The two football programs have made postseason success something of a habit, churning out championship trophies with regularity. But never have Kearney and Harrisonville crossed paths with the ultimate reward on the line.
That changes Friday.
Harrisonville and Kearney, two football teams that have combined to win eight state championships over the past 14 seasons, will play for the Missouri Class 4 state title at 7 p.m. Friday at Missouri State’s Plaster Stadium in Springfield.
Kearney is aiming for its second straight championship.
“We talk about it all the time — it’s part of the expectation here to win, and that’s been the expectation for a long time now,” Kearney coach Greg Jones said. “I think culture can win a lot of games for you. I think it’s doing that for us.”
That history has a way of keeping optimism alive — even when things aren’t going well. And both teams approached hurdles this season that tested the theory.
Kearney, 13-1, was dominated in an early October loss against Staley. Harrisonville, 11-3, endured a three-game losing streak in September, including a 49-0 blowout loss to Platte County.
Yet here they each sit, one victory from adding to their rich history.
“More than anything, I’m just excited for the kids,” Harrisonville coach Brent Maxwell said. “We as coaches who have been there know what it feels like, and we’ve said all along we’d like to go back so the kids can get the experience.”
With that said, let’s take a look at the team breakdowns.
State championships: 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007
This year’s record: 11-3
Playoff route: Beat Northeast 59-6; beat Nevada 40-0; beat Grain Valley 33-10; beat Webb City 27-21; beat Parkway North 32-15
Passing: Brandon Eickhorst, senior, 1,144 yards, 8 touchdowns, 47.3 completion percentage
Rushing: Morgan Selemaea, senior, 1,387 yards, 20 touchdowns; Joe Bowers, junior, 620 yards, 8 touchdowns
Receiving: Joe Snooks, senior, 31 catches, 720 yards, 5 touchdowns
Tackles: Nick Kruse, junior, 125 tackles (40 solo), Nathan Kreimeyer, senior, 123 tackles (39 solo), Michael Messer, senior, 118 tackles (31 solo)
Sacks: Ben Clary, junior, 3 sacks
Interceptions: Joe Bowers, junior, 6 INTs; Joe Snooks, senior, 5 INTs; Jarett Goss, senior, 5 INTs
Kicking: Morgan Selemaea, senior, 20 of 28 PATs
State championships: 2002, 2003, 2009, 2015
This year’s record: 13-1
Playoff route: Beat Savannah 55-0; beat St. Joseph Lafayette 59-7; beat Platte County 58-41, beat Hannibal 28-21; Ladue 14-10
Passing: Anthony Pritzel, senior, 2,282 yards, 26 touchdowns, 60.5 completion percentage
Rushing: Anthony Pritzel, senior, 861 yards, 16 touchdowns; Patrick Connery, sophomore, 671 yards, 10 touchdowns; Logan Hachman, junior, 553 yards, 4 touchdowns
Receiving: Jess Davis, senior, 77 catches, 1,428 yards, 18 touchdowns
Tackles: Ethan Luft, senior, 157 tackles (103 solo); Max Bowers, junior, 97 tackles (53 solo)
Sacks: Daniel Piburn, junior, 7 sacks; Brock Willis, junior, 7 sacks
Interceptions: Tabor Gooch, senior, 8 INTs; Hunter Adkison, senior, 3 INTs
Kicking: Hunter Adkison, senior, 57 of 59 PATs, 12 of 14 FGs