Shawnee Mission East went undefeated and won the school’s first Class 6A state title last year. The Lancers were the last Shawnee Mission school to win a state title and they did it with second year Head Coach Dustin Delaney.
Delaney impressed Lancer football fans the previous year when he led the team to their first state championship game in 2013, dropping a 28-21 decision to Derby.
The opening for the coaching job came late in the 2012-13 school year.
“When the job came open, I called and inquired,” says Delaney, who was in his third year as head coach at Emporia. “We visited awhile and then Principal John McKinney called me back and asked me to come up for an interview. Mr. McKinney called and offered me the job on my way home after the interview. I wanted more information on the job, so I came back to SME the next day with my wife to visit. We were sold by Mr. McKinney’s enthusiasm and love of the community.”
The 33-14 win over Hutchinson last November gave the Lancers that coveted first state title in the sport and caught the attention of the school and alums alike.
“For years, SME was a laughingstock in football,” says Delaney. “Showing we can be an elite academic school, great at non-football sports, and able to win state football at the same time shows how awesome a school SME is. I received many e-mails from alums who were so proud to be from SME and so happy to finally have football success. Winning state football really showed the Metro how truly awesome our kids and community area.”
What was the key to the undefeated season in 2014?
“We had great players who were highly intelligent,” says Delaney. “Our players were not only tremendous on the field, but in the classroom as well. A total of 22 of our 28 seniors were on the honor roll and we started six players who scored over a 30 on their ACT test.”
The 2015 season will bring a target on the team’s backs because everyone wants to beat the defending state champions.
“Winning state is always tough,” says Delaney. “Things have to go your way and you need a little luck along the way. We don’t view this season as defending our title or repeating. It is a new team and we are going to attack our way to a state championship. Our goal is and always will be winning state. Our kids have bought into that and work with that goal in mind.”
Delaney played inside linebacker for two years at Wichita Northwest and then two years at Marion (Kans.) High School. Then he went on to play the same position for four years at Emporia State. After college he went into coaching the sport.
“I knew I wanted to coach from a young age,” he says. “I always wanted to stay around athletics and especially football. I love the strategy part of the game. My high school coach at Marion, Grant Thierolf, had a huge role me wanting to become a coach as well. I loved that he had such a huge impact in all our lives, and I wanted to coach and be like him.”
Delaney was an assistant coach for two years at Clearwater and four years at Hutchinson before three years as a head coach at Emporia.
He and his wife, Heidi, are both teachers at SM East. Their two daughters are in elementary schools in Leawood.