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SLATE: Goodbye to a Kansas high school coaching legend

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Larry Taylor was a giant, and now he’s gone. That, and weekend notes.

The good old days, eh?
The good old days, eh?
Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Before we get into the Kansas State portion of today’s Slate, please allow your benevolent despot an indulgence.

Via personal sources, it saddens me to report that Larry Taylor passed away last night after suffering complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Who’s Larry Taylor, you ask?

Coach Taylor spent 1964-79 as the head football coach at Shawnee Mission North, and stayed at the school until 2000 as a math teacher. As a coach, Taylor was phenomenal. He took over for the 1964 season at the tender age of 24, and immediately started winning. His Indian teams won a remarkable 88% of their games during his tenure, capturing six state championships at the highest level in Kansas, won or shared seven Sunflower League titles, and generally ran roughshod over everyone for 15 years. It will come as no surprise to learn that Taylor is a member of the KSHSAA Hall of Fame, and the stadium at North bears his name.

(An amusing sidenote: Among Taylor’s players was a guy by the name of Phil McGraw, who played on a North state champion team in 1967 as a senior, went on to get his head beaten in 100-6 by Houston as a freshman at Tulsa the next year, then apparently went on to do something or other on television.)

So he’s relevant here in a football sense, but there’s more.

I never knew Taylor as a coach, even though we all still called him that. I just heard stories — from other people, and from the man himself. Coach Taylor was my Geometry II teacher as a sophomore in high school. His son, Lynn, graduated North the same year I did, and we both matriculated at K-State the following year. Larry was a good man, and one of the nicest men I have ever known in my life. He was, at least in my memory, a soft-spoken man whose words still carried a lot of weight. His lessons were homey; he had a way of connecting students with the material in a way that was easy to understand. He also had some good advice from time to time; I probably should have listened to more of it.

Kansas high school football lost a true giant last night. The world lost an even better man.

Godspeed, Coach.

Football

Ryan Black is doing work at the Mercury. He reports on how the offensive line’s depth makes the injury to Scott Frantz a less-than-devastating blow, offers an update on two defensive casualties of the opener, Cody Fletcher and Johnathan Durham, and gathered quotes from the assistant coaches regarding their units’ play last Saturday. What IS this madness?

At the Eagle, Hayden Barber reports on K-State’s recent efforts to re-establish recruiting in the Wichita area. Under Bill Snyder, Wichita had mostly fallen off the radar, with Wildcat recruit Cody Stufflebean claiming that “everyone was saying” Snyder’s methodology in regard to Kansas kids was to just hope they’d walk on. If true, that’s a startling revelation. Barber also relates the story of two roommates: Denzel Goolsby and Skylar Thompson.

Also at the Eagle, Kellis Robinett dives into the details of K-State’s first offensive drive of the season, and offers a profile of Wildcat running back Tyler Burns.

Over at our sister site Hustle Belt, the home for all MACtion, Zackery Vannieuwenhze previews Saturday’s contest from the Bowling Green perspective. He’s, um, optimistic.

Today’s Sports Extra subject, courtesy of Corbin McGuire, is one A.J. Parker, who is solely responsible for K-State’s turnover margin so far.

Basketball

JT offered you Robinett’s take on Bruce Weber getting a commitment from Luke Kasubske on Wednesday; later that day, Ryan Black also got in the action with his own story.

Volleyball

K-State fell in a big hole against Clemson to open the K-State Invitational last night at Bramlage, dropping the first two sets 16-25, 21-25. But they stormed back, 25-20, 25-19, 16-14 to eke out a win in their home opener. Greg Woods has the deets at the Merc. Tonight, the Cats will face Omaha at 7:30 on ESPN+. You can sign up for that, did you know?

Soccer

Yesterday’s Sports Extra focused on goalkeepers Emma Malsy and Rachel Harris, who will be going home this weekend as the Cats take on Cal State-Northridge tonight and Cal State-Fullerton on Sunday. Audio will be available at kstatesports.com, while you’ll have to get into BigWest.tv to catch the video. It might be free; there’s no dollar signs anywhere, at least.

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