RE/MAX Big 3 Games of the Week

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: September 1, 2015 - 5:39 PM

Bonner Springs at Eudora
7 p.m. Friday at Eudora Stadium

The season kicks off with a cross-conference battle when Bonner Springs travels to Eudora.

Bonner Springs steps out of the Kaw Valley League and enters the game and season with high expectations. The Braves return a lot of starters from a team that went to the playoffs in 2014. Bonner Springs is led by quarterback Connor Byers and he has several weapons back again this year.

While the Braves bring back certainty the only constant for the Cardinals the last few seasons is change. Eudora enters the season with a new head coach for the third straight year. Longtime assistant Phil Katzenmeier takes over for Jesse Owen who left after one year to take the job at Olathe East.

While this senior class will be playing for its fourth different head coach in four years Katzenmeier has been with the program going back to former head coach Gregg Webb’s run that included back to back appearances in the Class 4A state title game in 2011 and 2012. The new coach is not new to the team so that should make the transition easier.

This game should come down to Eudora’s ability to stop the dynamic offense of Bonner Springs. If the Cardinals can slow down the Braves and get a couple of turnover along the way they have a chance to open the year with a win. If not Bonner Springs could be off and running to big year.

Mill Valley at St. Thomas Aquinas
7 p.m. Friday at Aquinas Stadium

Two of the top Kansas Class 5A teams in the Metro open the season against each other for the second year in a row.

Mill Valley got off to a tough start last year with losses to Aquinas, Blue Valley Northwest and Derby before closing out the season on a 5-3 run. The Saints got off to a hot start and carried their strong play all the way to the state championship game where they fell to eventual champion Bishop Carroll.

This year both teams bring back experience and talent. Mill Valley has outstanding quarterback Logan Koch back at the helm. He can beat teams with legs and arm and will be tough to stop. If Koch goes off it could be the Jaguars who get the win.

Aquinas counters with a defense that, when healthy, is one of the top units in the Metro. The Saints are physical and do a great job getting to the football. If the defense has a good day Aquinas’ offense should be able to keep the ball out of Koch’s hands.

No matter what happens it could be the first of two meetings between these teams.

Shawnee Mission West at Lawrence Free State
7 p.m. Friday at Free State Stadium

Over the last few years this has been one of the best games in the Sunflower League. The programs have met in the regular season and the postseason and it has a playoff feel even when it is being played in September.

The season-opener pits two teams that could be in line for a Sunflower League title and who knows play in the state title game in November. Both return a lot of talented starters and look to have good years.

Free State has some big name players and those stars will be counted on to make a big impact in week No. 1 and all season. Look for quarterback Bryce Torneden to be a big part of the Firebirds success.

West may not have the big name players but the Vikings have been an up and coming team the last few years. This could be the year those young players mature and make a deep run in the postseason. This first week will be a good test to see how far they have come in the offseason.

Grain Valley at Grandview
7 p.m. Friday at Grandview Stadium

The Eagles come to Grandview hungry for a win while the Bulldogs have made easy work of their first two opponents.

Grain Valley struggled in losses to Savannah and St. Joseph Benton and now another non-conference game against a Class 4 team looms. The Eagles have had a hard time getting its offense going and this week will be a test against a defense that has allowed just six points in two games.

The season couldn’t have opened any better for Grandview. The Bulldogs blitzed Ruskin 58-6 and then followed that up with a 38-0 win at Oak Park. This week the competition takes another step up but Grandview looks like a much different team than the one that went 1-9 a year ago.

If Grain Valley’s offense doesn’t get things going it could be a long night against a Grandview defense that is quickly establishing itself as a dominating unit.

Lee’s Summit North at North Kansas City
7 p.m. Friday at the North Kansas City District Football Stadium

One of the surprise teams to start the season is North who stand at 2-0. The Broncos now travel to North Kansas City to face a Hornets squad that earned a road win its first week at St. Joseph Lafayette and then fell at home to Belton in Week No. 2.

A win by the Broncos would match the best win total for a season in the last five years. North went 3-8 in 2011 but that was followed by a combined 4 wins the next three seasons. The key to the Broncos success so far has been a defense that has allowed just 13 points in two games. That defense will need to play well again.

The Hornets counter with a defense that allowed just seven points in its opening-game win. North Kansas City gave up 26 in a loss to Belton last week but that side of the ball is a strength for the Hornets.

This game could come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes and is able to put together sustained drives on offense.

Park Hill at Belton
7 p.m. Friday at Belton Stadium

Both teams enter at 1-1 but both were just a touchdown short of being undefeated. Park Hill lost to Blue Springs South 14-7 to open the season while Belton lost a shootout to Raymore-Peculiar 43-35 that same week.

Last week both teams bounced back with impressive wins and now the schedule puts these two teams head to head.

Belton looks to be one of the most improved teams in the Metro so far this season. The Pirates have an outstanding rushing attack led by Zach Willis who has over 300 yards in the first two games of the season. Keeping that rushing pace up will be key for Belton if it wants to move to 2-1.

Park Hill got its offense going with a big win over Smithville and now looks to continue the momentum. The defense played well and the offense found its stride in the win over the Warriors.

The X factor in this game might be that Belton in playing its first home game of the season. There is a lot of enthusiasm around the program and the stadium should be rocking as Park Hill comes to town.