REMAX Big 3 Games of the Week
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Blue Valley West at Gardner-Edgerton
7:00 p.m. Gardner-Edgerton D.A.C
One of the most talked about teams in the Kansas City Metro and the state of Kansas will kick off its season by hosting Blue Valley West. Gardner-Edgerton is the program everyone is talking about, from its star quarterback Bubba Starling to its Oct. 22 game against St. Thomas Aquinas that will be on ESPNU.
The Trailblazers have become a Class 5A power over the last four years and in that time they outgrew their old Frontier Conference. Now Gardner-Edgerton moves in the Eastern Kansas League and their first opponent is a West squad that is just three years removed from a 5A title of its own.
The Jaguars are coming off of a 3-6 record in 2009 and have yet to find the playoffs in the last two years in Class 6A. West coach Scott Wright has 12 returning starters to go with another seven players who saw time in the starting lineup last season.
While these two teams are in different classes, this week No. 1 matchup should be a good barometer for how far each might go when the playoffs roll around in a couple of months.
Shawnee Mission West at Olathe North
7 p.m. Olathe D.A.C.
This opening season matchup is a few years in the making. Shawnee Mission West and Olathe North were two of the top teams in 6A last year and many thought they would meet up in the semifinals. Olathe North held up its end of the bargain but the Vikings ran into a hot Blue Valley team in the first round and found an early exit.
This year both teams return a large group of starters and expectations are high. The Eagles are coming off of a perfect 13-0 run to the 6A title and many are picking them to win it again this year.
West still has a bad taste in its mouth from last season’s loss to Blue Valley. A strong senior class led by tailbacks Cordi Pascal and Will Livingston should give the Vikings a great 1-2 punch on the ground.
Olathe North and West will both look to run the ball and it could be a quick game decided by which defense can make the other team settle for field goals or stall out short of the scoring zone.
While a win in week No. 1 doesn’t necessarily guarantee either team a Sunflower League title, this game will have as much of an impact as any game on the conference schedule.
Piper at Basehor-Linwood
7 p.m. Basehor-Linwood Stadium
The season’s first week pits two teams that closed out the regular season last year going toe to toe this year. Basehor-Linwood will host Kaw Valley League foe Piper in what should be a good rematch from last year’s 15-12 Bobcats’ win.
Both teams have been on the rise the last few years. Basehor-Linwood went 8-1 last season before falling out in the first round of the playoffs. Piper went 6-3 and also had a short stay in the postseason with a loss in its first game.
Piper enters the season with high expectations even with the loss of all-state quarterback Jasper Simmons. The Pirates return six starters on both sides of the ball and have a strong junior class to go with the senior class that has playoff experience.
The Bobcats also lost their quarterback but receiver Colin Murphy slides over to quarterback this season and the tall athletic player could have a huge season. One of his favorite targets just might be his twin brother Ryan. The pair could be one of the Kansas City Metro’s best combos of the season.
Kearney at Platte County
7 p.m. Pirates Stadium
A pair of Class 4 programs with designs on long runs into the playoffs clash in Week No. 2. Kearney comes in off of a dominating 45-0 win at Winnetonka while Platte County earned a tough 14-13 win over Grain Valley.
The Bulldogs defense was able to get five turnovers from the Griffins including an interception return for a touchdown. While the defense was keeping Winnetonka in check the offense was clicking on all cylinders. Quarterback Shane Hartzler hooked up with receiver Ryan Rische for three touchdowns. In fact the only thing that stopped Kearney was itself as another Hartzler to Rische TD pass was called back because of a penalty.
The Pirates had to rally for their first win of the season against the Eagles. Platte County’s tough defense held Grain Valley in check in the second half before they scored late in the third quarter with the go ahead touchdown.
Platte County’s win came with the help of a poor kicking game by Grain Valley. The Eagles missed an extra point and two field goals to help preserve the Platte County win. This week Platte County will have to keep the mistakes to a minimum if it wants to beat the Bulldogs who turned five mistakes by Winnetonka into a 45-0 drubbing.
Staley at Blue Springs
7 p.m. Peve Stadium
Staley will find out if it is ready for the big time with its first-ever game against Class 6 power Blue Springs. The Falcons are in just their third year and the move to Class 5 finds one of the big boys of high school football on their schedule in week No. 2.
Blue Springs opens its home schedule against a Staley squad that rolled through its regular season last year before falling to Kearney in the second round of the playoffs. The Wildcats enter with a very bitter taste in their mouth after a 7-6 loss at Rockhurst in week No. 1.
Staley comes in fresh off of a dominating 44-13 win at home over Raytown. Senior tailback Evan Campbell didn’t have his best yardage game of his career with only 64, but he was able to score two rushing touchdowns to go along with a 54-yard touchdown catch.
The game is a matchup of two of the best running backs in the Kansas City Metro. Campbell was a Fontana Award finalist last year and the Wildcats’ Darrian Miller was a Simone Award finalist with more than 2,700 yards in his junior year.
Harrisonville at Hazelwood West
Saturday 2 p.m. Hazelwood West Stadium
Harrisonville makes a long trip across the state to play a Class 6 squad on its home field. Last week the Wildcats took a step up in class and fell short 23-15 at home to Jefferson City Helias.
Last year Harrisonville lost its first game and then promptly won 11 in-a-row before falling to eventual state Champion Kearney in the quarterfinals. Harrisonville’s schedule is one filled with games against challenging opponents but this might be one in class distinction only. Hazelwood West has struggled in recent years and last week was outscored 33-0 after opening the game with an early touchdown.
This week Harrisonville won’t face a team any better than Helias, but the challenges will be the travel and playing on a Saturday instead of the usual Friday night. While no team is a guaranteed win, Harrisonville’s test might just come with distractions rather than the actual game on the field. This won’t be the last time Harrisonville makes a long trip. The squad will travel to Rodgers, Ark., in week No. 4.
Last Week’s Big 3 Games
Rockhurst 7, Blue Springs 6
Nearly 10 months after the two Class 6 powerhouses played a classic game, the season opener nearly ended the same way. Blue Springs held the early lead but a missed extra point would come back to haunt the Wildcats.
Rockhurst would score its only touchdown in the second half on a 13-yard pass from Frank Arbanas to Ryan Karlin with six minutes left in the third quarter. The Wildcats would drive deep into Hawklets territory several times in the second half only to come up with two interceptions and tough luck stop on fourth down.
The Wildcats Darrian Miller gutted out 112 yards but he threw one of the interceptions on a halfback pass near the end zone in the second half. The biggest defensive play of the game came late in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats were driving into Rockhurst territory. Just like the quarterfinal game from last year Miller struggled to grind out one more yard but this time the Hawklets held and won the game.
Liberty 35, Park Hill 14
In a revenge game from last season Liberty overcame a sluggish first half to dominate Park Hill 29-0 in the second and open its season with a win.
Park Hill started strong and extended its lead going into halftime with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Wilson to Dearis Flint.
The Blue Jays answered on the second-half kickoff when senior Shane Kilson ran 80 yards for a touchdown. The two point-conversion tied the game and Liberty would be off and running from there. The Blue Jays would score 22 points in the third quarter to seal the win.
Platte County 14, Grain Valley 13
The battle between old Class 3 powers that now play in Class 4 didn’t disappoint. Platte County overcame some early mistakes and found a way to keep Grain Valley out of the end zone late to open the season with a win.
Grain Valley missed an extra point and two late field goals and the Pirates defense held at key times. Even with the mistakes, the Eagles showed promising signs that new quarterback Jeremy Maynard will be a good replacement for all-everything Austin Goldsmith who graduated.
Platte County got a much needed win with tough games looming on its schedule. The Pirates play Kearney this week and Staley the next.
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