1. BLUE VALLEY
Clay Rhodes, who has committed to Missouri, and Austin Hickman return from last year’s team, which reached the Kansas 5A state final for a second straight season. The defense’s strength again will be the linebackers, including BV North transfer Henry McGrew and Joe Forlenza.
The Trailblazers’ offensive and defensive stars return with huge expectations for junior tailback Traevohn Wrench and senior linebacker Matt Plank, who recorded 127 tackles last season. Moving up to Kansas 6A, coach Marvin Diener hopes junior quarterback Jared Hobby will help the program make a splash.
3. BISHOP MIEGE
The Stags went 9-2 last season and reached the Kansas 5A quarterfinals. Under first-year coach Jon Holmes, at least as much is expected, especially with Montell Cozart, a Kansas commit and the 2011 Kansas Gatorade player of the year, back at quarterback and junior linebacker Brad Ivey to anchor the defense.
4. BV NORTHWEST
Quarterback Alec Winsor is an excellent pure passer with two reliable targets in wide receivers Austin Moses and Bailey Strohl. Big things are expected from running back Reed Coda. On defense, the only returning starter is cornerback Josh Cowell.
5. BV SOUTHWEST
The Timberwolves finally have a legitimate senior class, which will dramatically improve the squad’s depth. Quarterback Aaron Ramsey is in his third season as starter, while tight end/middle linebacker Anthony Miller is poised to become a star. But moving up to Kansas 5A will make it tough to return to the playoffs for a third straight time.
6. BV WEST
The Jaguars are hungry for a return to prominence. Returning eight starters on offense, including junior quarterback Ryan Ralston, makes for a pretty good start. Running back Conley Wilkins also returns along with the entire offensive line.
Expectations are tamped down by last year’s 4-5 record, but the Saints return plenty on offense. Two-way lineman Dan Morin promises to be among the league’s best in the trenches. Paul Hoffman, Andrew Hagemann and John Thesing also return to the offensive line.
8. BV NORTH
The Mustangs were winless last season, but that simply won’t do in the second season under former Olathe North coach John McCall, especially with a defense that returns 10 starters. Offensively, Cory Taubin moves from running back to quarterback.