The 2013 year is about in the books. It’s time to look ahead to a new year to improve from the previous one.
I must admit, 2014 might take some tall cotton to keep up with the successes of 2013. The 2013 football season has been stellar for local football fans at all levels. The Blue Springs Wildcats won another Class 6 state championship in 2013. This marks the first public school large class back-to-back championships on the Missouri side in Kansas City.
The Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats won their fourth national championship and finished undefeated for a second time. That has only occurred five times in Division II football history. The Missouri Tigers showed everyone in the country that they are real players in the toughest conference in the country. They won the SEC East championship and had the opportunity to play in a very exciting SEC championship game. That exposure will do wonders in recruiting. The Tigers will now have the ability to get the 4- and 5-star recruits to compete for the national championship.
The Kansas City Chiefs have been the big surprise story. Coach Reid and general manager John Dorsey returned the once-proud franchise back to respect with a playoff berth. It is totally amazing to see how important good coaching and organizational management is for an NFL team. The Chiefs should be a big factor in the NFL for the next couple of years thanks to the superior leadership in the organization.
The Kansas City Royals made real positive noise as they wound up 2013 with their best record in a decade. Yes, believe it or not, the Royals were in the playoff hunt all the way to September. The moves the organization has accomplished seem very solid on paper and time will only tell if 2014 can be the year we break the playoff jinx.
At the beginning of the year the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team made another nice run in the NCAA Tournament. Wichita State, Missouri and Kansas State all had positive 2013 basketball seasons.
That adds up to a very successful 2013, so how can we improve as we move forward into the New Year? If you are a high school sports fan the new alignment of the Kansas City Suburban Conference should be outstanding in all sports.
The big conference will be the toughest high school sports conference in a four-state area. The big-school teams will be Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Lee’s Summit, Lee’s Summit West, Lee’s Summit North and Raymore-Peculiar. A conference championship in any sport may be a jumping board to a state championship. Everyone will need to bring their hard hat every week. It should be fun to watch.
It is great to hear that the NCAA Division II football championship will be held at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas in 2014. The facility is beautiful, plus the Kansas City area is a hotbed for NCAA Division II football. The MIAA is the greatest Division II conference in the country. A local school at that venue would make this a big event for the Kansas City area.
The Missouri Tigers now realize they belong, and most of the fair-weather Gary Pinkel haters are put to rest. Tiger football in Columbia, Missouri will be the place to be on a beautiful fall day.
The Kansas City Chiefs should continue to have a positive run in the 2014 season. Their schedule will toughening up but they are still solid enough to be a playoff contender. If they can continue to improve at wide receiver and keep the team depth they developed for the first time in over a decade, they should continue to be respected in the league.
The Kansas City fans will really pump up for the 2014 season. The Royals have a real shot to make the playoffs for the first time in 29 years. I say we are in a good position to finally let the dog eat. Hopefully all the young talent will continue to grow and the new offseason guys will fill some of the holes in the lineup from the past. I like that the Royals organization is concentrating on pitching and defense.
I still look for the 2014 Kansas Jayhawks to find their rhythm and make a run in the NCAA Tournament. They have too much talent and are too well-coached not to find a groove. Even though 2013 was stellar in many ways, I still feel that 2014 can be even a better for sports in the Kansas City area. Hope is eternal for 2014, but 2013 was very good stuff.
• I have to congratulate Blue Springs High School running back Dalvin Warmack one more time for winning the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year for high school football for the second straight year. The young man is a PLAYER and A GREAT TEAMMATE.
• I needed to mention earlier, it looks like professional soccer is becoming a staple of the Kansas City sports scene. The Sporting KC championship has proven that the organization has done an excellent job in the promotion of soccer in this area. Perhaps a pro hockey or pro basketball team could fill those cold winter days in the Kansas City area. Most people say it would not fly. I say give one of them a try.
• I hope everyone has a great new year full of blessings and fun.
• My quote of the year in 2013 comes from NFL Hall of Fame Coach George Allen: “Winning is living. Every time you win, you’re reborn. When you lose, you die a little.” And going forward into 2014, a quote from NFL Hall of Fame Coach Joe Gibbs: “Failures are expected by losers, ignored by winners.”
Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 5-6 p.m. every Thursday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org