The Western territory

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 30, 2013 - 5:55 AM

The Suburban Middle Six has been a powerful conference since the Suburban Conference split into four divisions a few years ago. Whether it’s Lee’s Summit West, Park Hill or former members like Raymore-Peculiar, there have been several state champs call the division home.
Lee’s Summit West has been the beast of the division the last few years. The Titans have won three straight crowns on their way to a Class 5 state title in 2010, semifinal finish in 2011 and run to the quarterfinals last year.
West was as dominant as any team in the Metro during the regular season going 9-0 and winning the title. Park Hill South came in second followed by St. Joseph Central, Park Hill, Truman and Ruskin. The conference didn’t change any members this season but it does have a different look as Park Hill, Truman and Ruskin all have new coaches.
Lee’s Summit West
2012 Record: 11-1, 5-0
The Titans looked like a lock to win their second state title in three years until a stunning home loss to Ozark in the Class 5 quarterfinals ended West’s run. Some good seniors from that team have graduated but a lot of talent remains. The Titans have eight starters back on offense and six back on defense not counting the many backups who got lots of playing time in some of the many blowouts won by the Titans. The experience and tradition are there for West and there is extra motivation after last year’s quarterfinal loss.
“The one thing we’ve always preached since we’ve been open is we take them one game at a time,” West coach Royce Boehm said. “It’s Staley week one. Staley is on our mind and that is what we are prepping for right now. That’s the way it will go the rest of the way out. That’s one thing we don’t talk about, we don’t ever talk about the postseason.”
The Titans are a loaded football team and should be the conference favorite and the favorite to win the Class 5 title.
Lee’s Summit West 2013 Schedule
8/30       @ Staley
9/6         Park Hill
9/13       @ St. Joseph Central
9/20       Blue Springs
9/27       Lee’s Summit North
10/4       @ Park Hill South
10/11     Raymore-Peculiar
10/18     Ruskin
10/25     @ Truman
Park Hill
2012 record: 3-7, 2-4
For the first time in more than a decade there is a new man leading the Park Hill football program. Greg Reynolds stepped down in the offseason and Staley assistant Josh Hood moved over to take the job. This is Hood’s first head coaching job and there is a lot of excitement around the new coach. The Trojans will enter this season with new offensive and defensive schemes and several new assistant coaches. Change is evident in every phase of the game. The Trojans have a good group returning so how quickly Hood’s new ideas and philosophies become second nature will have a direct impact on the success of the season.
“We’ve been pleased with our team’s performance in the offseason even going back as far as the beginning of the summer,” Hood said. “This has been a really receptive group of kids and they have been willing to make changes. I told them when I got here that things were going to be different. We’ve really worked hard on fixing character issues. Taking care of our character first, conditioning second and then working to implement a new offense and defense as well.”
There is a lot of change at Park Hill but Hood has a good pedigree from Staley. This could be the first step to putting Park Hill back among the elite teams in Missouri Class 5.
Park Hill 2013 Schedule
8/30       Raytown South
9/6         @ Lee’s Summit West
9/13       Lee’s Summit
9/20       Truman
9/27       @ Ruskin
10/4       @ Kearney
10/11     Liberty
10/18     @ St. Joseph Central
10/25     @ Park Hill South
Park Hill South
2012 record: 7-5, 4-1
The Panthers have consistently been one of the better programs in the Metro in Missouri Class 5 since Mark Simcox took over in 2010. South has been to the quarterfinals and won several games in the playoffs each year since. This year they return most of their defense and key members of the offense including the starting quarterback. The Panthers open with two tough games at Fort Osage and home for Blue Springs so the beginning of the season might not look great at first. How they recover from those opening contests could determine how the rest of the year plays out.
“We’ve got some experience and it always nice to have kids that have started some games,” Simcox said. “We’ve got some of that on both sides of the ball. We feel like part of our strength is going to be our experience especially on defense. I don’t know if we are behind or ahead of where we’ve been but we are comfortable where we are right now.”
The Panthers have the players and experience to be a tough out in the postseason and could jump up and catch Lee’s Summit West for the conference if the Titans get too comfortable.
Park Hill South 2013 Schedule
8/30       @ Fort Osage
9/6         Blue Springs
9/13       @ Truman
9/20       @ Ruskin
9/27       Grandview
10/4       Lee’s Summit West
10/11     @ St. Joseph Central
10/18     Liberty North
10/25     Park Hill
2012 Record: 0-10, 0-5
The Eagles have seen plenty of change in the first three seasons since combining with Hickman Mills in 2010. Ruskin now has its third head coach in four years as Damon Fishback takes over. One mark in Fishback’s favor is he has been on staff and understands where the program has been and what it needs to do to improve. The Eagles have had talent but taking big steps is hard given the level of competition they face each week.
“I really the work ethic,” Fishback said of his team. “They have really bought into our coached and really bought into our system. We’ve got a tough schedule but we are going to keep working hard so we will see how it goes.”
This season progress might not be measured in wins and losses but a consistency of effort and performance.
Ruskin 2013 Schedule
8/30       @ Liberty North
9/6         @ Lee’s Summit North
9/13       Platte County
9/20       Park Hill South
9/27       Park Hill
10/4       @ Truman
10/11     Oak Park
10/18     @ Lee’s Summit West
10/25     St. Joseph Central
St. Joseph Central
2012 Record: 6-5, 3-2
This could be another good year for the Indians. Central returns five starters on offense and six on defense. The Indians have strength in the skill position players and seem to getting better each year. They open with a tough run of Blue Springs, Platte County, Lee’s Summit West and Raytown South that could be just tough to survive. If the Indians can keep their head above water the rest of the schedule is strong but manageable.
“Lee’s Summit West and Blue Springs you want to play them early before they get rolling,” Central coach Jeff Wallace said. “It’s been my philosophy that look we are going to play them let’s do it early and get better and learn some things when we play them that will make us a tougher football team as we go on.”
The Indians don’t have it easy but they have the opportunity to get stronger as the season goes on if injuries don’t become a problem.
St. Joseph Central 2013 Schedule
8/30       @ Blue Springs
9/6         Platte County
9/13       Lee’s Summit West
9/20       @ Raytown South
9/27       Truman
10/4       @ Raymore-Peculiar
10/11     Park Hill South
10/18     Park Hill
10/25     @ Ruskin
2012 Record: 1-4, 1-9
Another school where change is the watch word of the season. The Patriots now take the field led by Gregg Webb who spent his entire career on the Kansas side winning eight-man titles at Claflin before moving to Eudora. The last two seasons Webb led Eudora to the Kansas Class 4A state title game but he now faces a huge challenge. The Patriots have only been to the postseason a handful of times in five decades. There isn’t much experience back and Webb is changing the systems drastically so there could be some growing pains along the way.
“It’s a challenge,” Webb said. “Once you’ve established a program and you have those kids and they know what they expect it kind of flows and works itself out a little bit. Now we are doing everything we can to establish all those things that it takes to win. This program is not used to winning. They do not know how to win. Their culture is different than what I am bringing in.”
Webb has had success and this will be an interesting season for him and the Patriots.
8/30       Blue Springs South
9/6         @ Liberty North
9/13       Park Hill South
9/20       @ Park Hill
9/27       @ St. Joseph Central
10/4       Ruskin
10/11     Marshall
10/18     @ William Chrisman
10/25     Lee’s Summit West