An app on Logan Cheadles cell phone counts down the days to the start of the high school football season. He installed it nearly two months ago.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
In reality, though, the countdown for Cheadle, a senior at Lees Summit West, began long before that. You can trace it all the way back to Nov. 12, 2012 the day Ozark ended LS Wests unbeaten season with an upset in the Class 5 playoffs.
Ive been left with a terrible taste since that night, said Cheadle, a senior cornerback who has committed to Missouri. It was the worst loss Ive ever experienced in my football career. I dont want that to happen again. Thats why we are getting ready (for the season) a lot harder than we did last year.
Theyre not the only ones. Staley, Harrisonville and Oak Grove are among a contingent of Missouri teams who enjoyed regular-season success in 2012, only to see it offset by a tough-to-swallow playoff loss.
That made Monday all the more meaningful.
Football returned in Missouri with the opening day of high school practices on Monday. Blue Springs, the defending Missouri Class 6 state champion, kicked off its 2013 season at 5 a.m.
For some, the wait hasnt been quite so enjoyable. Take Oak Grove, for example. Much like Lees Summit West, the Panthers finished unbeaten during the regular season last fall but then stumbled in the Class 3 playoffs, losing 21-6 to Center.
The itch to return and the possibility to erase that memory has been long-lasting.
It was a tough offseason, but its one of the greatest feelings in the world getting back out here it was like waking up on Christmas morning, said Oak Grove running back Aaron Graham, who ran for 1,837 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012. Im hungry to get back. (The loss) makes me feel like getting back to that game and going all the way making up for that.
Graham added that he prefers to ignore that game rather than use it as motivation.
Harrisonville, on the other hand, isnt afforded the same luxury. The Wildcats lost 17-7 to Helias in the Class 4 semifinals last November a disappointment considering they defeated Helias in the regular season.
The Wildcats are served with daily reminders in the film room. Why? Harrisonville opens the 2013 schedule with a trip to Helias on Aug. 30.
I wont have to say much to get us fired up to go down there and play, Harrisonville coach Chuck Lliteras said. We try not to dwell on that, but its always in the back of their minds. They came out here (Monday) morning ready to get after it. I think they feel like they have something to prove.
As does Staley, which followed its state championship season in 2011 with a disappointing finish in 2012. The Falcons suffered a home loss to Fort Osage after having defeated the Indians six weeks earlier.
For Staley, though, the motivation is to prove it can win without Trent Hosick, a quarterback who led the team to 23 wins over the last two seasons. Thats a motivation that will last well beyond Mondays opening day of practice.
The motivation should also last for Lees Summit West, whose coach, Royce Boehm, mentioned last years loss to Ozark when speaking to his team after Mondays practice.
Its been a long time since the Ozark game, Boehm said. The kids are stepping on the field looking back because they know they have to improve themselves. This is their chance.
Football is back, and thats phenomenal.