Over the past three weeks, Lee’s Summit West senior Monte Harrison played in two big-league baseball stadiums as part of high school All-America games.
He’s still pretty good on a football field, too.
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Harrison supplied the Titans with a one-man offensive wrecking crew in Friday’s season-opening 28-14 victory against Staley at the North Kansas City District Activities Complex.
Harrison, who has committed to Nebraska to play baseball and football, showed no signs of rust after spending the majority of the summer on the diamond.
He capped Lee’s Summit West’s opening drive with an 8-yard run out of a Wildcat package, then caught a 77-yard touchdown on the Titans’ next offensive play.
The Titans maintained a two-score lead for the rest of the night.
“Everybody thought I was only playing baseball (over the summer), but I made sure I did whatever I could to stay in football shape,” Harrison said. “I worked on my footwork. I had guys throw tennis balls at me so I could keep my hands active.
“But at the end of the day, it’s football. It’s still natural.”
A natural, indeed.
Harrison finished the night with 119 total yards — all in the first half. And he had another punt return for a touchdown called back for a holding penalty.
It didn’t matter. He had already made his statement.
And a year after falling in the Missouri Class 5 state quarterfinals, the Titans made a statement early. Quarterback Thomas Ganaden completed his first six passes. He put the exclamation point on an effective first half when he lofted a 9-yard touchdown pass to Grayson Handel with only 4.9 seconds remaining in the first half. That gave the Titans a 21-0 halftime advantage.
Ganaden threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Harrison was the benefactor of 115 of those on five catches. Seven different receivers caught passes.
An offense that produced 41 points per game last season accounted for only 28, but the Titans moved the ball effectively against a Staley defense that returned nine starters.
“This is momentum for us — Staley is a doggone good ball club,” Titans coach Royce Boehm said. “We could see them again down the road. They have one heck of a defense.”
The Staley offense, meanwhile, sputtered in its first game in the past three seasons without quarterback Trent Hosick.
In his first start under center, Jordan Robben ran effectively — he carried 20 times for 106 yards and rushed for both Staley touchdowns — but the Falcons lacked big-play ability. They had only two plays of 20-plus yards against Lee’s Summit West, which entered the season with a lot of question marks on defense.
“Once they got that first series out of the way, the kids relaxed and played football,” Boehm said of his defense. “I’m really excited about that.”
Robben put the Falcons on the board with a 1-yard run in the third quarter and added an 11-yard scramble for his second touchdown with 7:25 remaining in the fourth.
But Staley had only one possession over the remainder of the game, which resulted in a turnover on downs.