Bluejays boast statewide player, coach of the year
Sabetha High School junior Elliot Strahm and Head Football Coach Garrett Michael are named by Sports in Kansas as the 3A Defensive Player of the Year and 3A Coach of the Year, respectively.
The Sabetha Bluejays clinched the 3A State Football title on Saturday, Nov. 25, when a red zone interception sealed the 3A Championship for the Bluejays. They defeated Marysville 7-6, and finished the season with a 12-1 record. The Bluejays’ success was a team effort throughout the season, but two members of the Bluejay football team – one player and one coach –have been honored by Sports in Kansas for their roles in the team’s success.
Junior lineman Elliot Strahm was named 3A Defensive Player of the Year, and Head Coach Garrett Michael was named 3A Coach of the Year
Strahm was one of five players – the only junior – named as finalists for the Sports in Kansas’ 3A Defensive Player of the Year. Other players were senior Josh Boyd of Silver Lake, senior John Gower of Phillipsburg, senior Mitchell Henry of Nemaha Central and senior Matthew Lange of Conway Springs.
“It’s a great honor,” Strahm said. “Honestly, I didn’t really think about getting it at the beginning of the season, but all of the hard work and dedication to football paid off. I guess you got to give all the glory to God because he gave me the talent to play.”
Throughout the season, Strahm tallied 64 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt. He was also a staple to Sabetha’s offensive line.
Coach Michael said Strahm’s size played a significant role in his and the team’s success.
“It is an honor to be nominated, let alone chosen to win this award,” Michael said. “Many people overlook how important linemen are to a football team — they are the gas for the engine. Every team we played understood that, in order to have success offensively, they had to double or triple team Elliot. Elliot has been a three-year starter for the defense and has worked extremely hard, as have his teammates, at their trade. Our team is very proud of Elliot for receiving this award. This game is the ultimate team game and Elliot would be the first to say that it takes more than 11 guys to make a defense to perform at a high level for an entire season.”
Sabetha’s Defensive Coach Nate Bauman agreed.
“Elliot was a very important part of our defense this year,” he said. “A lot of times defensive linemen — and linemen, in general — don’t get the credit they deserve, because their job is not necessarily to make all the tackles or rush the quarterback. Instead, their job is to occupy offensive linemen and keep them from blocking our linebackers and safeties so that they can make the tackles. Elliot is a special player, because not only because he does that job well, but he also has the ability to defeat one, two, or even three blockers at a time and still be able to get in on the play. Our opponents had to have a game plan for him by assigning two, three, or four blockers to him, which frees up our other players to make plays. That often goes unnoticed, but believe me, we coaches, as well as the linebackers behind him appreciate it! I am so happy that Sports in Kansas saw how important he was to our state championship and honored him for that.”
When asked why he felt like he was chosen to win this award, Strahm said it was because he was being double-teamed by opponents and still managing to make tackles, when normally nose guards do not get a lot of tackles in a season.
Bauman also said that Strahm’s work ethic was a major factor throughout the season.
“Elliot obviously has the size and strength to totally disrupt an opponent’s offense,” he said. “But, more importantly, he has great work ethic and desire in the classroom, weight room and on the football field, as well as being extremely coachable and bringing a great attitude of physicality, toughness and discipline that were the hallmarks of our defense this year. He is just a fantastic young man, and I could not be more honored to have the chance to coach him and his teammates. I’m sure glad he’s on our team!”
Coach Michael led Sabetha to their first state football title in 20 years, which helped earn him the title of Sports in Kansas’ 3A Coach of the Year.
“I’m happy for him and his coaching staff,” said Sabetha High School Athletic Director Scott Burger. “Nobody in the state puts in as much time as our coaching staff, and that success is directly related to their hard work. Coach Michael loves kids, and his passion to see them succeed in life is his greatest asset.”
Bauman said that Coach Michael is the most deserving coach, because he teaches the players to be great leaders and people on and off the field.
“There is absolutely no coach more deserving of this award than Coach Michael,” he said. “He is extremely dedicated to his football program, his weights program, and our school, but more importantly, he is extremely dedicated to his players, his students and his Lord. I have been on staff with him since he became head coach, and we have learned a lot and grown together. I am extremely happy for him to have this success, knowing the struggles we’ve been through to get here.”
“I know Coach is respected by the entire coaching community for the way he runs his program — first class, all the time,” Bauman continued. “We do have great kids and a great community in Sabetha, and again that is I’m sure what Coach Michael will rightly point to as the reason for his success, but those of us close to the program know how vital he is to that success. He gets kids to buy in to whatever is best for the team over and over again. He inspires them to greatness, not only greatness as football players, but greatness as leaders, as men, as husbands and as fathers.”
Bauman said he loves coaching football at Sabetha, because of the way Coach Michael runs the program.
“The entire coaching staff’s commitment to Faith, Family, and then football is the reason I choose to coach here, plain and simple,” Bauman said. “He [Michael] has assembled what I believe is the best coaching staff in the state, not necessarily because of their knowledge of the game or X’s and O’s, but because of the type of men they are that are leading our kids. There is no locker room I would rather be in and no locker room I would rather my sons be in than this one. Win or lose. The perspective Coach Michael gives our kids with Faith, Family, then Football is one that allows us to work through hardships on the field or off, and will hopefully allow them to do that the rest of their lives. It is a true honor to coach with Coach Michael and the rest of this staff, and to be able to coach these kids in this community.”
About Sports in Kansas
The Sports in Kansas Network (@sportsinkansas, kansas-sports.com) is a high school and college sports network to interact in the state of Kansas. Kansas-Sports.com features breaking news, history, and inside info on all things that have to do with sports in the state of Kansas.
Heather Stewart294 Posts
Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.