Missouri Independents preview
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Hogan Prep Academy
Head Coach: Phil Lascuola, 22nd season
2014 record: 10-1
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/4
Biggest Challenge: Hogan Prep has been a consistently good program over the last decade. That consistency will be tested this year as the Rams are looking to replace their entire offensive line. That group will be young and how quickly they get up to game speed will have a huge impact on Hogan this season.
Outlook: Last year the Rams where a botched onside kick recovery from beating eventual Missouri Class 3 champ Oak Grove in the playoffs. Hogan always has athletes and is well coached. This year the Rams will be tested early with games against Lincoln Prep and Eldon and how the new players adjust will be key. If the new players are able to step in and play well look for another strong year from Hogan Prep.
Coach’s thoughts: "I like the cohesiveness, the chemistry and the work ethic. It's kind of continued throughout the years and they have kind of learned a lot from last year's group. I think we have some good challenges ahead of us and that's one thing that our coaching staff and our kids want, they want to be challenged each week."
Head Coach: Sam Knopik, 13th season
2014 record: 2-8
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 9/9
Biggest Challenge: The Raiders bring almost everybody back so learning being ready for Friday night isn’t an issue. The team is solid on both sides of the ball and Pembroke Hill is now focusing team concepts and being together on all aspects of team play.
Outlook: It was a tough season for Pembroke Hill in 2015 but this group has the chance to turn things in the right direction in a hurry. With nine starters on both sides of the ball the Raiders bring back lots of experience along with good size and speed. If Pembroke Hill can avoid major injuries they could be a team to watch in Class 3 this season.
Coach’s thoughts: “We are really excited about our senior group…We’ve got some bigger linemen types…We’ve got some guys with some experience and ball handling skills…So we’ve got one of what I think is one of the most basic formulas for a really successful season.”
Head Coach: Tony Severino, 33rd season
2014 record: 12-2
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 4/2
Biggest Challenge: Rockhurst is always a senior dominated team so the Hawklets are in the usual position of finding a decent number of new starters for this season. One area of focus will be at receiver. Rockhurst lost three very talented seniors and getting the new receivers up to speed is a focus of the early part of the season.
Outlook: Rockhurst is always among the top teams in Missouri Class 6 and one of the favorites to win the state title almost every year. Last year’s team went to the championship game and this year could produce another deep run. The Hawklets will again play a tough schedule so there might be a few losses along the way but this is one of the favorites to come out of its district in the postseason.
Coach’s thoughts: “I like the athleticism. We have a couple of guys to build around which makes it good. They just need experience. They’re athletic. I like our offensive and defensive lines they just need to play. We are athletic enough up front that they can get better. Our young kids that are behind them are very athletic they’re not just real strong right now so they will grow into it. We just hope to be a factor by the end of the year. If we can get through our schedule without any major injuries and I know that’s coach speak, we’ll be fine.”
Head Coach: Ryan Heffley, 2nd season
2014 record: 7-4
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/7
Biggest Challenge: There are players coming back but the Gryphons lost a group of seniors who played in key positions. How those young players step up early will be a big test for University Academy especially with two tough games with Center and Plattsburg to start the season.
Outlook: University Academy has rebounded from low numbers just a few years ago and is now starting to see consistent participation along with a good group of players committed to the program. The Gryphons have a tough early schedule and if they can come out of that healthy they should be set up for a nice season.
Coach’s thoughts: “I feel like we bring a lot of key players back in key positions. We bring back a running back who had over 1,200 yards last year. We bring back a quarterback who is a three-year starter…Although we lose some seniors at some key positions, we’ve got some good depth coming in we are really going to count on our younger guys to step forward and replace the seniors that we lost.”
Blue Valley Southwest Timberwolves
Lees Summit Tigers
Excelsior Springs Tigers
Lawrence Free State Firebirds
Lighthouse Christian Academy
North Platte Panthers