SUBSCRIBE NOW
As low as 99¢ for the first month
SUBSCRIBE NOW
As low as 99¢ for the first month

The Examiner's Preseason All-Area Top 25

Karl Zinke
The Examiner
Beau Stephens

Here is a look at The Examiner’s Top 25 high school football players in Eastern Jackson County this fall. These are some preseason predictions for The Examiner’s All-Area teams at the end of the season and some more to watch who could rise up on the radar this year. It could be the year of the wide receiver in the area with many talented pass catchers vying for attention. The Top 25 athletes are listed in alphabetical order (by last name). 

PRESEASON TOP 25

Jack Bailey, 6-2, 250, sr., OL, Grain Valley — The Missouri High School Football Coaches Association Class 4 third-team all-state selection, who helped lead the Eagles to the state quarterfinals last season, is garnering interest from several NCAA Division II schools

Gracen Bell, 6-7, 235, sr., TE, Lee's Summit North — Already a third-year starter, the big junior tight end already has Division I offers, including one from Iowa State. According to his coach, Jamar Mozee, he is a total package. He “has great length and speed. He has good hands, and he’s a great run blocker.”

Aden Birdwell, 6-4, 248, sr., DL, Blue Springs South — The senior defensive lineman earned all-district and all-conference honors with a team-best 93 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks last season. The three-year starter already has offers from Navy and Army.

Adrien Block, 6-3, 225, sr., DE/TE, Lee’s Summit North — A “solid” all-around talent according to head coach Jamar Mozee, the defensive end and tight end has an offer from Division II Missouri Western before his senior season has started.

Luke Fellers, 6-5, 202, sr., S/QB, Blue Springs South — The lanky all-state, all-district and all-conference defensive back will also take on the duties as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback this season, and he has the size for it. As a free safety last season, he recorded 76 tackles and intercepted four passes.

Luke Fellers

Larenzo Fenner, 6-0, 160, soph., WR, Fort Osage — The speedy receiver averaged an astounding 26.1 yards per catch last season for the 6-5 Indians. He had 18 catches for 470 yards and six touchdowns in his varsity debut. Head coach Brock Bult expects him and new sophomore starting quarterback Greg Menne to be a strong combination for the young Indians.

Larenzo Fenner (25)

T’Andre Forbush, 6-3, 235, sr., DE, Blue Springs — New head coach believes the senior defensive end, who is a returning starter, will “have a breakout season” and earn a spot on a college team.

Isaiah Frost, 5-11, 192, sr., WR, Blue Springs South — The good, speedy all-around athlete, who has already verbally committed to play baseball at the University of Missouri, returns as the Jaguars’ top receiving threat after making 22 catches for 318 yards (a 14.5-yard average) and three touchdowns as a junior.

Isaiah Frost

Cayden Green, 6-4, 280, soph., OT, Lee's Summit North — He started on coach Jamar Mozee’s offensive line as a freshman and should start at left tackle this season. He already has a Division I offer from Kansas and many more are expected. He is ranked as the No. 4 recruit in the state in his 2023 class. Mozee calls him “a complete offensive lineman at a young age.”

David Jacquez, 6-0, 185, jr., LB. Fort Osage — The junior returning starter hopes to become the next in the long line of great Fort Osage linebackers. He was also part of the Kansas City Showcase. Six Star Football also calls him a “high IQ player.”

Cole Keller, 6-4, 200, sr., QB, Grain Valley — The lanky senior quarterback suffered a knee injury near the end of last season and missed much of the Eagles’ Class 4 state quarterfinal run. He helped jump-start a six-game winning streak that ended with a loss to Platte County in the quarterfinal. He passed for 1,237 yards and nine touchdowns and ran for another 461 yards and nine TDs before the injury. He has fielded several FCS, Division II and NAIA offers but he could rise with a strong senior season.

Cole Keller

Xavier Loyd, 6-2, 175, sr., WR, Blue Springs — New Wildcats coach David White expects Loyd to have a breakout season. He is “long, athletic (receiver) with tremendous upside. Works hard and has the ability to play at the next level,” according to White. White expects Loyd to team with fellow senior Demerus Walker to give the Wildcats a strong pass catching combination. He also participated in the Kansas City Showcase and has an offer from Alabama A&M.

Xavier Loyd

DeWaun Mack, 5-11, 180, jr., CB, Lee’s Summit North — The junior is already drawing interest from several colleges after starting every game of his sophomore season. He is thought of as one of the top cover cornerbacks in the area. He participated in the Kansas City Showcase III earlier this month and impressed scouts. He also has taken an unofficial visit to Kansas.

Donovan McBride, 6-4, 280, sr., DL, Grain Valley — Not only was the senior defensive tackle a state qualifier in wrestling, he earned first-team All-Suburban Small Seven honors last year after recording 47 tackles and three sacks in the interior. He has received offers from FCS, Division II and NAIA schools.

Sean Mitchell, 6-2, 175, sr., QB, Van Horn — The senior quarterback threw for 1,185 yards and 23 touchdowns with just eight interceptions and ran for another 441 yards and three scores to lead the Falcons’ offense. He has some NAIA offers but he could rise with a strong senior season.

Sean Mitchell

Logan Muckey, 6-1, 180, sr., WR, Lee’s Summit North — Muckey was the Broncos’ top pass-catching threat as a junior, hauling in 55 passes for nearly 500 yards and four touchdowns. Broncos coach Jamar Mozee calls him an “FCS level” receiver who is “going to be a big time player for us.”

Osi Nauer, 6-0, 210, sr., DB/QB/RB, William Chrisman — A first-team All-Suburban Middle Seven and Examiner All-Area pick as a hard-hitting defensive back, Nauer also took over as a running quarterback for the Bears. This season he is expected to share time at quarterback with Dayne Herl but still be the main running threat. Bauer is also one of the top rugby players for his age in the area.

Osi Nauer

Hunter Newsom, 5-11, 185, sr., LB, Grain Valley — Newsom recorded 94 tackles, including 20 for loss and three sacks, for the 9-4 Eagles last season while earning all-conference honors. He’s also stellar in the classroom, receiving interest from Ivy League schools and the service academies as well as several NAIA schools.

Chris Rhodes, 6-0, 170, sr., CB, Truman — Voted as the Patriots’ captain this season, the all-district defensive back returns for his senior season. Head coach Charlie Pugh calls Rhodes “one of the top defensive backs in the city.” He produced 30 tackles, four interceptions and six pass break-ups last season.

Chris Rhodes

Luke Seib, 6-4, 213, jr., TE/DL, Blue Springs South — Another tall, lanky receiver, Seib is expected to have a breakout season as a junior. He has already drawn interest from Kansas State, where his father Brad played tight end, and he participated in the Kansas City Showcase III earlier this month. He has been featured on the GoPowercat.com website for his pass catching ability at the Showcase.

Jason Skivers, 6-3, 225, sr., DE, Van Horn — The Crossroads Conference Co-Defensive Player of the year was invited to Kansas State’s camp this summer has several NAIA offers and could draw even more attention with another strong season for the Falcons.

Will Snodgrass, 6-2, 195, sr., WR, Fort Osage — Head coach Brock Bult is expecting big things from his senior wide receiver, who added a lot of muscle in the offseason. Bult: “He’s worked so hard this offseason and that hard work is going to pay off this season.”

Will Snodgrass

Beau Stephens, 6-6, 320, sr., OL/DL, Blue Springs — Powerful all-state offensive lineman showed his prowess on defense last season as well. A three-star recruit and one of the top-ranked linemen in the Midwest in the nation, the Sports Illustrated All-America candidate is verbally committed to Iowa. Stephens, who will make the move to center this season in preparation for college, is the fourth-ranked recruit at any position in the state by Six Star Football, and fifth on rivals.com.

Trevor Taylor, 6-1, 270, sr., C, Lee’s Summit North — The top returning offensive lineman for the Broncos earned second-team All-Suburban Big Six honors last season. Head coach Jamar Mozee calls him “a very physical and smart football player.”

DeAndre Thomas, 5-8, 175, sr., RB, Blue Springs — The speedy senior, who also has been a state medalist in wrestling, hopes to follow in the long line of great Blue Springs running backs. New coach David White thinks the “twitchy (back) with a great burst” can play at the next level. In front of him, he will have three returning starters on the offensive line, including All-America candidate Beau Stephens.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Blue Springs: Isaac Harkness, 6-1, 180, sr., WR; Demerus Walker, 6-0, 190, sr., WR; Blue Springs South: Ben Bryan, 6-0, 217, DL; MJ Overstreet, 5-11, 193, jr., RB; Jayden Steele, 5-10, 190, sr., CB/WR; Fort Osage: Brock Branstietter, 6-2, 325, soph., OL; Greg Menne, 6-1, 185, soph., QB; Grain Valley: Parker Bosserman, 5-8, 150, sr., WR/DB/P; Landon Hinton, 5-9, 240, sr., OL; Quincy Jones, 5-11, 260, sr., DL; Lee’s Summit North: Tre Baker, 6-0, 190, jr., QB; Donnell Dye, 6-1, 175, jr., WR; Jaden McGhee, 6-4, 225, jr., DE; Carlton Perkins, 6-2, 170, sr., QB; Oak Grove: Jacob Andell, 5-10, 164, sr., RB/DB; Zander Brinegar, 5-9, 224, jr., OL/DL; Ricardo Delgado, 6-0, 164, sr., K/DB; Hunter Jones, 6-3, 174, jr., QB; Clynton Stewart, 6-0, 186, jr., RB/LB; St. Michael the Archangel Catholic: Caleb Berry, 6-2, 245, sr., DL; Noland Boyer, 6-1, 177, sr., LB/RB; Nick Haggerty, 6-4, 207, sr., DE; Sumyl Hayes-Dunnell, 5-11, 153, sr., CB; Ellis Edwards, 5-9, 162, jr., RB/S; Truman: Jayson Boatright, 6-2, 210, sr., LB; Devron Rivera, 6-4, 300, sr., OL; Quincy Scott, 6-1, 170, sr., DB; Van Horn: Arlandes Mitchell, 6-0, 180, sr., WR; Demetrius Wilson, 6-2, 205, soph., WR; William Chrisman: Alex Atagi, 6-4, 215, sr., OL/DE; Ralph Covington, 6-3, 228, jr., LB; Dayne Herl, 6-4, 185, jr., QB; Mason Walters, 5-10, 200, sr., LB.