From decorating to dancing: A recap of Homecoming week activities
September 21, 2015
Photo Gallery: Homecoming hallway decorating: Sept. 13
Homecoming parade showcases sports, clubs, activities and students
Students walked in and watched the annual parade
Students earn first-ever Mill Valley Awards at Homecoming pep rally
Additionally, the pep rally recognized fall sports
Q&A: Cousins will coach against each other in Homecoming football game
Friday night will be a competition between football coach Joel Applebee and Derby football coach Brandon Clark, who are also cousins, in the 'Cousin Bowl'
This interview was completed via Skype between the Mill Valley and Derby journalism departments on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
What is your background as coaches?
Mill Valley football coach Joel Applebee: We’re first cousins. Brandon’s mom and my dad are brother and sister. So, we kinda grew up together. When we were young, we always talked about coaching together, and, when Derby came open, Brandon got the job [as head coach]. And there happened to be a PE job opening, and I was just graduating from grad school actually, and took the job at Derby, and we coached together for four years. And then I came here.
Derby football coach Brandon Clark: I started my coaching career against coach Applebee when I was really young, in backyard football.
JA: But I am much better looking and a better athlete.
When did you coach at Derby?
JA: Started in 2006, then 2010 was my first year here.
How close are you guys?
BC: Well, we lived a couple of hours apart. He grew up in Russell, I grew up in Dodge City, so we met a lot. Our families were really close. He had an older brother, I had a younger brother. We played a lot of backyard games against each other, but I would definitely classify us as brothers. Coach Applebee and I, we were roommates, all throughout college, we lived together. We’re definitely brothers in that sense. When I was leaving for Derby … he was the head baseball coach in Junction City … but we both had a pact: the first guy to get a [football] head coaching job, if there were some postitions available, would bring the other guy with us. And that’s how it kind of all worked out. After four or five years here, he moved to Mill Valley, and now they’re the number one team in 5A, which is pretty dang awesome.
JA: Another interesting thing about us is that we both have three kids — two boys and a girl — and they’re the exact same ages. Our boys are three months apart and one month apart, and our girls are eight months apart … So, our families are really close right now. They’re growing up like we did, which is kind of cool.
BC: They’re all just best friends. Whenever my kids go to Mill Valley, they’re going to see their best friends. Our wives are best friends too; they hang out all the time … Coach Applebee and I, we talk all the time. I probably talk to him more than any other person I talk to on the phone. Coach Applebee probably has a few more gray hairs than I do — he is three years older than I am. You may not know this too, coach Applebee was a stud athlete and he was my role model and my hero growing up. I definitely watched every one of his moves that he made. He was also a 4.0 GPA student too, so that’s pretty impressive.
How did this series between the schools get started?
BC: Obviously you guys haven’t seen the mass chaos when the numbers come out. You have to find schedules, and you get your schedule in 5A and 6A, and then everybody writes their name on what week they have open. And, just by coincidence, or fate, or whatever you want to call it, on week three, there’s only two names up there that were 5A/6A and that was Derby and Mill Valley. So coach Applebee and I looked at each other and just kind of shook our heads, and we knew we were probably going to play each other, which is what we always kinda knew, but it was kind of shocking, but cool at the same time. I think it would have happened sooner or later, but it happened sooner than later.
How does the distance the team has to travel affect the players?
BC: We haven’t traveled three hours for a game in a long time. We’re going to have some fun doing it … hopefully have a little team bonding. For a week three contest, it really has no impact on the district play or anything like that this year. It really doesn’t bother us too much. We’re definitely looking forward to it.
JA: I would say last year, we really didn’t talk about the distance. More than anything, we just talked about what we needed to do. The good thing about us going to Derby was that we’ve been to Derby several times throughout the summer, so our kids knew exactly what to expect; they knew where they were walking into. Obviously, they got to see what it’s really like on a game night in Derby, which is an unbelievable atmosphere, but, other than that, they knew exactly what to expect because they’d made that trip several times.
Does having a cousin on the other side of the field change how you look at wanting to win the game?
JA: I think our families probably enjoy it a lot more than we do. They’ve been talking nonstop, but, other than that, coach Clark and I talk almost daily … But when the game starts, it really isn’t much different … It’s the kids that the game’s all about, and we’re going to do our best to put them in a position to be successful; both of us are. So, that’s really what we’re ultimately all about, is allowing the kids to have fun.
BC: Pretty much to echo everything he said, this is a huge game. Coach Applebee and Mill Valley, they did a great job. They won against the No. 1 team in 5A, [St. Thomas Aquinas High School], and now they’re the No. 1 team in 5A. Both [of us] are undefeated, which is good. I think a lot of people outside of our programs had both of us pegged with a loss or two before we got to this game, so being 2-0 for both of us is pretty special. But this is a great game to gauge where our team is, because we know they’re very good. Personally, last year was weird playing them. I really didn’t know what to expect, and this is one of the only times I really want Coach Applebee’s team to lose … Going into that game was weird, because I thought I would have a lot of emotion, but it was almost a game where I didn’t have as much emotion as I usually do because I know that Coach Applebee’s a good coach and I know his staff. And he knows our whole staff and we hang out a lot. We go to Tulsa [football camp] together, we do both our 7-on-7 tournaments together, our junior football programs meet up every preseason to play each other. So we’ve got a brother school over there at Mill Valley, so playing that game, you want to win, but if you don’t, you know your team played well. You’re happy for your cousin to win a game.
How do you think the crowd can affect the game?
JA: Obviously playing at home is always an advantage. I believe the kids are comfortable, they’re used to it and the surroundings. I know Derby’s going to bring a huge crowd, they always do, they travel really well. I thought we took a really good crowd down to Derby last year, and a lot of our fans got the opportunity to see what it’s like to be at a Derby home game, and hopefully we can do the same for their fans, and I think we will as well.
BC: We’ve heard the atmosphere there is unbelievable so we’re excited to go there. If this was a playoff game or something like that, I think we’d bring a lot more people. Right now, the only reason people won’t travel is because the little kids play at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM games on Saturday mornings. I know we’ll have a decent crowd, but I wish it was later … I know we’ll have a good crowd that will make some noise. But we’re super excited. I love that atmosphere – just ask our kids, our coaches, Coach Applebee – the atmosphere is what makes football so fun.
What has the transition been like from coaching with each other to against each other?
JA: Our kids know this too. Since we’re around each other so much during the summertime, our programs are very similar in the way we run our offenses and the way we run our defenses. We’ve mimicked a lot of what Derby does as a program, for obvious reasons, since they’re so successful, here at Mill Valley from our junior football program on up. It’s a challenge since our kids know each other so well, plus they know the way we call plays and the way we call plays at the line. Both of our teams do the same type of defense, too. We’ve made an agreement that we wouldn’t look at each other’s sidelines when we were giving signals. So, yeah, we’re really similar. In that sense, it’s kind of a challenge for our kids.
BC: When I came here to Derby, we redid a lot of stuff. We tried to keep a lot of tradition, but we did a lot of stuff different. We kind of wanted to change things a lot, so, when we got here to Derby, it was me and Coach Applebee, we had a sheet a paper and put down our thoughts and he changed my point of thinking on some stuff. A lot of stuff we did was because of his suggestions. He was definitely a second head coach here. He had about as much say in what we’re doing right now as I do. I know [Applebee] took a lot of the things we do. The junior football program, the offense, defense, you’ve got to realize a lot of that stuff we did when we first came to Derby. It’s not like he’s taken all of our stuff — it’s his too.
Overall, what is playing your cousin’s football team like?
BC: Like I said, it was a shock to me last year. It was less emotional than I thought it was it. Usually, I want to pound the guy across from me. But that week it was, “I hope we play well. If we win, we win. If we don’t, then good for coach Applebee, good for his program.” So, that’s kind of how I approached it last year. I didn’t expect it, it just kind of happened that way, and that’s kind of how it’s folding out this year. I think both of our programs are a lot better on offense, defense and special teams [than last year], so it’s going to be a really exciting game this year. Hopefully we can play with them. Hopefully we can play well this game and they can too so we can see where we’re at.
JA: I think that really, when it comes down to it, I know our kids on both side are very excited about it, and they’re both very competitive programs, and they’re going to compete no matter what. They don’t care about coach Clark and I really, they just want to win. And really, that’s what it comes down to, and I know they’re both going to compete like crazy. I really believe it’s going to be a great game and very exciting.
With one year of playing each other under your belt, do you think there’s motivation for your team to win?
JA: I think so. At the same time, our kids have really bought into the idea that it’s week to week. Who we’re playing, it doesn’t matter. The big difference is about us improving that week. Our kids know the Derby kids so well, that adds a little incentive for sure.
BC: Our kids have done a great job. This is a fun game for them. We’ve talked. They know [Coach Applebee and I’s] relationships and they see those guys all the time, so it’s going to be fun. There’s some friendly competition between these two teams. It’s not about beating the other team, it’s about what you can control and how well you can play. So, we’re going to worry about ourselves and hope we do our best.
With Mill Valley being ranked No. 1 in 5A and Derby No. 3 in 6A, do the rankings mean anything to you guys?
JA: We talk about it because we have to, because the kids see it so much. For usm being there for the first time, really having this high of a ranking, obviously, first time in school history, we definitely wanted to bring it up to [the players] and talk to them about it and talk about how to handle it. And, again, I think our kids have done a great job with it, especially with the way we played last week. But, they also know that really what it comes down to is how you play on a Friday night. It doesn’t matter what a newspaper says or a website says. We also talk about how they need to embrace this, because they’ve worked really really hard to get to this point, and they deserve it. So, they need to embrace it. They need to enjoy it. But, at the same time, they need to focus on what they need to do to get better this week. We also talk about how, in the end, it matters where we’re at at the end of the season.
BC: You’ve got to embrace the rankings, with Mill Valley being No. 1 [in 5A] this year, and we’re No. 33 [in 6A], we actually get to walk in as the underdog. So we’re embracing the underdog role, and that’s always fun.
What are you most excited about for this game?
BC: I’m excited to see a good team. I felt like, our first two games we saw some good competition, but we’re seeing a great team [this week]. I know coach Applebee will have those guys ready … They’ll be ready for us. This will be a highly competitive game. I’m looking forward to our kids competing. I’m just excited to play a team that’s really, really good this year.
JA: I think, both of us, because we coach so similar, we talk to our programs all the time about how this is a big game. But, at the same time, we want to be playing our best football in weeks seven, eight and nine. This is just another game to gauge where we are, but, at the same time, it’s a great program that we’re facing, so [we’re] going to really be able to see where we’re at.
Seniors end Homecoming week with blue bomb tradition
Students arrive to discover senior decorations and celebration
Entrenching the hallways in a sea of blue and celebrating the beginning of their last year, seniors surprised a new generation of students through a Homecoming tradition known as the blue bomb.
According to senior Abbie Hughes, the senior class planned deliberately to ensure that this year’s blue bomb surpassed last year’s, hoping to impress students and staff.
“We started a Facebook group page and we’ve been talking about it for around two weeks,” Hughes said. “We planned to go to Party City and the dollar store and all these places before the blue bomb.”
Students such as senior Sydney Humphrey arrived early at 5:30 a.m. in order to aid in decorating the school.
“Well, I have been here for almost an hour, six minutes short,” Humphrey said. “Most of my class did not sleep last night; we were getting too pumped for this activity.”
Joining together, seniors wrapped the school in a mess of wildly hanging streamers and shiny confetti. Senior Brian Fitzsimmons noted a real sense of pride as students worked with one another to create an amazing blue bomb.
“I think the atmosphere of this year’s blue bomb has been incredible, uncomparable to any years past,” Fitzsimmons said. “I think this is bringing together all of the seniors, making the class a whole.”
Leaving the school’s halls strung with countless streamers and ribbons, the seniors prepared to watch as students struggled to travel through.
“The main hallway is a death trap,” Humphrey said. “It’s a test to see who will survive the maze.”
For freshman Shelby Butler, navigating and entering the school proved to be difficult.
“I just saw the parking lot which seemed normal. Then you walk to the door and you can’t get it open because there’s stuff wrapped around,” Butler said. “You’re just like, ‘What the heck?’”
Some, such as communication arts teacher Mike Strack found the senior’s decorations to be annoying and obnoxious.
“This is ridiculous,” Strack said.
However, students such as freshman Anne Myers mostly found the blue bomb to be enjoyable, especially when they witnessed the seniors gather at the Jaguar statue in the main hallway in a mob of spirit and dance.
“I walked in and everyone was dancing like they did at the football game,” Myers said. “It was really loud, there was screaming and it sounded like fun.”
Next year’s seniors, including junior Jasmine Cousins, were taken back by the senior’s blue bomb as they entered the building.
“The seniors did a wonderful job. It’s far better than last year,” Cousins said. “It’s something we need to top next year.”
By Jena Smith
To celebrate Homecoming week, students participate in pep assembly
The assembly recognized spring sports and Homecoming candidates, while also encouraging school spirit
Photo Gallery: Homecoming coronation: Sept. 18
Jaguars defeat Derby in ‘Cousin Bowl,’ improve to 3-0
Jaguar defense comes up big in last four minutes to hang on for 27-20 victory
The cousins stood in the light of the concession stand after the 27-20 Jaguar victory over Derby High School. Head coaches Joel Applebee and Brandon Clark, who are good friends as well, didn’t talk too much about winning and losing in what is likely the last of the “Cousin Bowl” series for a while. Both were just happy with the way the players played on both teams.
“I’m proud of the way our kids competed tonight more than anything,” Applebee said. “They played great; a lot of different times it was an up and down game … I’m proud of them and the way they competed.”
The Panthers took the lead in the first quarter with a touchdown run. The score was 7-0, but only minutes later, senior kicker Andrew Hicks had a successful field goal, lessening the Jaguar’s deficit to 7-3.
With 9:35 to play in the first half, senior defensive lineman Anthony Brown put the Jaguars in the lead after he completed a pick-six. The extra point by Hicks was good, bringing the score to 10-7, Jaguars.
Interception by Anthony Brown run in for a touchdown, Jaguars take a 10-7 lead with 9:35 until half #cousinbowl
— Mill Valley News (@millvalleynews) September 19, 2015
The Panthers ran 19 yards to score a touchdown to take the lead back, 13-10, to end the half.
“We went in [the second half] saying ‘hey, we’re down by three. We didn’t play very well offensively, we played great defensively,’ and we made a few adjustments and our kids listened obviously, and we executed well the second half and that’s the reason why we won the second half,” Applebee said.
At halftime, seniors Chase Midyett and Megan Feuerborn were crowned Homecoming king and queen.
Possession started with the Panthers in the second half, but the Jaguars took over after a turnover on downs. Following the turnover on downs, junior running back Tristan Milne ran 42 yards for a touchdown. The Jaguars regained the lead early in the third quarter, 17-13.
— Mill Valley News (@millvalleynews) September 19, 2015
The third quarter ended with the Jaguars leading 20-13 after another successful field goal by Hicks.
Fourteen more points came in the fourth quarter. The Panthers tied the game at 20 after a touchdown with 9:45 to play. Only minutes later, a touchdown run by Milne after a pass from senior quarterback Logan Koch secured the 27-20 win for the Jaguars. The game ended with a defensive stand in the last four plays preventing Derby from tying the game in the final seconds.
Pass from Koch to Milne followed by a touchdown run. Jaguars take a 27-20 lead with 7:10 to play #cousinbowl
— Mill Valley News (@millvalleynews) September 19, 2015
Although Milne is proud of the team’s 3-0 start, he know there’s more to the season. The Jaguars have defeated St. Thomas Aquinas, Blue Valley Northwest and now Derby to start the season. In 2014, the team went 0-3 against the same teams.
“This isn’t the peak,” Milne said. “This is only the beginning, this this where the season kicks off. We can’t keep thinking about this game, we’ve got to move on to the next.”
Applebee agrees that the team must keep moving forward and not dwell in this win for too long.
“It’s great [to be 3-0],” Applebee said. “These kids have worked their tails off to get to this point so it’s well deserved, but at the same time now we’ve got to worry about the next opponent.”
The Jaguars will play KC Southwest next Friday, Sept. 25 at home.