High School Sports

Liberty squares off against Winnetonka on Friday in season-opening battle

When Liberty squares off Friday against Winnetonka at North Kansas City District Stadium, it will be more than a clash of two of the area’s top teams.

True, the Griffins, who are ranked No. 8 in the Missouri Class 5 preseason media poll, boasts one of the top players in Kansas City this season — linebacker Aaron Mends, who committed to Iowa on Aug. 17.

Led by Mends, who also starts at running back, Winnetonka opened last season 5-1 before fading to finish 7-4 overall.

Of course, the Griffins are highly motivated to make even more noise this season and it starts by trying to pluck the Blue Jays.

Then again, Liberty, who received votes in the Class 6 poll, aren’t exactly slouches.

Jacob Francis leads a seasoned offensive line and big things are expected from running back David Graves, while coach Chad Frigon’s defense returns eight starters, including Suburban Conference Gold co-defensive player of the year Devin Houston.

It all makes for a juicy season-opening battle.

Metro Sports will televise the game 8:05 p.m. The kickoff was pushed back to avoid this week’s soaring temperatures.

Still, all of that is secondary in some ways to the Winnetonka Touchdown Club’s efforts to “Honor Freedom” by collecting donations for the Wounded Warrior Project.

It’s a fitting game for it really — Tonka’s fans will be decked out in red and the Jays’ supporters clad in blue, creating a patriotic look.