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View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 9/5Photo Credit: Dion Clisso

So, we’ve played two weeks on the Missouri side and one week on the Kansas side and what have we learned?

Well, some traditional powers have struggled while others that had a few down years are rounding back into form. We saw some losing streaks end a few winning streaks continue.

Let’s start in Missouri. The best two wins to start the season belong to Kearney. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 21-14 overtime win against rival Platte County. That was the first time Kearney had beaten the Pirates since 2018 and then the Bulldogs backed it up with a big 39-17 road win at Fort Osage.

I don’t know if this team is state championship caliber team, but Kearney had definitely gotten two huge wins to start the season. The Bulldogs open their home schedule Friday hosting Smithville. The Warriors are riding a 16-game winning streak dating back to the start of the 2021 season and are the defending state champs.

Some other impressive 2-0 starts have been turned in by Liberty North, Pleasant Hill, Center, St. Pius X, Lafayette County and Richmond. Keep an eye on those teams.

In the first two weeks we saw three teams that didn’t win a game in 2021 grab victories. Blue Springs South, Raytown South and North Platte ended double digit losing streaks that went well into the 2020 season. Congrats to those teams.

On the Kansas side the first week went pretty much to form. No huge upsets and teams that were expected to be strong this season delivered victories in Week 1. Mill Valley, Blue Valley Northwest, Olathe North, Olathe West, Bishop Miege and St. Thomas Aquinas all have started 1-0 and did it in impressive fashion.

So, what does it all mean. Well even with 34 coaching changes across the PrepsKC coverage area you’ve seen improvement in some teams while others have taken a step back.

This season has a long way to go but there are several story lines I’m keeping an eye on.

First will Raymore-Peculiar or Rockhurst challenge Liberty North and Lee’s Summit North when we get to district play? The two Norths have looked pretty good, but Ray-Pec has maybe the most dynamic offense in the Metro. The Panthers scored 33 points in a win over Rockhurst and 57 last week against Park Hill. Unfortunately, Ray-Pec gave up 26 to the Hawklets and 50 to the Trojans in one of the craziest games of the last few years.

For Rockhurst this is a team loaded with junior and sophomore talent. Will that group mature enough to make a deep run this year or are they a year away. We will find out more this week as the Hawklets travel to Liberty North.

The second storyline I’m keeping an eye on in Missouri is the race in Class 4. Smithville is the defending state champs and haven’t lost a game since 2020. That being said the Warriors haven’t been dominant in their first two wins so maybe they have come back to the pack a little. Can Kearney or a team like Center take steps forward and challenge Smithville. The Bulldogs look like a new team this year and Center has as much talent as anyone. It will be a fun season watching that race unfold.

On the Kansas side the first question is can anyone take out the usual suspects in each class. Blue Valley Northwest lost a lot of starters but looked good in beating defending Class 4A champ St. James 35-21. Mill Valley has won three straight 5A titles and it looks like it could be another championship season. In 4A Bishop Miege and St. James have won the last eight 4A titles and now St. Thomas Aquinas joins them.

The other thing to watch is the how the conference realignment affects the Frontier, United Kansas Conference and the Meadowlark League. Piper moved from the Frontier to the UKC and joined with Topeka Seaman and Topeka West. The former Kansas City Atchison League added Topeka Highland Park and changed its name to the Meadowlark League named after the state bird of Kansas.

We’ve already seen benefits for some of the new members. Highland Park defeated Wyandotte in week 1 ending a 65-game losing streak. These new alignments look to bring more like teams together and that should help all get better.

We’ve got a long way to go but it should be a fun ride.