The season is in the rearview mirror, and boy, what a season it was.
First, I would like to congratulate the programs that won state championships this year. Mill Valley, Blue Valley Northwest, St. James, Smithville and East Buchanan each won state championships and each school did it in impressive fashion.
I’ll be the first to say it, Mill Valley is officially a dynasty.
Some of you may think it already was, but it is officially a dynasty and they show signs of slowing down. What Joel Applebee did this season, in what was supposed to be a down year, was downright impressive. The Jaguars finished the season with a 13-1 record, the only blemish? A 41-20 loss against Lawrence Free State on Oct. 1.
But it was what the Jaguars did in the state championship game against Mazie. The defense held one of the nation's top recruits in Avery Johnson to 14 points.
Now that Mill Valley has run its streak, it will seek to run it to a four-peat next fall. And it should be an easier path to the top of Class 5. Why? St. Thomas Aquinas will be making the move to Class 6 in Kansas next fall.
Blue Valley Northwest was really the most impressive I got to see play this season. The Huskies were balanced all season and took perennial Class 6 power, Derby, to the woodshed en route to the Class 6 state championship.
The Huskies were led by dual threat quarterback Mikey Pauley and junior running back Grant Stubblefield. Pauley completed 132 passes for 1,945 yards and 23 touchdowns, but more impressively, he carried the ball 185 times for 1,214 years and 22 touchdowns. Stubblefield carried the ball a team-high 250 times for 1,584 yards, scoring 24 times.
Northwest will have to replace the production of Pauley next season, but if I’ve learned anything, the Huskies will show up next season ready to compete and tries to defend their championship, it’ll be harder, but they will continue to lean on their rushing attack led by Stubblefield, who could easily be the metro’s best running back next fall.
If you want to talk about a turnaround, look no further than what St. James did this season. The Thunder started the season 0-4. Yes, you read that correctly.
They were struggling. They were blown out by an average of 38.7 to 9 to start the season. Then came a matchup against St. Pius X on Oct. 1. The Thunder jumped on the Warriors early and never looked back, that single win jump started the Thunder, who would rattle off nine straight wins to end the season, including an impressive win over Andover Central.
Now to the Missouri side.
Smithville was probably the most complete team in the state of Missouri. They were dominant and showed it in the Class 4 title game. The Warriors finished the season undefeated and picked up their first ever championship against Hannibal, with 31-0 win.
The Warriors — if given the chance — could’ve won the Class 5 title as well. And here’s the funny thing, they’ll be back in the same exact spot next year, too. I suspect you’ll see the Warriors make another deep run in the playoffs next year and possibly win back-to-back championships.