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Examiner
  • Shawn Garrison: Longing for football Fridays

  • The dog days of summer are upon us. Outside of American Legion baseball, there isn’t a whole lot going on in the Eastern Jackson County sports world. And while the down time is appreciated, I’m already eager for the next high school sports season to start.

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  • The dog days of summer are upon us. Outside of American Legion baseball, there isn’t a whole lot going on in the Eastern Jackson County sports world. And while the down time is appreciated, I’m already eager for the next high school sports season to start.
    Particularly, I’m excited for prep football to kick off. From a sportswriter’s perspective, that’s easily the most exciting time of year and this season should be fascinating to follow on a multitude of fronts.
    The top story to monitor will no doubt be Blue Springs’ quest for a second straight state championship. A year ago, Blue Springs South tried to repeat but couldn’t overcome the departure of quarterback Connor Harris and running back Steven Sullivan.
    The Wildcats’ hopes should be brighter with a stable of college prospects coming back, including Kansas State recruits Dalvin Warmack (running back) and Elijah Lee (defensive end). A huge key will be how projected starting quarterback Ian Brown, a Rockhurst transfer, adjusts in coach Kelly Donohoe’s system. Warmack took most of the headlines last season, and rightfully so after rushing for 40 touchdowns, but Wylson Lamb was as good as any quarterback in the state, completing 69 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns and rushing for 709 yards and eight more scores. There are also a couple holes on the offensive line Donohoe will have to plug.
    Recent history suggests Blue Springs might have a decent chance of hoisting the Show-Me Bowl trophy again. In the last six years, two teams have repeated as Class 6 champs – Rockhurst in 2007-08 and Hazelwood Central in 2009-10.
    The area’s other state finalist, Fort Osage, could also make another run to the Edward Jones Dome. Although the Indians lose a handful of standouts on defense, including all-state linebacker Mamu Tauiautusa and all-state defensive backs Joseph Tuimaseve and Samson Sia, that unit should have enough depth to reload. As long as Ryan Schartz is still the coach, I wouldn’t worry about the defense.
    You’d expect there to be some concerns offensively with all-state quarterback Steven McBee gone, but sophomore Skylar Thompson looked like a polished veteran in limited reps as a freshman and is expected to develop into a Division I prospect in a couple years.
    The Cats and Indians will likely be the area’s heavyweights once again, but they’re hardly the only teams worth following. I’m interested to see how Blue Springs South recovers after a disappointing 5-5 season. After winning the Class 6 title in 2011, things just never clicked for the Jaguars in 2012, but I can’t see a Greg Oder-led squad having two down years in a row.
    Will William Chrisman finally turn the corner? The Bears finished 3-7 a season ago but snapped a 17-game losing streak and will once again feature one of the area’s best playmakers in wide receiver Alex Ball. There might finally be some hope for coach John Crutcher’s program.
    Page 2 of 2 - Same thing down the road at Truman. After winning just the second district title in school history two years ago, the Patriots regressed in coach Jeff Floyd’s final season by going 1-9. First-year coach Gregg Webb brings a championship pedigree with him from Eudora, Kan., where he captured five state crowns, and there should be a renewed energy within the program.
    Every Friday night should be filled with drama. Only nine weeks until opening night. I can’t wait.
    Shawn Garrison is a sports writer for The Examiner. Reach him at 350-6319 or shawn.garrison@examiner.net. Follow him on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC
     

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