High school football players across Missouri have been itching for weeks, even months, in anticipation of today’s season-opening games.
For many in the metro area, what’s another hour of waiting?
With temperatures expected to climb well into the 90s through the afternoon Friday, many schools have pushed back the start times of their football season openers by an hour to 8 p.m.
Among the games pushed back are: Blue Springs South at Park Hill; Fort Osage at Raytown South (at Raytown High’s Chittwood Stadium); Lathrop at Van Horn (at Truman High School); Lee’s Summit at Truman (at Independence All-School Stadium); Park Hill South at Lee’s Summit North; and Staley at Blue Springs.
Grain Valley will make a decision by noon Friday whether or not to push back its home game against Savannah, and as of Thursday night Oak Grove at Holden is still scheduled for 7 p.m. William Chrisman at Platte County won’t be pushed back, as Platte County’s football field is tree-lined beyond the track down the whole west sideline, providing some shady relief from the heat.
Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said he didn’t have to alter his team’s practices this week other than a couple conditioning exercises. If the heat index had pushed to 100 degrees and above, practice would have been later in the day.
“The kids have handled the heat just fine,” he said. “Tuesday they did just fine, and Wednesday wasn’t bad, either.”
Donohoe’s is beginning its quest for a third straight Class 6 state championship, led by twin all-state defensive linemen Carlos and Khalil Davis, all-state quarterback Ian Brown and first-year starting running back Cobi Bissell. The Wildcats have gone 27-1 the last two seasons.
They face a Staley team that went 6-5 last season and is led by running backs Faizol and Kahluna Bouchard and quarterback Jordan Robben.
“We just need to stay away from a lot of first-game mistakes like penalties, fumbles, lining up wrong,” Donohoe said. “Just minimize mistakes and play to our strengths.”
Unlike many teams in the area, Ryan Schartz’s Fort Osage team doesn’t play home games or practice on a heat-sucking artificial turf field, and for that he was grateful this week.
“We’ve taken extra water breaks, but we’ve still been able to get out in the heat and get some things done,” he said. “Most of those turf fields, they seem to be about 10 to 15 degrees warmer. The grass is definitely nice – well, I wouldn’t call it nice, but it’s definitely cooler.”
Fort Osage went 11-1 last season and travels to Raytown to play a Raytown South team that went 4-7 last season. Schartz said he hopes his players are able to avoid being flagged given the new rules that aim to crack down on helmet targeting.
“I just want to get through this game managing our penalties,” he said. “Hopefully our kids can adapt to that. We’ve talked to them through the summer about it.”