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June 12, 2013

Five things to watch at the Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Football Game

The Missouri side has its eyes set on a third-straight victory behind a star-studded defense. The Kansas team will rely on its dual-threat quarterbacks.

The 22nd annual Country Mart Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Football Game will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at Lee’s Summit North High School. The Missouri side is gunning for a third straight victory in the series. Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz will lead the Missouri team, with St. Thomas Aquinas boss Mike Thomas running the Kansas team.

Star-studded Missouri defense

It’s an all-star game, so of course there’s no shortage of talent on the two rosters. But the Missouri defense is particularly stout, not to mention full of players who are accustomed to winning. For example, Blue Springs, the Missouri Class 6 champions, has three defenders on the roster — linebacker Rasheed Hobbs, defensive lineman Jason Young and defensive back Donte Watkins. Then there’s Fort Osage, the Class 5 runners-up, which will be represented defensively by linebacker Mamu Tauiautusa and defensive backs Samson Sia and Joseph Tuimaseve. That’s six defenders who played at an elite level for teams that reached St. Louis last fall.

Kansas with QBs to see

Kansas is loaded with dual-threat quarterbacks, including Lawrence’s first-team All-Metro gunslinger Brad Strauss. Strauss, who signed with Northwest Missouri after totaling 37 touchdowns as a senior, ought to feel especially comfortable with a receiving corps that includes three fellow Chesty Lions — Drake Hofer, Erick Mayo and Will Thompson. Mill Valley grad Skyler Windmiller, a Missouri Western signee who threw for 28 touchdowns and rushed for 10 more, and Blue Valley Southwest grad Aaron Ramsey, who totaled 30 touchdowns and will play at South Dakota, provide additional depth under center.

Easy targets

With only a handful of practices under their belts, the two teams may be inclined to run the ball more often than they throw it. The Missouri all-stars, however, could break that trend considering their depth at wide receiver. Navy-bound Craig Scott (Park Hill South), winner of the Otis Taylor Award for the top receiver in the metropolitan area, leads a dynamic group that also includes Taylor Award finalist Scottie Wilson from Platte County. Other Missouri outside targets include Lee’s Summit’s Ian Burch, Rockhurst’s Tom Keller, LS North’s Trever Mountain, Center’s Nick Williams and North Kansas City’s Marcus Jones, a speedster who played primarily quarterback for the Hornets.

More champions

Linebacker Max Bullard, offensive lineman Aaron Brown and defensive end Aaron Dinges forever will be linked as part of the Shawnee Mission West squad that ended a 27-year Kansas Class 6A state championship drought. The trio hopes to help snap Missouri’s two-game win streak in the series, which dates back to 1992. Bullard, who signed with William Jewell, headlines an impressive group of linebackers that also includes Gardner Edgerton grad Matt Plank, who signed with North Dakota State, and Olathe South grad Remington Whitley, a tackling machine who signed with Emporia State.

Small-class heroes

Even astute high school football observers might have glossed over Paola grad Joe Pomatto, but the future Emporia State lineman and Kansas Class 4A heavyweight wrestling champion will get a chance to make a name for himself during the game. Schlagle running back J’Veyon Browning, who signed with Northern Iowa after amassing more than 2,500 yards and 35 touchdowns the last two seasons, is another name to watch. He’s in a very good backfield that also includes shifty Blue Valley grad Ryan McNerlin and BV West grad Conley Wilkins, a battering ram of a running back with breakaway speed.

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