The Missouri high school football playoffs begin Friday. Here are five things to watch in the postseason:
1. Which team will emerge from the Kansas City district in Class 6?
It’s not hard to pinpoint the toughest district in the state. The eight teams that form Class 6, District 4 combined for a 46-25 record in the regular season.
A breakdown of the top contenders: Lee’s Summit West, 7-2, has won six straight games; Lee’s Summit, 7-2, had captured seven straight before last week’s loss to West; the only two Rockhurst losses came against teams ranked in the top three in the state; Park Hill, 6-3, has held a second-half lead in every game this season.
And the kicker — none of those teams are the district’s top seed. That distinction belongs to Springfield Kickapoo.
2. Kansas City vs. Kansas City?
Since Missouri expanded to six classifications in 2002, a Kansas City team has won nine of the ensuing 14 big-class titles. But never have two Kansas City teams met in the Class 6 championship game.
That could change this year.
Blue Springs, the No. 2 team in The Star’s big-class rankings, and Blue Springs South have been placed on the opposite side of the bracket as the aforementioned Class 6, District 4.
Blue Springs will have to overcome injuries to quarterback Chase Donohoe and running back Jaylen Ivey, who has rushed for 1,013 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
3. The regular season surprises
William Chrisman and Park Hill South represent two of the top single-season turnarounds in the state. After combining for six victories in 2015, each team is 8-1 heading into the Class 5 playoffs.
Chrisman senior quarterback James Bailey is a dynamic playmaker who has proven just about impossible to scheme against.
Park Hill South has relied on a team defense that is allowing 10 fewer points per game than it did last season. The Panthers’ only loss is a one-point defeat to rival Park Hill.
4. The quest for a repeat
Two weeks ago, after Kearney suffered its first loss of the season, coach Greg Jones called the result a “wake-up call” and potentially the best thing for his team. A week later, the Bulldogs responded with a key victory against state-ranked Platte County.
The storyline offers some familiarity. In 2015, Kearney lost its third game of the season, and then it won the next 12, culminating in the Class 4 title.
The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in Class 4 heading into a first-round matchup with Savannah.
5. The small-class picture
Richmond and Center have made steady climbs in the Class 3 state rankings this season — and rightfully so. Neither team has lost a football game this fall.
In fact, no team has played Center closer than 15 points. And no one has played Richmond closer than 14 points.
In Class 2, Lawson is 7-2 and ranked 10th in the state poll.
In Class 1, Midway is 8-1 and ranked sixth.