MRVC West 2016 preview
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
The Missouri River Valley Conference West has long been a conference with good programs and in the last few years the group has raised the bar even higher.
Oak Grove won a Class 3 title in 2014 and Odessa played for the Class 3 championship last season. Harrisonville puts up consistent double digit win seasons and Pleasant Hill is just a few seasons removed from an undefeated regular season.
This year looks like more of the same. Harrisonville, Oak Grove and Odessa look like teams that can make deep postseason runs while Grain Valley, Excelsior Springs and Pleasant Hill could be improved. Through in solid out of conference schedules for every team and there isn’t a bad game any week of the season.
It looks like 2016 should be another strong year MRVC West.
Head Coach: Mark Faubion, 1st season
2015 record (overall/conference): 2-8/0-5
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 3/4
Biggest Challenge: Former Kansas City Central coach Mark Faubion has taken over Josh Buford who stepped down at the end of last season. Faubion was on staff last season so the transition has been smooth. The coaching staff is changing its offensive philosophy to a more power running game so gaining that type of mentality is the biggest hurdle for the Tigers.
Outlook: Excelsior Springs will be young this season so there are a lot of opportunities for players to compete for starting positions. It’s a tough league slate along with some good non-conference games which will test the Tigers every week.
Coach’s thoughts: “I like the teamwork we have put in during the summertime. We’ve done a lot of things based on competition in lifting and the kind of the camaraderie that we need to be a better football team. We’ve really pushed competition. Everything has been fought for tooth and nail. The biggest thing that I’m pleased with is we have kids that have bought in and are really fighting for everything on the field.”
Head Coach: David Allie, 3rd season
2015 record (overall/conference): 3-7/1-4
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/4
Biggest Challenge: The Eagles will be a little younger this year and one of the more inexperienced areas is the playmakers. Last season the offense had some explosive players while this year Grain Valley may be a bit more on the grind it out side. That along with some early injuries will be the main things the Eagles are focused on heading into the season.
Outlook: Grain Valley is settling in its third year under David Allie and this could be a season where they take another step forward. The Eagles have good numbers and seniors who have a good knowledge of what the coaching staff wants to do. It will be a tough schedule for Grain Valley but the arrow should be pointing up for the Eagles.
Coach’s thoughts: “Coming through all of the summer stuff I thought the kids showed a lot of maturity and a lot of effort coming in and getting ready. We are losing a pretty good senior class of kids, some good leaders. We have a smaller group of seniors this year but those kids and some other younger leaders stepped up and did a lot of training over the spring that helped them pay dividends not only on the field but in team cohesion over the summer.”
Head Coach: Brent Maxwell, 3rd season
2015 record (overall/conference): 12-1/5-0
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/5
Biggest Challenge: The Wildcats are coming off another dominant season and many good players return. The skill positions have good experience but the both sides of the line are looking for new starters and backups.
Outlook: Harrisonville has been the model of reload not rebuild for more than decade. If the guys in the trenches gain some traction this could be another outstanding year with a deep playoff run.
Coach’s thoughts: “I just love our overall attitude. They have a great cohesion. They just push and compete with each other constantly. They can do that in a playful manner to and that makes it enjoyable for everyone involved. They know they got to push each other if they are going to get better. They can have a good time with that too. I just love their attitude and their approach to practice.”
Head Coach: Pat Richard, 6th season
2015 record (overall/conference): 9-3/3-2
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/8
Biggest Challenge: The Panthers have a big group of returning starters to go along with a big senior class. Oak Grove also has a big freshmen class so blending the learning of the freshmen with the needs of an experienced group is at the top of the list for coach Pat Richards and his staff.
Outlook: Oak Grove wasn’t quite as strong as their state championship season in 2014 but the Panthers still managed to be one of the top Class 3 teams in the Metro. This year there are a lot of starters back along with several players who saw a lot of time due to injuries. The Panthers could again be on a track that takes them deep into the Class 3 postseason.
Coach’s thoughts: “I like our senior leadership they’ve done a great job in the offseason in leading. It’s a big group. These kids have really played together throughout and it is exciting to watch their development. A lot of them played last year and are coming back. We are excited to get going. I think everyone is sick of the summer camps and we are ready to get going.”
Head Coach: Mark Thomas, 4th season
2015 record (overall/conference): 13-2/4-1 (Missouri Class 3 runner-up)
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 9/7
Biggest Challenge: The Bulldogs had their best season in two decades and bring a lot of players back from the state runner-up teams. Odessa lost its starting quarterback, tailback and several defensive backs so replacing those positions is priority one during the preseason.
Outlook: Odessa got over the hump in a big way last season and now looks like one of the better programs in Class 3. The Bulldogs will be tested by some great teams in their own conference and will face some stiff competition from the likes of Hogan Prep Academy and Center when the postseason comes around. If Odessa stays healthy and gets some key wins it could be another great year for the Bulldogs.
Coach’s thoughts: “The thing that I am most excited about is the attitude of our seniors. They have a real desire to get back to that championship game. There is some unfinished business that we’re wanting to take care of. That kind of weighs on them and obviously keeps it easier on me to keep them motivated.”
Head Coach: Greg Smith, 2nd season
2015 record (overall/conference): 2-8/2-3
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 1/2
Biggest Challenge: With only three total returning starters there are a lot of holes to fill. Getting the right players in the right spots has been the big task of the summer. There are some good skill players so finding the guys to block will be key for the offense.
Outlook: The Roosters make the move back down to Class 3 but the schedule and postseason don’t get much easier. This is the second year for Coach Greg Smith so the learning curve for his players is behind them. If the young players can grow up as the season goes on Pleasant Hill could take a few steps forward.
Coach’s thoughts: “I like the team camaraderie. The kids are working really hard and the effort is really good in practice so far. They are pulling together real well and that is the first step in building a good quality team is getting them to work together and buy in and support each other. Right now our boys are showing that.”
Shawnee Mission West Vikings
West Platte Bluejays
Appleton City Bulldogs
Blue Valley Tigers
Bishop Miege Stags
Pleasant Hill Roosters
University Academy Gryphons
Turner Golden Bears
Olathe South Falcons
El Dorado Springs
St. Pius X Warriors
Seneca-Nemaha Valley Raiders
St. Joseph LeBlond Golden Eagles
NOAH Tulsa, Okla.