1. How will Blue Springs handle losing two-time Simone Award winner Dalvin Warmack?
As it begins its quest for a third straight Missouri Class 6 state championship, Blue Springs will have to make the trek without running back Dalvin Warmack, a two-time Simone Award winner who has begun his college career at Kansas State.
He will be a hard act to follow for senior Cobi Bissell, who will take the reins of the running game. Of course, the Wildcats could look to pass the ball more often with quarterback Ian Brown returning. Wildcats coach Kelly Donohoe says he’s been impressed with his senior receivers — a group led by Tamarick Quinney.
“I’ve told these guys, listen, nobody knows about them and nobody is saying much, but we think a lot of them,” Donohoe said. “We think people are going to find out pretty quickly how good they are.”
Let’s not forget that the Blue Springs’ defense — led by twin defensive tackles Carlos and Khalil Davis — will be pretty stout, too.
2. What under-the-radar players will make some noise?
There are handful of must-see playmakers who have managed to stay out of the spotlight — at least so far.
Richmond quarterback Quinton Maxwell is capable of throwing for 300 yards every Friday night, but he’s also shown he’s not afraid to pull the ball down and run with it. That makes him a tough matchup for any defense, especially in Class 3.
Park Hill tailback Kenyatte Harris is healthy again after breaking his wrist last season. He rushed for 100 yards in three straight weeks before the injury. Staley senior Kahluna Bouchard and Raytown senior Josh Drake are two more rushers who are often overlooked simply because of their small stature.
On the defensive side, Kearney junior linebacker Cale Garrett is starting to catch the eye of Division I scouts. Garrett tallied 125 tackles as a sophomore last season.
3. How will Lee’s Summit West fare in Class 6?
Even Lee’s Summit West coach Royce Boehm joked this preseason that his peers often asked when the Titans were going to finally make the leap to Missouri Class 6. The time has come.
The Titans rolled through the Missouri Class 5 playoffs last year, though they dropped one regular-season game to Blue Springs. But Lee’s Summit West proved its willingness to play Class 6 teams in recent years, and the Titans fared quite well. In fact, they handed Blue Springs its only loss in 2012.
4. Which team deserves more respect this season?
There may not be a tougher conference in the state than the Suburban Gold Conference, which features a pair of defending state champions.
But don’t ignore Raymore-Peculiar.
The Panthers have their largest roster in coach Tom Kruse’s 15-year tenure. They have six offensive starters returning and seven more back on defense. That could put them in line for a couple of upsets in conference play this season.
5. What are the can’t-miss games in the first month?
The opening month of Missouri high school football features some particularly juice matchups.
Blue Springs travels to Fort Osage in week two. Blue Springs is ranked No. 1 in Missouri Class 6, while Fort Osage has received top billing in Missouri Class 5.
Rockhurst plays host to Webb City in week two. Webb City cruised to the Class 4 state title last season while scoring at least 27 points in every game.
Kearney will play at Liberty North in week three. Both teams reached the state semifinals last season, though they have switched classifications. Liberty North has jumped up to Class 5, with Kearney falling to Class 4.