RE/MAX Big 3 Games of the Week

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: November 15, 2010 - 11:58 PM

Fort Zumwalt West at Rockhurst

7 p.m. Friday at Vincent P. Dasta Stadium

It was another week and another victory for the Rockhurst. The No. 1 team in the state has done one thing consistently all season long and that is win. No matter what the situation the Hawklets have found a way to get the victory and keep their record perfect and their season alive.

Rockhurst is back in the state semifinals for the first time since they won the Class 6 crown in 2007. Standing in their way of yet another trip to the title game is Fort Zumwalt West. The Jaguars are 10-2 and earned their trip with a wild 34-26 win over Francis Howell in the quarterfinals.

This week the conditions look to be better than the driving rain storm that Rockhurst encountered with its 7-0 win over Blue Springs. That weather limited the passing game which played into the Hawklets favor. Rockhurst played solid defense all night limiting what the Wildcats Darrian Miller was able to do. Miller got yards but wasn’t able to break any big runs.

Fort Zumwalt West enters the Class 6 semifinals for the first time after being a consistent playoff team the last few years. To get to the semis the Jaguars had to hold off a Francis Howell squad that erased a 28-14 lead in the final quarter. West then needed a 30-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 20 seconds left to get the win.

While Blue Springs and Rockhurst played a very clean tough game in adverse conditions, Francis Howell and Fort Zumwalt West played a sloppy game in good conditions. The two teams combined for more than 300 yards in penalties in an exciting but now well played game. If the Jaguars come out and draw a lot of flags it could be a long night followed by a long ride back to St. Louis.

The Hawklets must simply keep doing what they have been doing. Rockhurst just needs to run the ball, play tough defense and limit mistakes. On a night when everything was soaking wet Rockhurst and Blue Springs only turned the ball over once each and played one of the cleaner games of the season. Fort Zumwalt West will need that type of game if it wants to keep its season going.

Webb City at Harrisonville

1:30 p.m. Saturday at Harrisonville Stadium

About 14 years ago when Harrisonville spent a few years up in Class 4 these two teams found themselves in the same district. Both years the Wildcats moved through the regular season without a loss only to run into the Cardinals in the season’s final week. It didn’t end well for Harrisonville as the Cardinals won both games and went on to win a state title one year and make it to the semis the other.

This year has a similar feel but the teams are meeting in the semifinals. The Cardinals enter with a perfect 13-0 record fresh off of an impressive 42-7 win over Union in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats have only one loss on the year and stand at 12-1 and are riding a 12-game winning streak.

This isn’t the game many people thought they would see. Even though the teams have just one loss between them a Webb City-Kearney matchup is what most were pointing two. Kearney was the undefeated defending state champ and Webb City had won the title in 2008. Harrisonville spoiled that party with a 14-10 win in the quarterfinals.

Webb City has been dominant all season but the Cardinals will have to make the trip to Harrisonville. The Wildcats early season loss to Jefferson City Helias is a distant memory and those losses to Webb City are almost a generation ago so these players shouldn’t carry any excess baggage into the game. The big questions is if Harrisonville has any emotion left after winning at Kearney in dramatic fashion.

Lee’s Summit West at Staley

7 p.m. Friday at Staley Stadium

It seems as if these two teams have been pointing to this game all season. The Titans opened the season as one of the top teams in the Metro in Missouri Class 5 and have done nothing to change that thinking.

The Falcons moved up from Class 4 this year and some didn’t know what to think. A week No. 2 upset win at Blue Springs proved Staley was ready for bigger class competition.

Each of these teams have had a blemish or two on their resume, but they have rebounded and seem to be playing their best football of the season. Staley fell short at Kearney in week No. 4 and lost a close game to Park Hill to open district play. The Falcons rebounded with three straight shutouts and two impressive wins to the semifinals. Along the way Staley beat Park Hill and Park Hill South holding both teams to a total of nine points.

The Titans defense has been very impressive as well. West gave up 13 points to Springfield Parkview and then followed that up with a 31-0 win over 10-0 Lebanon. The Titans gave up a few more points to cross-town rival Lee’s Summit in the 42-39 quarterfinal win but the Tigers have scored points on everyone. West got the win in comeback fashion to punch its ticket to the semifinals.

The West offense, while not dynamic as say Lee’s Summit, can still put points on the board. The Titans have a good run-pass balance and have scored on almost everyone with the exception of Blue Springs South in a 41-17 week No. 4 loss. Since that time West has scored at least 30 points in every game and has scored more than 40 points in five of the nine games.

The Staley offense has been good, but is averaging less than 20 a game in the playoffs. The Falcons can run the ball but have struggled to throw it at times. How Staley is able to move the ball could be the difference in the game.

Olathe East at Olathe North

7 p.m. Friday at the Olathe D.A.C.

It is not shocking the Class 6A bracket finds Olathe North and Olathe East hooking up in the semifinals. These two teams have been the most consistent all season and have almost been on a collision course since East stunned North 25-0 in week No. 3.

Both teams come off of solid performances in the quarterfinals. North earned a 17-0 win over Olathe South and East outlasted an upstart Shawnee Mission Northwest 14-7. While those scores may seem pedestrian both games were played Friday night in a driving rain storm that limited scoring at almost every game in the Metro.

It’s easy to look back at the first game to find clues to what each team would like to accomplish and avoid in order to earn a trip to the 6A state title game.  The Hawks dominated both sides of the offensive line as Brandon Willingham had a break out game. The East senior finished with 188 yards and three touchdowns to lead a potent Hawks attack.

The usually potent Eagles attack was held in check as Adonis Saunders managed just 45 yards on 14 carries. North quarterback Victor Simmons had a good game on the ground with 99 yards, but the East defense shut down any attempts to pass the ball.

That game was the low point for North. It was only the second time since 1981 the Eagles had been shutout and ended their 15-game winning streak dating back to the beginning of the 2009 season. The defending champs looked vulnerable for the first time in almost two years. From that point on North had a couple of close calls, but it has taken care of its business leading up to this game.

The Hawks had their bad game just a few weeks after beating the Eagles. East went to Lawrence and came up on the short end of a 27-21 score. The Hawks have had a couple of scares along the way including a 16-0 deficit in the second half of their opening round playoff game against Lawrence Free State. East would rally for a 20-16 win and now face a familiar foe in the semifinals.

While it would be easy to say try to break down which scheme is better or what play will be key, this game is pretty basic. These teams are similar in their ground-based attacks so who wins the line of scrimmage and limits turnovers will be the one who extends its season.

Louisburg at Paola

7 p.m. Friday at Paola Stadium

The eastern half of the Class 4A bracket has been more of a Frontier league postseason tournament this season and the semifinal game features two teams that are located just a few miles apart.

Louisburg has been the class of the Frontier and one of the best teams in the state all season. The Wildcats are a perfect 12-0 and are looking like a team that could be raising a state championship trophy in the season’s final week.

The Panthers got off to a slow start with losses to Baldwin and DeSoto in the first two weeks of the season. Paola ripped off six straight wins before running into Louisburg in the final week of the season. The Panthers avenged the loss to Baldwin with a 21-6 win Friday in the quarterfinals.

This game will pit two of the better rushing attacks against two of the better defenses in Class 4A. The Panthers have been playing stellar defense since week No. 2. With the exception of the 21-3 loss to the Wildcats, Paola hasn’t allowed more than 15 points and has earned three shutouts including a 28-0 blanking of Independence in the second round of the playoffs.

Louisburg’s defense has been just as impressive. The Wildcats have held opponents to seven points or less nine times this year including a 21-0 win over DeSoto in the quarterfinals. While the Louisburg offense has been dynamic at times this year scoring more than 30 points eight times, it has been the play of the defense that has been the difference maker.

It would be easy to look at the first game and predict a Louisburg victory but Paola has already proven with its win over Baldwin it is hard to beat a team twice in the same season.

Gardner-Edgerton at Blue Valley

7 p.m. Friday at the Blue Valley D.A.C.

It didn’t take long for Blue Valley and Gardner-Edgerton to hook up. The Tigers and Trailblazers played in the season’s final week with Gardner-Edgerton earning a 42-21 win. That loss sent Blue Valley to the other side of the bracket and meant that it would be the semifinals before it would see Gardner-Edgerton again.

The first time these teams played the question was whether the Tigers defense could hold down the Trailblazers. The first five possessions saw each team score a touchdown and Gardner-Edgerton would lead 28-21. From there the Trailblazers added two more scores for the eventual 42-21 margin.

Since that game both teams have moved through the playoffs with impressive wins. Gardner-Edgerton won its two games by a combined 124-0 score. The Tigers won a tight 35-34 game over a talented Bishop Miege team and then pounded Topeka Seaman 45-14. The 10-1 Tigers have been the second best Kansas 5A team in the Metro all season and now they have the chance to prove it with an upset over Gardner-Edgerton.

The Trailblazers come in playing their best football of the season. After some questions about its defense Gardner-Edgerton has tossed two shutouts over Bonner Springs and Shawnee Heights. Those big wins are impressive, but the level of competition is probably not the same as what they will face Friday night. Any thoughts of looking forward will only lead the Trailblazers to possibly come up short in the semifinals.