View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 8/1

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 3, 2015 - 3:22 PM



There is something about walking out to a football field before the sun comes up on the first day of practice. For the most part it is the same scene but it is always exciting.

This year I started the first day at Oak Grove where the Panthers walked on to the field as defending champions with less than three weeks until they begin defending the first state title in school history.

Even with a few of the usual late stragglers running up the hill to the stadium there was a lot of enthusiasm from the players and the coaches.

After some stretching and running it looked like every other practice you go to. Lots of drills and instruction as players and coaches went about their work.

One thing that stood out to me when I was there was the site of Baldwin coach Mike Berg on the sidelines watching and taking notes. Kansas doesn’t start for another two weeks but Berg rose before dawn and made the hour plus trip from Baldwin to Oak Grove to watch the Panthers practice.

There is a natural connection for him being there. Berg was Pat Richard’s center when they played in college at Baker. They’ve had a strong relationship for years and this was a case of one friend seeing what the other was doing.

If you ever wonder why teams from the Metro and surrounding areas seem to dominate on both sides of the state line every year Berg at the Oak Grove practice is a prime example. One thing I have learned in the five years of PrepsKC is the coaching fraternity in Kansas City is as strong as anywhere in the country.

Gone are the days when coaches who hold onto their knowledge like state secrets. These days there is so much sharing that sometimes it’s hard to tell that these guys compete against each other on Friday night.

That level of professionalism and dedication their sport and career is what makes football here great. I got up this morning to go do a story, Mike Berg got up even earlier to go learn from a friend. That’s true dedication.