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 10th 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.
Jacob Jueneman, QB, 6-3, 160, Hanover, Sr.
Senior quarterback Jacob Jueneman is one of two Juenemans on this 8-Man Top 8 list, as well as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the state. The talented signal-caller had a knack for finding his cousin, and most dangerous weapon, Colin, throughout his senior season. The two also helped to keep defenses from keying on one or the other in the running game.
When initially asked about a possibility that the two may have had a special connection as kin, head coach Matt Heuer didn’t deny it, but instead credited their willingness to put in time as a more concrete cause.
“Not sure that being related added anything to their connection,” Heuer said. “If anything I would say their experience of playing together for four years as a duo, first on scout team, and then on Fridays, has allowed them to find that rhythm.”
Jacob’s first year at the helm of the offense as a junior was impressive as he completed 76 of 133 passes for 1,521 yards, 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also gained 542 yards and 12 touchdowns on 97 carries for an average of 5.6 yards per carry on the season. The Wildcats made a trip to the state semifinals in 2019 before being defeated by a Quinn Buessing led Axtell squad 26-12.
“Coming into  he really had no experience so it was a learning curve to start the season,” coach Heuer said. “Some early struggles were evident, but as the year went on his confidence rose, along with his play. By the end of the season he was playing very well and his improvement goes hand in hand with the playoff run we were able to have.”
Jueneman’s improvement was fully on display in a spectacular senior season that culminated with a 46-24 state championship win over highly-touted St. Francis. He completed 76 of 104 passes - an incredible 73 percent completion rate - for 1,284 yards with 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His QB rating went from a solid 102.5 during his junior season to a hyper-efficient 146 during his senior year.
“Coming into this year, with the experience he gained last season and the offseason work, he was able to build even more on his play right from the start,” Heuer went on. “His understanding of the game plan was very strong and he did a great job of executing it. His dual-threat capability was essential in our offensive success and I thought his decision making was greatly improved which helped us eliminate costly turnovers.”
Jueneman’s dual-threat abilities left defensive coordinators with migraines. During his senior season he rushed for 642 yards and 18 touchdowns on 76 carries, a whopping 8.4 yard per carry clip, once again improving his efficiency from his junior season.
Jueneman’s selection to the first Kansas Pregame 8-Man Top 8 list follows honors from the Wichita Eagle as a first team all-state quarterback along with an honorable mention nod from the Topeka Capital-Journal.
“His strong work ethic and willingness to compete on a daily basis helped our focus and improvement as a team, but it also translates well off the field as well, Heuer said. “ His leadership by example was key not only for this season, but also showed the underclassmen how to prepare in the future.”
The Juenemans (including junior cousin Emmitt) continue the storied tradition of families contributing to the perennial success of Wildcat football. Like the Brunas, Diederichs and Zarybnickys before them, just to name a few, the Juenemans led the Wildcats back to the pinnacle of football success in an unbeaten championship season.
Hanover has now appeared in nine of the last 14 8-Man I or II title games in their respective division at the time with at least semifinal appearances in all but one of those 14 seasons, an anomalous 4-4 finish in 2011. The Wildcats have six championships, three runner-up finishes and four semifinal appearances in that span and also broke the 8-Man consecutive wins record with 43 straight from 2016 to 2019.
It’s likely no coincidence that string of success followed the hire of Heuer in 2005, who himself is carrying on the Hanover tradition of family success after he and his brother Dustin - the head football coach at nearby Marysville - enjoyed athletic success in high school at Hanover as well.
Given the enormous success of the last 15 years, that tradition appears likely to continue.
Check out the Jacob Jueneman to Colin Jueneman connection in the link below: