The 2018 high school football playoff season has already advanced to the district championship games in Class 6. The district championship, with the present playoff system, is the same as the state quarterfinal in the old playoff system. Thereby all but eight Class 6 teams have finished their seasons.
There has been more balance this year, particularly in the Kansas City area, than ever before. It looked as if this year might have a different mix in the playoffs, but it might still be same old contenders. Rockhurst and Lee’s Summit North faced off in the Kansas City district championship Friday. Rockhurst has been the area program to beat for years.
Lee’s Summit North is a newcomer to the district championship game. Head coach Jamar Mozee has brought the Broncos light years in just four years as head coach. His team went into the championship game with a 9-2 record and a piece of their first conference championship in the 23-year history of the school. The nine wins in a season is also a school record.
The other Class 6 district was made up of two area Kansas City schools, Blue Springs and Blue Springs South, and schools from central Missouri and the west side of St. Louis. That district championship had traditional Class 6 powers of Blue Springs and Columbia Rock Bridge, which was not a surprise. Blue Springs and Rockhurst have notoriously been teams west of Columbia to reach the state semifinals.
The talk of the NFL all year has been the Kansas City Chiefs and their young gun quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Many pundits and gurus have predicted Chiefs will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Realistically the team has miles to go before that dream comes true.
General manager Brett Veach and his staff have done an outstanding job of acquiring good athletic young talent. The team has shown all season that they have developed depth throughout the roster. The offensive line has had several injuries but has had the ability to replace each player with another who has played well.
It has been amazing to watch how key injuries to center Mitch Morse and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff have had little effect on the production of one of the best offenses in the NFL. Jordan Devey replaced Morse and did a good job until he got hurt. Veach still had enough depth to replace Devey with Austin Reiter, who the team acquired in a deal with the Cleveland Browns. Andrew Wylie is now starting at right guard for the injured Duvernay-Tardiff. Wylie is a first-year player who Veach picked up as a free agent. Quality depth in the NFL makes a big difference.
On the defense the strong safety position has been a position by committee all year long. Eric Berry has yet to play and the team would have been totally out of luck if Veach had not picked up veteran Ron Parker. He has fit in well, both as a player and as an experienced team leader on and off the field. Veach also traded for Jordan Lucas, who was on the Miami Dolphins roster. He has done a great job filling in with injuries to Eric Murray and rookie Armani Watts, who were successful before their injuries.
Justin Houston has missed several games because of hamstring problems and second-round draft pick Breeland Speaks looks like he is getting better every game in Houston’s absence.
The wide receiver position has also been plagued by some injuries but once again quality young athletic depth has paid off for the Chiefs. Demarcus Robinson, Chris Conley and Marcus Kemp have been able to provide some key spot play to keep the offense rolling.
Third-round draft choice Dorian O’Daniel from Clemson is showing that his great speed is perfect for the inside linebacker play on third down. Several young fast and athletic players with less than three years’ experience are playing on special teams and are making great contributions. The Chiefs overall have had the best special team units in the NFL.
The team did not feel like they had to trade away any of their future draft choices or young talent at the trading deadline. The future looks bright with such a solid, young athletic team.
If Houston and Berry are not able to make a big contribution the rest of the year, it is time to cut them. Berry is a great player and leader and has been a great inspiration, but if he cannot play, the Chiefs can’t stand the salary cap hit. The same can be said of Houston. Dee Ford or Houston will not be with the team next year. Right now, Ford is playing lights out and he is two years younger than Houston. If Houston and Berry are not on next year’s roster, the Chiefs will have room to build with the present young talent with more than $30 million in salary cap. This is how the New England Patriots have become the team to beat every year in the NFL. Hopefully the Chiefs will use the same road map to make the team stronger in the future.
• My quote of the week comes from Chinese author Lin Yutang: “Sometimes it is more important to discover what one cannot do, than what one can do.”
– 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.