Through the Uprights: Mike Lavieri 9/1
By Mike Lavieri PrepsKC staff writer
Starting Friday we’ll have football every weekend, whether that be high school, college or the pros, until February.
Being from Chicago and a graduate of Kansas, I don’t think the Bears or Jayhawks are going to do well, so I won’t give predictions except for missing the playoffs and finishing last in the Big 12, respectively. I digress.
There are few certainties in life, those being death, taxes, KU winning the Big 12 in basketball, and the Sunflower League being in the 6A Championship since the class was created in 1978.
That’s an incredible 37 seasons, and I think that streak continues this season. Shawnee Mission East has represented the league the past two seasons, winning it all last year.
The Lancers could be back in the championship again, but I don’t think they win the league this year. That distinction goes to the Lions of Lawrence High School.
Behind the running attack of JD Woods, who ran for 1,667 yards and 20 touchdowns last year, it might be a bit of a stretch, but if Lawrence makes the championship, which I think it can do, I think Woods will run for more than 2,000 yards.
The rest of my top five in the Sunflower League is, in order: Shawnee Mission East, Shawnee Mission West, Lawrence Free State and Olathe North.
Eastern Kansas League
The Stags, who went undefeated last season, graduated quarterback Ryan Willis, who is playing at Kansas. It would be quite an accomplishment to go undefeated for a second consecutive season, but I’m not buying it.
I think Miege has a great season, and will probably win the 4A-I title again, but I think it comes in third place behind St. Thomas Aquinas and Blue Valley.
Aquinas returns a nice corps on offense, which includes running back James Cosentino and quarterback Karter Odermann. The Saints will have a tough opening game against Mill Valley, but we’ll talk about the Jaguars in a minute.
Blue Valley succeeded in its first season in 6A last season, losing to Miege and Olathe North in the playoffs. Quarterback Colton McCumber and running backs AJ Totta and Will Evans return, but replacing offensive guard AJ Harris will be difficult. Harris is now at the University of Missouri. He was rated the No. 1 offensive guard in the state last season by 247 Sports.
There is a large gap between the top three teams and the next five. My gut is saying Blue Valley Northwest and Blue Valley North will round out the top five. It’s going to be another difficult season for Gardner-Edgerton.
Kaw Valley League
The Jaguars will only play KVL teams that are in 5A, which are Lansing, Bonner Springs and Turner. Mill Valley is still eligible to place players on the All-League team and can win the league, which I think can happen.
Besides Mill Valley, Bonner Springs is the next best team in the league with Connor Byers, another top quarterback in my eyes, behind center and Marcell Holmes in the backfield.
The Braves spent 2012 and 2013 in Class 4A where it didn’t make the playoffs, but they jumped up to 5A last season and barely lost to Aquinas in the first round.
I think the Braves get back to the playoffs this season, but it will be difficult, as St. James will want revenge after not making it out of that included Mill Valley.
Piper, which went 10-2 last season with now Minnesota Golden Gopher Colton Beebe, should regress.
I think the league shakes out like this: Mill Valley, Bonner Springs, Lansing, Piper, Basehor-Linwood.
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