Shawnee Mission East at Olathe South
7 p.m. Thursday at O.D.A.C.
The Kansas season kicks off with a great Thursday night contest between defending conference champ Shawnee Mission East and a rejuvenated Olathe South.
East enters off another stellar campaign in 2016 looking to get back to the state championship game for the third time since 2013. The Lancers had some losses due to graduation but this is a good team looking to continue the tradition of excellence.
Olathe South finished the season with three straight wins before falling to Blue Valley in the second round of the Kansas 6A playoffs. A lot of that team is back and this could be a big step forward year for the Falcons.
This game is one where the team that limits the turnovers is probably going to find itself 1-0 and the end of the night.
Lawrence Free State at Shawnee Mission West
7 p.m. Friday at SM South Stadium
The newly renovated Shawnee Mission South Stadium gets to witness a battle of two of the best teams in the Sunflower League.
Free State shared the conference title with Shawnee Mission East last year while West had another good season tied for third with Lawrence.
Last season West outlasted Free State 41-40 in one of the better games of the year. The offenses were the stars in that game but this year it could be more of a defensive battle. West lost some good weapons off its team while Free State is breaking in a new quarterback.
No matter which team comes out on top this should be one of the best games of the opening week in Kansas.
Blue Valley at Bishop Miege
7 p.m. Friday at Dixon Doll Stadium
One of the biggest games of the year in the Eastern Kansas League opens the regular season as Blue Valley travels to Bishop Miege.
This game has been a classic the last few years and this should not be different. Miege returns Carter Putz at quarterback along with some talented young running backs. The receiving corps is a lot different without Jafar Armstrong and Landry Weber but there is still talent there.
Blue Valley is looking to replace a lot of skill positions on offense along with some key defenders. The Tigers always seem to reload but this year there are spots like quarterback and middle linebacker that will be brand new and that could be something to watch.
This game is always emotional and will be even more so since this is the first game Blue Valley will play since the death of head coach Eric Driskell in February. Driskell has been a part of the program since the early 1990s and this will be the first game Blue Valley plays in 20 years without Driskell there.
Center at Pembroke Hill
7 p.m. Friday at Pembroke Hill Stadium
This has long been a good rivalry game even though Center has dominated in recent years. This could be the year Pembroke Hill gets the win as the Raiders are riding two straight wins to start the season.
Center enters after a stunning loss at Nevada. The Yellowjackets had a tough time stopping Nevada’s physical rushing attack so that will be something to watch in this week’s game. Center should be ready to bounce back after a tough loss last week.
Standing in Center’s way are the comeback kids of Kansas City high school football in 2017. The Raiders rallied for a big road win at St. Joseph LeBlond in week one and then beat El Dorado Springs in overtime last week.
Pembroke Hill has a good running game led by Yakini Kasimu and the Raiders will need another good game from him. If Pembroke Hill can keep it close their fourth quarter comeback style might earn them another win.
Grain Valley at Raytown
7 p.m. Friday at Ted Chitwood Stadium
Two 2-0 teams meet up for the chance to be 3-0 for the first time in a long time. Raytown hasn’t won its first three games in almost two decades and it’s been 10 years since Grain Valley won its first three games.
Both teams come in off similar results the first two weeks. Each won easily in week No. 1 and then had to hold on to earn the victory last week.
Grain Valley easily beat Savannah and then found itself in a dogfight with St. Joseph Benton. Raytown pounded Truman and then held off Liberty North 28-27 in one of the biggest upsets of the early season.
Both teams have offense. Grain Valley has most of its skill players back and has scored at least 35 points in both games and it needed all 39 last week. The defense did well against Savannah but struggled a little versus Benton giving up 36.
Raytown looked like a team that might never give up a point midway through the game against Liberty North. The Bluejays shutout Truman and led 28-0 before a furious rally brought north to within a missed extra point in the final seconds of tying the game.
Simply put the team that can keep the other squad out of the end zone will win this game.
Staley at Platte County
7 p.m. Friday at Pirate Stadium
Two of the hottest teams to start the season square off in Platte City this week. Both Platte County and Staley have dominated their first two opponents but now face their stiffest test of the young season.
Platte County has been dominant with big wins over Grandview and Oak Park. The Pirates have been led by quarterback Tanner Clarkson who threw six TDs in the win over Grandview. Against Oak Park he threw four more but only in one half of football as the Pirates rolled to a 42-7 win.
Staley’s John Rayburn has been equally impressive leading his team to big wins over Liberty North and North Kansas City. The Falcons put up 57 in the win over North in week No. 1 and then backed that up with 44 more points against the Hornets led by four TD passes by Rayburn.
While the offenses have been the stars the first two weeks both teams defense has been stingy as well. Platte County has only allowed one touchdown in each of the first two games. Staley gave up 27 in the first game but backed that up with a 44-6 win last week.
Look for a lot of offense but don’t be surprised if the winning team’s defense is the difference maker.