Teams ready to battle for bragging rights
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
This year’s Country Mart Kansas vs. Missouri All Star Game is again loaded with talent. Both squads are filled with the top players from both sides of the state line.
Like every all-star game how that talent blends together to form a team will have a large impact on who wins the game.
Both teams have spent the better part of the last 10 days trying to come together, learn some plays, have fun and get ready to win a football game. When the game kicks off at 7:05 p.m. it will be interesting to see just how these two squads have done trying to accomplish those goals.
Here is a quick breakdown of what to look for out of tonight’s game.
When Kansas has the ball
The Kansas squad will run the same Wing T offense Kansas Head Coach Jeff Gourley runs at Olathe South. This timing rushing attack can be tough on both the offense that runs it and the defense that tries to stop it.
The basic Wing T features two wing backs lined up behind each end on the line with a quarterback and tailback in the backfield. There are several variations to that but it is designed to have lineman moving with traps and pulls. The linemen need to be athletic and the group that Gourley and his staff have selected has done a good job of picking it up.
“They are fantastic,” Gourley said. “The intelligence level is way up there. You are talking about the best players from every team around the area. Each helmet has a story and these kids were relied on and depended on to be leaders and step up their game. The same thing happened here. We step in and tell them something and we don’t have to tell them twice.
“It’s fun. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I will say this, we’ve got six of the best backs in the city Missouri or Kansas and if we can get our blocking down with the seams it should be exciting to watch them run.”
The running backs and quarterbacks will move behind that line with multiple misdirections and the ability to have different options on where the ball is going. With smaller quick running backs like Olathe South’s Jordan Ward and Teddy Colbert, Olathe North’s Orange Mooney and Olathe Northwest’s Connor Middleton the Kansas squad has the ability to break big plays. Don’t look past Lansing’s Nick Hughes and Blue Valley’s Justin Fulks. Those two may be a little bigger but they have plenty of speed and power to break big plays as well.
The quarterbacks and receivers are talented and if Missouri gets caught cheating up to stop the run Blue Valley’s Kyle Zimmerman and Blue Valley Northwest’s Garrett Fugate are accomplished passers who can also move their feet and get a few yards on the ground.
There are only two receivers in Blue Valley North’s Lamont Bagsby and Chad Johnson and two tight ends in Blue Valley West’s Brett McMakin and Olathe South’s Chris King but they all have big play experience. While this run oriented attack may keep the passing opportunities to a minimum this group could have a big impact in blocking downfield as Kansas looks to get big plays in its running game.
The Missouri defense will counter the Wing T with a 4-2-5 scheme. This group will need to adjust to the movement scheme of the Wing T and not get caught chasing the wrong way. In years past defensive units have exceled at stopping long drives but big plays have led the winning teams to victory.
Look for defensive lineman like Fort Osage’s Tony Tanumai, Liberty’s Kurt Petroll, Pleasant Hill’s Tully Byrne and Blue Springs South’s Levi Riley along with the other lineman to be charged with stopping the Kansas rushing game at the point of attack.
When Missouri has the ball
The Missouri offense will show a little of everything just like Missouri Head Coach Rob Bowers runs at Richmond. Missouri will attack from everything from a spread to an I-formation and will try to get the ball into talented playmakers like Grandview’s Jaron Alexander and receiver, Richmond’s running back Gabe Vandiver and Raytown South’s Jameel Cox at running back.
Triggering the offense will be Lee’s Summit North’s Will Harrington and Smithville’s Eric Gromacki. Both are dual threats but Gromacki had been slowed earlier in the week by an illness and had not seen much practice time this week.
“You’ve got great players in all positions,” Bowers said. “Will is a great athlete that does a lot of things well. Gromacki throws ball well and runs the zone read well. They are good players, good athletes and are smart and have picked up the offense pretty quickly so it’s been fun.”
The Kansas defense has been preparing for all contingencies. This group has strength at every position and big plays on defense could come from Lawrence safety Anthony Buffalomeat, Paola linebacker Brandon Goodman among many others.
“We’ve looked at what theoretically they are going to run,” Gourley said. “They’ve looked at what we are going to run. We don’t change a whole lot. I know he has shown a lot of variety over the course of the season so we have to be ready for trips and option and power game.”
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