The high school football season concluded recently with only one team from Kansas City winning a Missouri state championship. Harrisonville defeated Kearney for the Class 4 title on Nov. 25.
But there were still several notable achievements this season. The Star takes a look at five standout developments from the fall.
1. The Harrisonville turnaround
Collectively, the Missouri Show-Me Bowls produced some unexpected winners, but for Class 4 champion Harrisonville, the surge came over a much longer stretch.
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After losing three straight games in September — all against fellow Class 4 opponents — the Wildcats responded with nine victories in a row to claim the Class 4 title. Those kinds of 180-degree turnarounds are rare at the high school level, even in the regular season. To cap it with a state championship is all the more noteworthy.
Harrisonville, 12-3, utilized a resurgent rushing game to spark the improvement. And in the championship game against Kearney, the Wildcats ran for 291 yards, with Morgan Selemaea and Joe Bowers each topping 100 yards.
2. The Northland's pair of 2,000-yard rushers
The season was filled with some impressive individual efforts. Look no further than Staley halfback Julian Ross and Liberty running back Robert Rawie.
Ross ran for 2,257 yards and 37 touchdowns, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. He had six 200-yard rushing outings. Rawie carried for 2,102 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Ross broke Staley single-season records in yardage and touchdowns and led the Falcons to the Missouri Class 5 semifinals.
Rawie was the catalyst for a Liberty team that finished 7-4 a year after winning only three games.
3. The four-year run from Kearney
The Kearney Bulldogs fell short of the ultimate goal with their loss to Harrisonville in the Class 4 championship, but they still won 10-plus games for the fourth consecutive fall. In fact, the Bulldogs finished 13-2 in a year in which they used only four returning starters.
Over the past four years, the Bulldogs combined for a 50-7 record, four state semifinal appearances and one Missouri Class 4 title.
4. The Suburban Conference domination
The 2016 season featured the debut of the Sunflower-Suburban Conference Showdown series, which pitted Missouri programs against those from Kansas.
The bragging rights belong to Missouri.
For one year, at least.
Missouri won all 10 games in the series, and Rockhurst added a victory against Shawnee Mission East in the same week, making Missouri teams a perfect 11-0 against their Kansas foes.
5. The impact linemen
The bulk of the top college prospects in Kansas City had a similar trait in common this season —they played in the trenches.
Park Hill defensive end Chester Graves, who also played linebacker, was rated as the top prospect in the area this season, and he responded with 126 tackles, including 25 for loss.
Blue Springs offensive lineman Daniel Parker did not allow a sack this season and was credited with 75 pancake blocks.
Raymore-Peculiar defensive tackle Anthony Payne, a Kansas State commit, had 80 tackles, eight sacks and 13 tackles for loss.