So, to say we've played our best, I don't think we've done that yet."

"We don't take anything for granted," senior offensive lineman Garrett Miller said. "You've just gotta keep working at it. We just focus on doing [our] job. With the exception of one person in one game, nobody [on the offensive line has truly played] 100 percent."

"We're prepared. We play good. But, there's a lot more to come," junior offensive lineman Garrett Barker said. "Our group is amazing. We've got exceptional talent. We've got discipline. We've got everything we need to win a championship."

The Bulldogs host Hannibal (10-2, 6-0) this Saturday in the Missouri Class 4 State Quarterfinals.

NOTE: The Hy-Vee 41 Five-Star Athlete of the Week segment runs every Thursday night during the 10 p.m. sportscast for the entire school year.



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