Here are 5 takeaways from Week 1 of Eastern Jackson County high school football

Karl Zinke
The Examiner
Blue Springs quarterback Sal Caldarella looks for a receiver in Friday's season opener at Liberty. The sophomore threw for 154 yards and three touchdowns in his varsity debut but the Wildcats fell 43-42 in overtime.

Some Eastern Jackson County high school football teams delivered as expected in their season openers over the weekend. 

But there were also some eye-openers for local programs as they head into week two of the season. 

Here are the five takeaways from Week 1: 

Chrisman looks promising 

William Chrisman struggled to a 2-9 season last year while getting some experience for its young team. 

That has appeared to pay off as the Bears routed Winnetonka Friday night in a game that wasn’t as close as the 37-19 score made it appear. 

The Bears rolled to a 23-0 lead behind Anthony Miller’s 241 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 25 carries and four interceptions by the defense. 

The defense looked strong by Antonio Graham, Nathan Campos and Sir’Rahn Felix. 

More:Week 2 high school football schedule for Eastern Jackson County

The Bears, though, will get a real test Friday when they face Smithville, a Class 4 state semifinalist last year that smacked Class 5 state quarterfinalist Grain Valley 42-3 in the opening week. 

Fort Osage has weapons 

While it may not be the same offense that current Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson led to a state title back in 2015, this year’s Fort Osage offense might not be that far behind. 

The Indians are loaded with weapons on that side of the ball and proved it in Friday’s 61-21 shellacking of St. Joseph Central. 

Junior quarterback Greg Menne completed 6 of 8 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns to junior receiver Larenzo Fenner and rushed for 58 yards and another two scores. 

Corey Olvera (22 carries, 115 yards, two scores) and Javen Hall (10 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD) provided the 1-2 punch in the backfield. 

And if a drive stalls, and not many did Friday, kicker Xander Shepherd provided a 39-yard field goal while converting all eight extra point attempts. 

And that’s not even mentioning freshman running back Ryver Peppers, who scampered 92 yards for a touchdown on his very first varsity carry. 

“Teams can’t just lock in on one player,” said Fenner, who caught four passes for 118 yards and touchdowns of 31 and 38 yards, all in the first half. “We’ve got more of a variety and more threats that can score.” 

And Peppers had another long touchdown run called back on a holding penalty, and Fenner had a touchdown on a kick return negated by a penalty.  

More:Who are the top high school football performers from Week 1?

“We actually let a couple of big plays get away,” Fort Osage coach Brock Bult said. “The good news is we’ve got room to improve.” 

Wildcat duo impresses in debut 

Blue Springs second-year head coach David White said he was impressed with his new sophomore starting quarterback before the season began. 

And Sal Caldarella did little to disappoint in his varsity debut despite a 43-42 overtime loss to Liberty Friday. 

Caldarella threw for 154 yards and three touchdowns, ran for another 60 yards and a touchdown and engineered a late 75-yard drive and capped it with a touchdown pass to Jaxson McIntyre with one second left on the clock to tie the game and send it to overtime. 

“I’m really proud of him. For a sophomore, he did a great job leading up to the game,” White said of Caldarella. “There were a couple of sophomore plays, but other than that, you can’t ask for better from him. And he’s got the respect of every kid in that locker room.” 

And new running back Kyle Bruce – more well known as the boys basketball team’s point guard – made a splash as well as a starting running back, gaining 166 yards on 18 carries (9.2 yards per carry) and scoring two touchdowns, including a 62-yard romp. 

Eagles have work to do 

After a Class 5 state quarterfinal run last year, Grain Valley had to replace a lot of starters. 

And it looked like they need a bit more seasoning after a 42-3 loss to Smithville. 

Losing to Smithville is nothing to be ashamed of though. The Warriors return 19 of 22 starters from last year’s Class 4 state semifinalist team that took eventual state champ Jefferson City Helias to the brink before losing 13-10 in the semifinal. 

But coach David Allie wasn’t pleased with the way his team lost. Several penalties and mistakes cost the Eagles a chance to stay competitive. 

“We played like we were inexperienced and we beat ourselves quite a bit,” Allie said. “We couldn’t get out of our own way, that is one thing with inexperience, you can’t commit unforced errors and we did that.” 

The Eagles look to bounce back this week against Oak Park, which fell 42-21 to Lee’s Summit in its opener. 

More:Grain Valley football doomed by mistakes early and often in season opening loss to Smithville

“The idea is we’ve got a lot of improvement to do and they understand that,” Allie said. “This is a good group and they believe and they understand." 

Falcons impress in coach’s debut 

Van Horn looked impressive in its first game under new head coach Roshaad Byrd with a 56-0 romp of Kansas City East Saturday. 

Byrd, who was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator four seasons before taking over, rotated four quarterbacks and four running backs to get them experience against a lesser opponent, and that could pay off down the road. 

Lamonte Belshe, who averaged 13 yards on his five carries and scored two touchdowns, and new powerhouse back David Lewis (43 yards, 2 TDs on 7 carries) was all Byrd thought he was. He may get to prove more when the Falcons face Kansas City Northeast Friday night. 

“When I first saw David, I joked with him and said, ‘I am glad Alabama let us borrow their running back,’” Byrd said. “He’s a really big guy and he’s one of the captains for us. We know he is special. He is a natural running back.”