With temperatures expected to drop to the mid-30s by kickoff, the Missouri Class 5 district football championship games will feature true football weather. There are three intriguing matchups in the Kansas City area tonight. Here is a quick glance at each one.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Winnetonka (8-2) at Fort Osage (10-0)
Nobody in Class 5 has played better defensively this season than Fort Osage. The Indians emerged from the Kansas City bracket to reach the state championship game last season, and statistically speaking, they've been even better this fall. For the offense, Skylar Thompson's first year under center has been smooth, and tailback Ezra Vaoifi is a darkhorse candidate in the Simone Award watch. The only concern for the Indians is they've only played one close game all season, so if Winnetonka can keep it close tonight, it may have an edge come crunch time. The Griffins have won eight of nine, though they're going to need more from their passing game if they want to open up running lanes for Marquise Doherty and Aaron Mends.
Prediction: Fort Osage 24, Winnetonka 14
Staley (6-4) at Kearney (9-1)
In one of the more surprising results this fall, Kearney blew out Staley, 42-0, exactly one month ago. Don't expect a similar result tonight. Staley is playing its best football of the season — the Falcons have outscored their last three opponents 125-6 — and this is a team accustomed to playing well in the playoffs. Kearney enters the district tittle game on an eight-game winning streak. Its offense, led by tailback Brock Broughton, another Simone Award candidate, has topped 40 points in all but two games this season. Quarterback Austin Hinck has been effective in his first year under center, aided by top wideout Zack Davis.
Prediction: Kearney 28, Staley 14
Willard (8-2) at Lee's Summit West (9-1)
Anything can happen in the postseason. And nobody needs to remind Lee's Summit West of that after its unbeaten season shockingly came to a close in the Class 5 playoffs a year ago. Because of that loss, though, the Titans have stuck with a week-to-week mentality. They haven't played a game within 20 points after suffering a loss to Class 6 powerhouse Blue Springs in Week 4. The defense has found its groove, and an offense that features Monte Harrison should never have problems moving the ball.
Prediction: Lee's Summit West 42, Willard 21