Here are five must-see games entering the final regular season week of high school football in the Kansas City area.
1. Lee's Summit (8-0) at Blue Springs (8-0)
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
In the regular season finale last fall, the Lee's Summit Tigers put up 62 points against the vaunted Blue Springs defense ... and they still lost. Blue Springs scored 84 in the highest scoring game in Missouri last season. Still not intrigued? Well, this game now takes on an entirely new level of importance. The two teams will be playing for the Suburban Gold Conference championship. It's hardly surprising the Wildcats are in this position — they've won five straight conference titles and haven't lost a game in league play in four years. As for Lee's Summit, the Tigers won only one conference game last season. Quarterback Drew Lock has passed for 26 touchdowns and suffered only three interceptions this season, helping Lee's Summit average 40.8 points per game.
2. Blue Springs South (4-4) at Liberty (6-2)
It has been a long wait, but Blue Springs South finally has its chance for payback. Liberty ended the Jaguars' season last fall with back-to-back victories. It followed a 13-7 win in the regular season finale with a 25-16 win in the opening round of the postseason. The Jaguars haven't found their usual consistency this season, but with starting quarterback Chris Swingle back from injury, they may be more dangerous than their record shows. Liberty enters the Thursday night game on a three-game winning streak. It eked out a one-point victory over Columbia Rock Bridge last week behind 140 rushing yards from David Graves.
3. Pleasant Hill (8-0) at Harrisonville (6-2)
Perhaps the area's most pleasant surprise in 2013, Pleasant Hill is one victory away from completing its improbable regular season without a loss. That victory would clinch the Missouri River Valley Conference West championship. Led by dual-threat quarterback Josh Shewmaker, the Roosters have put last season's 3-7 finish in the rear view mirror while emerging as a legitimate threat to make a run at the Missouri Class 4 championship — something the Harrisonville Wildcats know a little bit about. Harrisonville has won four state titles in the last 10 seasons and made the state semifinals last fall. If it stands its ground at home Friday, Harrisonville would tie Pleasant Hill for the conference championship. That scenario would allow Oak Grove to also claim a share with a win against Excelsior Springs.
Two teams who were embarrassed early in the season certainly figured out fashionable ways to rebound. And now they meet with the Suburban Blue Conference championship on the line. It's easy to forget that Winnetonka was shut out by Liberty in the season opener. The Griffins haven't lost a game since, reeling off seven straight victories and scoring at least four touchdowns in each game. Kearney has seen its turnaround on the other side of the ball. The Bulldogs allowed 77 points in a Week 2 loss to Lee's Summit, a wake-up call that has provided plenty of motivation for the defense. In the ensuing six games — all victories — Kearney has allowed only 68 points.
5. Park Hill (3-5) at Park Hill South (4-4)
Park Hill South has taken two in a row in this rivalry matchup, and the Panthers should be considered the favorite again. The offense hasn't always been reliable, but it is versatile. Nick Griffith leads a well-balanced attack with seven receiving touchdowns. The Panthers will look to add to the recent defensive woes from Park Hill. The Trojans have given up 48 points per game over a three-game losing streak.