Loaded again in 2016

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 19, 2016 - 9:41 AM



Belton

Head Coach: Todd Vaughn, 4th season

2015 record (overall/conference): 8-4/4-1

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 4/7

Biggest Challenge: The Pirates had one of their best seasons in almost a decade but a lot of impact players graduated. Belton has spots to fill on the offensive line, linebacker and running back and that will be a focus early on. Another area they are working on is continuing to build a winning culture especially with the new younger players.

Outlook: Things turned around in a big way last season as the Pirates finished with a winning record along with two post season wins. There is some inexperience in key positions and how those new starters play will have a big impact on the success of the 2016 season.

Coach’s thoughts: “I like the fact that they’ve had some success and they feel a little bit better about themselves that way and they know that all the hard work does pay off. They got some benefit from that last year, obviously not as much as we wanted. We hated losing that district game but it was a motivator for us. Our kids see that we are changing and I really think they are hungry for more.”  

2016 Schedule:
8/19 Raymore-Peculiar
8/26 Liberty
9/2 @ Winnetonka
9/9 @ Raytown South
9/16 Platte County
9/23 @ Kearney
9/30 Ruskin
10/7 @ Oak Park
10/14 @ Grandview

Grandview

Head Coach: Jeremie Picard, 2nd season

2015 record (overall/conference): 6-5/3-2

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/6

Biggest Challenge: The Bulldogs had a solid season last year and bring a lot of experience back on both sides of the ball. One group that was hit hard by graduation was the defensive backfield and getting those new players up to speed has been job one this offseason. Getting the defense up to speed has been has been a focus to start practice this year.

Outlook: Grandview lost some good players but the talent behind them could be just as good or better. The Bulldogs have a lot of athleticism at the offensive skill positions and if that group can gel quickly Grandview could have a very dangerous offense. Couple that with a defensive front seven that is almost all returners and the Bulldogs could be a tough team to beat this season.

Coach’s thoughts: “Last year’s team was very, very athletic. They understood the game of football very well. The group that followed them this year is equally athletic but I think smarter. They are extremely eager to learn and they ask a ton of questions and not because they are confused. It’s more for clarification. They are asking more developed questions than I ever got last year and we are getting those questions before we are even in the season. The football intellect is even higher than we had last year and that is a credit to those boys from last year who showed them how to work.”

2016 Schedule:
8/19 @ Platte County
8/26 @ Park Hill South
9/2 Kearney
9/9 William Chrisman
9/15 @ Shawnee Mission Northwest
9/23 @ Oak Park
9/30 Winnetonka
10/7 @ Raytown South
10/14 Belton

Kearney

Head Coach: Greg Jones, 11th season

2015 record (overall/conference): 14-1/5-0 (Class 4 state champions)

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 2/3

Biggest Challenge: Coming off a state championship making sure the players understand this is a new year has been a big part of the offseason. The Bulldogs graduated a large group of seniors but there are 30 more stepping into that leadership role this season. Kearney has been able to reload with a sense of purpose over the last few seasons and it’s up to this group to keep the line moving.

Outlook: It sounds like a broken record but Kearney has been very good at replacing players and not really missing a beat. The Bulldogs have been to the semifinals three straight seasons over two classes capped off by last year’s Class 4 title. Kearney has a lot of holes to fill again but if this senior class can come just close to what has come before them it could be another year with a deep run in the playoffs for Kearney.

Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve been blessed that the last three years we’ve been pretty senior dominate. This will be the fourth year of having that and I think the kids have come to understand that you know we are in a cycle where you might not play until your senior year and when you do get to play your senior year you better make the most of it. I think they have seen the success of that and had made the most of it.”

2016 Schedule:
8/19 @ Fort Osage
8/26 Raytown South
9/2 @ Grandview
9/9 Winnetonka
9/16 @ Liberty North
9/23 Belton
9/30 @ Raytown
10/7 Staley
10/14 @ Platte County

Platte County

Head Coach: Bill Utz, 9th season

2015 record (overall/conference): 8-4/2-3

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 8/5

Biggest Challenge: Platte County puts a strong emphasis on playing more than just football. With that comes a lot of summer activity for all of its athletes. The Pirates have had a good summer even with trying to find the right practice times that enable all of the football players the time to pursue all of their interests while being able to focus on the upcoming season. That challenge has provided opportunities for players to get lots of reps when others aren’t able to attend which builds the depth of the team.

Outlook: The Pirates got off to a good start and then had to rally late after injuries ravaged their offense. Their starting quarterback has returned and that could mean great things for the Pirates. If Platte County can keep its starters healthy throughout the season it could mean a deep run into the Class 4 postseason.

Coach’s thoughts: “We have to take care of the football. We are working on little things like ball security and making sure we don’t give the other team to put points on the board. We are working offensively that way. We want to run the ball. We are definitely working on our run game, on the flip side of that stopping the run. We are still working on those little things. As any season as you get going early on you hit the basics and then hopefully add to it as you get better through the season. That’s kind of where our focus is now.”

2016 Schedule:
8/19 Grandview
8/26 @ Oak Park
9/2 @ Staley
9/9 Harrisonville
9/16 @ Belton
9/23 @ Liberty
9/30 Raytown South
10/7 @ Winnetonka
10/14 Kearney

Raytown South

Head Coach: Nick Adkins, 3rd Season

2015 record (overall/conference): 4-7/1-4

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 6/4

Biggest Challenge:  The skill positions look to have good depth but the line is where the Cardinals are in need. There is some experience but some younger players are getting serious looks as well. Raytown South usually has speed to burn but finding the big guys up front has been a challenge in most years.

Outlook: The Cardinals have a lot of athleticism and that is always a bonus. Last year they were unable to close out some games and that dropped them to a losing record for only the second time in more than a decade. If South can find some lineman and stay healthy along the way a winning record should follow.

Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve had an awesome summer, great attendance in June and July. We did some different things team wise that really helped us out. They are a fun group of guys to be around which is always the most important thing and it makes our job enjoyable. We are going to have some speed in some places that we haven’t had in the past couple of years. Our defense is going to be pretty fast and we’ve got some pretty good skill players who are going to be able to do some good things for us.”

2016 Schedule:
8/19 @ Ruskin
8/26 @ Kearney
9/2 North Kansas City
9/9 Belton
9/16 @ William Chrisman
9/23 @ Winnetonka
9/30 @ Platte County
10/7 Grandview
10/13 Raytown

Winnetonka

Head Coach: Jared Barge, 1st season

2015 record (overall/conference): 1-9/0-5

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 4/5

Biggest Challenge: Jared Barge takes over for Sterling Edwards and a few changes came with him. Barge was on staff with Edwards and there was a good foundation for the new coach. Barge did make some changes to the offense and with those changes the coaching staff spent the offseason reevaluating all of the players to make sure they fit what they wanted to do on both sides of the ball. Those changes brought a learning curve that the team worked through during the summer.

Outlook: A lot will be the same but there are some changes for the Griffins. The offense has seen some changes but most of the coaches from last year are the same so they know the personnel. Winnetonka should have some talent but it is a little young so how much the younger players progress should have a big impact on how many wins the Griffins finish with.

Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve been working really hard. The good news is even though last year we struggled we have some kids coming back that have some really good game experience. We are counting on our seniors and juniors that played a lot last year that have that game stuff that is under their belt in terms of they’ve been there and they’ve done that. I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys gel with the new offense we are running.”

2016 Schedule:

8/19 @ Park Hill South

8/26 @ Smithville

9/2 Belton

9/9 @ Kearney

9/15 Shawnee Mission South

9/23 Raytown South

9/30 @ Grandview

10/7 Platte County

10/14 William Chrisman