MRVC West Preview

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 14, 2015 - 2:43 PM



Excelsior Springs

Head Coach: Josh Buford, 3rd Season

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

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 6/6

Biggest Challenge: With a good group of young players returning there isn’t concern with the starters. The place the Tigers will be looking for help will be with depth. There are young players who can step in but they need to gain experience as the season goes on to help provide a cushion when injuries happen.

Outlook: Anytime you finish a season with just a few seniors starting hopes are high for the next year. Excelsior Springs enters with a talented bunch of young players who are looking to take a big step forward after a one-win season. The Tigers will be tested with a strong schedule but if they can get better as the season goes on and stay healthy they could be a tough out in the postseason.

Coach’s thoughts: “We started a lot of young kids at really key positions. We have a kid back that started 10 games at quarterback as a 15-year old last year. Our two leading tacklers are both back and were both sophomores last year. That’s kind of just the start of it. We have so many kids back that went through let’s say the challenges of a disappointing year. I think they have used it to get better through the offseason and camp thus far.”

2015 Schedule:
8/21 @ Warrensburg
8/28 Cameron
9/4 @ Richmond
9/11 Columbia Battle
9/18 @ Harrisonville
9/25 @ Odessa
10/2 Grain Valley
10/9 @ Pleasant Hill
10/16 Oak Grove

Grain Valley

Head Coach: David Allie, 2nd season

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

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/7

Biggest Challenge: With seven starters back on both sides of the ball it is a solid group that brings lots of experience. The two areas that will be the most inexperienced will be on the offensive line and linebackers. Those groups will need to adjust to the bright lights to catch up with a talented group of skill players.

Outlook: Grain Valley will be a veteran team that is spending its second year in David Allie’s system. The bulk of the learning should be behind them and now the team can start to fine tune the skills it takes to win consistently in an always tough Missouri River Valley Conference West.

Coach’s thoughts: “This senior class has done a tremendous job in the offseason. They are the first one in sprints and ones to get their lifting in. They are the ones who worked here all summer. The whole buy-in has kicked up a notch especially with that senior class who have done a great job leading us.”

2015 Schedule:
8/21 @ Savannah
8/28 St. Joseph Benton
9/4 @ Grandview
9/11 Boonville
9/18 @ Pleasant Hill
9/25 Harrisonville
10/2 @ Excelsior Springs
10/9 @ Oak Grove
10/16 Odessa

Harrisonville

Head Coach: Brent Maxwell, 2nd season

2014 record (overall/conference): 11-2/5-0

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/4

Biggest Challenge:  The Wildcats offense brings back dynamic playmakers which should serve them well. The test will come at offensive line where depth and experience will need to grow as the season gets going.

Outlook: Harrisonville had a bounce-back season with just two losses in 2014. The team got better as the season went on under first-year head coach Brent Maxwell. The new systems that were put in place last year are common practice now and the Wildcats could hit the ground running this season. The conference and non-conference schedules are strong but Harrisonville should be near the top of Missouri Class 4 teams in the Metro.

Coach’s thoughts: “Our kids have got a tremendous competitive spirit right now. They realize last year was a tremendous year and depending on who you ask and maybe was a little better than what was expected. The expectations of the community are extremely high this year but more importantly they are high for the kids. They realize there is a lot at stake. Especially for our seniors. They realize this is their last go around and they’ve stepped up and been tremendous leaders this year both in the weight room and in camps. We’ve done a ton of community service this summer. They’ve really accepted that role and led in every facet.”

2015 Schedule:
8/21 @ St. Joseph Benton
8/28 Savannah
9/4 Bolivar
9/11 @ Richmond
9/18 Excelsior Springs
9/25 @ Grain Valley
10/2 @ Oak Grove
10/9 Odessa
10/16 Pleasant Hill

Oak Grove

Head Coach: Pat Richard, 5th season

2014 record (overall/conference): 13-2/4-1

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/6

Biggest Challenge: Oak Grove has been a good program for the last few years but now they carry the title of state champ. This should paint a bigger target on the Panthers most weeks of the season. Handling those expectations will job one when the first game kicks off.

Outlook: Oak Grove lost a very good senior class but there is a good group behind them ready for the challenge of defending a state title. The Panthers style of offense makes it tough to defend no matter who plugs in from year to year. While the offense should be consistent, how the defense adjusts to new players could be a key to Oak Grove’s success.

Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve got 10 seniors and they all played last year. None of them sat of the sidelines and watched. They were all a part of what we accomplished last year, big parts of it. Then we had some sophomores last year that got quite a bit of playing time. To experience something like that together and what we went through last year and to do that together. I don’t know it feels like we just kind of continued. We lost some amazing kids and we are going to miss them. There is no question about that. You can’t lose those types of kids without missing them. I really feel like this group is special too. I don’t know we are going to see how it turns out but I feel real good about this group.”

2015 Schedule:
8/21 Holden
8/27 @ O’Hara
9/4 Lincoln College Prep
9/11 @ Warrensburg
9/18 Odessa
9/25 @ Pleasant Hill
10/2 Harrisonville
10/9 Grain Valley
10/16 @ Excelsior Springs

Odessa

Head Coach: Mark Thomas, 3rd season

2014 record (overall/conference): 7-4/2-3

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 6/7

Biggest Challenge: Last season the Bulldogs took a big step forward. Odessa got a big one-point win over St. Pius X to start the season and that win started a process of learning how to overcome adversity that is still going into this season. Bouncing back after things don’t go their way will be a big test for the Bulldogs all season long.

Outlook: Progress has been slow but Odessa got its feet under it last year. The Bulldogs lost some good senior leadership so it is up to a talented junior class to take over that role. If the new seniors can grow into leaders the progress and winning should continue.

Coach’s thoughts: “I really like athleticism compared to the last two years. Our better athletes the last two years have been young kids and now those kids are in their junior and senior years. Their experience is hopefully going to pay off for and we will be able to capitalize on some of the athleticism that we have.”

2015 Record:
8/21 St. Pius X
8/28 @ Clinton
9/4 Carrollton
9/11 @ Holden
9/18 @ Oak Grove
9/25 Excelsior Springs
10/2 Pleasant Hill
10/9 @ Harrisonville
10/16 @ Grain Valley

Pleasant Hill

Head Coach:  Greg Smith, 1st season

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

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 9/8

Biggest Challenge: With Greg Smith taking over for Kyle Roach a new system was put in place on both sides of the ball. The Roosters have a good group returning but with a lot of new concepts just getting everything learned and practiced enough to have confidence is the biggest battle facing Smith and his staff.

Outlook: The coaching transition was a very smooth one. Roach and Smith are close off the field and the teams have practiced in the offseason several times over the last few years. Pleasant Hill played a lot of younger players last season due to injuries and a smaller senior class. That youth should take a step forward once the new offense and defense become second nature.

Coach’s thoughts: “They are a great group of kids. I stepped into a program that has a great tradition. I’m replacing a great football coach in Kyle Roach. It’s been fun. A breath of fresh air. A new beginning. It’s been exciting.”

2015 Schedule:

8/21 @ Smithville

8/28 Warrensburg

9/4 St. James Academy

9/11 @ Sedalia Smith-Cotton

9/18 Grain Valley

9/25 Oak Grove

10/2 @ Odessa

10/9 Excelsior Springs

10/16 @ Harrisonville