Can Fort Osage continue its run

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 19, 2014 - 3:18 PM



The Suburban Small Seven has produced a state champion and state finalist in the last three seasons and this year sees a state semifinalist join its ranks.

Fort Osage has ruled the league the last three seasons finishing with a perfect 6-0 record each year. In 2012 the Indians made it all the way to the Class 5 final and last year they were in the quarterfinals. The Indians look to be strong this year but Staley and Liberty North along with improved squads at Raytown and North Kansas City and new coaches at Oak Park and William Chrisman.

The addition of Liberty North to the mix makes the conference even tougher. The Eagles are coming off a run to the Class 4 semifinals and this year make the jump up to Class 5 and from the Small Six to the Small Seven.

It could be an interesting year with Staley always in the mix and every team looking to take a step forward. Let’s take a look at this year’s Suburban Big Seven.

Fort Osage

2013 Record: 11-1/6-0 Conference Champions

The Indians have been at the top of this league and one of the best teams in Class 5 for the last six to seven years. It doesn’t seem to matter what players graduate Fort Osage just maintains or improves from the year before.

This season the Indians will need to replace some key starters most notably at running back and several members of the offensive line but junior quarterback Skylar Thompson along with his top targets senior receivers Bailey Williamson and Jesse McBee. Both could also see time at tailback depending on how the season goes.

Defensively the Indians have five back with the bulk of that on the defensive line and linebackers. The big key will come in the passing game where most of the defensive backfield will be new.

The Indians look to be strong again and head coach Ryan Schartz likes the experience he has on offense and defense.

“I like our experience at the skill positions,” Schartz said. “We return a number of guys on offense at those skill positions whether that be running backs, receivers and quarterback. I think that might be a strength of our football team.”

Ryan Schartz podcast

Liberty North

2013 Record: 9-5/3-2 in the Suburban Small Six

The Eagles are the new kid on the block in the conference but bring an impressive resume with them. North put together its best season in the four-year history of the program in 2013 and are looking to build on that this year.

There is a lot of experience returning on both sides of the ball with as many as eight players on offense and defense that either starter or saw major playing time as North went to the Class 4 semifinals.

The Eagles have their quarterback Bryan Sharp back and he could lead a very dynamic offense. While North is taking a step up in class and conference their schedule doesn’t change that much. The Eagles have played Fort Osage and other members of the conference in the past and even though they were in Class 4 last season their schedule featured six Class 5 teams.

North Head Coach Ken Clemens said this team is ready for the challenge of Class 5 football.

“I like their energy and I like the fact that a lot of the kids have a lot of football experience with them,” Clemens said. “We are very optimistic about how the year is going to turn out.

“I think our kids are playing physical every day in practice. They are bringing good energy.”

Ken Clemens Podcast

North Kansas City

2013 Record: 5-6/4-2

The Hornets were a streaky team in 2013 that featured a four-game winning streak immediately followed by a four game losing streak to close out the regular season.

The back and forth nature of the season didn’t keep them down as they were able to win a first-round postseason game before bowing out to Fort Osage in the district semifinals.

The numbers are up in the program this season and four starters return on offense while five starters return on defense. The Hornets are looking to find more consistency with this group and will be tested with a schedule that features St. Joseph Lafayette and Lee’s Summit North on the non-conference slate.

Coach Leon Douglas likes this group of seniors who are the first group to spend all four years with him and his coaching staff.

“The character that they have as just young men makes it easier to coach,” Douglas said. “I think our coaching staff would agree this is the most pleasant group to coach where it’s not a lot of outside factors taking up time that’s meant for football.

“It’s a group that is very veteran heavy. A lot of these guys played for us the last two years and know the expectations of what we want to do on both sides of the ball.”

Leon Douglas Podcast

Oak Park

2013 Record: 2-8/1-5

It was a difficult season for the Northmen in 2013. Oak Park won only two games and head coach Chris Holt stepped down after the season.

This year Kevin Keeton takes over after spending the last two seasons as an assistant on the staff. The Northmen bring back seven starters on offense and four on defense from a team that saw a lot of young players take the field the last two seasons.

As the season begins getting a few wins under its belt should help Oak Park start to turn things around. The Northmen have a long tradition but recent history has gone against them. If they can find some confidence Oak Park could be in the mix in a tough conference race.

Keeton said his team is buying in to what he and the coaches are asking them to do.

“We really have a core of kids that is buying into what we’ve been preaching since we took over,” Keeton said. “That has been exciting. Eventually we are going to need some signature wins this season for validation for the kids to say to the kids it’s working, keep going.”

Kevin Keeton Podcast

Raytown

2013 Record: 5-6/3-3

After being right at the break even mark the last two seasons this could be the year Raytown breaks through.

The Blue Jays feature a deep and talented senior class that has been successful at almost every level. Now is the time to see if Raytown is ready to have its first winning season in more than a decade.

The Blue Jays return eight on offense and four on defense to a team that has done a good job of beating the teams that were equal or lesser talent but coming up short against more talented teams.

This year Raytown could be the more talented team in several of its games so the opportunity is there to take the next step and earn a winning season and possibly a postseason win for the first time in more than two decades.

Blue Jays’ coach Kevin Page said this team has worked hard it’s now time for them to go out and take some wins on the field.

“I feel like I’ve got a good group of kids to take on that level of competition in week one,” Page said. “I feel like we are on pace to compete with anybody we play with this year and that makes me be very excited week one no matter who it is.”

Kevin Page Podcast

Staley

2013 Record: 6-5/5-1

Staley was a tale of two teams last season. In the conference they were one of the best outside the conference the games got much tougher.

The Falcons lost to Class 5 semifinalist Kearney twice along with losses to Blue Springs South and Class 5 champion Lee’s Summit West. Through in a regular season loss to Fort Osage and Staley lost to teams that combined to win almost four games and a state title.

This year with a large senior class and five starters back on both sides of the ball the Falcons could be a team that could bounce back to the top of the league and challenge for a deep run in the Class 5 postseason.

Staley should again boast a strong defense along with a dynamic rushing game that returns Kahluna Bouchard who had over 1,500 yards last season.

Head Coach Fred Bouchard said he has a good group of players that can contribute to wins on Friday nights.

“We’ve got a good blend of returning players who have seen a lot of football and some young guys who have been waiting to show their wares,” Bouchard said. “It’s kind of fun. We don’t have some of the flashy players we’ve had in the past like some of those guys who had offers on the table. We kind of have an old school workman like approach to our season. We hope that adds up to success when that’s all said and done.”

Fred Bouchard Podcast

William Chrisman

2013 Record: 1-9/0-6

Change has come to William Chrisman in the form of a new head coach and entirely new coaching staff. Scorpio Horn takes over after spending the last four years as the defensive coordinator at Park Hill South and he brings a new group of assistants with him.

Winning has been hard at Chrisman the last few years as the Bears have just one win in two seasons. The young squad only earned a last-second win over rival Truman but many of the players are back from that team.

The Bears return seven starters on both sides of the ball and Horn said building confidence is a big part of what he and his staff are doing this year.

“We are excited with the bunch of kids we have,” Horn said. “We are always looking for more but our kids have put in the work. They’ve put in the dedication. They’ve been lifting this summer and they are showing and proving to themselves that doing the fundamental things we do and ask and being a family we can be successful.”

Scorpio Horn Podcast