The conference championship beat will continue for Fort Osage.

The conference championship beat will continue for Fort Osage.

The Indians, in The Examiner’s poll of the coaches, are a slim choice over Raytown South to claim the title of the Suburban Middle Six that has gone from six to seven teams.

Park Hill South finished third followed by Winnetonka, Raytown, Belton and William Chrisman. A coach couldn’t rank his own team.

Fort Osage shared the 2006, 2007 and 2008 conference titles and was the 2009 undisputed champion.

And despite key graduation losses from a 13-1 team — the only loss was  to Webster Groves 31-14 in the state Class 5 finals — Fort Osage remains the team to beat.

“With the two-year conference and district realignment the 2010 season looks to be very competitive,” coach Ryan Schartz said. “We welcome Winnetonka, William Chrisman and Park Hill South to the White (Middle Seven) division.

“We return four offensive and four defensive starters. There will be some young untested and inexperienced players on the field. The squad will have to grow up fast considering the strength of our schedule but I have no doubt they will be up to the challenge.”

The Cardinals also have been a conference power the past several years.

Coach David Allie, however, has to rebuild a 10-4 team that advanced to the state Class 4 semifinals before falling to Fort Osage 13-6.

“Inexperience will be the theme of the 2010 Cardinals,” Allie said. “On the offensive side, four starters return with any starting time and for the first time in three years the Cardinals will be led by a new quarterback. Defensively, the Cardinals return four starters and two with significant playing time.”

Mark Simcox moves from Chrisman to Park Hill South as the head coach.

“We have a strong senior class that has considerable game experience,” Simcox said. “We have good depth at the skill positions on both sides of the ball but are relatively thin in the offensive and defensive lines.

“On offense we return most of our skill players. Defensively, our best asset will be team speed.”

Former Blue Springs assistant Sterling Edwards is the new Winnetonka coach.

“We are a relatively young team having graduated a quality senior class from last year,” Edwards said. “We have a small senior class with most all of them being counted on to contribute at a high level this season.”

Twenty-six lettermen return from a strong 8-4 team.

Seventeen lettermen boost Belton’s chances of improving upon a 3-7 season.

“We made a real commitment to the weightroom and to off-season workouts,” said coach Kevin Keeton. “I am expecting big improvements from the Pirates this year.”

This could be an improved season for the Blue Jays.

Twenty-six lettermen return from a 3-8 team that advanced to the state Class 5 playoffs.

“We have a lot of returners,” coach Kevin Page said. “Hopefully, it will be a good year for the Blue Jays.”

John Crutcher takes over a Chrisman team coming off a 4-6 season.

“We have a great group of seniors who are willing to put in the work to be great leaders and deserve to win football games,” Crutcher said. “The kids are buying into the new ways of doing things and they are excited about the new systems we are running both offensively and defensively.”