The first Jamboree is in the books and for Bishop Miege, Mill Valley, Olathe West and Shawnee Mission East it could be marked down as a successful one.
In years past these teams would still be practicing against their selves without knowing where they truly stood or what needs to be improved upon before kicking off Week 1. Friday night gave the Stags, Jags, Owls and Lancers and opportunity to line up against somebody other than their teammates, go hat to hat and set a baseline for where each stood with a week left to go in the preseason.
Shawnee Mission East head coach Justin Hoover said Friday night was so important for so many different reasons for his team because when replacing a big senior class like the Lancers did, it gave his players a glimpse into the speed and caliber of varsity football. It also allowed his team to work on “procedural things.”
“When to be on the ball, when to be off the ball,” Hoover said. “Getting in and out of the huddle. There are some rule changes with the play clock – some things like that, that you don’t get to simulate in practice. I think this is massive for our kids just in the ability to recognize what next week and what Week 1 of a season is going to look like.”
Minus multiple whistles, which Hoover thought could be confusing at times, he thought it had the feel of “a really good Friday night” where his players could compete against another team.
Each team was allotted 12 offensive plays against each opponent. When it was all said and done the four teams ran a total of 36 plays each. The varsity squads would run through their 12 plays each before the junior varsity went in. There would be a five-minute break before teams went back out against new a new opponent and do it all over again.
There were no true winners and losers on this night, but each came away with positives and negatives. All four teams won as there were no injuries on the night.
Olathe West head coach TJ O’Neill was happy to be back on the sidelines.
“When we were looking for a Jamboree, we wanted to play against really good teams and obviously these three teams are state contenders every year,” O’Neill said. “We want our guys to experience that and play at that level. It’s a great opportunity and a great night for that.”
Speaking of state contenders, Miege will be seeking its sixth straight title this year and return a handful of weapons on the offensive side of the ball including Daniel Jackson and Brison Cobbins.
Cobbins enjoyed Friday night as he mentioned how other states have jamborees and spring football. He said it gave him and his teammates an opportunity to improve.
“Since you always go up against your teammates in practice, it’s different than when we go play these other teams,” Cobbins said. “You get to see what we need to fix, what we need to work on and also get to see the things that are correct. Once you see that, you get to find out what will work in a game and what won’t work in a game.”
He thought he and his teammates were able to do what they wanted to do on both sides of the ball. Based on the way they practice, he said he expects the Stags to compete at a high level.
The Eastern Kansas League is a gauntlet and Miege will see Mill Valley toward the end of September in Week 4.
Jamboree host Mill Valley ended its evening on a positive note with a touchdown on its final offensive play against Shawnee Mission East.
Anchored by 6-foot-6 offensive lineman Kyle Kelly, the Jaguars group up front is one that can control the trenches. Kelly said he and his teammates are fired up and ready to go for Week 1.
“We learned we have little things to improve here and there,” Kelly said. “We know if we stick together, special things will happen. We need to work on certain assignments or getting on the right side of your man. Little things that need to be cleaned up for Week 1.”
Teams have six days to prepare before they kick off next week. Bishop Miege Miege hosts Blue Valley North; Mill Valley will travel to Blue Valley West; Olathe West is at Free State; and Shawnee Mission East is at Gardner-Edgerton.