The 2021 Redemption Tour for Liberty North is nearly complete.
The 2020 season saw the Eagles come a game away from playing for a Class 6 state championship, losing to eventual champion Ray-Pec, 24-17.
The Eagles got some revenge on the Panthers earlier in the season with a big win, and other than a Week 1 loss to Bentonville, Ark., they have been on the winning side of the scoreboard each week since.
Despite that, they’ve maintained their focus. The season-long goal was never in doubt. Even after a huge win over Lee’s Summit North in early October, it was business as usual for head coach Greg Jones afterward. He stressed the team needing to take things “one game at a time” and that the team’s slogan was “humble and hungry”.
And now they have their shot at a state title, faced with the task of taking down top-ranked Christian Brothers College at Faurot Field Saturday afternoon.
Liberty North is one of the more balanced teams in the area, but it all starts with the rushing attack. The two-headed monster of Cayden Arzola and Micah Jo Barnett lead the way, and they’ll need to be effective Saturday to keep the explosive CBC offense off the field. Lee’s Summit North ran for 142 yards last week against CBC. The Broncos’ top two running backs averaged nearly 7 yards per carry, so the Eagles could have the ability to set up quarterback Sam Van Dyne and the passing game.
This game has a similar feel to last year when a team from Kansas City (Ray-Pec) shocked a nationally ranked team from across the state (DeSmet). MaxPreps has CBC ranked No. 85 in the country, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Eagles do exactly what the Panthers did a season ago. I except a close game.
There are some other great matchups for teams in the area this weekend. Having watched Fort Osage sneak by Staley and Platte County in consecutive weeks, I excepted another nail-biter last week against Grain Valley. Instead, the Indians dominated in a 35-0 win, and now face their biggest challenge of the season when they travel to face undefeated Holt Friday night.
Fort’s defense has only allowed 37 points in three playoffs games, but Holt is a different beast averaging 45 points per game. The Indian defense and its special teams have been huge during these playoffs and will need to be again to pull off the upset.
Class 4 might have the best matchup of the weekend other than Liberty North-CBC. Much like that game, the top two teams in the class will face off in Smithville and MICDS. The Warriors have been dominant in 2021, allowing just seven points per game. They’ve been ranked No. 1 all season, and much like Liberty North, they are looking to avenge a loss in the state semifinal game from a season ago.
St. Pius X is another great story, as they were in the Class 2 state title game last year and jumped up to Class 3 this season. It hasn’t mattered, as they face off against Cardinal Ritter with a chance to go to the state title game two years in a row in two different classes, which would be an impressive feat.
We have a chance for an all-Kansas City state championship game in Class 2, where Richmond faces top-ranked Lamar and Lafayette County will play Lutheran St. Charles. Both teams play Saturday afternoon. Also Saturday afternoon, East Buchanan will play Thayer in the Class 1 state semifinal.
I expect a handful of these area teams to advance to play for a state title next weekend. These last two weeks of football should be fun.