RE/MAX Big 3 Games of the Week
By PrepsKC staff
University Academy at Center
7 p.m. Friday at Center Stadium
This will feel like a home game for both teams since University Academy plays its home games at Center.
These teams begin this season with different challenges in front of them. University Academy starts with a new coach, new classification and will play without its best player from last year. The Gryphons standout sophomore quarterback from last year Dimonic McKinzy and his younger brother Xavier both transferred to Wyandotte, Kan. over the summer.
Take away Dimonic McKinzy’s main target from last season Bryson Winfrey who graduated and new coach Dan Stanley and his staff have their work cut out for them.
Even with the losses the Gryphons should still have talent from a team that won its district and qualified for the Class 1 playoffs. This year the challenge will be to succeed in Class 2 as University Academy has moved up.
Center finds itself in an opposite situation. The Yellowjackets return many players off of a team that went 4-6 last season. Center lost only nine seniors and brings back a strong junior and sophomore class. That and a move down to Class 3 makes this a season of opportunity for the Yellowjackets.
This week these teams will try to get their seasons off on the right foot in a game that has become a small rivalry between to city schools that share a home.
Winnetonka at Liberty
7 p.m. Friday at William Jewell
This Northland battle pits two programs that are on the rise. The Griffins were in the playoffs a year ago while the Jays made small steps under first-year coach Chad Frigon.
This year’s opener will be a good test for both teams. Winnetonka doesn’t have a huge group of returning starters but it has a talented group of players looking to gain experience to go along with that talent.
The Griffins feature several playmakers on offense and a defense that could gain strength as the season goes on. This first game will see if the talented junior class is ready to step up to solid Class 5 and 6 competition.
Liberty is now three seasons removed from the split in schools that saw the new Liberty North open. This group should be fully recovered from those losses and ready to make some noise in the Suburban Big Six.
The Jays are similar to Winnetonka with a good sized senior class and a big junior class that will be charged with leading the team all season long.
Liberty had consistently been one of the top programs in Class 6 before the split and this could be the season it starts to get back in that group. A win over a Class 5 Winnetonka might look pretty good as the season goes on.
Staley at Lee’s Summit West
2:30 p.m. Saturday at Lee’s Summit West Stadium
These teams have only played twice but those two games have been huge. The last two seasons they met in the Class 5 semifinals with the winner going on to win a state title.
In 2010 Lee’s Summit West stopped Staley 17-14 in a tough defensive battle to advance to the Class 5 state championship game. The Titans would win that title game in a walk leading many to call the semifinals the real championship game.
Last year it was a repeat of sorts as the two powerhouses again found themselves in the semifinals. This time the defense took a back seat to the offenses as Staley outlasted West 76-70 in an epic four overtime game. The Falcons would then follow that win with an easy victory in the state championship game the next week.
Both of those games were played at Staley but this year they open the season at West in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN.
While there is an exciting but short history between these two teams this year’s game will see which team is better at reloading. Both teams lost multiple starters including several who are at Division I schools this season.
The Falcons still have Trent Hosick calling the signals and the dual threat QB is one of the best players in the Metro. Hosick does as much damage on the ground as he does through the air so West will be charged with stopping him and the Falcons rushing attack.
West counters with a defense with a marquee player of its own. Senior linebacker Nick Ramirez anchors the Titans defense that will be charged with stopping Hosick and the Falcons. Ramirez is headed to the University of Missouri next season with Hosick but the pair will be on opposite sides of the ball this year.
The strength of both teams should be on the field when Staley has the ball. The question for this opening game is what the other parts of each team will be able to accomplish. Staley’s offense and West’s defense might just cancel each other out leaving the players on the other side of the ball to make the big difference.
Pleasant Hill Roosters
Excelsior Springs Tigers
Jefferson County North
North Platte Panthers
Pembroke Hill Raiders
Blue Valley Northwest Huskies
Hogan Prep Academy Rams
Crest Ridge Cougars
Appleton City Bulldogs
Olathe Northwest Ravens
Ruskin Golden Eagles
Spring Hill Broncos