District rivals meet in Northland Jamboree
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
The road to the Dome unofficially begins tonight.
With just a week until the high school football season officially kicks off, jamborees throughout the city are allowing coaches the opportunity to measure their teams against others, deciding what plays provide the best scoring chances and evaluating which player will help lead his team to glory.
And don’t think for a second that each player doesn’t enjoy hitting another player from a different team, even if it is just a scrimmage.
Every player knows that this is where that long, tough road begins as they navigate the treacherous peaks, valleys and detours along the way, hoping it ends successfully inside a domed building some 200 miles east of here come November.
Coaches and players alike may say that road starts as soon as the previous season ends when they hit the weight room, but at some point, they still have to take the field to play the game, and here they are.
North Kansas City, Oak Park, Staley and Winnetonka came together Friday night to show off their wares, albeit in a somewhat toned down and controlled environment.
"It's good for our school district to get everybody in one location," said Northtown head coach Leon Douglas. "All these guys know each other."
Months of energy, frustration and just plain excitement were unleashed on the historic football field at North Kansas City High School.
"The kids needed to do this," said Oak Park head coach Chris Holt. "They're tired of seeing each other and have been doing this all summer, so it was time to see somebody else.
"We were doing evaluations, wanted to see where we had questions, which kid was going to step up in that position. We wanted to get out healthy, which was the main thing, and you want to do some good things execution-wise, of course, and you want to make sure all that hard work paid off."
The Northmen are coming off a disappointing 1-9 season from a year ago, so they were due some of that frustration.
The highlight of the night was Oak Park's three touchdowns against Staley in the final scrimmage of the evening.
"We worked really hard in the offseason, and for us to come out here tonight and to definitely compete against Staley, I just think today was a good day for all of us," said senior Northmen tackle Drew Bridges.
Staley will enter a new era this season as Jordan Robbins will take over the signal calling for the graduated Trent Hosick. He shared the quarterbacking duties Friday night with Bo Baker.
"Jordan (Robbins) is a guy who's getting our first reps and Bo (Baker) also played an awful lot tonight," Staley head coach Fred Bouchard said. "They are kind of in a two-man race, but Jordan is the guy we'll probably go with. We feel like Bo's athleticism is something that we can apply some of the things he does and put those into play.
"Trent was a great player for us for a couple years, but we think the synergy that some of the other people can give us will be greater than or equal to our best moments from a year ago."
While the Falcons will be breaking in a new quarterback, one thing that won't be any different for Staley is the defense. Since building the program from scratch, Bouchard has always had a solid defense, and this year will be no exception.
"We have some experience back," he said. "I'm confident our defense will arrive at some point this season. I'm not going to say that this is the moment. We'll see what we grow into, but we think they have the ability to be outstanding."
Staley and Winnetonka met in the first scrimmage of the jamboree. These are the only two schools in the North Kansas City School District that won't see each other in the regular season, so their faceoff appeared a bit more competitive.
" There was probably a little more hype than a normal jamboree for that just because we are in the same school district and we won't see each other in the regular season," Winnetonka head coach Sterling Edwards said.
But for the most part, Edwards used the jamboree as a dress rehearsal for his opening night performance next week at home against Liberty.
"We try to run our stuff and not hold anything back," he said. "Obviously, we hold a few things back, but for the most part, we want to come out here and run our stuff against somebody and see what happens and stay healthy and execute against other varsity competition."
Douglas saw several good things form his Hornets Friday night, which finished 5-6 last season, but 4-2 in the Suburban Small Seven Conference, good for third place.
"You want to see guys fly around, and be able to get after the opponent," he said. "You want to see them get lined up and see the look in the eye where they're not intimidated by the big stage. It was a good energy level coming in against quality teams. We didn't want to show too much on both sides of the ball. Tonight is tonight, but tomorrow is Kearney week one."
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