High school football kicks off tonight for some of Kansas and most of Missouri, and a few teams in the BurnKC Top 25 will be kicking off their season and setting the tone for the year. I want to list a few games of note here, and will give a short summary on each, so strap in and let's jump right into the first leg of the American football regular season.
Ottawa vs. Eudora: The real only game of note on the Kansas side in the metro is a classic matchup between two cornfed, hard-nosed football teams. Eudora is right on the cusp of breaking into the BurnKC Top 25, and can start off the climb here on the right foot with a win over Ottawa. Coach Drew Steffen looks to lead a stout front seven and O-Line, a few of which have earned Division 1 offers, to play good old fashioned farm boy football with a little bit of passing spice. Ottawa isn't a bad squad, and will test Eudora to see if they're for real.
#1 Lee's Summit North vs. #2 Liberty North: 1 and 2 meet in the first week of the regular season, whew is this gonna be a barn burner. With two explosive offenses and stout defenses to boot, along with about 5-10 D1 recruits on the field at one time, this has the makings of an all-time classic, and again, IT'S ONLY WEEK 1. Lee's Summit North, led by former coaches of mine and high school coaching legends in their own right Jamar Mozee and Mark Simcox, has the makings of a team that runs away with the state championship. They get their toughest game out of the way quick here, and with a win could set the tone for the entire season. Same goes for Liberty North, a win here propels them to #1, and while having a tougher schedule than LSN, could also command the MoKan area with authority. If it weren't an hour away I'd go watch, if you can get out to this one though do so. It's gonna be a good one.
#3 Ray-Pec vs. #10 Rockhurst: In another game that will more than likely come down to the last few minutes, the Panthers take on the Hawklets in what's poised to be a game that will determine how each respective team's season will go. Both programs have a tradition of excellence, and it will be on full display tonight. With another game that has quite a few players under D1 schools' microscopes, we could see some fireworks on offense. However, Ray-Pec I believe has the edge here with a solid secondary and defensive line. Rockhurst faces what will be their toughest test here, and with a win could easily bump up another 3 to 4 spots in the rankings.
#16 Smithville vs. Raytown: Smithville is fresh off a 4A State Championship. The major question here is, can they repeat? This game right here will be a telling sign. Raytown may not be ranked, but they have talent. Is it enough to match Smithville? On paper no, but Raytown has played the role of spoiler many times before. Will the championship hangover strike the Warriors, or will they continue their dominance? With many starters returning, the signs point towards the latter. Stranger things have happened, but I think Smithville jumps a few rankings as the weeks go on, and it starts with a win over an underrated Raytown squad.
Blues Springs South vs. #23 Lee's Summit: Led by dual quarterbacking seniors Elijah Martinez and Trenton Stephenson, Lee's Summit looks poised for another great year in Missouri high school football. Drew Lock's alma mater still has an explosive offense, and can really air it out as well as kill you with an elusive ground game led by senior Devin Andrews. Blue Springs South has had some rough patches over the past couple of years, but has historically had a lot of success. The team has a golden boy in senior QB/CB Trey Patrick, who excels at both offense and defense, but we're seeing a lot of dual position players with BSSHS. This could prove costly for the Jaguars, as guys will get tired and in turn get sloppy. A win here though may prove the doubters wrong...
#8 Fort Osage vs. Grain Valley: Another perennial powerhouse is in action tonight in Fort Osage, however don't discount this gritty Grain Valley team. They're going to give Fort O a run for their money, but junior QB Kyle Wilson, TE Gavin Gallman, and RB Jeffrey Alexander will be up to the test, along with one of the most stout defenses in the MoKan area. This is a young Fort Osage team with a lot of talent, but will youth get in the way of Fort Osage's chances this year? With the senior leadership in the receivers and O-line, and on the defensive side the front seven, they'll have work to do to make sure this young roster has the experience and poise to make a run.
#12 Park Hill vs. Battle: Park Hill goes to battle against...well, Battle in what will be a litmus test for the Park Hill program. There's a bit of doubt surrounding Park Hill's chances at making a deep run this year, and starting off on the wrong foot could prove costly for a program that has a lot of young talent. However, they're led by a stud in senior QB Kendrick Bell, who is the brother of Michigan receiver and Park Hill alum Bobby Bell. He can both run and pass the ball exceptionally well, and takes after his brother in athletic prowess. Battle is not a team to mess around with though, as prior history shows great success for this program. After a long drive though and facing what will be a tough matchup, they face an uphill battle. Geez, how many times can I say battle in one paragraph???
#15 Liberty vs. Lee's Summit West: In an uncharacteristically unranked position, Lee's Summit West is the only Lee's Summit school not to be named to the BurnKC Top 25. That doesn't mean they've lost all their luster though however, as historically this program has been a program not to be trifled with. Multiple D1 recruits, great coaching, a great fan base, and an overall hunger to win have been the story of the Titans for as long as they've been around, but this year they suffer from a new coaching staff and a young, unproven roster. They could make a statement with a win over 15th ranked Liberty. It will take doing though, as Liberty has also had years of success, and look poised to make yet another deep run in the postseason. Led by an experienced, senior-heavy roster as well as a few D1 hopefuls, they could make noise. It starts here though, and LSW is a tough first game matchup.
NKC vs. Hickman: NKC has an Alabama commit. Enough said, right? Wait, is there no ranking next to their name??? That's right, I believe NKC has the tools to go far and move so high as even the Top 5, BUT I need to see it to believe it. NKC has had a mediocre history up until recently, but with the advent of some BIG guys coming through their program, like former player and current Iowa State DT Dominque Orange, 4 star Alabama commit and DE Edric Hill, and their MASSIVE 395 ilb NT Camerone Brown, this team has built a reputation. Their Achilles' heel though? There's not much to gawk at in terms of overall offense. The O-line is the best performing position group, and their run game is strong, but in today's football that only goes so far. This team has the potential to be State Championship contenders, but will need to prove it and up their passing game.
#13 Park Hill South vs. Rock Bridge: Another instance where far travel may make a difference, my alma mater Park Hill South takes on Columbia, MO-based Rock Bridge. Park Hill South showed a lot of potential last year making it all the way to state semis, but is yet again cast in the shadow of Park Hill. This however, puts a chip on the shoulder of an already talented team. ATH and 3 Star undecided senior Briggs Bartosh leads a confident team, with OL Grant Dunaway leading the big guys up front, RB Darrien Jones lined up in the backfield, and a solid defensive front with leadership it seems, by committee. With a brand new coaching staff (Including my former teammate and good friend Richard Fullerton) this team has a lot to prove as well, and could climb higher and higher as the weeks go on. They must climb the Rock Bridge first though (see what I did there?) and Rock Bridge is not a team to joke around with. Columbia's best program, they'll give PHS competition. PHS can set the tone and prove they belong with a big win here.
#21 Platte County vs. Kearney: Platte County has had a lot of recent success, coming oh so close to a state championship in 2019 and 2020. This year, they have another roster that could break into that Top 10 to Top 5 range. With a big time passing attack led by Nathan Duckworth, they could run circles around what is an embattled Kearney team. Kearney is not a team to count out though, as we see another historic powerhouse unranked much like LSW. Can Kearney conquer recent coaching and player troubles and steal a win over a tough Platte County program? We'll just have to see, my answer for now is no though however.
And there you have it, like I said Kansas high school ball really doesn't kick off until next week, so the games were definitely thin. We'll definitely get more into the Kansas powerhouses with next week's installment. Good luck to all the kids and coaches starting their season tonight, as a former high school football player I can tell you there's something different about walking out there for the first time. A lot of guys will get to experience that tonight. Friday Night Lights are truly an American classic.
Burn Notice: 10/10 I don't envy the kids for having to play in this heat though, ew.