RE/MAX Big 3 Games of the Week
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Blue Valley at Gardner-Edgerton
7 p.m. Friday at Gardner-Edgerton Stadium
It’s a case of starting where you finished for Gardner-Edgerton when Blue Valley comes calling to open the season.
These two teams have played in the Class 5A semifinals the last two years with Blue Valley earning the trip to the state finals both times. Since the Trailblazers move to the Eastern Kansas League two years ago they have seen the Tigers four times winning only once.
There is an interesting recent history that has seen them play six times since 2006. Blue Valley and Gardner-Edgerton were in the same district in the 2006-2007 cycle with the Tigers earning the win and a state title in 2006 and Gardner-Edgerton winning to keep Blue Valley out of the playoffs in 2007.
After two years with Blue Valley up in Class 6A the competition resumed with two games in 2010 and 2011 with Blue Valley getting the best. Now this game is just a conference opener with the Trailblazers moving up to 6A. The winner could have an early advantage in the EKL race but teams like Bishop Miege, Blue Valley West, Blue Valley Northwest and St. Thomas Aquinas could all have something to say about that.
Even with a short but rich history this year’s game comes down to some basics. Will Blue Valley be able to stop one of the most dynamic rushing attacks led by junior Traevohn Wrench. Gardner-Edgerton featured the same attack last year but a team that was mostly sophomores and juniors is now a year older.
Blue Valley comes in with a lot of new faces but the Tigers have simply reloaded the last few years in a time that saw them advance to the 6A semis in 2009, win a 5A title in 2010 and finish second in 5A last season.
The offensive line has good experience led by standout Clay Rhoades and the receivers that were young last year are almost all back. The Tigers defense is usually a strong point and could again this season.
Gardner-Edgerton and Blue Valley know each other well so this game could come down to effort and mistakes. Whoever gives the most effort and limits those mistakes should find itself with a win Friday night.
Olathe East at Olathe South
7 p.m. Friday at O.D.A.C
Kansas gives fans another semifinal rematch from last season when Olathe East travels to defending Class 6A state champ Olathe South.
The Falcons topped the Hawks twice last season and now face them to open the 2012 campaign. Gone is a talented stable of running backs and a few key linemen but quarterback Frankie Seurer Jr. and a group of experienced receivers return.
Olathe South is known for their Wing T attack that could grind teams up with a patient rushing attack that had big-play ability. The Falcons weren’t forced to pass the ball much last year but when they did Seurer made big plays time and again. In Olathe South’s state championship win two of the biggest plays in the second half came on the strength of Seurer’s arm and decision making.
The Hawks lost quite a few key players to graduation but that never seems to be a problem. Olathe East has been one of the most consistent programs in the Metro over the last 20 years. No matter who comes and goes the Hawks find a way to win seven, eight or nine games and make a deep run in the playoffs. The last two seasons East has come in with moderate expectations from fans and media only to advance to the 6A semifinals both times.
This year the Hawks do return one of the more talented if not underrated quarterbacks in the Metro. John Blazevic may not grab headlines but the senior quietly led his team to a 9-3 mark in his first year as a starting QB.
No matter what happens this week we could be seeing these two teams battle again in November.
Piper at Eudora
7 p.m. Friday at Eudora Stadium
This Class 4A showdown pits two playoff teams from last season in this year’s season opener.
Eudora made a great run to the Class 4A semifinals winning a tough Frontier League title along the way. The Cardinals are coming off of a 12-2 season that saw them lost to Rose Hill in the state championship game and have only a close early season loss to St. James as blemish on an outstanding 2011.
This year many of the players from that team are back and expectations are high in Eudora. The Cardinals rushing attack is one of the most dominant in 4A and Piper will have its hands full trying to stop it.
The Pirates are one of the most successful programs in the Kaw Valley even though they have gotten overshadowed by programs like Basehor-Linwood and Mill Valley. Piper has been to the playoffs the last three seasons with two different head coaches. Tom Radke left for St. James before last season and Chris Brindle took over and the Pirates didn’t miss a beat winning their district and a playoff game before falling to Blue Valley Southwest.
Expectations are high this year at Piper and this should be a good test for the Pirates out of conference. The Kaw will be competitive but playing the best team from the Frontier will do nothing but help Piper as the season gets closer to districts and playoffs.
Harrisonville at Savannah
7 p.m. Friday at Savannah Stadium
Harrisonville travels to Savannah for a rematch of one of the biggest wins in Savannah history as last year the Savages topped the Wildcats in the Class 4 quarterfinals 13-6.
This year both teams come in off of close, tough wins to open the season. Savannah opened with a 13-6 win over Grain Valley while Harrisonville topped Jefferson City Helias 38-37 in overtime.
When the teams meet Friday night there will be some different faces on both sides but many remain from the quarterfinal game. Each team’s win in week No. 1 was impressive but the Wildcats may feel a little better. Harrisonville opened the season ranked No. 3 in Class 4 hosting No. 2 Helias while Savannah battled a Grain Valley team that had lost its starting quarterback the week before in the Jamboree.
One question for Harrisonville will be its defense. The Wildcats usually bring one of the toughest defenses in the Metro regardless of program size but they found themselves in a shootout. Harrisonville will need to find out if that was a product of the opponent or if this year’s defense could be a concern.
Savannah didn’t have trouble scoring points last year but the struggle against Grain Valley may be telling heading into the rest of the season. The winner of this game should be considered one of the better Class 4 teams in the Metro in what is a talented and deep group of Class 4 teams.
Blue Springs South at Fort Osage
7 p.m. Friday at Fort Osage Stadium
Two of the better programs in the Metro meet for only the third time in the 20 years. South has the advantage winning both games back in 1994 and 1995 by a combined 83-7 score.
That was ancient history and Fort Osage and Blue Springs South are now both programs that have played for and in South’s case won state titles. The Indians are one of the most consistent Class 5 schools while South is a title contender in Class 6 every year.
Both teams opened the season with impressive wins. The Indians shut out Park Hill South 28-0 and South topped Truman 47-13.
The Jaguars offense was impressive led by Khorey Kilgore’s 157 yards and three touchdowns on just three carries. Kilgore wasn’t alone as quarterback Dalton Brewer added 74 yards and tailback Trey Ervin had 85 as the Jaguars totaled 397 yards on the ground.
The Indians defense held Park Hill South down and was able to make it a relatively easy contest. They held the Panthers to just 87 yards for the game including 32 yards and two first downs in the first half.
Lee’s Summit at Kearney
7 p.m. Friday at Kearney Stadium
The Tigers and Bulldogs do battle coming off of impressive wins in the first week. Lee’s Summit earned a big 45-12 win at home over Raytown while Kearney beat North Kansas City 43-21.
The Tigers offense moved up and down the field led by quarterback Drew Lock who finished 14 for 22 with 194 yards and two touchdowns and tailback Casey Slaughter who had 124 yards on the ground.
The Bulldogs did what they do best. Play tough opportunistic defense that turns the other team over in their own end leading to short quick scoring drives. Kearney recovered two fumbles and scored 17 fourth quarter points to earn the win.
This matchup should come down to the ability of the Lee’s Summit offense to keep its hands on the ball and handle what is usually a wild Kearney atmosphere.
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