High School Sports

Missouri high school football picks: Park Hill, Kearney and Oak Grove in state semifinals

Kearney quarterback Johnny Weidmaier (with ball) follows his blocker in a game against Platte County earlier this season.
Kearney quarterback Johnny Weidmaier (with ball) follows his blocker in a game against Platte County earlier this season. The Kansas City Star

Park Hill, Kearney and Oak Grove can clinch a spot in next weekend’s Missouri football championship games with a victory on Friday or Saturday.

Oak Grove will be the only team staying home — and I'll have full coverage from there — while Park Hill and Kearney will have to win on the road to reach the Edward Jones Dome.

Rockhurst is enjoying a bye after securing its spot in the Class 6 championship game with last week’s win against Francis Howell.

Let's get to the picks.

Last week's record: 4-2

Playoff record: 61-8

Season record: 92-25

As for this week...

CLASS 5: Park Hill (12-0) at Nixa (8-4), 7 p.m. Friday

The records can be misleading. Sure, Park Hill is undefeated, but it could be without its top two options at quarterback tonight. Tyler Holmes and Jeremiah Benson were both injured in last week's win against Fort Osage and unable to complete the game. Their status is questionable for tonight.

That puts more pressure on tailbacks Matt Harris and Kenyatte Harris to move the ball on the ground against a Nixa defense that will likely stack the box in an effort to take away the run.

Nixa has won seven straight games and boasts one of the state's most talented runners in Alec Murphy, a Mississippi State commit.

Prediction: Park Hill 21, Nixa 20

CLASS 4: Kearney (12-1) at Webb City (13-0), 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Old-school football. Kearney and Webb City are run-heavy teams that rely on physical play up front and tough-to-tackle halfbacks.

Webb City certainly has the track record of success with four straight Missouri Class 4 state titles. Kearney was the last non-Webb City team to win Class 4 when it took home the trophy in 2009.

Kearney's defense has been nasty this season, holding eight of 13 opponents to single digits. But Webb City represents a unique challenge, averaging nearly 300 rushing yards per game.

Prediction: Webb City 28, Kearney 17

CLASS 3: California (13-0) at Oak Grove (11-2), 7 p.m. Friday

Is there any team playing better football than Oak Grove? Unlikely.

The Panthers ended Maryville's 42-game winning streak last Friday with a 69-23 dismantling of the two-time defending champions. They ran for 598 yards in the win.

Oak Grove running back Aaron Graham is on a tear, and he averages more than 200 yards per game. Look for the Panthers to rely on him heavily again tonight.

Prediction: Oak Grove 35, California 28

To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SamMcDowell11.

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