1. BLUE SPRINGS
The defending Missouri Class 6 state champion appears primed for another run at the title. A year after totaling 47 touchdowns, senior tailback Dalvin Warmack is back to lead an offense that also includes transfer quarterback Ian Brown and top wideout Darrius Shepherd. Blue Springs' biggest task will be replacing four offensive linemen. The defense includes two Kansas State commits in outside linebacker Elijah Lee and safety Kaleb Prewett, both seniors.
Slowly but surely, Liberty has been creeping back into the mix for the Suburban Gold Conference crown. If the Blue Jays are to complete the leap, this might be the season. Eight starters return on both offense and defense. Liberty appears to possess another strong rushing attack with all five linemen back, including Division I recruit Jacob Francis and tailback David Graves.
3. BLUE SPRINGS SOUTH
An annual powerhouse, the Jaguars felt disappointed with their five-win season in 2012. Now, coach Greg Oder said there is a renewed sense of energy in the preseason camp. South looks particularly strong on defense, led by defensive end Kendall Blanton and senior cornerbacks Brandon Dandridge and Austin Cobb. Blanton, a senior, will also be a weapon on offense. He has committed to Missouri to play tight end.
4. LEE'S SUMMIT
The combination of junior quarterback Drew Lock and senior tailback Casey Slaughter offers Lee's Summit two of the league's most talented players. In that case, what the Tigers are able to do up front might decide the direction of their season. Lee's Summit returns a handful of linemen, including seniors Tim Speaks and Blake Johnson.
A run-first offense has the luxury of welcoming back Steve Brown, who led Raymore-Peculiar with 22 touchdowns a year ago. The Panthers offset their rushing attack with play-action passes where they look for tight end Scott Schaffner, an Iowa State commit, to emerge as the go-to target. Juniors C.J. Donaldson and Ben Sinclair anchor the offensive and defensive lines.
6. LEE'S SUMMIT NORTH
Although North is coming off a one-win season, the Broncos have reason for optimism. Their roster features 30 seniors, many of whom coach Ty Kohl says have been starting since they were sophomores. That includes quarterback Matt Brumfield and running back Josh Caldwell, who was only 14 yards short of 1,000 rushing yards a year ago.
| Sam McDowell, email@example.com