This is the time of year that prep football is 0-0 and dreaming of a dramatic run to the state championship game.
This season could be one of the most dramatic in recent history with so many interesting scenarios:
• Will the Blue Springs South Jaguars put an end to a recent losing skid and regain a spot among the marquee teams in the metro area?
• How will Lee’s Summit North, a team coming off a 6-4 record, respond when the Suburban Big Six target is on their back — and the Broncos are the hunted, instead of the hunters?
• What’s going to happen to coach David Allie’s Eagles after Grain Valley moves up to Suburban Small Seven Conference after dominating the Missouri River Valley Conference the past two seasons?
• Will the Fort Osage Indians be able to forget about the hype surrounding their new stadium — complete with the first artificial turf in school history — and make a deep run in the playoffs?
• And those Blue Springs Wildcats are playing with a big chip on their shoulders as they have not been the most talked about team in the preseason. How will Aveion Bailey, Conrad Rowley and Jack Johnson respond?
Those questions will be answered tonight as the 2018 prep football campaign gets underway.
The quarterback position holds a great amount of intrigue this season as Fort Osage’s Ty Baker, William Chrisman’s Dawson Herl and Blue Springs’ Koby Mansfield all stand in the blinding glare of the spotlight for different reasons.
Baker, who has verbally committed to Missouri State, could be one of the most dominant quarterbacks in the area. He led Fort Osage to a late surge last season that saw the Indians lose two close games to eventual state champion Staley, and now, it could be his turn to play a big role in the resurgence of a team that dominated the metro area for more than a decade, winning a state title in 2015.
“All I care about is winning,” Baker said. “A lot of people are picking us to be one of the best teams in the area, and we haven’t even played a game. We’re not going to get caught up in that stuff, we’re just going to play team ball and see what happens.”
Herl, who came on strong as a junior in 2017, will be a focal point for a much improved Bears offense at William Chrisman.
“We’re excited for the start of the season,” said Herl, whose Bears have the unenviable task of traveling to Blue Springs tonight for their season opener. “We’re ready to play every team on our schedule.”
There is a new, winning football culture at Chrisman and it’s going to be interesting to see how the Bears respond after losing one of the most dominant defensive linemen in metro area lat year as Daniel Carson is now playing at the University of Texas.
Koby Mansfield is an athlete. He is a pole vaulter and wrestler at Blue Springs High School. Tonight will be his first varsity start. The senior replaces two-year starter Chase Donohoe and his teammates and head coach Kelly Donohoe give Mansfield a big thumbs up.
“Koby can play, and he’s already developed into a team leader,” said senior offensive lineman Conrad Rowley. “He can run and he’s shown he has a strong arm. We’re excited about having Koby as our quarterback.”
So is Donohoe, whose son Chase called the signals the past two years.
“Koby is a big, strong kid who can really run the ball, and he’s proved he has a strong arm in practice,” Donohoe said. “We really like him at quarterback.”
Despite appearing in the Class 6 state championship game each of the past two seasons, the Wildcats are flying under the radar this spring with the loss of many marquee players to graduation.
“That’s how we like it,” Johnson said. “We’re still the Blue Springs Wildcats, and we’re going to be a lot better than people think this year.”
Grain Valley is moving up to the Suburban Conference with their first conference game in Week 2 against Grandview.
“It’s going to be a transition for the guys,” Eagles coach David Allie said. “The guys are excited, and so am I. We can’t overlook a strong Savannah team in Week 1, because we are so excited about our first Suburban Conference game. We’re going to be playing some of the best teams in the state in Kearney, Platte County and some of the other teams on our schedule, and we’re not going to back down from anyone.”
And finally, Blue Springs South and Lee’s Summit North both expect to be in the hunt for a Big Six championship as Jon Oyler’s Jaguars and Jamar Mozee’s Broncos are primed and ready to climb to the top of the conference rankings.
South features one of the premier running backs in the state in Austin Terry, and all of the Broncos’ skill players from a year ago return to this year’s starting lineup.
So grab a bag of popcorn, a roster and sit back and get ready for another fall of prep football.