As the week’s move on and we get deeper and deeper into the playoffs, here are some games that have caught my eye this weekend.
Ray-Pec at Liberty North
I’ve thought this was a potential matchup for several weeks now. Ever since I saw Ray-Pec beat Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit North over a three-week span back in October, I thought they were the best Class 6 team I had seen this season.
Admittedly, this is without having seen the Eagles play, a team that is a perfect 11-0 this season.
The Panthers have one of the more dynamic 1-2 duos in the city between Luke Grimm and Gabe Shanklin, but they will face their stiffest test this season Friday night. The Liberty North defense has been one of its calling cards all season, as they have allowed 21 points only two times this season. Every other game they’ve allowed 14 or fewer.
In 11 games this season, only two teams have stayed within one possession of the Eagles. I think Ray-Pec makes it three Friday night in what will be a relatively low-scoring game, that could turn out to be one of the best games of the season.
Center at Odessa
The Yellowjackets are the latest team that will try and slow down the Odessa offense. It won’t be easy.
The Bulldogs have put together one of the most dominant seasons so far through 11 games. Over their 11 wins, they are winning by an average of almost 51 points per game. Yes, you read that right, 51. They’ve outscored their opponents 636-77. Harrisonville played them closer than anyone, and Odessa still won that game 49-20. The numbers are staggering.
What makes the Bulldogs so effective is their balanced offensive attack. Quarterback Josey Meierarend is very accurate, connecting on almost 70 percent of his passes this season, to go along with an insane 28 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Add in first-year starting running back Luke Malizzi and his 125 yards per game and it’s not easy as a defense to have to pick your poison.
That will be the challenge for the Yellowjackets. Can you take away one and make the Bulldogs more reliant in one area? It won’t be easy, but a 10-1 Center team might have what it takes.
Raytown at Fort Osage
The Bluejays exercised some playoff demons last week with a 26-7 win over William Chrisman. After rolling to an 8-1 regular season last year, Raytown lost in lopsided fashion in the first round of the playoffs to Belton, 35-7.
All due respect to Belton, I remembered being stunned by that score. I had just seen the Bluejays a couple of weeks before that win at North Kansas City to win a conference championship. They avoided a similar fate this year, but their reward is a tough game at Fort Osage.
Much like last year, the Indians appear to be playing their best football at the right time. They started 3-4 last year and found themselves playing for a state title by season’s end. If I’ve learned one thing over the years covering high school football, it’s that you never count out Fort Osage.
They started this season 2-4 but have now rolled off four straight wins – including one against Raytown on Oct. 11, 32-28. The Bluejays have some incredibly electric players in Joe Campbell, Dontae Manning and D’Vontae Key. And I can see the game plan now from Brock Bult’s Indians, doing everything they can to sustain long drives on offense to keep those players on the sideline.
I fully expect another tight one between these two teams on Friday night.
That’s what is great about this time of year. At this point, most teams are so evenly matched it could be a strategic plan by a coaching staff or a single player that has a career night that tips the scales in the direction of one team. It’s high school football at its best.