Suburban Gold Preview

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 11, 2017 - 11:15 AM



The conference that features the biggest schools on the Missouri side has long been considered if not the best, one of the best in the state.

Last season the league showed why it should be considered the toughest group of Class 6 teams in Missouri. Throw in Rockhurst and Kansas City is home to the best Class 6 football in the state.

Blue Springs scratched and clawed its way to the top in 2016 but it wasn’t easy. The Wildcats went 11-3 on the season losing in the Class 6 title game to Kirkwood. On their way to the championship game they survived the Suburban Gold but not before earning some tough wins and suffering a loss to Raymore-Peculiar.

This year it could be the Wildcats at the top again but the rest of the league is going to have something to say. The group of teams that return the most experience are Blue Springs South, Park Hill and Ray-Pec. Those teams were in the middle of the pack but each is looking to knock off Blue Springs.

Lee’s Summit West has maybe the best player in star defensive back Mario Goodrich but they are looking to fill a lot of sports in the starting rotation. Lee’s Summit and Lee’s Summit North have some inexperienced position groups but have some good young talent looking to take the next step.

Here is a quick look at each team in the Suburban Gold.

Blue Springs

Head Coach: Kelly Donohoe, 18th season

2016 record (overall/conference): 11-3/5-1 (Conference champ, Missouri Class 6 Runner-up)

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 8/6

Biggest Challenge: The Wildcats made it all the way to the state title game with a team that was loaded with talented juniors. That group is back and should be a favorite in the conference and Class 6 once again. Bringing back that much experienced talent can be a blessing and a curse. The experience is there but Blue Springs must guard against complacency.

Outlook: Blue Springs returns its starting quarterback, running backs and most of its offensive line. That side of the ball should dominant and maybe even more dynamic with the addition of some key wide receivers. Defensively the secondary should be improved but the Wildcats will need to replace some key linebackers. This could be a championship season for Blue Springs but it must stay healthy and not find itself in a playoff game with seven starters on the sidelines out with injuries.

Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve got a good group. It’s an experienced group. We’ve had years like this where we bring about a lot of good experience so we should be a really good football team but you know there are a lot of really good football teams out there so you are always on edge. We just hope our seniors do a good job leading us.”

2017 Schedule:
8/18@ Lees Summit
8/25 @ Lees Summit West
9/1 Fayetteville, Ark.
9/8 @ Park Hill
9/15 Shawnee Mission West
9/22 Rockhurst
9/29 @ Lees Summit North
10/6 Blue Springs South
10/13 @ Raymore-Peculiar

Blue Springs South

Head Coach: Jon Oyler, 2nd season

2016 record (overall/conference): 4-6/2-4

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/8

Biggest Challenge: There is a new offense for South after longtime offensive coordinator Kelly Groom retired after the season. Oyler stayed in house and brought back a former Jaguars assistant Ryan Geddings to the staff. Any time there is a change like that there is a learning curve and that will be a test for the Jaguars early in the season.

Outlook: The Jaguars have always hung their hats on defense and this year won’t be any different. With eight starters returning that unit will be one of the better squads in the Metro. The offense also has a lot of starters back as well so this could be a bounce back season for the Jaguars.

Coach’s thoughts: “This summer has been a blast. It has been one of the best summers as long as I’ve coached with the enthusiasm the coaches and players have had with everything we are doing right now. I feel really good about where we are at…and hopefully that translates on Friday nights.”

2017 Schedule:
8/18 Lee’s Summit West
8/25 @ Rockhurst
9/1 @ Lee’s Summit North
9/8 Staley
9/15 Olathe North
9/22 @ Raymore-Peculiar
9/29 Lee’s Summit
10/6 @ Blue Springs
10/13 Park Hill

Lee’s Summit

Head Coach: Eric Thomas, 8th season

2016 record (overall/conference): 7-3/4-2

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/2

Biggest Challenge: With only two returning starters on the defensive side a lot of learning has been happening in the offseason. The Tigers will have almost a whole new group on defense after losing not just starters but experienced starters who had been in their role for two or three years. That unit will be tested early with games against Blue Springs and Park Hill but if it can grow up fast it could be a big plus for the Tigers.

Outlook: Lee’s Summit lost its quarterback Dalton Hill but they return a talented offensive line along with several good skill players. They will need that offensive line to be an anchor for the offense that will need to stay on the field to help the inexperienced defensive unit.

Coach’s thoughts: “Really what matters is down the stretch. How good of a football team can we be in week seven, eight, nine, 10 and going into the playoffs and those types of things. We started off last year and lost one over at Blue Springs and then ran off seven in a row and then lost our last two. In the long run those seven don’t matter. We would rather win those two at the end…we need to make sure we are consistently getting better week in and week out.”

2017 Schedule:
8/1 Blue Springs
8/25@ Park Hill
9/1 @ Fort Osage
9/8 Columbia Rock Bridge
9/15 Olathe South
9/22 Lee’s Summit North
9/29 @ Blue Springs South
10/6 Raymore-Peculiar
10/13 @ Lee’s Summit West

Lee’s Summit North

Head Coach: Jamar Mozee, 3rd Season

2016 record (overall/conference):  2-8/0-6

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/6

Biggest Challenge: Last year the Broncos had some good upperclassmen but a lot of sophomores saw time all year long. That group had to grow up fast and took some lumps along the way. Now a year older this big junior class will be looked upon to lead this team as it tries to regain its footing in the Suburban Gold.

Outlook: When Mozee took over this program in 2015 he had small groups in the three upper classes but a very large and talented group of freshmen. Those freshmen are now juniors and will fill a lot of the starting positions. This team is one that should only get better and if it doesn’t break through in a big way this season more wins should be on the horizon in 2018.

Coach’s thoughts: “This is a young group of guys. They are physical, they’re strong, they’re big and they are ready to play. That brings excitement to me and I think they are excited. Everybody kind of has a high expectation. That’s something that hasn’t been there in a while at Lee’s Summit North. There is an expectation there that we play well so that makes it fun.”

2017 Schedule:
8/18 @ Park Hill
8/25 Raymore-Peculiar
9/1 Blue Springs South
9/8 @ Lee’s Summit West
9/15 Olathe Northwest
9/22 @ Lee’s Summit
9/29 Blue Springs
10/6 Park Hill South
10/13 @ Liberty

Lee’s Summit West

Head Coach: Vinny Careswell, 2nd Season

2016 record (overall/conference): 9-3/4-2

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 3/4

Biggest Challenge: The Titans don’t have many players back from a team that was one of the best in the Metro last year. West will need to replace a lot of players on both sides of the ball so how fast those players take the next step will determine how far the Titans will go.

Outlook: West may not have many players back but the ones they do are pretty special. Mario Goodrich is not only one of the best players in the Metro he might be the best player in the state of Missouri. He will see more time on offense and special teams and the more he is able to touch the ball or draw the attention of opposing teams could have a huge impact on West’s success. Another factor is who will be the starting quarterback. Last season Cole Taylor was the starter but he is gone. There are two juniors and a sophomore battling right now and Careswell said he likes the depth at that position.

Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve got a young group and we’ve got a battle for quarterback. It’s a good challenge to have because we’ve got three good ones. We are still working our way through on who is going to start because all three are quality quarterbacks.

2017 Schedule:
8/18 @ Blue Springs South
8/25 Blue Springs

9/1 @ Raymore-Peculiar

9/8 Lee’s Summit North
9/15 @ Lawrence
9/22 @ Park Hill
9/29 @ Fort Osage
10/6 Columbia Hickman
10/13 Lee’s Summit

Park Hill

Head Coach: Josh Hood, 5th season

2016 record (overall/conference): 6-5/3-3

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 9/5

Biggest Challenge: Park Hill was close to making a big splash in its first year in Class 6. The Trojans lost two overtime games to Lee’s Summit West and Rockhurst and lost another in the final seconds to Lee’s Summit. This year the Trojans have to find a way to finish those games if they want to move into the upper level of Class 6 teams in the Metro.

Outlook: Park Hill returns nine starters on offense including quarterback Billy Maples who is starting for the third straight year. That side of the ball should be ready to roll on opening night. The defense lost Chester Graves and Seven Wilson but it could be a standout unit again. If the defense can find its feet and become one of the better defensive units in the Metro the sky could be the limit for Park Hill.

Coach’s thoughts: “A lot of people see our offense and we’ve been blessed with a number of weapons there offensively that we think will do some great things for us this football season. But the defense really has stepped up and they’ve filled some slots and filled some roles and it has really been impressive this summer.”

2017 Schedule:
8/18 Lee’s Summit North
8/25 Lee’s Summit
9/1 @ Park Hill South
9/8 Blue Springs
9/15 @ Lawrence Free State
9/22 Lee’s Summit West
9/29 @ Raymore-Peculiar
10/6 Liberty North
10/13 @ Blue Springs South

Raymore-Peculiar

Head Coach: Tom Kruse, 18th season

2016 record (overall/conference): 6-5/3-3

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/3

Biggest Challenge: With only three starters returning on defense there are plenty of starting positions that are being decided. A lot of those holes will be filled by a big junior class that will be asked to play big minutes for the first time.

Outlook: Ray-Pec has a good offense led by a massive offensive line. The Panthers might be the biggest team on the line in the Metro and that group up front will be asked to plow the road for a talented skill group led by Noah Durham who moves from tailback to quarterback where he played in freshman and middle school. In a conference that is loaded Ray-Pec again looks to be a team that could rise to the top of the heap.

Coach’s thoughts: “We're big. We are a big offensive line. We've got good size and I think they have a pretty good grasp of what we are trying to do offensively. For the most part our work ethic in the offseason and in the summer is as good as we've had around here. I'm excited about what we have coming back."

2017 Schedule:
8/18 Belton
8/25 @ Lee’s Summit North
9/1 Lee’s Summit West
9/8 @ Rockhurst
9/15 @ St. Joseph Central
9/22 Blue Springs South
9/29 Park Hill
10/6 @ Lee’s Summit
10/13 Blue Springs