Recipients of this year's (2016-2017) coveted and prestigious "Catchy's" included recent PHS graduate Hunter Kaufman, who was named Best Football Player (all classes), and PHS football, which was named the 4th best team overall in Class 4A (including all sports).

The 2016 State Champion Pratt High School football program recently received some additional recognition, this time from the KWCH (channel 12) sports website Catch It Kansas.

Recipients of this year's (2016-2017) coveted and prestigious "Catchy's" included recent PHS graduate Hunter Kaufman, who was named Best Football Player (all classes), and PHS football, which was named the 4th best team overall in Class 4A (including all sports).

Catch It Kansas' "Catchy's" could be thought of as being analogous to ESPN's "Espy's". This was the 10th consecutive year in the awards series. Nominees in 32 categories are put forward, and then online voting determines the winners. This year's voting opened June 5 and ended July 20.

A quick perusal of lists of past nominees revealed that some pretty famous Kansas prep athletes have been up for these awards. For example, in 2011, the nominees for Best Boys Basketball Player included Perry Ellis, Ron Baker and Connor Frankamp.

At the halfway point in the voting, Pratt's Hunter Kaufman was in third place, behind Hutch High's Josh Rivas and Kody Gonzalez from Goddard. However, a late flurry of votes put Kaufman over the top. The final vote totals were Hunter Kaufman 5851, Josh Rivas 5272, Kody Gonzalez 4508, Ben Adler (Hutch Trinity) 3185.

Kaufman, who is now working out with the Kansas University football team, was certainly a deserving winner. A key member of the 4A division 2 State Champion Pratt High School Greenback football team, Kaufman racked up some impressive stats in 2016.

He had 95 carries for 924 yards, a 9.7 average. Averaging 71.1 YPG rushing, he scored 21 touchdowns on the ground. Kaufman was also the Greenbacks top receiver, hauling in 20 passes for 472 yards and 7 TDs.

Adding in kick returns, punt returns and interception returns, Kaufman accounted for a cool 1927 all-purpose yards.

Playing on both sides of the ball, Kaufman was also an important defensive contributor. He had 50 total tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal.

The NCAA and the Kansas University Athletic Department restrict media access to Division 1 players, especially freshman players, so this paper was not able to make any timely direct contact with Kaufman for comment.

However, Hunter’s mother, Kristina Kaufman, reported that her son had not been expecting to win, but was very happy and excited when he found out that he had.

The Greenback football team as a whole also received "Catchy" recognition, finishing 4th in the voting for Best 4A Team of the Year. Maize South Baseball (6285), Andale Track (5812), Holcomb Boys Basketball (3580), PHS football (3139) were the final vote totals.

The Greenbacks went 12-1 on the year, losing only to 3A power Hoisington in week 5 of the regular season. They opened the season by defeating Larned 31-16, following that up with a 49-13 win over Haven.

They then romped Nickerson, a team that was thought to be on the rise, by a convincing 55-26 margin. Their most lopsided victory came against Lyons, 69-7. Following the loss to Hoisington, PHS finished out the regular season by winning 34-6 over Halstead.

Pratt then had to maneuver through a very tough district. The Greenbacks pulled out narrow wins over highly regarded Hugoton on the road (31-28), and Holcomb at home (35-28) before cruising past Kingman 35-0 to wind up district play.

In the first playoff round, PHS shut down Colby 49-26 and then Smoky Valley 38-6 to set up a rematch with Holcomb in the State semifinals. In what was probably the key matchup of the entire season, Pratt prevailed 21-14 on the Longhorns' home turf.

The State final against Topeka Hayden was almost an afterthought as Pratt won rather handily, 48-14, allowing them to hoist the State Championship trophy.

While acknowledging that a “Catchy” and $5 will buy you one of Starbucks’ cheaper coffees, PHS head football coach Jamie Cruce was nonetheless pleased with the recognition for both Kaufman and his football team.

“Anytime you get positive publicity, it’s a good thing for a player, a school, a town,” Cruce said. “ So I’m happy for the recognition. It’s not going to win you any more games, but it shows that the kids are working hard and that the guys have bought in.”