View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 10/27
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
When Smithville heads to Platte County Friday night for the Class 4 District 8 semifinal game, it will seem like just a regular game on the schedule.
Well, maybe not regular, but this is the third straight year the teams have played in the postseason. In 2012 Platte County topped Smithville in the district championship game. Last year Smithville ended the Pirates’ season in the first round, and this year they meet in the semifinals.
What makes this game special beyond the fact they have met for three straight years is the history and respect between the two programs. A long time ago before Platte County moved on to the Suburban Conference, these teams were rivals and from what I am told, bitter rivals.
That bitterness may have subsided, but I am sure there are plenty of people in both towns that really want to win the game, not just because it would mean continuing their season, but because of the opponent.
While there was once and now again a great rivalry, it hasn’t bred any bad feelings between the coaching staffs. While there are teams that don’t like each other, and that isn’t just the fans, the Warriors and Pirates coaches have a genuine respect for each other.
I’ve been able to get to know both head coaches and each relishes the chance to play in this game and compete with the other. Smithville head coach Greg Smith told me when you play Platte County you have to bring your A game and be ready to go hard the whole game. Funny thing is the Pirates’ head Coach Bill Utz has told me almost the exact same thing.
When you hear coaches and their staffs talk like that you know the respect is real. That is what makes this game so great again this year. The mutual respect carries down to their players, which usually means a focused and well-played game.
Ok, so the teams like and respect each other and that makes for a good game, but this year they could hate each other and it would be great as well. The teams have combined for three total losses. Smithville fell to Park Hill and Maryville; both are still undefeated, while Platte County’s only loss was to Kearney who only has one loss.
Two good teams, two good coaching staffs, one great game.
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