Eight-man football isn’t typically known for its defense.
And that makes what high school senior Jett Vincent has accomplished with two Kansas teams somewhat remarkable.
“It’s a special feeling to be noticed on the defensive side of the ball,” the Canton-Galva senior defensive back/specialist said.
Sometime in the next few weeks, possibly as soon as Friday night, Vincent will stand alone in the Kansas 8-man record books. He is poised to break a record that has stood for 34 years.
Last Friday, Vincent intercepted three passes. Each went for a pick-six, and his third tied the state’s 8-man career interceptions record of 31, set by Bennington’s Gunner Boss from 1984-88.
“To me, it isn’t a huge deal,” Vincent said. “It was special for my family, but I’m not focused on breaking records, rather playing football with my brothers at Canton-Galva.”
St. John’s Travis Neidig (2004-07) holds the Kansas all-class career interceptions record of 32.
Started at Wheatland
Vincent was all-everything at Wheatland High in western Kansas. He hauled in 28 picks during those three years, including 13 his freshman season. He had nine more as a sophomore and six as a junior.
He was three times recognized as an all-league defensive player in the WKLL and was an all-league receiver as a junior. He even won the Kansas 8-man Div. II Defensive Player of the Year award.
Previously, Wheatland High han’t really been known for its football program, Vincent said.
“But with coaching and the work ethic of the 2022 and 2021 graduates,” Vincent said, “we were able to go 27-6 and play for a state championship in 2021.”
But after the 2021-22 school year was over, the Vincent family made a big move east.
“Good job opportunity for my dad as well as what was best for my future as an athlete,” said Vincent, who transferred to Canton-Galva for his record-breaking senior season.
New school, big dreams
Vincent is a Kansas State fan and was in the stands with his family for last Saturday’s loss to Tulane in Manhattan. He also loves his Chiefs — in particular, former KC safety Daniel Sorensen, who’s now with the Saints.
“I feel like I relate to him with multiple characteristics,” Vincent said. “I also enjoy (Arizona safety) Budda Baker and his ‘no fear’ style of play.”
One thing absent from Vincent’s modeling of NFL players is any sort of ego. He’s focused on Canton-Galva’s Friday night opponent, Norwich — not breaking a record.
Others are watching, though. Vincent’s trio of pick-sixes last week were his first interceptions with Canton-Galva (3-0). Returning a trio of picks for TDs in one game would’ve tied the Kansas 11-man record, but three past 8-man players returned a whopping five interceptions in a single game — most recently, P.J. Kasper of Sylvan in 2000.
“Personally, I felt very favored and blessed,” Vincent said. “I know I am nothing by myself. John 15:5: ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ That verse is one of my favorites and reminds me how important it is to abide in Christ and give Him all the glory.”
Vincent’s eyes gleamed as he described his record-tying interception.
“We are rolling Cover 2 zone,” he recalled. “I read pass play from the guards. Dropping back in my pedal, I’m reading (the) QB.
“I open my hips and break across the field and high-point the ball. It feels like I’m in the air forever. I continue to run the ball up the sideline, make a few cuts and I’m in the end zone for a pick-six.”
It was the fifth pick-six of his illustrious career, and a feeling that never gets old.
“It is a really cool adrenaline rush and an awesome feeling achieving a defensive touchdown,” Vincent said.
While interception No. 31 was great, that isn’t his most memorable one.
“Last year in a playoff game against Coldwater-South Central, we were in a man-free coverage and I broke down on a ball right by their sideline,” Vincent said. “I went up for it and caught it with one (hand) and kept a foot inbound. People would classify it as an ‘Odell (Beckham) Catch.’“
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Vincent, who has bench-pressed 225 pounds, squatted 365 and cleaned 275, has put up some lofty numbers on offense, too. During his time at Wheatland, he passed for 480 yards, rushed for 479, hauled in 2,163 receiving yards and scored 42 TDs.
He even played quarterback in Canton-Galva’s first three games this year — his new team’s QB has been injured but is set to return to action Friday night — amassing 704 yards of total offense and 14 touchdowns.
But it’s that career-picks record that should put him in the Kansas record books. And while he remains humble about that, Vincent also knows this is pretty special.
“There are a lot of people that will hate and argue that it’s 8-man football,” he said. “But this is a record that has not been touched in 35 years.”
His hope is that at this time next year he’s playing Division I football. He said he’s gotten some Division II and junior-college offers and that he’s being recruited by K-State, Kansas and North Dakota.
“I was on a visit to K-State last Saturday,” he said, “and as I was on the sideline during warmups next to my mother, she looked over at me and said, ‘I remember when you were just a little boy and we were sitting right there and you told me some day you were going to play in this stadium.’
“Talk about pure emotion. Whenever the grind gets difficult, I just think of little me and my big dreams. I get one chance to go make a difference and I’m not gonna drop the ball.”