A couple of days before leading Lee’s Summit West into Saturday’s Missouri Class 5 state championship game, seniors Monte Harrison and Logan Cheadle separately described the origins of their friendship. It started on the football field, Harrison explained, where they developed a mutual respect for each other’s talents.
But that respect, Cheadle said, began with some competitive battles.
The two athletes spent their sophomore seasons locked in a fight for playing time in the defensive backfield. A year later, the Titans’ coaching staff moved Harrison to wide receiver, hoping to take advantage of his size and athleticism.
The move benefited both players. It also pitted them against each other every day in practice.
“I thought it was weird that this kid who was a corner (the previous) year was a stud wide receiver,” Cheadle said. “He was making catches on me, and I’m not used to that.”
The two regularly matched up during the 2012 summer camps and seven-on-seven drills, developing a bit of a friendly rivalry.
Well, mostly friendly.
“Did it get heated? Yes, it got very heated,” Titans coach Royce Boehm said. “They’re both very competitive, so there was a lot of jawing between the two. You’re looking at two guys who don’t want to lose.”
Competitive, but also productive.
Both players enjoyed breakout seasons as juniors, leading to commitments to Football Bowl Subdivision schools the following spring. Harrison committed to Nebraska, where he plans to play football and baseball, and Cheadle committed to Missouri as a cornerback.
But first things first.
They will play the final game of their high school careers Saturday when Lee’s Summit West battles Parkway Central in the Missouri Class 5 state championship game at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“We started going up against each other before junior year, and that’s when we both had our breakout year,” Cheadle said. “I always tell everybody that’s why we had such good junior years. There was nobody I was seeing out there Friday night that was better than what I saw in practice.”
Shouldered with more responsibility, they’ve been even better as seniors.
Few quarterbacks risk throwing in Cheadle’s direction, but he still leads the team with 18 pass breakups this season. He’s only 5-10, but he possesses blazing speed. He was clocked at a 4.38 40-yard dash over the summer.
With Harrison, the numbers speak for themselves. He leads the team with 58 catches, 993 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 11 scores out of a goal line Wildcat package, and he’s returned punts for three more, giving him a total of 27 touchdowns this season.
“You talk to a lot of coaches in the city, and they will tell you he’s one of the most talented athletes to come though the city,” Boehm said. “As soon as we made that move (to wide receiver), he made us look like geniuses.”
He has produced his best games at the biggest moments. He caught 15 passes for 186 yards against Blue Springs, the state’s top-ranked team, causing Wildcats coach Kelly Donohoe to call Harrison perhaps the most talented player he’s ever coached against.
Some of the Titans’ playoff opponents may agree.
Harrison has seven touchdowns and 445 yards in four postseason games.
“I wanted to play wide receiver because I was more comfortable when I could make plays,” Harrison said. “That’s my job on this team. I take it upon myself to make plays in big games.”
Then here’s a scary thought: The biggest game of his high school career comes Saturday.