View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 10/23
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Every year in the summer I get asked what team will be the surprise of the upcoming season. While some years it is easy to see which teams have gotten better in the offseason other times it is a guessing game.
At the same time there are teams you are sure will be good and then things don’t go well for them once the season starts. Whether it is injuries or bad luck or just not playing well there is always a team or two that surprises with its struggles.
So far this year there are several teams that are much better than I anticipated. Leading the way is Shawnee Mission East. The Lancers won their first five games before falling to Lawrence Free State two weeks ago 17-10 in overtime. East bounced back with a big win over Shawnee Mission Northwest last week to open district play and now face a big showdown game with Shawnee Mission West this week.
I will be honest that I didn’t see that coming. East had a new coach, new scheme and a schedule that looked like it might make it hard to make those adjustments. The Lancers and new coach Dustin Delaney not only made those changes but they found ways to win close games week in week out. Now East is looking like a team that could win its district and be a player in the Kansas Class 6A playoffs.
On the Missouri side Lee’s Summit is undefeated and off to its best start since 1985 when the Tigers made to the Class 5 state championship game. This year Lee’s Summit got a big early win over Kearney and hasn’t looked back. The Tigers have won blowouts and close games and beaten some teams they haven’t beaten in years.
Friday night Lee’s Summit has a big showdown with defending Class 6 champ Blue Springs. Both teams are undefeated and the Suburban Big Six title and a No. 1 district seed is on the line. The Tigers haven’t played in many of these types of games over the last three decades so the excitement level should be high.
The team that has surprised me with its struggles is Raytown South. The Cardinals returned 17 starters and looked like they could be in contention for a Suburban Small Six title and a top seed in the Class 4 postseason.
South didn’t win its second game of the season until two weeks ago with its win over Raytown but things might be turning around for a team that had a lot of injuries early. The Cardinals might not make a run in the postseason but something tells me the talent and tradition might just be taking hold.
You just never know what you will get from year to year and these three teams show that every season is different and you play the games for a reason.
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