Suburban White 2016 preview
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Change has come to the Suburban White with two teams leaving and a new team joining Fort Osage, North Kansas City, Oak Park, Staley and William Chrisman.
Raytown and Liberty North are now up in the Red while Ruskin drops down. Also two new head coaches are in the mix as Brock Bult takes over for Ryan Schartz at Fort Osage and Phil Lite is the new head man at Staley after Fred Bouchard left.
Those two departures are very similar. Schartz is now the Indians’ Activities Director and Bult, who is a longtime assistant, was promoted to the top spot. Same thing at Staley as Bouchard is now the North Kansas City District Activities Director and Lite was promoted from defensive coordinator.
The on the field prospects of the conference feature almost every team having a chance to improve. Fort Osage is the one that can’t improve as the Indians are coming off a Class 5 state title.
Teams like North Kansas City and William Chrisman return a lot of experience and Oak Park and Ruskin look to show growth as the players at both schools benefit from stability in their coaching staffs.
It could be an interesting year in the now six-team league as Fort Osage and Staley have some holes on both sides of the ball and the other four teams come in hungry to take the next step.
Head Coach: Brock Bult, 1st season
2015 record (overall/conference): 13-1/5-1 (Class 5 state champions)
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 4/1
Biggest Challenge: With 17 starters to replace and 10 of those on the defensive side filling holes has been the priority this offseason for Fort Osage. The Indians lost a lot of good players including Simone Award winner Skylar Thompson. Even with a lot of holes many players got to see the field last season so while there may not be starting experience it’s not like the Indians are bringing up two dozen junior varsity players to play for the first time.
Outlook: A decade of success culminated in Fort Osage’s first-ever state championship last fall. The Indians lost a ton of good players and Head Coach Ryan Schartz moved on to become the Indians’ Activities Director this spring. Defensive Coordinator Brock Bult was elevated to the top position so the transition has been smooth. This could be a step back year for Fort Osage but this program has maintained a high level of success no matter what it loses to graduation so the step back might not be very big.
Coach’s thoughts: “I like the way we are coming together and competing. We have a lot of competition for starting positions right now but as they compete they are helping each other and working together. It is nice to see all of the competition for starting positions but it would be nice to have some more experience on there but it is going to be an exciting year watching this team grow and get better each week.”
North Kansas City
Head Coach: Leon Douglas, 6th season
2015 record (overall/conference): 2-8/1-5
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/5
Biggest Challenge: The Hornets have a good group returning and it has been a good offseason. In past years the problem would have been numbers or commitment but this season North Kansas City is just facing some of the normal growing pains that come with coaching 14-18 year old young men.
Outlook: Offensively this could be one of the best teams in Head Coach Leon Douglas’ six years at the helm. The Hornets return their quarterback and most of their offensive line to go along with an all-conference tailback and skill players that have varsity experience. There are still some spots to fill on defense but there is experience on that side of the ball as well. This could be a good year for North Kansas City to take several steps forward.
Coach’s thoughts: “Overall we feel good about what we have just by the investment our team has made throughout the winter, the spring and the summer. Last year finishing 2-8 but in reality we had the chance to finish 5-5 if not 6-4. We lost several games within one to three points. So that is a deal where we could definitely could close out and finish those games, get another stop or score another touchdown we would feel a lot different about what our season was. The great thing about is we got another chance to make things right and get things going.”
Head Coach: Kevin Keeton, 3rd season
2014 record (overall/conference): 1-9/1-5
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 4/6
Biggest Challenge: This summer working on the details has been a focus. Fundamentals that might night be directly related to scoring touchdowns or winning games but do go a long way to making those things happen is the area the Northmen have worked on this year.
Outlook: It’s been a struggle for Oak Park the last few seasons but this is the third year under coach Kevin Keeton and these groups of upper classmen know exactly what the coaching staff is looking for. There is a good group of returning starters on defense and a solid bunch on offense. The Northmen have several games on their schedule with teams that are very similar to them and how they do in those games will go a long way to determining how 2016 looks in the end.
Coach’s thoughts: “I really like how far we’ve come in a lot of the intangible things. A lot of the things that don’t show up every day on the scoreboard but eventually find their way to the scoreboard we’ve improved on those things. We’ve got a little bit of depth in the offensive backfield which will definitely help over 10 games. It’s a game of attrition and you know the Suburban Conference is so physical and as much depth you can get in the backfield is definitely helpful.”
Head Coach: William Perkins, 2nd season
2015 record (overall/conference): 0-10/0-5
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/4
Biggest Challenge: The overall numbers are better this year at Ruskin but getting all of those players at offseason workouts on a consistent basis has been the issue. One other factor is a late start date for school due to building construction that has made it hard for those players with transportation issues to make regular practices.
Outlook: The best development for Ruskin has been the return of Head Coach William Perkins and his entire coaching staff. For the first time since the Hickman Mills School District combined its high schools in 2010 the Ruskin football program has two years’ worth of stability. This familiarity should go a long way to help the players take steps forward by giving them consistent instruction and support. The Eagles also have some good starters returning so the team is headed in a positive direction.
Coach’s thoughts: “It’s great being back with this group. They are a great group of young men. They are excited to have a coaching staff actually come back for a second year. The kids have really been putting in great work and great time. We have a great core of kids that are really good and really dynamite.”
Head Coach: Phil Lite, 1st season
2015 record (overall/conference): 9-2/5-1
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 6/2
Biggest Challenge: There was a coaching change in the offseason with longtime coaching legend Fred Bouchard retiring and assistant Phil Lite taking over. With only two starters back on defense filling those holes is at the top of the list. There is talent on the defense so getting the reps in and finding out who will play in the right spot is the focus heading into the season.
Outlook: The Falcons may have had a change at the top but not much has changed. Lite has continued the strong tradition that was already in place and this team looks to reload not rebuild. Staley’s young defense will be tested early but if that group can grow into a dependable unit like in the past, Staley will again be one of the top Class 5 programs on the Missouri side.
Coach’s thoughts: “I’m extremely excited and I’m blessed. We’ve put a lot of time in this summer and got a lot of good work in. That’s something that has been created over the years. I feel very honored to have coached with one of the best coaches in the state of Missouri. That opportunity of being his assistant head coach for a number of years at the college level at Harrisonville and at Staley. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.”
Head Coach: Scorpio Horn, 3rd season
2014 record (overall/conference): 4-7/2-4
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/4
Biggest Challenge: The Bears return a good group of underclassmen that saw a lot of time last year. There is strength in the skill positions but right now filling out the offensive line is the No. 1 job. This team is young and some of those spots could be manned by sophomores or even some talented freshmen.
Outlook: This is the third season under Horn and the Bears took a step forward last year. The core of the team is made up of a talented group of sophomores and juniors who saw a lot of playing time last season. Chrisman has a chance to find its first winning season in more than a decade.
Coach’s thoughts: “Our skill position is the most exciting right now we just need to get our up front guys going and I think we will be ready to go.”
St. Joseph Central Indians
St. Joseph Lafayette Fighting Irish
St. Thomas Aquinas Saints
Lees Summit West Titans
Lincoln College Prep Tigers
St. Pius X Warriors
Blue Valley Southwest Timberwolves
Knob Noster Panthers