Caney Valley Trojan quarterback carries the team

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Family and others in his universe of acquaintances and teachers know him as Zak.

In the Caney Valley High football family, he is affectionately nicknamed “Curly”.

His opposing teammates know him like a headache.

Ever since Zak Wallis crashed onto the zone prep grid stage — and all his 140 pounds on a 64-inch frame — he’s had a giant impact. An impact that has only grown in power each season.

Wallis was blessed or cursed with timing — judgment can go both ways — in being Trojans best quarterback pick, or at least perhaps the most upside, as a rookie in 2019.

Taking charge of a Trojan side hard hit by graduation or unreturned talent, Wallis and his 2019 teammates struggled through an 0-10 season.

The designation of Caney Valley as a Class 2A team, instead of a more appropriate Class A assignment, added another layer to the challenge that season.

In 2020, Caney Valley returned to Class A, and the second Wallis provided he learned bits and pieces he absorbed in the first year.

The Trojans went 5-6 — including a playoff appearance — in 2020. In 2021, the team posted a winning record (6-4) — the program’s first since 2012.

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In fact, the 6-4 mark in 2021 was just Caney Valley’s second winning record since at least 1990 – 31 years.

The 11-10 aggregate record in 2020 and 2021 was Copan’s best consecutive year, by wins, since 2011-12 (13-8).

Caney Valley went into the 2022 campaign with high qualified hopes – but a grueling three-week opener.

After slipping to a 0-2 start, the Trojans flexed their muscles – using “Curly” Wallis as the main hammer – to whip Wyandotte last weekend, 38-0.

For his colossal effort, Wallis is this week’s Patriot Auto Athlete of the Week.

Wallis returned a 41-yard punt for a touchdown to open the scoring for Pawhuska.

He would also explain the other five touchdowns – three on the ground (including rushes for 36 and 28 yards) and on touchdown zingers to Cooper Fogle (51 yards) and Seth Perkins (15).

Throughout the offseason and August training camp, Caney Valley head coach Stephen Mitchell praised Wallis’ progress as a quarterback, both in terms of skill physical and leadership, as a four-year-old starter.

Wallis also energizes the defensive effort.

His punt return home was an anomaly – although after that effort he might have more chances.

Wallis doesn’t normally play a deep man on punts. But, the Trojans set up a punt-block formation, meaning their two normal returners spun to put pressure on the kicker and Wallis backed off as a safety valve.

With only this season left in his prep career, Wallis has an opportunity to do something no Trojan quarterback has ever done — help prepare the team for two playoff seasons.

Wallis and the Trojans qualified in 2020 for the playoffs and last year barely missed a return.

Next, the Trojans host the Chelsea Green Dragons on Friday and then start the rest of their district roster.

Whatever name you give it, Wallis fills the shoes of a compact Hercules – a Friday night warrior.

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