Suburban Middle Six Preview

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 12, 2015 - 7:45 AM



Liberty

Head Coach: Chad Frigon, 5th season

2014 record (overall/conference): 3-8/2-3

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/6

Biggest Challenge: The Jays lost their starting quarterback and running back so finding new starters at those two key skill positions will be big early in the season. The defense needs to get better at stopping the run which is key in a conference that features good rushing attacks.

Outlook: Liberty has size on its offensive line and returns a good amount of starters on both sides of the ball. The Jays face a tough four-game stretch to start the season so if they can come out of games with Lee’s Summit West, Kearney, Ray-Pec and Park Hill with a few wins and not too beat up it could set up a strong second half run.

Coach’s thoughts: “This team has been working well together and the really built on the hardships they went through last year when they gained a lot of experience and just fighting the hardships we had last year. We felt we improved winning three out of our five last games and peaked towards the end and we are hoping that carries over into this season.”

2015 Schedule:
8/21 Lee’s Summit West
8/28 @ Kearney
9/4 Raymore-Peculiar
9/11 @ Park Hill
9/18 Truman
9/25 St. Joseph Central
10/2 @ Park Hill South
10/9 Columbia Hickman
10/16 @ Ruskin

Park Hill

Head Coach: Josh Hood, 3rd season

2014 record (overall/conference): 13-1/5-0

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/7

Biggest Challenge: Park Hill lost most of its offensive line and two quarterbacks who helped lead them to the Class 5 semifinals. While there is talent moving into those positions the Trojans will need those new players to gain confidence playing together early in the season.

Outlook: While Park Hill might have snuck up on some teams last year with their undefeated run through the regular season followed for postseason wins that won’t happen this year. The Trojans return a lot of experience and should be one of the Class 5 favorites to come out of Kansas City. The question will be how quickly the rebuilt offensive line can round into form.

Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve been stressing to the kids all offseason about just getting better every day. I’ve been really impressed with the progress the kids have made every day. This team has really been receptive to the drills that we’ve run and some of the things we’ve done as a team so far this preseason. We’ve truly gotten better every day and that is a testament to the kids and their work effort and the work they put in in the offseason and also the coaching staff that we have here too.”

2015 Schedule:
8/21 @ Blue Springs South
8/28 Smithville
9/4 @ Belton
9/11 Liberty
9/18 @ Park Hill South
9/25 Ruskin
10/2 @ Lee’s Summit
10/9 St. Joseph Central
10/16 @ Truman

Park Hill South

Head Coach: Mike Sharp, 1st season

2014 record (overall/conference): 3-7/2-3

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 8/8

Biggest Challenge: The Panthers are coming off their first losing season in a while and this year rebuilding confidence is job one. South was young a year ago and those younger players took some lumps. Without a big senior class the underclassmen will need to continue to grow.

Outlook: Park Hill South starts the season with new Head Coach Mike Sharp taking over for Mark Simcox who retired. Sharp is a veteran assistant who was at Park Hill before moving over to South two seasons ago. He inherits a young group that will still be young but has a lot of experience from the season before. If those young players can take some steps forward South could make a move up in the conference and be a tough team in the postseason.

Coach’s thoughts: “Our team has answered any challenge and raised the bar mental toughness wise. Anything we have asked these kids to do they have done. Our coaching staff has set the bar high with the players that we have and have made it this far with us. We are really excited of this coming season and what these guys are capable of.

2015 Schedule:
8/21 Lee’s Summit North
8/28 @ Lee’s Summit West
9/4 Raytown South
9/11 @ Platte County
9/18 Park Hill
9/25 @ Truman
10/2 Liberty
10/9 @ Ruskin
10/16 St. Joseph Central

Ruskin

Head Coach: William Perkins, 1st season

2014 record (overall/conference): 1-9/0-5

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 6/6

Biggest Challenge: Change has been the constant with the Eagles as the program has its fifth head coach in five years. William Perkins comes over from a successful Lee’s Summit program and is looking to build some consistency for his players. Just finding some routines and confidence will be the main priority this season.

Outlook: Even with a change there was some good groundwork laid by the previous coaching staff. The Eagles will be challenged to compete at times but a steady hand could help them improve even if those improvements don’t show up in the win column.

Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve got a good group of kids, a good group of seniors, juniors and sophomores who are really buying in already and just ready to move forward and look for a successful and competitive season. They are ready to go and I think we will begin to turn this thing around here at Ruskin High School. The last year’s staff put in a good foundation for these kids knowing they have to work hard. These guys have bought in. They are there each day ready to work and do what we ask them to do.”

2015 Record:
8/21 Grandview
8/28 @ Pembroke Hill
9/4 @ Platte County
9/11 @ Truman
9/18 Kearney
9/25 @ Park Hill
10/2 @ St. Joseph Central
10/9 Park Hill South
10/16 Liberty

St. Joseph Central

Head Coach: Jeff Wallace, 6th season

2014 record (overall/conference): 3-7/3-2

Returning Starters (Off/def): 9/6

Biggest Challenge: The Indians bring back a big group of returning starters on both sides of the ball. The experience is great but the summer was not kind and several players are battling injuries. Those injuries will test Central’s depth and that could be a factor early in the season.

Outlook: Central is in with a group of teams in the Middle Six that bring back a lot of young players who saw a lot of playing time a year ago. An offseason in the weight room has helped the Indians and they could be poised to come out of that group and move toward the top of the conference if that talent stays healthy and comes together.

Coach’s thoughts: “We weren’t real happy with the season we had last year and part of that was injuries and part of that was being so young. They really, really got after it in the wintertime and the spring. You are going to see the same kids, the same last name but they are going to very, very different, about 15,  pounds a man in muscle mass many have them put on and are a step quicker.”

2015 Schedule:
8/21 Kearney
8/28 Platte County
9/4 @ Truman
9/11 Blue Springs
9/18 @ Raymore-Peculiar
9/25 @ Liberty
10/2 Ruskin
10/9 @ Park Hill
10/16 @ Park Hill South

Truman

Head Coach: Gregg Webb, 3rd season

2014 record (overall/conference): 6-5/3-2

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/4

Biggest Challenge: The Patriots will need to find depth to go with a group of good players who turned in the first winning season for Truman since 2004. The question right now is who will fill in behind those players and take spots on the special teams. That depth might determine if Truman can back up last year’s strong run with another one this year.

Outlook: Truman had a breakout year led by a strong running attack. Tailback Jordan Salima had over 1,500 yards rushing and Truman will rely on him to lead their offense again. The defense got better as the season went on in 2014 and the Patriots will need to keep that improvement going again this year.

Coach’s thoughts: “I like our skill and the kids that we have on this team are enjoyable to be around. They have really bought in. It’s such a different atmosphere today. We can get on a kid, we can criticize a kid and they can take it. They know we are just out to make them better football players and football kids. Then when it’s over, it’s done. Then when it’s over it’s done. Just hanging around is something that has transitioned into something that is almost a program. It’s taken us a long time to get there.”

2015 Schedule:
8/21 @ Lee’s Summit
8/28 @ Raytown South
9/4 St. Joseph Central
9/11 Ruskin
9/18 @ Liberty
9/25 Park Hill South
10/2 Marshall
10/9 @ William Chrisman
10/16 Park Hill