KPZ Preview: Topeka High aiming for title breakthrough

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The talent is never the question for Topeka High football. And neither is the desire for a state championship.

It's the execution it takes to actually capture one that's eluded the talented Trojans. But this season? They are making things quite clear.

"We're coming in to dominate just so people know that we're not playing games this year," senior running back Ky Thoms said.

Thomas and quarterback Da'Vonshai Harden are the two star seniors that will try and lead T-High to a title breakthrough. Together, they've seen their school advance a round further each season in the 6A playoffs. But the Trojans have still not even broken through to the state semifinals with that duo.

So the KU commit in Harden and Minnesota commit in Thomas believe it's simple when it comes to what's been holding Topeka High back.

"For us, it's mental," Harden said. "We can beat any team in the state, can't no other team mess with us. It's just mental, we get there and we just blow it off. We just got to stay on track this year and do what we're supposed to do."

"Do we have the mental discipline and the physical toughness to be state title contenders," head coach Walt Alexander said. "That's the big question I have for this group, we have to start doing the little things better."

And for Alexander, those don't necessarily mean what's happening in the games.

"I don't think it's on the field at all," Alexander said. "I just think it's the way we act and the way we treat people, respecting our teachers. I shouldn't have 20 guys in study hall because they're on the F list. I shouldn't be getting up at 6:30 in the morning to make sure you're getting to study hall. I shouldn't have to do those things.

"They got to police that kind of stuff before they can actually be disciplined enough to get it together on the football field as a unit."

Alexander is confident this group can be different, as he has 37 seniors. The two star ones in Harden and Thomas want to both be more vocal in different areas to help get the Trojans over the hump.

"I'm not the talkative type of person," Harden said. "I like to just chill and do me. But I just need to be more vocal to my teammates and tell them what they need to be doing, keep everybody in line."

"I'm vocal in practice when we're doing this," Thomas said. "But on the field, I sometimes get in the zone where I'm just so focused on the game that I won't talk to people until afterwards. So I'd say pointing things out in the game, during the game, letting the coaches know what I see more."

But when it comes to what's actually vocalized, Alexander immediately points to one thing he doesn't want to hear about with such a highly-touted group.

"Some kids were upset we weren't ranked in the top five in Sports in Kansas and we were ranked number two in the state by Catch It Kansas," head coach Walt Alexander said. "I said you can't worry about that stuff. I wouldn't rank you in the top five either. We've been a good football program for a long time, but we haven't won any state titles."

And for the Trojans, they finally believe it's time to change that.