Five games to watch in the second round of the Missouri high school football district playoffs:
1. Class 6: Blue Springs (7-3) at Raymore-Peculiar (8-2)
Blue Springs, the two-time defending state champions, will march into Raymore-Peculiar on Friday in search of payback. Ray-Pec dominated an Oct. 3 meeting and left Blue Springs with a 31-13 victory.
The playoffs represent a second chance.
Blue Springs opened the defense of its two Class 6 titles with an impressive 48-23 win against Lee's Summit last week. The Wildcats have turned to their running game — led by Cobi Bissell, who has 17 touchdowns this season — to become more of a possession team. That's resulted in three straight victories. Bissell has run for 584 yards during the winning streak.
Ray-Pec learned last week the difficulties of beating quality teams twice in one season. It had to erase a 17-0 halftime deficit to take out Lee's Summit West for the second time in two weeks. Ben Harris had perhaps the biggest play of the game when he intercepted a screen pass and returned it for a fourth-quarter touchdown. Dallas Hille kicked a game-winning field goal.
2. Class 5: Truman (6-4) at Winnetonka (7-2)
The matchup spotlights a pair of teams who have built their success on running the football.
But in the search for which team will have the edge Friday, here's a reason why it could belong to Winnetonka: The Griffins have added a formidable aerial attack to their ground game. Julious Sabastiano threw five touchdowns in the regular season finale against Belton. That's made the Griffins all the more dangerous, given their high-powered rushing attack that features Marquise Doherty and Chase Williams.
Truman, on the other hand, is unlikely to deviate from its run-heavy offense. Jordan Salima has accounted for 16 rushing touchdowns this season, while Tre'Von Sorrells emerged as a weapon in the backfield, too.
Truman defeated North Kansas City 42-12 in the first round of the Class 5 playoffs last week. Winnetonka earned a bye.
3. Class 6: Kickapoo (7-3) at Rockhurst (9-1)
On an eight-game winning streak, Rockhurst has emerged as the potential favorite to represent the Kansas City area in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis next month.
But it's a difficult path through Class 6, District 4. Kickapoo, the fourth seed in the district, has lost three games, but those have come by a combined 12 points.
Rockhurst has produced exceptionally efficient offensive game plans during its winning streak. Senior quarterback T.J. Green hasn't thrown more than four incompletions in game since September. He has a particularly deep pool of wide receivers to choose from in the passing game, including Will Bazzle, Lance Boehm, Nick Bosma and A.J. Taylor.
Taylor also ran for 100 yards in the first-round victory against Lee's Summit North last week.
4. Class 3: Lincoln Prep (7-2) at St. Pius X (6-4)
An opening-round playoff victory has Lincoln Prep back where it ended the 2013 season — on the St. Pius X football field. The Warriors defeated Lincoln Prep 28-16 in the Class 3 district playoffs last season.
But Lincoln Prep believes it has a more versatile offense this season, and the combined success of running backs Colandus Rucker, Jabari Hopson and Kaylyn Davis lends credibility to that thought. All three backs have run for at least eight touchdowns.
Lincoln Prep senior Joshua Van Dunk has tallied 90 tackles this season, and he will be charged with trying to slow down a Warriors offense led by senior quarterback Marshall Mason, who has thrown 14 touchdowns.
5. Class 6: Blue Springs South (5-5) at Francis Howell (9-0)
Two weeks before the season, Blue Springs South coach Greg Oder predicted his team would take its lumps early — an effect of summer injuries and inexperience — but he noted it would be tough to beat late in the season.
Both have rung true.
After a three-game losing streak to open the year, the Jaguars have won five of seven heading into Friday's matchup with unbeaten Francis Howell.
If Blue Springs South can pull off the upset against the top seed in Class 6, District 3, it may become the favorite to reach the Class 6 semifinals.