Suburban Conference football teams already have enough on their plates. With always rugged interleague battles and competitive district races, a midseason distraction would seem to be the last thing a coach would want.
Not so when it comes to the Sunflower-Suburban Showdown.
Ten teams from the Suburban Conference will square off against 10 Sunflower League teams Friday in the renewal of a Kansas-Missouri bragging rights series that started last season.
All three Lee’s Summit city schools are involved — Lee’s Summit hosts Olathe South, Olathe Northwest comes to Lee’s Summit North, and Lee’s Summit West travels to Lawrence.
Instead of seeing these games as a nuisance, most coaches and players welcome the chance to take on cross-border competition.
“I like the border war,” Lee’s Summit West coach Vinny Careswell said. “I like being able to go over and play some different teams that we don’t see over here. Kansas has great football, and it’s an opportunity for our kids to travel over state line and play some good teams.”
West (3-1), which is ranked sixth in Class 6, has one of the more intriguing matchups in the series.
Lawrence (2-0) averaged 55.5 points in its first two games after beating Shawnee Mission North 69-31 last week. Chesty Lions quarterback Dante Jackson totaled 283 total yards of offense with four rushing touchdowns and three touchdowns passes against SM North.
“Lawrence is a good football team,” Careswell said. “They’ve got a similar quarterback to what (Lee’s Summit) North has, so we’ll have our hands full with them.”
Speaking of Lee’s Summit North quarterback Christian Carter, he rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown in the Broncos’ 45-24 loss last week at West.
Carter wasn’t behind center for the Broncos’ 21-16 win last season in a thriller at Olathe Northwest, when North needed a goal-line stand in the closing seconds to secure the first victory in 2016.
“Our conference is brutal,” Broncos coach Jamar Mozee said. “Sometimes, it’s fun to play a team outside the conference.”
Besides getting a respite from the Gold conference grind, Mozee also likes the opportunity to match up against the Kansas teams.
“I think it draws interest,” he said. “I think it makes things a little more exciting. You get to find out what it’s like to play a team from another state. I think it’s fun.”
Missouri teams had all the fun last year, winning all 10 games — 11 including independent Rockhurst’s victory over Shawnee Mission East that same week. Another sweep could be a tall order for the Show-Me State.
Park Hill, the new No. 1 team in Class 6, also heads to Lawrence to take on Free State, the No. 2 team in Kansas Class 6A, while Liberty, ranked No. 4 in Class 5, entertains Olathe East in another key matchup.
Other games include Shawnee Mission West at Blue Springs, Olathe North at Blue Springs South, Shawnee Mission Northwest at Grandview, Winnetonka at Shawnee Mission South, and North Kansas City at Leavenworth.
Rockhurst will play at Class 6A No. 1 Shawnee Mission East in another rematch from last season.
“It’s a big deal because we want Missouri to show Kansas that we’re the real deal,” Lee’s Summit West quarterback Ben Kobel said. “We want to own the rivalry.”