Through the Uprights: Mike Lavieri 9/2

Mike Lavieri

By Mike Lavieri PrepsKC senior writer
Posted: September 2, 2016 - 9:24 AM

It’s here, it’s finally here!

You’ve probably heard me say it hundreds of times, but I hate how Kansas starts two weeks after the Show Me State.

But finally, Week 1 is upon us, and with that, it’s time for my season predictions.

Eastern Kansas League
This is the most loaded league in the state and the first weekend starts of with a bang.

First, St. James and Mill Valley are welcomed into the league by playing each other. The Thunder will “host” the Jaguars at Mill Valley, but hey, that’s what happens when you don’t have your own facilities.

I expect the stands to be completely filled.

The other big matchup is Bishop Miege heading to Blue Valley. Talk about a battle of powerhouses.

Miege, the defending 4A-I champion, and Blue Valley, the Class 6A runner-up, will be jockeying for the league title all season long.

The winner of this game, though, wins the EKL as I think they both win out the rest of the regular season.

I’m giving Miege the slight edge in this game as junior quarterback Carter Putz continues the excellence from a season ago. It also helps he has a few big returning targets including senior receiver Jafar Armstrong.

  1. Bishop Miege
  2. Blue Valley
  3. St. James
  4. St. Thomas Aquinas
  5. Mill Valley
  6. Blue Valley West
  7. Blue Valley Southwest
  8. Blue Valley North
  9. Blue Valley Northwest
  10. Gardner Edgerton

Sunflower League
I think the Sunflower League is a little more wide open than the EKL, but it’s still pretty top heavy.

I don’t see Free State starting the season 0-3 like the Firebirds did in 2015, but I think Bob Lisher’s team will compete for the league title and a state title. It helps it’s on the west side of the state bracket where the only challenges are Hutchinson and Derby.

They may not make much of an impact this year, but sophomores Shane Skwarlo and Jax Dineen are two names to be on the lookout for as they’re older brothers have made a name for themselves. Senior Jay Dineen will help anchor an offensive line that will be protecting a new cast in the backfield.

Free State will open with Shawnee Mission West, another team I think has the chance to win the league. Luckily the Firebirds miss Olathe North and Shawnee Mission East.

 Olathe North fell in the state semifinals to Blue Valley last year in Chris McCartney’s first season. I think the Eagles along with Dustin Delaney’s East squad — the 2014 6A champs — make this a four-team race.

  1. Olathe North
  2. Free State
  3. SM East
  4. SM West
  5. Olathe Northwest
  6. Olathe East
  7. Lawrence
  8. Olathe South
  9. SM North
  10. Leavenworth
  11. SM Northwest
  12. SM South

Kaw Valley League
Nobody was happier to see Mill Valley leave the KVL than the rest of the league.

A league run by the Jaguars for years as they overpowered teams with sheer numbers.The league will be more competitive as the average size of the schools is much closer together.

Rod Stallbaumer has gone a combined 13-8 in his first two seasons at Basehor-Linwood. The Bobcats should improve this season as Justin Phillips takes the ball under center as a senior. Leading rusher Chas Rollo is also a senior, but BLHS graduated receivers Nick Fisher and Jahron McPherson.

Bonner Springs needs to replace quarterback and safety Connor Byers, but it comes as a good time as 2015 offensive coordinator LaDrew Murrell begins his first season as the head coach, taking over for Lucas Aslin.

The Braves have put up big numbers the past two seasons, so offense shouldn’t be an issue. Hiring from within also, I think, helps keep the chemistry Aslin built, but Murrell will be able to put his own flavor on it.

  1. Basehor-Linwood
  2. Bonner Springs
  3. Lansing
  4. Piper
  5. Turner
  6. Tonganoxie
  7. Bishop Ward