What Steve Said: Steve Bubalo 11/3

Steve Bubalo

By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: November 3, 2016 - 5:52 AM



Coaches will always tell you, it doesn’t seem to matter what sport, that it’s difficult to beat a team twice in the same season.

Now, imagine that team you are trying to beat twice had a 16-game winning streak against you, and now you get to go back to their place and try and beat them again, in a win-or-go-home game, with the winner earning a berth in the Class 4 state quarterfinals.

That is the challenge Grain Valley faces when they travel to Harrisonville Friday night for a shot at a district championship. The last time the Eagles advanced this far in the state playoffs was 2009. And who knocked them out?

You guessed it, Harrisonville, 14-12.

I got to see the Eagles first-hand last week and they looked like a team playing some of their best football of the season. They controlled their game against Raytown South, winning 35-14. The defense looked great, with three turnovers and a score. The offense was balanced. It was a complete win.

But if the Eagles are playing some of their best football, so are the Wildcats. After a three-game losing streak - the last one coming at the hands of the Eagles - the Wildcats have been dominant.

During their five-game win streak the closest game was a three-touchdown win over Oak Grove, as the offense has been on a tear. During its three-game losing streak, Harrisonville scored 25 points. Total. In the last five they’ve averaged nearly 44 a game.

That’s why I believe Grain Valley has to make this game similar to the first one, which was a 19-7 win. They need it to be ugly. They need to force turnovers, although hoping for seven like in the first meeting is probably a bit greedy. They need it to be low-scoring. I’m not sure the Eagles want to get in a track meet with the Wildcats. That’s not how they win. The Eagles have scored more than 20 points in only three games this year. Meanwhile, Harrisonville has hit 20-plus points in all eight of its wins.

But the Eagle defense has been up to the challenge as of late. After giving up 44 points to Odessa back in late September, the defense has allowed just 20 points in the last four games, including two shutouts.

“Since then the defensive line brought it to heart,” head coach David Allie said after the Raytown South win. “They’ve rallied behind that. And the defensive coaches have done a heck of a job.”

It doesn’t get any easier Friday night.

Along with this excellent Class 4 game, there are several others that should be highly entertaining, including Rockhurst-Lee’s Summit West in Class 6.

The Titans have won eight straight games after a 1-2 start and they’ve done it with offense and defense. After five straight weeks of scoring 36-plus points, they won a more defensive game last week against Ray-Pec, 20-13. And with the way Rockhurst plays defense, this feels like a first-team-to-20 wins situation.

On the other side of the bracket in Class 4, Kearney and Platte County will be playing for all football fans who love a good shootout. The first meeting between these two teams Oct. 14 was a dandy, with Kearney winning 42-39.

Not sure there’s any reason to think Round 2 will be any different.

The game of the night might be taking place up in Maryville, as the 11-0 Spoofhounds will host the 11-0 Richmond Spartans. The big question is this - can anyone slow down an explosive Maryville offense?

To this point the answer has been a resounding “no”, as the Spoofhounds are averaging almost 55 points per game. They put up 92 - 92! - in a win over Cameron back in September. It’s hard to imagine the Spartans stopping the Spoofhounds too often, but a few stops here and there might be enough for Dominic Williams, Trevon Alexander and the rest of the offense to come out with a win.

Anything can happen come playoff time.