In mid-December Kansas Pregame contacted 8-Man football coaches in an effort to name a first ever Top 8 team of seniors for both divisions of 8-Man football in Kansas. After an overwhelming response from coaches, and once all the votes were tallied, 16 players were selected.
This is the ninth of 16 individual player profiles highlighting the Top 8 selections in each division and released in no particular order. Look for more in the coming days.
Aaron Skidmore, QB/DE, 6-3, 210, South Gray, Sr.
South Gray’s 2020 season came out of nowhere in the best kind of way. After a stretch from 2013-2019 that saw the Rebels go a cumulative 24-39, it was time to turn back the clock to the success of the past, and how better to do that than to welcome back former South Gray head coach Grant Salmans, who had led the squad to considerable success during his first stint from 1995-2006.
Salmans getting the job also brought along offensive coordinator Jeff Blattner, who had worked with coach Salmans previously, and enjoyed his own run of success as head coach from 2009-2012.
The retooled staff would rely heavily on senior quarterback Aaron Skidmore to fuel an offense that averaged 44.25 points per game during its eight wins.
Skidmore would finish his senior season with 537 yards passing and 10 touchdowns against just three interceptions. But his biggest impact was in the running game, where the imposing 6-3, 210 pound Skidmore thundered for 1,324 yards and 30 touchdowns on 148 carries.
“He is just a big strong kid and he has always been way bigger than anyone in his class and played quarterback in grade school,” coach Salmans said of Skidmore. “He has always been strong and athletic, and we just kind of coached him up for what he already had.”
Some of Skidmore’s abilities shined even brighter than expected in the new system.
“We didn’t know how well he was going to throw the ball coming in because we hadn’t coached him in a while, but he was accurate throwing the deep ball and the short ball this year,” Salmans said. “He’s strong and could get it there quick. We knew he could run, but his accuracy was vital for us down the stretch. We don’t pass a lot, but when we did, he completed passes.”
The senior also displayed versatility on the defesnive side of the ball, playing both defensive end and linebacker over the course of the season. He tallied just 14 tackles through the first five games but made the switch to linebacker part way through a Week 6 win over Spearville and posted 38 tackles, one interception and three tackles for loss to close out the season.
Skidmore’s efforts would help lead South Gray to an 8-2 record before an eventual regional round playoff exit to a talented Hoxie squad. Eventual state runner-up Wichita County dealt the Rebels their only other loss in the season’s last regular season game.
“I had a great experience this year, working with coach Blattner, coach Salmans, and coach [Ty] Clark,” Skidmore said. “When I found out they were becoming coaches, we immediately went to work on the offensive and defensive playbook. I also knew that this was our year as we had been working hard in the months before the season and were a senior heavy team. As a team this season, we were confident coming in and excited. Our team experience was awesome as about every guy on that team had played football together since flag football. We had a bond and a culture you couldn’t find on many other teams.”
In addition to his spot on the Kansas Pregame 8-Man I Top 8 team, Skidmore earned all-state recognition from the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Wichita Eagle.
South Gray’s basketball team is a traditional state power under long-time coach Mark Applegate and Skidmore is one of the top players on a loaded Rebel basketball squad.
Skidmore averaged 22 points and 6 rebounds per contest during the 2019-2020 season and led the Rebels to a 21-4 record before coming up just shy of the state tournament. He earned KBCA First Team All-State honors as a junior, and his squad has come out of the gate hot so far this year posting a 4-0 record with Skidmore tallying his 1,000th career point just before the holiday break. The Rebels are currently second in the KBCA 1A, Division I rankings.
“For basketball we are expecting a great season,” Skidmore said. “We came up short last year, but we bring back all five starters and some key players off the bench. The basketball season has gone great so far.”
Skidmore is strongly considering playing football at the next level and currently holds offers from several NAIA and junior college programs with interest from a few Division II schools. He plans to major in finance/business.