It was evident the moment that William Chrisman graduate James Bailey walked into the Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium press box to watch Missouri’s 17-7 victory over Kansas Thursday night in the Papa John’s Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Football Game, that he would rather be out on the field.
“This is the first time I’ve ever watched a high school game from a press box,” said Bailey, The Examiner’s 2016 Offensive Player of the Year who led the Bears to their most successful season in school history. “I’ve been in a press box working during ISD (Independence School District) little league games, and some things like that, but sitting up here, all I’m thinking about is how much I want to play football.”
After a half, Bailey walked down to the field, where he was soon joined by his former teammate and senior-to-be Daniel Carson and Blue Springs seniors-to-be Khristian Boyd and Jaylen Ivey.
Soon, players from the Missouri team were coming over to give Bailey a pat on the back or a handshake as he prepares to leave for Western Illinois University July 2.
Bailey was in his element.
Fans watching the game were soon calling his name. It was evident from the get-go that he belonged on the field.
“I wanted to play in the all-star game, but I couldn’t because the coaches at Western Illinois were afraid I’d get hurt,” said Bailey, who is also a back-to-back state champion in the discus. “I understand, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch a lot of my friends play in the all-star game.”
He did have a couple of special moments before the game as he visited with Chrisman offensive coordinator Jeff Meyers, who was inducted into the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, along with former Oak Grove head coach Brad Gaines, at halftime.
He then met Kansas City icon Len Dawson, the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Chiefs to a 23-7 victory over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.
“I really didn’t know much about Mr. Dawson,” said Bailey, as Dawson was gracious in talking about his college playing days at Purdue after he found out Bailey was going to Western Illinois, “until I got here tonight. He’s the first legend I ever met – and he’s so nice!”
Dawson was honored by the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association with its first Ambassador Award.
When Dawson found out Bailey was a back-to-back state champion in the discus, he looked surprised. Bailey is 5-foot-11 and weighs 200 pounds.
“You are a state champ in the discus?” Dawson asked, smiling. “I played baseball, basketball and football in high school and football at Purdue, but I never tried track. I don’t think I’d have ever been a state champion in the discus.”