Here are five must-see games this week involving area high school football teams.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
1. Kearney (5-1) at Staley (3-3)
Allowing 77 points in one game was apparently the best thing to happen to the Kearney Bulldogs. Suddenly they can't lose. After giving up 77 points to Lee's Summit in a Week 2 loss, Kearney has responded with four victories, yielding only 15 points per game. Austin Hinck's first year as quarterback has been a quick transition, a task made easier by top wideout Zack Davis. Staley's aerial attack isn't picking up the same speed, although the Falcons have found a way to remain competitive. Their three losses were by a combined 20 points. Kahluna Bouchard has 707 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
2. North Kansas City (4-2) at Winnetonka (5-1)
A matchup of conference leaders — yes, that's right — takes place Friday at Winnetonka. North Kansas City and Fort Osage are the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the Suburban White Conference, while Winnetonka and Kearney are tied atop the Suburban Blue Conference. After the first week of the season, it appeared as if North Kansas City or Winnetonka would not be competing for conference titles. But Winnetonka has won five straight since being shut out in the opener, and the Hornets have won four of five since blowing a two-score lead to Kearney in Week 1.
3. Liberty (4-2) at Park Hill (3-3)
The Liberty Blue Jays say they're back on track after breaking a two-game losing streak with a big win last Friday against Rockhurst. Maybe so. But it will take more defensive outings like what they saw earlier this season to complete the turnaround. That's precisely the unit that will be tested against Park Hill. The Trojans suffered a hiccup in a 42-7 loss to Kearney last week, but they are still tallying 30 points per game with their new spread offense implemented by first-year coach Josh Hood.
4. Platte County (4-2) at Liberty North (3-3)
Two weeks ago, Platte County coach Bill Utz said his team appeared sluggish in its loss to Kearney. That apparently was only a one-week phase. The Pirates responded to their coach's message by using a 28-point fourth quarter to run away from North Kansas City last week. The Pirates remain a factor in the Suburban Blue Conference championship picture, while Liberty North crippled its chances in the same race by losing to Winnetonka. The Eagles have been tough to figure out and are in need of a marquee victory to build some momentum.
5. Park Hill South (3-3) at St. Joseph Central (2-4)
In six weeks, Park Hill South has yet to play a game within 17 points. That could change with Friday's trip to St. Joseph Central. The Panthers have put up 152 points in their three wins, with tailback Derrick Cook playing a key factor. He has 445 yards and five touchdowns. On the other hand, they have scored only 42 points in their three losses. Pinpointing a key to the game, in that case, shouldn't be difficult. The Panthers need to move the chains. That' has also been a problem for St. Joseph Central. The Indians have topped 15 points only twice.