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CRONE'S ZONE: Early observations from a very different prep football season

The Examiner

It would be an understatement to say that the 2020 sports season has been a different experience.

I have attended two high school football games, one at Blue Springs and one at Raymore-Peculiar, and I give kudos to the fans, players and coaches. They followed all the protocols necessary for fall sports to continue to be played. The crowds have been monitored with only 2-4 fans of each player with tickets to attend the game. Everyone in attendance, including coaches were masked and socially distanced – a criterion necessary to allow the season. I hope the season will proceed with this level of adherence.

It is a far different experience than listening to bands play school fight songs and packed fans.

The first two weeks of the season opened with a shift in the power structure of area high school football. Van Horn, Grain Valley, Lee’s Summit North and Raymore-Peculiar have come out of the gate quickly. 

Rockhurst was surprised by Raymore-Peculiar in the first game but bounced back with a solid win over a particularly good Park Hill team. Lee’s Summit West has started quickly with a 2-0 record, not a surprise because the Titans have been coming on strong ever since their jump from Class 5 to Class 6. It takes teams a couple of years to adjust to a step up in classification.

Fort Osage, which has been trying to get back to the state championship level, is still trying to find a combination that can beat an exceptional and consistently good Staley program. William Chrisman and Truman are struggling early to get off to a good start. William Chrisman has had much more success in the last 10 years then Truman but both teams are searching to find consistency in their programs. 

Lee’s Summit is now the smallest high school in the Lee’s Summit School District, but for the past 10 years they have played everyone tough. 

The Liberty schools have both moved up to the Big Suburban conference, and they have made that conference the most competitive and balanced conference in the state of Missouri. Liberty had a surprising win over archrival Liberty North in the second game of the year. The Blue Jays also had a dominant win over traditional powerhouse Blue Springs in the season opener. Even though Liberty North lost to its archrival, look for the team to be a very tough game for everybody on their schedule.

The real surprise in the 2020 is the struggle of both Blue Springs teams at the start of the season. Blue Springs South has had some tough losses but have been in the game with a chance to pull off a win. The real talk of the area is the Blue Springs team which has had their worst start in over 34 years. The Wildcats have given up 93 points in their first two games. The team is trying to find its stride with a new coaching staff and one of the toughest schedules the school has had in over three decades.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s playoff system will be exceedingly difficult to figure out. Many schools on the east side of the state have opted against playing this fall. The road to a state championship game will be a challenge due to the pandemic, but there are some great football teams who will be battling to get there. I hope all the teams can continue to play and complete the season.

Most schools have chosen to have seniors night the first game so that the players who have been in the program the entire four years have an opportunity to be honored in case the season is forced to end early. It is exceedingly difficult to play and coach football during normal conditions, let alone doing so in the midst of the pandemic. Good luck to all the high school sports teams for the rest of the fall sport season.

The quote of the week comes from Super Bowl championship coach and NFL sports broadcaster Dick Vermeil: “If you don’t invest very much, then defeat doesn’t hurt very much and winning is not very exciting.” 

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.