Crossroads preview

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 13, 2017 - 6:40 PM



The Crossroads Conference is an interesting mix of public and private schools spread out over three classes with schools located in the city and south of the Metro.

With that much diversity there has been a few different champions over the last few years. Last season Summit Christian won the league for the second straight year stopping a two-year run by Van Horn. Butler has also won the league in the last five years and this year it could be the newest school University Academy who takes the crown.

Summit Christian has been the strongest but now the Eagles are replacing key starters from last year’s 11-2 squad. Butler lost good players as well but they bring back a balanced and deep team. University Academy has experience and is playing with a lot of pride after finally getting their own home stadium late last year.

Van Horn is young but improving and Sherwood brings back a lot of players from a team that failed to win a game last season. Needless to say it could be anybody’s title to win this season.

Here is a quick look at the teams in the Crossroads Conference.

Butler

Head Coach: Kirk Hannah, 9th season

2016 record (overall/conference): 9-3/3-1

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 3/6

Biggest Challenge: Coming off a very successful 2016 Butler enters the season lacking the starting experience from a year ago. Taking the lead this year will be a big group of juniors and seniors that are all of similar talent levels. This summer that sameness of talent has made putting together a starting group and fitting players in the right spot a bit of a challenge.

Outlook: While the standout college level talent from last year is gone, this year’s group is deep and versatile. The Bears might not have the game breakers but they do have plenty of players that will allow for lots of depth. That depth could be a huge factor down the stretch in conference play and when districts roll around.

Coach’s thoughts: “I been excited about our depth and our work ethic the first few days and the way that this older group of kids has come in the first few days and taken over and making it their own so far. I think these guys might have a little bit of so-called chip on their shoulder. Last year’s team came in with a lot of expectations. People expected a lot out of us because we were experienced, we were pretty good athletically and we had a lot of good things going to start the season. I think this year’s group thinks that people don’t give us much of a chance…I think they’ve come in with the mindset of we are going to show people that we are pretty good.”

2017 Schedule:
8/18 @ Adrian
8/25 Sherwood
9/1 @ Knob Noster
9/8 Van Horn
9/15 @ Ash Grove
9/22 Cass-Midway
9/29 @ Stockton
10/6 Summit Christian Academy
10/13 University Academy

Sherwood

Head Coach: Andrew Collins, 1st season

2016 record (overall/conference): 0-10/0-4

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/7

Biggest Challenge: A new coach takes over but he is familiar with the program after spending the last year as an assistant. While the players are familiar with the head coach there are some big changes taking place. The Marksmen are running a whole new offense and defense so adjustments are being made all over the field.

Outlook: Sherwood brings back good numbers and the enthusiasm is high even coming off a winless season. There has been good participation in the offseason and this young group is looking to take some big steps forward. The Marksmen could be the Crossroads team that sees the most improvement from 2016 to 2017.

Coach’s thoughts: “I’m just really excited that have some really good seniors with a nice blend of younger guys and they can learn from those seniors. It’s going to be a really fun group to coach. They are just excited about football so that’s what I love.”

2017 Schedule:
8/18 @ Marionville
8/25 @ Butler
9/1 Van Horn
9/8 @ Summit Christian Academy
9/16 Cole Camp
9/23 @ University Academy
9/29 Drexel
10/6 Adrian
10/13 @ Cass-Midway

Summit Christian Academy

Head Coach: Todd Berck, 1st season

2016 record (overall/conference): 11-2/4-0

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 5/4

Biggest Challenge: Todd Berck takes over for Dalton Vann becoming only the second head coach in school history. The offense will remain the same but there are changes on defense. Much of the work in the offseason has been spent finding the right spots for players after losing a very talented senior class.

Outlook: In a short time Summit Christian has established itself as one of the best in the Crossroads Conference and one of the better Missouri Class 2 teams in the Metro. With a new coach taking over there might be some growing pains but the Eagles should still be in the conversation as a possible Crossroads Champ

Coach’s thoughts: “I think this season our squad is very hungry to show it is there turn to be successful. We did lose a lot of seniors to graduation and they definitely set the stage and set the foundation for these younger players on what it takes to win and they got to see that. We have some experience back on the offensive line which is exciting because you know as a coach you always know that is where it starts is up front. To have those guys with experience being our team leaders back that is hopefully going to propel us with the opportunity to be successful this year.”

2017 Schedule:
8/18 Christ Prep Academy
8/26 @ University Academy
9/1 @ Lafayette County
9/8 Sherwood
9/15 @ Skyline
9/22 East
9/29 @ Van Horn
10/6 @ Butler
10/13 Lighthouse Christian Academy

University Academy

Head Coach: Ryan Heffley, 4th season

2016 record: 4-6/2-2

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/6

Biggest Challenge: The Gryphons are in the process of replacing a two-year starter at the quarterback position. How fast the new quarterback gets up to speed will have a big impact on the offense early in the season.

Outlook: University Academy looks like it could be poised for a run at the Crossroads Conference title. There is lots of experience back on both sides of the ball led by a veteran offensive line. There are some holes to fill most notably at quarterback and if that position solidifies the Gryphons could be in for a fun season.

Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve got a lot of good kids that have worked hard. We’ve got a lot of good kids coming back and our junior class and our senior class are real strong. I think we are in a good position this year to be a real solid team and hopefully have a chance to compete for our Crossroads Conference title this season.”

2017 schedule:
8/18 @ St. Michael
8/26 Summit Christian Academy
9/2 Lincoln College Prep
9/9 Christ Prep Academy
9/16 @ Kansas City Central
9/23 Sherwood
9/28 @ Pembroke Hill
10/7 Van Horn
10/13 @ Butler

Van Horn

Head Coach: William Harris, 2nd season

2016 record (overall/conference): 1-9/1-3

Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/6

Biggest Challenge: It’s the second year for coach Harris and his staff at Van Horn and the Falcons return a good number of starters on both sides of the ball. While there is experience back it is still a young group and there is a lot of learning still happening. That young group will be looked to for a lot of production so the time to perform is now.

Outlook: In what is a wide-open Crossroads Conference Van Horn is another team with good young players that have experience. The schedule outside of the league will test them so the Falcons will need to stay healthy if a conference title is to be a possibility.

Coach’s thoughts: “I like the fact that we’ve come together and learned how to play football and we are learning the expectations of a varsity football program. I really like our kids attitude. They show up to practice every day with a good attitude and they show up and do whatever we ask them to do. I really like our team as a whole.”

2017 Schedule:
8/19 @ Southeast
8/25 Warrensburg
9/1 @ Sherwood
9/8 @ Butler
9/15 Truman
9/22 Pembroke Hill
9/29 Summit Christian Academy
10/7 @ University Academy
10/14 @ Kansas City Central