RE/MAX Big 3 Games of the Week
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
St. Thomas Aquinas at Bishop Miege
7 p.m. Bishop Miege Stadium
This is one of the best rivalries in the entire Kansas City Metro. These two private Catholic schools have battled in every sport for the last 20 years since Aquinas was established. This is one of those throw out the record type of games, but usually both teams come in with a good record.
In the last decade the two teams have been no stranger to the playoffs. The Stags quickly went from a struggling program to a winning program when former Kansas City Chiefs’ all-pro Tim Grunhard took over the program in 2005. After a losing year his first season they have been in the playoffs ever since including a state title in 2009.
While Miege won a title in Class 4A last season, the Saints have been a dominant force in 5A for more than a decade. Aquinas handed the Stags one of their two losses last year and are looking this season to advance deep in the 5A playoffs once again.
These teams enter in much different places in the standings but maybe not that far apart in terms of talent. The Stags are 2-2 but the losses the last two weeks have come against Gardner-Edgerton and Blue Valley. Throw in this week’s game with the Saints and Miege will have faced its three toughest opponents in three straight weeks.
The Saints are 4-0 and haven’t been tested all year. This is the beginning of a four-game stretch that will see Aquinas play the Stags, Missouri Class 4 power Webb City, Blue Valley and Gardner-Edgerton. Aquinas will need wins and to stay healthy if a seventh straight trip to the 5A semifinals is going to happen.
Shawnee Mission East at Lawrence Free State
7 p.m. at Free State Stadium
This game is a battle to stay alive in the Sunflower League race. Both teams have one loss on the season and those losses also count in the league race. A second loss Friday night will make a shot at the conference title well out of reach.
The Lancers come in after a tough battle with Olathe North. East took a lead in the second half of that game only to see the defending state champs come from behind and earn the win. The Lancers may not be ready to be a part of the conversation about the best teams in the Sunflower but their 3-1 start looks a little more for real after the tough loss to the Eagles.
The Firebirds are just one point away from being undefeated and could be called the surprise of the Sunflower League. Free State lost standout quarterback Camren Tornaden but Dylan Perry has stepped in nicely to lead the Firebirds. Free State can’t get caught looking ahead to next week’s game against Sunflower League leader Olathe East.
Piper at Mill Valley
7 p.m. at Mill Valley Stadium
This Kaw Valley League showdown pits two teams who should be evenly matched. Mill Valley comes in on a three-game winning streak and their only loss was a one-point defeat at the hands of Lansing in the seasons first week. Piper is 2-2 but their losses have been an overtime defeat by Lansing and a shootout loss to conference leading Basehor-Linwood.
The Jaguars have been steadily improving under new coach Joel Applebee. The close loss in week No. 1 hasn’t kept this team from getting down. The Jaguars bounced right back with big wins over Bonner Springs, Tonganoxie and Bishop Ward. The question for Mill Valley is are they ready to step up their play now that the schedule flips and it faces the better 4A schools and 5A schools.
While the Jaguars have gotten off to a good start by beating up on the bottom half of the Kaw Valley, the Pirates are playing yet another tough game in the seasons first two weeks. After this week the Pirates will be done with the top half of the conference and will then face a second half of the year that features teams like Atchison, Sumner and Hiawatha.
Blue Springs at Raymore-Peculiar
7 p.m. Raymore-Peculiar Stadium
How many points will be scored in this game? Blue Springs and Raymore-Peculiar have both been involved it two of the bigger shootouts of the last few years.
The Wildcats are fresh off of three game run where they have scored 57, 35 and 62 points. For a team that was supposed to be defense oriented, it has suddenly become one of the top scoring teams of the Kansas City Metro.
Raymore-Peculiar has an offense that can score points at any time led by standout quarterback Cameron Coffman. The Panthers have put up games of 53, 28 and 56 in their three wins and 13 and 28 in their losses.
Both of these teams have ideas of going deep in the postseason and depending on how things shake out they could face each other in the playoffs. This week the Wildcats need to start getting that defense put back together after Lee’s Summit scored 49 points in a game that was more of a track meet instead of a football game.
The challenge for Blue Springs is what kind of football team is it? Are the Wildcats the confused team with internal problems from the first two weeks, the dominant defensive squad from the next two or the team that needs to score 50 points a game to win like last week’s game.
Ray-Pec has done well against teams with losing records, but when it plays teams with a winning record it is 0-2 on the season. If the Panthers can’t find its way past the Wildcats, they will have a week to get back on the winning side against Ruskin before starting district play with Rockhurst.
Liberty at Lee’s Summit
7 p.m. at Lee’s Summit Stadium
Which Lee’s Summit team will show up? The Tigers have been a tough opportunistic team in their three losses and an open path to the end zone in their two losses.
Liberty is trying to figure out which team it is as well. Two impressive wins to open the season were followed by three straight losses. The Blue Jays went into a week No. 3 matchup with Ray-Pec thinking about a playoff run while a loss this week could put them into a tailspin that might not end this season.
The Tigers face a Liberty defense that had problems stopping Lee’s Summit North just a week after Lee’s Summit held the Broncos to 10 points. Last week Lee’s Summit’s offense was again prolific scoring 49 points and again it ended in a loss. If the Tigers can find a way to score 48 or 50 they should be in good shape.
Liberty needs to find something positive after a losing 41-0 to Rockhurst and then dropping a 42-27 game to North. If the Blue Jays defense can’t find a way to shore things up, it could be a long night. The Hawklets and Broncos haven’t been known as offense juggernauts while Lee’s Summit is one of the most potent attacks in the Metro so the Blue Jays must find a way to slow down the Tigers if they want to have any chance of winning.
Grain Valley at Oak Grove
7 p.m. at Panthers Stadium
This rivalry has had different meaning depending on the year and this year is no different. The Eagles and Panthers have been in the same conference for almost 10 years and many of those years they were in the same district. The last two seasons the game has had a little less significance with Grain Valley’s move to Class 4.
This year both teams are off to good starts. The Eagles began the year with a tough loss to Platte County but have since rebounded to easily win their next three games with one game canceled due to lightning. Grain Valley hasn’t really played a tough game since week No. 1 against the Pirates and this should be their biggest test of the season.
Oak Grove is off to a 5-0 start after finishing last year 0-10. The Panthers have won close games, and a few blowouts. Everything that went wrong for Oak Grove last year seems to be going right this year. If this game can go Oak Grove’s way the Panthers could be on their way to one of their best seasons in recent years.
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Sabetha Blue Jays
Lone Jack Mules
Anderson County Bulldogs
Sweet Springs Greyhounds
North Platte Panthers
North Kansas City Hornets
St. Thomas Aquinas Saints
Blue Valley West Jaguars
Park Hill Trojans
Shawnee Mission West Vikings
Hogan Prep Academy Rams
Raytown South Cardinals
Spring Hill Broncos
Park Hill South Panthers