Thank goodness the high school football season and Friday Night lights are back.

The 2018 season is full of new hopes and brand-new facilities for young athletes. The new Fort Osage sports complex for football, soccer and track is state of the art. Congratulations to the Fort Osage community and educational administrative staff for providing a superior sports complex.

The new season also brings a few changes in competition for some schools. Grain Valley will be playing in the Kansas City Suburban Conference for the first time. All the schools are pumped up for a new season. The outlook is shaping up to be both interesting and exciting.

The entire Kansas City area has become very competitive on the high school football landscape. The usual powerhouses in the area will once again be knocking at the door to compete in the state playoffs. With the great area competition, whoever comes out to compete in the state playoffs in all classes will be battled tested. There are no easy roads in high school football in the Kansas City area.

All the teams began conditioning and weightlifting in January following the Christmas break and have continued that hard work throughout the entire summer. Just about all sports have now become a year-round commitment.

The Suburban has reassigned several schools to new divisions according to their enrollments. There will be some teams playing each other for the first time in several years. William Chrisman opened against Blue Springs, the first meeting since 2006. Chrisman has really improved its football program over the past three years. The Bears have finished high in the conference standings and have added Blue Springs and Blue Springs South to their schedule. Chrisman should be congratulated for the move.

Solid competition throughout the season improves any program. It allows a team to take the next step to a respected program. The entire Suburban Conference is highly competitive at all levels. Teams in the conference need to be prepared to lock helmets.

The Gold Division is loaded as always. Blue Springs, Park Hill and Lee’s Summit West have been the teams to beat the last few years, but 2018 brings a whole new set of challenges. Lee’s Summit North may have one of their most talented teams in school history. Head coach Jamar Mozee and his staff made positive strides in 2017 and this year’s Broncos should be a tough out. Ray-Pec is going to be much improved. Veteran head coach Tom Kruse leads a tough team on anyone’s schedule. Blue Springs South has had some tough breaks with injuries the last 2-3 years, but no one plays tougher defense then the Jaguars.

You throw in the usual great rivalry games a lot of the schools play with independent Rockhurst Hawklets and you have one heck of a tough schedule.

Lee’s Summit High School will drop down to the Red Division of the conference, which makes this division even tougher with Liberty, Liberty North, Park Hill South, St. Joseph Central, Staley and Truman.

The White Division will be highly competitive with Belton, Fort Osage, North Kansas City, Oak Park, Raytown, Ruskin and William Chrisman. This conference title will be up for grabs with at least four of these schools having a shot to win the division championship.

The Blue Division, which now includes Grain Valley, also has Grandview, Kearney, Platte County, Raytown South, Winnetonka and new member Smithville, which will make it a difficult race to the top.

All these area schools have continued to improve and become stronger over the last 15 years because of dedicated and professional coaching staffs. High schools around the rest of Missouri realize that to compete they also need excellent coaches.

The Kansas City area football programs have been a catalyst for teams all over the state to improve their facilities and has in turn improved the entire educational process. PE classes have places to go for outdoor activities.

High school bands have places to practice and compete without tearing up football fields. Track and soccer have gained ground with updated facilities. Some of the sports venues in high schools today are used seven days a week for as many as 12 hours a day. These outside activities provide another avenue in the learning process. It steers students to become well-rounded individuals. Good luck to all the teams, players and coaches in the 2018 season.

• Other than sports, listening to Motown and the Blues is one of my favorite activities. RIP Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul!

• My quote of the week comes from American writer Norman Vincent Peale: “If you or I or anybody thinks constantly of the forces that seem to be against us, we will build them up into a power far beyond that which is justified. But if on the contrary, you mentally visualize and affirm and reaffirm your assets and keep your thoughts on them, emphasizing them to the fullest extent, you will rise out of any difficulty regardless of what it may be.”

– 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) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.