Is Kinnamon now MHS' most accomplished athlete?

By Steve Sell
March 19, 2015

Kyler Kinnamon’s spot on the McPherson High Wall of Fame already was secured before the start of his senior year.

All he did this year was add to his resume and given his accomplishments, he might need two plaques.

Kinnamon is arguably the most accomplished male athlete in McPherson High history and that’s saying a mouthful, when you consider the school also has produced such versatile Kansas athletic legends as Steve Henson, Vic and Dwayne Chandler, Travis Stites and Temoer Terry, just to name a few.

I’ve always believed Henson is the best pure athlete MHS has ever produced. He was an All-State basketball player and earned Kansas’ Mr. Basketball in 1986. He was a multiple state track and field champion in the high jump and javelin. He went on to play in the NBA and professionally overseas. He’s now a widely recognized assistant basketball coach at Oklahoma University under his collegiate coach Lon Kruger. He was Kruger’s very first signee at Kansas State in 1986 and went on to become one of the best players in Big 8 history.

Henson played football only through his sophomore year, but had he stayed with the sport I have no doubt he would eventually have been an All-State quarterback and punter. I also believe if he had concentrated on his punting, he would have been a big-time college punter and perhaps NFL-worthy.

The Chandlers were both physical powerhouses. Vic was perhaps best known for his football and basketball exploits, while Dwayne was All-State in football, a key cog in basketball and a state track and field champion in the 400. Vic went on to play football at Kansas State and Dwayne at KU, both with considerable success.

Stites, to me, is still the most underrated MHS athlete of all time. He was a 1,000-yard rusher in football on some teams that didn’t have great records, one of the rare four-time state wrestling champions in Kansas history and a state champion in track and field as a hurdler. He completed his career wrestling at Fort Hays State. You could make the argument he’s the most accomplished athlete of all time, though these things are subjective.

Terry was basically a wrestler, winning three state championships, though he did dabble in soccer and track. It was a joy to watch him wrestle as he was such a technician, often toying with his opponents before striking like a cobra and the match was over. His senior year, he missed nearly all the season recovering from knee surgery, but then dominated the state meet with little problem. He went on to have an historic wrestling career at Nebraska.

That brings us to Kinnamon. He virtually litters the McPherson High football record book, including the single-season rushing record as a junior (breaking Dwayne Chandler’s mark). What makes that feat even more remarkable is that he was a QUARTERBACK! Most schools’ single-season rushing records belong to running backs.

He is MHS’ all-time leader in total offense (7,519 yards), second in passing yards (4,354), second in career rushing (3,165), first in TDs (45), first in rushing TDs (42), 1st in single-season points (154) and first in single-season touchdowns (25).

To be honest, Kinnamon probably wasn’t even playing his best position. MHS’ coaches repeatedly told me had the Bullpups had another good-throwing quarterback, Kinnamon might have put up receiving records that would have stood the test of time. He was so fast, so elusive and had such good hands that he would have been a mismatch for most defenses. Imagine if Tyler Matthews had been quarterbacking and Kinnamon was a receiver. The numbers would have been mind-boggling.

As great as he was in football, he’ll forever be known for his basketball exploits. He started only one game as a freshman, but played as much as the starters as he was the sixth man. In fact, the only game he started (due to illness) he scored 22 points. He wound up playing 95 games in his career, second all-time in MHS history.

He exits the school as its fifth all-time leading scorer (he inched ahead of Steve Henson at the state tournament, 1,172 points) and is third all-time in 3-pointers (115) and free throws made (327).

It’s his unselfish floor play, however, that made him the player he is. He is first in career assists (506), and he has the top three yearly assist totals. He is second all-time in steals and had the second-most in a single season, as well as the fourth, fifth and eighth as he’s shows up everywhere in the Top 10.

Scoring was never that important to the future Fort Hays State Tiger. This year he averaged a modest 13.1 points a game, but he didn’t have to score because of the talent assembled around him. He still shot 54 percent from the field, 81.5 percent from the line and averaged 6.7 assists a game and 3.3 steals. His ability to impact a game on the defensive end was more than any player I have seen in my 36 years of Bullpup basketball.

He’s a three-time basketball MVP of the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League and on Sunday will be announced as a first-team All-State All-Class selection for the second straight year. He’ll also be KBCA first team for a third straight year when those honors are announced.

Most of all, he was a winner. The Bullpups were 85-10 in his basketball career, six of those losses coming his freshman year. MHS is 67-4 over his last three years, of course winning the state title the past two years.

Kinnamon competed in track his first two years and was a member of the 4 x 100 relay team that was edged by an eyelash at the state meet in his sophomore year. 

Kinnamon could probably contend for a state championship this year in track, but since he’s being counted on by Fort Hays State to play key minutes next year as a freshman, he’s putting all his energies into basketball.

I used to enjoy watching Kinnamon during his grade-school days. In football, it was like watching Pac-Man, as he ran around in the backfield looking for the smallest of cracks to run through. Then he would set sail and it would be off the races. In basketball, he was simply so much quicker than kids his age and he could score at will or pass off for easy assists.

What I like most about him, though, is his humbleness. While he did react at times to what he perceived as unfair foul calls (he never fouled, did he?), he kept his composure when it mattered most and said very little. He’s very low-key off the court and always complimented his teammates when asked about state championships.

There have been some amazing athletes come through the school and all of us should feel fortunate we have seen these Bullpup greats perform.