Tim Crone: KC teams may have advantage this year with nearly full schedules

The Examiner
Tim Crone

I am amazed that the high school fall season has played out almost in full. My hat goes off to everyone involved in working out the details to allow it to happen.

All the administrators, coaches, officials, and fans adhered to the guidelines and allowed the players to finish their seasons with satisfaction that their hard work had meaning. I honestly went into the season with a presumption that most likely only about half of the season would be completed. I am so glad that I was wrong.

It was different with so few fans and no great half-time band presentations. Most sports played only regular season games, eliminating tournaments – i.e., volleyball and softball.  Everyone had to play on an equal footing. There were fewer summer workouts, weight lifting and preseason preparation.

The football season played out differently in that typically one or two teams float to the top and dominate. This year there are no clear-cut dominant teams. This year’s playoff advancement is up for grabs because anyone who starts playing well right now has a chance to continue. And you never know which teams’ seasons will end abruptly, like Rockhurst, Lee’s Summit North and Oak Park did this week.

Some of the really good St. Louis teams have only played a couple of games as they elected to delay the season. CBC and DeSmet are two good examples.

Kansas City area teams are divided into two districts. District 3 consists of Joplin, Springfield Kickapoo, Lee’s Summit, Lee’s Summit North, Lee’s Summit West, Nixa, Raymore-Peculiar and Rockhurst. Lee’s Summit North and Rockhurst have already ended their seasons because of positive coronavirus tests, giving Nixa and Joplin forfeit wins into the semifinals.

The state rankings have Nixa and Ray-Pec as top teams, but I disagree. Ray-Pec has had some great wins over Rockhurst and Liberty but stubbed its toe against Park Hill and Lee’s Summit West. Nixa has lost one game, but it does not play the same competition that the Kansas City area teams play. Lee’s Summit West has beaten Rockhurst and Ray-Pec but lost to Blue Springs and two good Liberty teams. Lee’s Summit has struggled all year in a tough league.

District 4 is made up of Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Liberty, Liberty North, Columbia Rock Bridge, Columbia Hickman, Park Hill and Troy Buchanan. The Liberty schools are the obvious teams to beat. Liberty has been ranked No. 1 during this season but suffered a tough loss against Ray-Pec. Liberty North had a tough loss against their arch rival Liberty and struggled against Ray-Pec. Rock Bridge is always a factor come playoff time and they are not a team that most people enjoy playing in the playoffs.

This year, however, the Kansas City teams appear more competitive. Blue Springs finished the season at 4-5 with a couple of good wins against Lee’s Summit West and Park Hill. But they have lost games giving up over 42 points. The Wildcats are trying to keep a 34-year streak of consecutive .500 or better seasons alive. Troy Buchanan, Hickman and Blue Springs South have had tough seasons.

With Rockhurst and North out, Liberty appears to be the favorite to advance to state now, followed by Ray-Pec, Nixa, Liberty North, Lee’s Summit West, Rock Bridge, Park Hill and Blue Springs.

The teams that have played a full season should have an obvious advantage over the teams with late starts due to the COVID-19 virus. These are all “ifs” but just a few months ago it looked as if it would be a partial season at best. Good luck to all the teams!

• My quote of the week comes from the great college and Pro Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell: “If it weren’t for the dark days, we wouldn’t know what it is to walk in the light.”

– 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.