View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 6/3

Dion Cisso

By Dion Clisso
Posted: June 17, 2010 - 12:13 PM

It may not seem like it, but it is football season once again. Most people think football is played between late August and mid November each year, but when the Memorial Day Weekend is over, high school football season is in full swing.

School is out and area football teams are starting to get ready for the upcoming season. It is a year-round sport that really starts to heat up in the hottest months of the year. Gone are the days when players maybe just lifted a few weights in the offseason or just played other sports. Football is now a year-round passion and summer is really the pre-season.

In the Kansas City Metro, teams will begin 7-on-7 leagues and tournaments, head to college team camps and hold team camps of their own. All of this is spread out over June and July before official practice opens in the first two weeks of August.

While there isn’t spring football in Kansas or Missouri yet, the area programs are still in the forefront of the sport nationwide. All you have to do is see the caliber of play every Friday night in the fall to see results of the hard work put in during the summer.It doesn’t take long to see how some programs find something in the summer that can turn into a major part of a championship season in the fall.

A few years ago I was covering a summer 7-on-7 league in Blue Springs while I was the Assistant Sports Editor for The Examiner. Blue Springs, always one of the top programs in the Metro, was playing and a tall skinny young man was catching passes over the middle. He was making it look easy grabbing tosses from standout quarterback Stinson Dean. As I watched I thought if this guy can stick the Wildcats could go all the way.

That guy was Darius Hill who at the time was the center on the Wildcats’ basketball team. He came out for football his senior year and helped lead Blue Springs to a perfect 13-0 record and the Class 6 state title. Hill was instrumental that season including big catches in a thrilling district win over Oak Park and touchdown catches in almost every playoff game.

Hill would go on to play football at Ball State and was signed to a free agent contract by the Cincinnati Bengals before the 2009 season. He spent most of the season on the practice squad before making his NFL debut in the season’s final week.

That hot day in June 2003 I didn’t know I was watching a future NFL player. I just thought I was watching a basketball player who wanted to try football. Hill not only gave it a try, he is making a career out of it.

In case you were wondering, Hill still played basketball his senior year. He helped to lead Blue Springs to the Class 5 state title game where the Wildcats fell one game short of the championship. Hill played pretty well in the loss even though he was asked to cover Poplar Bluff’s Tyler Hansbrough all night long.

While it may not seem like the warm summer days are made for football, the work put in during these summer months can help turn little known players into future stars.

Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of To reach him send e-mail to