Varsity Zone

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Previewing (and predicting) the five best games on high school football opening night

08/30/2013 12:03 PM

08/30/2013 12:03 PM

Friday nights under the lights are back. Missouri high schools kick off the 2013 football season tonight. Here is a preview of what to expect from the best five games in the metro:

Liberty at Winnetonka: An intriguing matchup because I have Liberty and Winnetonka bookmarked as two of the most-improved teams this fall. Both are physical up front and prefer to run the football. Therefore, the old cliche fits — the game will be won in the trenches. In that case, I like a Liberty offensive line led by left guard Jacob Francis. But I'm not exactly confident in this pick considering Winnetonka's three-man backfield of Marquise Doherty, Aaron Mends and Chase Williams offers the Griffins fresh legs in the heat tonight. Prediction: Liberty 21, Winnetonka 20

Lee's Summit West at Staley: Yours truly will be at Staley to cover this budding rivalry. Lee's Summit West was my pick as the No. 1 team in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The Titans’ offense is simply loaded, and that's coming off a year in which it averaged 41 points per game. Quarterback Thomas Ganaden, running back Ryan Williams, wide receiver Monte Harrison. They're all back. Staley is in for a surprising season after losing Trent Hosick, but the Falcons can't keep up with the Titans. Prediction: Lee's Summit West 35, Staley 21

Harrisonville at Jeff City Helias: The other rematch. Harrisonville and Helias split a pair of matchups last season — the first an instant classic, the other a Missouri Class 4 semifinal. In the season-opener last year, Harrisonville quarterback Zach Davidson walked into the end zone on a two-point conversion in the final seconds for a 38-37 win. Helias earned its revenge in the state semifinals, though, with a 17-7 victory. Davidson is back for a third year under center, and so are seven of his teammates on offense, and that's the reason for my pick. Prediction: Harrisonville 35, Helias 28

Park Hill South at Fort Osage: Another team poised for a breakout season, Park Hill South returns seven defensive starters from a team that finished 7-5. Add to that, quarterback Shaefer Schuetz is back after setting a handful of school records last season. Nevertheless, Fort Osage, which played for the Class 5 state championship last season, welcomes back all five offensive linemen from a team that relied on beating its opponents up front. Nothing changes there. Prediction: Fort Osage 24, Park Hill South 14

Raytown South at Park Hill: Win or lose, Park Hill may turn out to be one of the more exciting teams to watch this fall with first-year coach Josh Hood expecting his teams to run plays at a faster rate than the Oregon Ducks. Will it be effective? The Trojans face a tough first task in Raytown South, which plans to start seniors at all but three positions tonight. That group is led by defensive end Casey McDermott, who had 17 sacks last year and could loom large against the Park Hill passing attack tonight. Prediction: Raytown South 35, Park Hill 27

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