The 2019 high school football season will be remembered for a lot of things on the Missouri side, and I don’t think it’s hyperbole to call the season the Odessa Bulldogs put together the top story from the Kansas City side of the state.
I admit to wondering just how good the Bulldogs were as they rolled through the early part of their schedule. I watched them in late September blow out Oak Grove 42-10, but I couldn’t get a great sense of just how good the Bulldogs were in that game.
It almost seemed like they were on cruise control a bit. And with all due respect to the teams on their schedule, it almost seemed like they might have been that way for most of the regular season.
Now, I know head coach Mark Thomas wouldn’t agree with that, and I say it more as a complement than anything. Odessa didn’t hardly break a sweat during the regular season. There was no doubt the offense was dynamic and incredibly balanced. Just how good was the defense? Did it even need to be that good?
What I wondered the most was, would the 2019 version of Odessa be the same as the 2018 version? That team tromped through the regular season and early part of the playoffs, too, rolling to a 12-0 start before Maryville overmatched them in a 29-6 playoff defeat.
Turns out, the answer was a resounding ‘no’. This version of the Bulldogs was better than the previous season. In fact, this version of the Bulldogs put together one of the most dominant seasons you will see.
The Bulldog offense failed to score 42-plus points only once all season, and that was in the state semifinal game against Kennett. The 31-14 win over Kennett was also the closest game the Bulldogs played all season.
They scored in the 50’s five times, in the 60’s two times, and in the 70’s – yes, 70’s – two times.
Meanwhile, the defense held their opponents to single digits in eight of their 15 wins.
My hat goes off to the Bulldogs, as they were clearly one of the best stories of 2019.
Another was the Raytown Bluejays. I got to cover the Bluejays a few times each of the last couple of years and always came away impressed, ready to see how far they would advance into the Class 5 playoffs. And each of the last two years they fell flat, losing their first game.
But not this year. Head coach Logan Minnick and an impressive group of seniors got Raytown over the hump this year with a pair of playoff win. While their run fell short against Staley, this might be the stepping stone of big things to come out of Raytown.
Late in the regular season I made the statement that I thought Ray-Pec was the best Class 6 team I had seen all season on the Kansas City side of the state. Rarely do I get things right, but that was one of them.
The Panthers were fun to watch, and after two tough losses in their first five games, they reeled off seven straight wins to reach the state quarterfinals. Unfortunately, they ran into eventual state champion DeSmet, but the Panthers sent longtime head coach Tom Kruse out with a memorable season.
Speaking off sending off a coach with a memorable moment, while Rockhurst didn’t send Tony Severino off into the sunset with a state championship, his final win of his career was one he probably won’t soon forget.
Despite covering that game, I’m still not entirely sure how the Hawklets pulled off the 17-14 comeback win over Lee’s Summit, but I wasn’t surprised they did. It was a very Rockhurst way to win a football game, with defense and some hard-nosed offense.
Severino built an incredible legacy over his many years coaching, and maybe one of the most defining things was that you always knew you were in for a fight against the Hawklets. And you almost always expected them to find a way to win those kind of games.