The high school football season seemed to fly by this year. It may have seemed that way because most of the games were played in summer-like weather conditions.
The Class 6 Show-Me Bowl state championship game between Blue Springs and Kirkwood was the first game played this season that seemed like football weather.
The 2016 high school football season featured many exciting moments for many area teams. William Chrisman had its best football season in more than 45 years as the team finished with a record of 8-2 and shared its first conference championship in 53 years. The Bears’ only two losses came from Fort Osage, the defending Class 5 state champion. The Indians started slow but improved as the year went on. The Indians have a bright future the next two years.
The Suburban Big Seven was the most competitive high school conference in the state of Missouri. The league was nails from top to bottom. Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Raymore-Peculiar, Lee’s Summit, Lee’s Summit West, Park Hill (newly added) and Lee’s Summit North provided for great competition every week. With Rockhurst, an independent team, in the mix, it was an overall powerful Class 6.
I heard an earful from my St. Louis friends after Blue Springs lost the state championship game to Kirkwood. To add to the humiliation, Staley also lost in the Class 5 semifinal game against Vianney. Sometimes you get the bull and sometimes the bull gets you.
Great competition makes teams better, and that was the case this year in Kansas City high school football. It was difficult for the teams to compete at a high level every week. They had to prepare physically and mentally to grind through each game. Injuries usually become a big factor in football as a season progresses. The physical pounding teams faced every week took its toll.
In the St. Louis area, the three best Class 6 teams were Hazelwood Central, CBC and Kirkwood, with the rest of the St. Louis area schools being weak. CBC and Kirkwood never played each other all season. On the Kansas City side, all the good teams butted heads every Friday night.
An undefeated Springfield Kickapoo was seeded No. 1 in the Kansas City district and they did not even make it to the district championship game. It was a tough pill to swallow for these great Kansas City high school teams to beat each other up during the regular season while trying remain healthy going into the state championship game. It may sound like a weak excuse for losing, but every game the players were pounded.
Coaches and athletes are improving every year. Friday night football is never dull. In past years, most of the good teams only had to play one or two big games each year with the rest of the schedule against teams that were beatable. It is representative of the St. Louis teams today.
In the first three district games, Blue Springs faced opponents from St. Louis and they scored more than 45 points in each of those games. That was a Blue Springs team hit hard by injuries.
The Blue Springs 2016 schedule was the most difficult in school history. They played all the aforementioned Big Seven and the non-conference powerhouse of Rockhurst and Fayetteville , the defending Arkansas state champion. That, my friends, is very tall cotton. The Wildcats ended the season 11-3. They ran out of gas and players in their final game against a very good Kirkwood team.
To win a state championship requires a lot of things to fall into place. The team must have talent. The players must remain injury free. Last, but not least, a team needs to get lucky at key points. If it does not all align then accept the fact that it is not your time. To be the best, you must play the best. It is one law of sports that will never change.
• When it gets cold outside it is time to head to the hardwoods and begin basketball season. KU looks like a team that will be in the hunt for an NCAA Final Four appearance this season. The season opener resulted in a loss in overtime to Indiana but was followed by a two-point win over the No. 1-ranked Duke Blue Devils. These early games against strong opponents prepares a team for a tournament run when March rolls around.
• Man, I was totally wrong last week about Louisville, who got it handed to them by Houston in a very embarrassing way. They would get steamrolled by the Crimson Tide if they played each other. My bad!
• My quote of the week comes from American politician James A. Farley: “The best advice I can give to any young person upon graduation from school can be summed up in exactly eight words, and they are – be honest with yourself and tell the truth.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.