FRONTENAC — It was the end of an era and the realization of dreams at Frontenac High School, as Brandon Mlekus, Isaac Bicknell and Dylan Flora all signed on to play football for Pittsburg State on Wednesday on National Signing Day.
All three of the Raider standouts played excellent on both sides of the ball throughout their high school careers, but will be focusing on defense for the Gorillas.
Although he will be remembered for his heroics at the quarterback position for Frontenac, Mlekus will be playing safety for the Gorillas.
“Brandon is one of those guys you can put anywhere,” FHS head coach Mark Smith said. “They’re going to put him on defense right now, and I know his wrestling is really going to help him in college. With his toughness, his smarts and his athleticism, I think he’s going to be a really good safety.”
As a Raider, Mlekus earned first-team All-CNC honors at quarterback, throwing for 1,194 yards, with a completion percentage of 65.8, and 16 touchdowns in his senior season.
On defense, Mlekus finished with 36 tackles — 17 solo — three interceptions and one touchdown.
Mlekus had plenty of options to choose from, but he said staying in Southeast Kansas was important to him.
“PSU is close to home and they showed a lot of interest in me early in the season,” he said. “It just felt like home to me.”
While at Pitt State, Mlekus plans on studying business and may look into law school in the future.
Although Mlekus’ future is bright in the Crimson and Gold, he said he will never forget his time in the Black and White.
“It’s incredible to be a Raider and play with the people I’ve grown up with my entire life,” he said. “It’s one of the best feelings you could ever hope for.”
Bicknell also had a decorated career at Frontenac and will be playing strong safety for Pitt State.
“Isaac has worked really hard the past four years,” Smith said. “He had a great career for us as a Raider. He showed great leadership and really taught the young guys to do the right things. He’s just a great athlete and a great teammate. He made everyone around him better and I’m excited to see what he can do at the next level. I think he’ll be able to gain 20 pounds pretty easy, get bigger, stronger, faster and make a big impact for the Gorillas.”
In Bicknell’s final season, he racked up 57 tackles, 21 being solo, five interceptions and one touchdown.
As a wide receiver, Bicknell caught 17 passes for 281 yards and five touchdowns.
Like Mlekus, Bicknell said staying at home was a priority for him.
“I chose PSU because it’s close to town,” he said. “My family grew up around here and has been apart of PSU a long time. I just didn’t feel right about going to Missouri Southern and playing in the green and yellow. Red and yellow is what I wanted to be in.”
In the classroom, Bicknell said he will be studying business management and dreams of reopening his father’s restaurant.
Despite having a bright future in front of him, Bicknell said he will always be thankful for his time at Frontenac.
“My time here has meant a lot to me because I played with my brothers,” he said. “I transferred over from Colgan before I started high school and these guys showed me what a brotherhood is really about. It was really nice of these guys to take me in and play on my side.”
Flora will also be on the defensive side of the ball, playing at linebacker position.
“Dylan is one of those guys who is great on game day,” Smith said. “He knows when to step it up and make big plays. He was our leading tackler and is one of those guys you want on your team. He’s going to give everything he has for his brothers and works extremely hard. I’m excited to see what he can do at linebacker for them.”
During his senior season, Flora excelled on defense, with 85 tackles — 35 solo — and one interception, which he returned 20 yards for a touchdown.
On the offensive end, Flora notched 15 receptions for 236 yards and five touchdowns.
Flora said making the decision was relatively easy, as he knew Pitt State was always where he wanted to be.
“I’m excited to play for my hometown,” Flora said. “I’ve grown up here watching them and I finally get to be a Gorilla, which is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.”
Off the field, Flora will be studying mechanical engineering and hopes football will help him in his future endeavours.
“I just want to be the best player I can be and fill the potential that I have,” Flora said. “I just want to progress as a person and as a human being.”
Like his teammates, Flora said he will always remember his high school career.
“My time here has meant everything,” he said. “My time with coach Smith and playing with my best friends has meant a lot. I’m glad that we get to keep playing together. We’ve grown up together and always played on the same teams in youth league. All of the friends I’ve made and the bonds I created are priceless.”
-- Jordan Buckamneer is a sports reporter of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @jbuckamneer.