The Suburban Red saw several teams show improvement last season and this year could see more of the same. Park Hill South and North Kansas City return a lot of starters from good teams and Oak Park Lee’s Summit and St. Joseph Central could take big steps forward as well.
Staley has new leadership as Steve Rampy comes over from the Kansas side bringing multiple state championships from his time at Blue Valley and even more success in his recent stay at Lawrence.
Let’s take a look at each of the teams in the Suburban Red Conference.
Head Coach: Eric Thomas, 12th season
2020 record (overall/conference): 2-8/2-3
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 4/3
Biggest Challenge: There will be a big group of new starters on both sides of the ball this year for Lee’s Summit. While they are new the coaching staff likes the talent and the way the team plays together. The Tigers have had success at the sub-varsity level the last few years and this group is ready to take the next step. How this group performs under the lights on Friday instead of the Monday afternoon sun will have a lot to do Lee’s Summit success in 2021.
Outlook: The Tigers could be better but it’s a tough hill to climb in the Suburban Red and Missouri Class 5. If Lee’s Summit’s new faces can continue to perform at the same level as they did as underclassmen the Tigers will be a team to watch as the season goes on.
Coach’s thoughts: “This is one of the closest groups we’ve had in a long time. They pull for each other. They care about each other. They work for each other…When you come in the building and you are dealing with kids that want to be there are excited to be there, that want to go to work it makes my job easy.”
8/27 Oak Park
9/3 Lee’s Summit North
9/10 @ Lee’s Summit West
9/17 @ Blue Valley
9/24 Park Hill
10/1 North Kansas City
10/8 @ St. Joseph Central
10/15 @ Park Hill South
North Kansas City
Head Coach: Leon Douglas, 11th season
2020 record (overall/conference): 5-5/3-2
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/8
Biggest Challenge: North Kansas City returns a talented experienced group so learning new positions or replacing a lot of starters isn’t an issue. This summer the Hornets have focused being consistent and continuing to work within the covid protocols and make sure they are ready for what could be a big season.
Outlook: This could be a huge year for North Kansas City. The Hornets return talent on both sides of the ball and feature one of the most talented defenses in the Metro led by all-everything Domonique Orange. While Orange grabs the headlines there are plenty of other talented players as well. Look for North Kansas City to be among the best teams in the Metro all season long.
Coach’s thoughts: “We have a veteran group that has really been a big part of what we’ve done the last few years. Some of these guys have played significantly from their freshman year and sophomore year. Pretty veteran as well as an influx of young talent. We play a great schedule with some of contenders at our Class 5 as well as some guys that are going do some things at Class 6 so we are definitely excited about what we have coming back.”
9/3 @ St. Joseph Central
9/10 Fort Osage
9/17 Platte County
9/24 @ Staley
10/1 @ Lee’s Summit North
10/8 Park Hill South
10/15 Oak Park
10/22 @ Liberty
Head Coach: Ken Clemens, 5th season
2020 record (overall/conference): 3-6/1-4
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 8/5
Biggest Challenge: The Northmen have shown improvement the last few years and this year bring back an experienced offense that should continue that improvement. The biggest challenge for Oak Park this offseason was getting back in the groove of a traditional summer program. The Northmen are hoping the normal preparation will help them start fast and continue getting better.
Outlook: Oak Park has worked to build a new identity under Ken Clemens the last four seasons. This year’s seniors will be the second group to have this staff all four years. That familiarity should help as Oak Park takes steps to becoming a winning program for the first time in more than a decade. Another factor that should help is Oak Park will get to play all of its home games on its campus for the first time in school history as the Northmen open a new stadium the second week of the season.
Coach’s thoughts: “I like their willingness to change in their competitive nature, change for their love for one another, their openness to hearing those kind of words and be willing to work on improving in all of those areas.”
8/27 @ Lee’s Summit
9/3 Grain Valley
9/10 @ Truman
9/24 @ Park Hill South
10/1 St. Joseph Central
10/15 @ North Kansas City
Park Hill South
Head Coach: Alan Wilmes, 3rd Season
2020 record (overall/conference): 7-3/5-0
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/6
Biggest Challenge: Park Hill South is coming off a breakout season in 2020 and could be even better this year. The Panthers return a good group but also have another good problem to have. The numbers are up in the program so finding places and opportunities for all the players has been a challenge during the offseason.
Outlook: The Panthers have talent depth and lots of momentum coming into the new year. Last year Park Hill South may have surprised some people but that won’t happen this year. If the natural progression happens for the Panthers this could be a special season that could go deep into the playoffs.
Coach’s thoughts: “We’ve just got a lot of kids that are hungry to win. They’ve worked really hard all season and offseason. We’ve had a great summer…These guys just have goals in mind and they really work well together. We are building some good team chemistry. We are just excited to watch these guys go out and compete and to show us what all they can do. We’ve got a great group.”
8/27 Platte County
9/10 @ Grain Valley
9/17 @ William Chrisman
9/24 Oak Park
10/8 @ North Kansas City
10/15 Lee’s Summit
10/21 @ St. Joseph Central
St. Joseph Central
Head Coach: Regi Trotter, 4th season
2020 record (overall/conference): 1-8/0-5
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 7/6
Biggest Challenge: When Regi Trotter was hired he was the fourth head coach in four years for the Indians. Now Trotter is in his fourth year and that part of the equation has improved. The consistency of effort is there now that needs to translate to the field during games and if that happens the Indians are primed for good things.
Outlook: Central has good experience after being young for several years. This year’s team will look to break through and take a big step forward and move toward the school’s first winning season since 2014. It may not be an easy climb but this is the most experienced group in years and this may be the one that gets that breakthrough.
Coach’s thoughts: “Our guys from the Monday after the Thanksgiving break our guys have really been putting it on in the weight room and taking care of business. We had almost 30 guys playing basketball and I love that. That makes our team more athletic. That let’s our kids know that they can go out and compete in other things…From a numbers stand point we continue to grow and got stronger.”
8/27 @ Ruskin
9/3 North Kansas City
9/10 @ Belton
9/17 Blue Valley Northwest
9/24 St. Joseph Lafayette
10/1 @ Oak Park
10/8 Lee’s Summit
10/15 @ Staley
10/21 Park Hill South
Head Coach: Steve Rampy, 1st season
2020 record (overall/conference): 7-5/4-1
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 3/7
Biggest Challenge: Legendary coach Steve Rampy has come to Staley taking over for Phil Lite who retired. Staley is one of the top programs in the Metro and Rampy is excited to be a part of the tradition. Lite and former Head Coach Fred Bouchard led the program for the first 13 years so this is the first outside leader for the Falcons. The summer has been good but the usual getting to know each period has been a part of what Staley and Rampy have been doing during this time.
Outlook: The Falcons will have a new look on offense with eight new starters and switching to Rampy’s scheme. That side should grow as the season goes on. Staley will probably lean on its defense that has seven starters back and has had a tradition as being one of the best defenses in the city.
Coach’s thoughts: “We have great kids. They have a great attitude about work every day. They are blue collar kids who just put their helmets on and go to work. They’ve been very excited all summer long. We’ve had a great nucleus of kids show up all summer and when practice started last week that’s continued…It’s an exciting time to be here and I’m glad to be here.”
8/27 Columbia Rock Bridge
9/3 @ Fort Osage
9/10 Blue Springs
9/17 @ Liberty North
9/24 North Kansas City
10/1 @ Park Hill South
10/8 @ Oak Park
10/15 St. Joseph Central
10/22 @ Lee’s Summit