RE/MAX Big 3 Games of the Week

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 30, 2016 - 10:09 AM

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

It’s the first week of the Kansas season so Shawnee Mission West and Lawrence Free State must be playing each other.

For the third straight year these Sunflower League heavyweights meet up to start the season. They split those games and this year it’s anyone’s guess who will win.

Free State graduated a lot of good players from a team that went to the Class 6A semifinals for the second straight year but reloading is the usual business for the Firebirds. There are plenty of good players in the pipeline so expect very little drop off.

The Vikings counter with an experienced group that could be ready to get back into the mix of the league title and a possible run to the 6A title game.

The names have changed but the styles of these two teams haven’t. The squad that can run the ball and not make mistakes will be the one that comes out on top.

Bishop Miege at Blue Valley
7 p.m. Friday at Blue Valley Stadium

The Eastern Kansas League dropped a dandy on fans to open the season as the two-time defending Class 4A-I champs take on the 6A finalist in a rematch of the only game Miege lost last season.

The Stags have been as dominant as any team in the state the last two seasons but the Tigers have been one of the best no matter what class they play in. Miege returns a lot of players from last year’s state champion led by all everything receiver Jafar Armstrong.

Blue Valley counters with yet another team of solid returners that have state championship game experience. The Tigers defense was a big reason for its late season run last year and this will be a big test for them right out of the box.

This could be one of the best games of the year in the first week of the season.

Mill Valley at St. James Academy
7 p.m. Friday at Mill Valley Stadium

The two newest member of the EKL square off in the first week of the season. The game is a home game for St. James but will be played at Mill Valley since St. James doesn’t have a home field.

Mill Valley enters as the defending Class 5A champs but will have a lot of new faces starting Friday night. The Jaguars lost a lot of key players but we’ve seen them reload the last few years. The caliber of players might not be the same as the ones that graduated or have the experience but don’t expect a huge drop in talent.

St. James has been quietly building the last five seasons under Tom Radke and this could be another year of big steps forward. They return they quarterback along with some good skill players and key players on defense.

The Thunder will be tested by a Mill Valley program that was just like them a few years ago. This game will either go to the returning talent of St. James or the experienced program of Mill Valley.

Liberty North at Liberty
7 p.m. Friday at William Jewell College

It is finally time for the two Liberty schools to meet on the football field. For the first time since North opened in 2010 the long awaited matchup is here.

Both schools have seen success and struggles during that span but this year both are two of the better Class 5 teams on the Missouri side of the Metro.

North suffered a loss to Staley in week No. 1 but bounced back nicely with a 20-0 win over Raytown last week. The Eagles defense played well and they will be tested this week by Liberty.

The Blue Jays have shown they can score putting up 49 points in week one against St. Joseph Central and 35 last week against Belton. Liberty is led by tailback Robert Rawie and stopping him will be job one for North.

This is a matchup of strength against strength and weakness against weakness. The question is which team’s defense will step up to slow down the other team. Liberty has gotten better each week but their strength is on the offensive side of the ball. North’s offense has been OK but its defense has been the better unit. Something has to give Friday night.

Park Hill South at Park Hill
7 p.m. Friday at the Park Hill District Stadium

The annual matchup of rivals pits two teams coming off very different results. Park Hill South won another game easily while Park Hill is trying to recover from a tough loss to Lee’s Summit.

The Panthers have been very workman like in their first two contests with a 19-0 win over Winnetonka and a 27-8 victory over Grandview. The defense has played very well and the team seemed to handle having its first game played over two days and its second moved from Friday to Saturday.

Park Hill was impressive in a win over Lee’s Summit North to open the season but got caught up on the wrong end of a dogfight with Lee’s Summit in Week No. 2. The Trojans offense struggled to find its footing against a Tigers defense that had given up 58 points the week before to Blue Springs.

Park Hill finished with a 20-13 loss though their defense did hold Lee’s Summit to just 20 points after the Tigers banked 45 in its season opening loss.

The numbers tell you it will be a defensive battle and that is probably what should happen. Both teams have some of their best players on that side of the ball and the unit that makes the most stops should win Friday night.

Platte County at Staley
7 p.m. Friday at the North Kansas City District Football Stadium

Platte County takes a step up in class to take on Staley in a renewal of an old conference contest from when Staley was down in the Suburban Blue when it first opened.

Staley comes in after two very impressive wins 31-13 over Liberty North in week No. 1 and a 34-0 victory at North Kansas City that was ended just after halftime due to the storms Friday night.

The Falcons rushing attack has been outstanding and their defense which only returned two starters has been a strength right out of the box. Staley has the look of a team that could make a deep run in the Class 5 postseason later this year.

Platte County has put up two nice wins 36-0 against Grandview and 37-6 last week over Oak Park. The Pirates defense and running game looked very good in the win over the Northmen but the passing game struggled. The Pirates were intercepted four times and another game like that will spell disaster for Platte County.

The Pirates come in as an underdog but this is a game with a lot of opportunity for Platte County. A win here and the Pirates might just be one of the teams to beat in Class 4. For Staley this is a game to continue to take care of business and not get caught looking ahead to games with Blue Springs South and Fort Osage.