What Steve said: Steve Bubalo 12/3
By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
With another high school football season in the books, it’s always fun to look back at the season that was and the teams, players and coaches that make each and every year so memorable.
Here are just a handful of things that stuck with me about the 2015 season from teams I got to see play first-hand:
For me it starts with the resurgence of Odessa. In head coach Mark Thomas’ third season at the helm, the Bulldogs made it all the way to The Edward Jones Dome before falling short in the Class 3 state championship game.
I traveled to Odessa several times this year, starting with its first game of the season against St. Pius X. They picked up a solid win that night but I had no idea it was just the beginning of bigger things.
But just a few weeks later I saw one of the best games of the year, too, as Odessa got its statement win over Oak Grove. And the way they did it - a long touchdown pass in the final minute - made for some great theatrics.
That game let people know the Bulldogs were for real and would be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Another force to be reckoned with was Blue Springs South.
I saw the Jaguars up close in week 3 against rival Blue Springs and remember walking away a little underwhelmed. South got the win but they had to hang on against an inexperienced Wildcat team. That game also had one of the more clutch plays of the season that I witnessed, as backup quarterback Cale Connors found Rickey Nichols for a 52-yard pass play late in the fourth quarter that would set up a crucial field goal.
Turns out, I must’ve saw the Jaguars on a bit of an off night, as they ran the table through Class 6. That 27-24 win over the Wildcats wound up being their closest game of the season on their way to a third state championship.
I figured the Jaguars would have a tough road to the state title game but when I saw them run through Jefferson City in the second round of the playoffs, a berth in the state title game seemed like a given.
This season was a bit of a resurgence for South as well. After winning the state title in 2011, the program went 16-16 the next three seasons. But give head coach Greg Oder some talent and an experienced team and it was no surprise the Jaguars turned things around in a big way this season.
The most entertaining game of the season I saw might have been the Class 2 quarterfinal between Lafayette County and Brookfield, a 38-36 Husker win.
This game was bonkers, as it was back-and-forth in the first half before Lafayette Count finally seized the tiniest bit of control, thanks in large part to the best catch I saw all season, a diving one-handed grab by Eisley Hinton that resulted in a touchdown on fourth down.
One of the better surprises of the season was Lee’s Summit North under first-year head coach Jamar Mozee. The Broncos struggled to finish the season but started the year 5-1 and found themselves in the state rankings after defeating rival Lee’s Summit West. It will be fun to see if Mozee can keep the Broncos headed in the right direction.
Maybe the strangest thing all year was seeing both Blue Springs and Rockhurst struggle. The two teams combined to go 10-12 on the season, but I imagine the rest of Class 6 can’t count on that happening too often.
In fact, it won’t surprise anybody to see both of those programs back in the thick of things in 2016.
Here’s hoping that season will be as fun and exciting as the last fourth months were.
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