5 of this week's high school football games worth the price of admission

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - If you can be one place Friday night, you'll want to head to Kearney, Missouri .  They expect 8,000 fans for the Bulldogs' home game against Staley.  It's one of our five must-see games for Friday night.  We preview contests in Missouri and Kansas, including a match-up between Shawnee Mission East and Olathe North.  Chip Sherman's Lancers try to go 4-0 for the first time since 1978.  See what the head coaches think about all five games.  You can also view a video preview by clicking on the video player.  Be sure to tune into NBC Action News at 10 for Football Friday Night.   Lance Veeser will have skylights, highlights and scores from these games and more.


1. STALEY AT KEARNEY

Just how good are the Kearney Bulldogs? They took their varsity players out of a game and their junior varsity team scored last Friday night in a 67-14 victory against Grandview. But it should be a different story for the Bulldogs this Friday night when they host Staley in the biggest game of the night.

“It should be our toughest test so far,” Kearney head coach Greg Jones said. “You've got the rivalry that exists between the two schools that has been built the last few years. They're well coached. They're a good football team. They beat Blue Springs. They're good. It's a good measuring stick for us to see where we're at.”

The Staley Falcons are the No. 3 ranked team in Missouri Class 5.  They beat Liberty North last week 42-7 and improved to 4-0. What’s more impressive is that Staley won 27-16 in week two at Blue Springs.

Staley and Kearney haven’t been playing for too long, but it’s already turned into a heated rivalry. Staley opened its doors three years ago. Kearney and Staley are now two top programs in the north part of the area. Their games are packed with fans in the stands. Going in, you never know who is going to win. That’s why it’s a must-see contest every time these two schools clash.

The last time the schools played, it was all Kearney. That’s when they both played in Class 4, but Staley moved up to Class 5 this season. The Bulldogs ended the Falcons season last year with a 28-0 victory in the playoffs. Does Coach Jones think that loss will play a factor in the game?

“What do you think?” Jones said sarcastically. “They don't need a factor. “It’s Kearney vs. Staley. Enough said.”

For the first time in school history, Staley beat Kearney when the two schools first met early last season. Kearney beat Staley twice two years ago. This Friday night’s game will be the only time the two schools will meet this season.

The head coaches at Staley and Kearney are impressive. Fred Bouchard leads Staley. He won four state championships in five years as head coach at Harrisonville. Jones has one state championship at Kearney, when his Bulldogs captured the title last season.

Kearney is the No. 1 ranked team in Missouri Class 4.  It's 3-0 after rain canceled its game against Ozark. The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents this season 150-14.

"Defensively, we're doing pretty good,” Jones said. “Offensively, we have a ways to go. It’s just inconsistency. We come out and look great. Next series, we stub our toe. We need to get to a point where we don't stop ourselves. We need to force other teams to stop us. We’re making offsides and clipping penalties. Little things like that. People are missing assignments. When we watch our offense at the end of last year, we're not there yet. We have to get better every week.”

So what makes the Bulldogs so good? Their defense has just been unstoppable after shutting out Winnetonka and Platte County this season.

Kearney won the Class 4 state title last year with quarterback Shane Hartzler. He’s back, and the senior helped Kearney take a 37-0 lead in the first quarter last week against Grandview. Hartzler ran for a touchdown and threw for another in that first quarter.

“Shane has played pretty well,” Jones said. “The things he brings are so many intangibles. His leadership is big. He’s been there before and played in the big game. He’s being recruited by MIAA schools. He went out to Northwestern, NIU and Wyoming.”

Staley so far is having a season to remember. That’s thanks to a week two victory at Blue Springs. Blue Springs didn’t have star running back Darrian Miller playing because of a coach’s decision. But Staley still scored a huge victory against a bigger Class 6 team.

The Staley defense pulled off three interceptions against Blue Springs. The Falcons showed they can score in bunches. They had 20 unanswered points against Blue Springs after the Wildcats led 8-0.

“That says they're not intimated by Blue Springs,” Jones said. “Any team can beat any other team on any Friday night. I was very impressed with their victory against Blue Springs. Staley is good. They have good athletes.”

Staley star running back Evan Campbell finished with 20 carries for 97 yards against Blue Springs and had a 4-yard fourth quarter touchdown run.

“I think he is one of the top running

backs in the area,” Jones said. “I'll be glad when he graduates.”

We’ll find out if Campbell can help Staley earn revenge against Kearney Friday night or if Kearney will beat Staley for the fourth time out of five chances in the series.

2. LEE’S SUMMIT AT BLUE SPRINGS

This should be a fun match-up to watch. You have one of the top players in the area in running back Darrian Miller of Blue Springs. Lee’s Summit’s Corbin Berkstresser, who’s already committed to Missouri, is one of the area’s top quarterbacks. If Berkstresser is on his game, it could make for a shootout and a contest that comes right down to the end.

Lee’s Summit, who’s in Class 5, will be going up against a bigger school in Blue Springs, who’s Class 6. Just how big is this game for Lee’s Summit head coach Eric Thomas?

“It’s the next game on the schedule,” he said. “We want to go in there and compete. I’m sure no one is giving us a chance to compete with them. I think we’re going to go over there and compete as fast as we can. The outcome will be dictated by how we play. I know our kids will be up for the game and play.”

Blue Springs has to be the best 2-2 team in Missouri. The Wildcats are ranked tied for fifth with rival Blue Springs South in Missouri Class 6.  They had their strongest game of the season last week. Their game against Fort Osage was supposed to be close. But someone forgot to tell Blue Springs. The Wildcats shut out Fort Osage 35-0 on the road.

“They’re a good football team,” Thomas said. “The games they lost were to quality opponents. They have two shutouts in a row. With Darrian Miller in the backfield offensively, we have our work cut out for us. Coach Donohoe does a great job. Their kids have a belief they’re going to win every game. We have a lot of battles to fight. It’s something we’re willing to do.”

Miller finished with 25 carries for 212 yards and three touchdowns against Fort Osage. That included an 86-yard touchdown run that put his team up 14-0. Blue Springs led 28-0 by halftime.

Lee’s Summit has also been a dangerous team this season. The Tigers are outscoring their opponents 140-98.

The Tigers have also proved they can win a close game. They’re coming off a 13-10 victory against their chief rival, an improved Lee’s Summit North team.

“Really, the last three weeks have been close games,” Thomas said. “The Ray South win was a pretty close game. We came out a winner in that one. Our defense did a great job keeping them at bay.”

Berkstresser showed why the Missouri Tigers want him. He led his team against Lee’s Summit North on an 80-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Blake Stancil with 10 seconds remaining.

“That was huge,” Thomas said. “That was a great play by him. Our o-line was protecting. That was a big, big deal for our team. That drive lasted 16 plays and 3 and a half minutes. We had three penalties that set us back. Lee’s Summit North is a good football team. It was a good win for us.”

Lee’s Summit North head coach Ty Kohl called it the toughest loss he’s had in 16 years. It improved Lee’s Summit’s record to 3-1. Their lone loss came at Ray-Pec when Lee’s Summit fell 53-49.

Thomas sees several keys for his team to come out on top at Blue Springs.

“Our first key is trying to slow down Darrian Miller,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a stopping point with him. We have to try to get them off the field in a timely fashion. They have big boys up front we’ll have to compete against. We have to put points on the board. We’ve struggled on offense the last few weeks. We have to run the ball.”

Berkstresser is the star for Lee’s Summit. The quarterback stands 6-foot-4 and weights 225 pounds. He throws and runs well.

“I think he’s still learning,” Thomas said. “I thought he really got better last week. That last drive was really good. He made great throws throughout the night. He’s a load running the football. He’s hungry for the knowledge for our offense. He continues to learn each week. He’s a great leader and the leader of our team. Our kids look up to him and respect him.”

Berkstresser will be facing one of his toughest tests of the season when he goes up against the Blue Springs defense. The Wildcats have recorded back-to-back shutouts.

“It will be a challenge for our whole offense,” Thomas said. “They play really fast. They’re a physical unit. They have great cover guys.”

Last year, Blue Springs beat Lee’s Summit twice. So when was the last time the Tigers beat the Wildcats?

“In the 1980’s is what I’ve been told,” Thomas said. “The past does not concern me.”

A Lee’s Summit victory against Blue Springs would be special for Thomas and the city of Lee’s Summit.

“I think it would be big,” he said. “I’d like to say there’s nothing bigger than us going to 4-1. It would mean a lot to our community and kids. Getting one win doesn’t make a season. One loss doesn’t make a season. We’re looking forward to continue our improvement each week.”

3. BLUE SPRINGS SOUTH AT RAY-PEC

This

is a game that pumps you up. Two Kansas City area powerhouses will be going at it. Blue Springs South is considered by many to be one of the teams to beat in Missouri. Ray-Pec is potent thanks to having star quarterback Cameron Coffman, who is a highly regarded Division I recruit. These factors make you want to driver over to Peculiar, Missouri to see this match-up in person.

“It would be a huge win for either team,” Ray-Pec head coach Tom Kruse said. “Right now, we’re 2-0 in the conference. This is their first conference game. It would put one of us in the driver’s seat with Blue Springs still luring out there.  A lot of the schools are getting into the conference part. We already played Lee’s Summit and Liberty.”

Just how good has the series been between these two teams?  The series stands at 3-3.

“They’ve all been close,” Kruse said. “I don’t know if it’s been more than eight points. We lost by six at their place last year. The year before, we beat them by a point at our place. It would be our turn to win.”

The Blue Springs South Jaguars have just one loss this season. That came in overtime against the No. 1 ranked team in Missouri, Rockhurst. The Jaguars are coming off a 41-17 victory against Lee’s Summit West. Titans head coach Royce Boehm called Blue Springs South the best team in Missouri. The Jaguars are currently ranked tied for fifth in Missouri Class 6.

“I don’t think there’s any question,” Kruse said about Boehm's comment.  “I would concur, if not one of, they have to be right there with the best. They are as good as advertised. One thing that stands out is how fast their team speed is. They run sideline to sideline as fast as any team I’ve seen. They have size up front. It will be a tremendous challenge for us.”

Ray-Pec will give Blue Springs South a challenge because of its quarterback. He’s Cameron Coffman, who comes from a family of talented athletes. His older brother Carson is the starting quarterback for Kansas State. His other older brother, Chase, was a star tight end for the Missouri Tigers and was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft. If that’s not enough, his father, Paul, was a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers.

How good is Cameron? The senior is putting up mind-boggling numbers this season. He threw for 536 passing yards, breaking the state record, in his team’s 53-49 win in week two against Lee’s Summit.

“When you watch him play, I don’t want to say it looks easy to him, but there are times in a game when he makes plays normally high school kids shouldn’t make,” Kruse said. “He makes plays with his feet and his arm. He’s a competitor. I’ve watched him grow and lead our football team. He’s been a joy to coach. He knows what is expected.”

Cameron is 6-foot-3, 180 pounds. Kruse said Carson was about the same size as Cameron when Carson was in high school at Ray-Pec.

“Now, Carson is 220,” Kruse said. “I think he will get bigger when he becomes a one-sport guy. They both played basketball. Cameron has a great work ethic in the weight room.”

Kruse said the two brothers also differ when it comes to their emotions.

“Carson was always steady,” he said. “You couldn’t tell if he made a big play. Cameron wears his emotions more on his sleeve. If Cameron throws a touchdown pass, he tackles the wide receiver in the endzone. I know Carson competes hard but Cameron wears his emotions on his sleeve more.”

While Carson is at Kansas State, Cameron could end up further away.

“Obviously, he has some offers,” Kruse said. “He hasn’t committed to any of them. He has visits lined up. He visited SEC schools this summer. He’s getting ready to do a Pac-10 trip. He knows the Big 12 schools already. He’s pretty open to finding the best fit for him and the best opportunity for a quality education. I can tell you this, he has a trip planned to Arizona State next weekend. He’s been to Nebraska, Iowa State, Ole Miss, LSU and Alabama. Notre Dame and Wisconsin called Tuesday requesting tapes. He’s just a smooth football player. He’s as good as anybody. Whoever gets him is going to get a really good player. They will be pleasantly surprised. I think people are leery of his size, but don’t be fooled. He breaks tackles as good as any quarterback I ever had. I’m fortunate to work with a kid like that. But we’re not done with him yet.”

Coffman will be going up Friday night against a strong defensive team. The Blue Springs South Jaguars forced two fumbles and had an interception against Lee’s Summit West.

“They are a talented defensive football team,” Kruse said. “They have a big play offense. They can go the distance with one play.  We have to force them into not giving up the big play. We have to create turnovers for us to have a chance.  We can’t turn it over.  That hurt Lee’s Summit West.”

While Ray-Pec has a strong quarterback, Kruse is impressed with Blue Springs South quarterback Calvin Jacobson.

“Don’t down-play their quarterback,” he said.

“He makes plays with his feet and arms. He’s a kid we definitely have to know what’s going on or he will torch you. Then, he has athletes around him. Their running back, Gilyard, can run 100 yards faster than anyone we have.”

Chris Gilyard had a 94-yard touchdown run against Lee’s Summit West. The play tied for the longest run in Blue Springs South history. The 5-foot-8, 185 pound Gilyard is a senior. He rushed for 202 yards and a touchdown on only nine carries against a Lee’s Summit West team that was ranked third in the state for Class 5 and unbeaten.

Ray-Pec knows it has its hands full with Blue Springs South. It’s one of several big games the Panthers have coming up.

“We’re excited to be 3-1 at the point we’re at,” Kruse said. “Knowing these next four football games with Ruskin, sandwiched in between Blue Springs and Rock, we definitely have our work cut out. We don’t have time to pat ourselves on the back. We have work to do. I think we’re an inexperienced team that has grown together the last four weeks. We have a challenge ahead of us. Ray-Pec is a difficult place to play.  We’re excited to be back at home.”

 4. BISHOP MIEGE AT BLUE VALLEY

This counts as an intriguing match-up. Both teams have shown they are tough to stop this season.

Blue Valley had a test in its last game against Blue Valley West.  The Tigers aced it.  Their game against Blue Valley West was supposed to be a close game. The two teams played their rain-delayed game on Monday and Blue Valley won 49-8. The Tigers have now outscored their opponents 161-15.

Bishop Miege showed it can compete with the best in the Kansas City area. The Stags hung tough with Gardner-Edgerton last week before falling 43-29.

“We played against a really good Gardner-Edgerton team,” Bishop Miege head coach Tim Grunhard said. “They have a lot of talent.  One of the things we’re going to have to deal with is coming off a loss and going on the road to a fine football team. Every time you play in the EKL, you’re going to play a fine football team, so it’s certainly going to be a challenge. Hopefully, our kids can bounce back.  That’s part of the experience of playing sports. You’re going to have some good days and you’re going to have some bad days. We won 12 football games in a row.  We have a loss and now we got to bounce back and see if we can put another streak together.”

Miege quarterback Max Shortell, who’s orally committed to Minnesota, threw for almost 400 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

The Stags feature a star at wide receiver. He’s Chris Aguilar, who hauled in a 61-yard touchdown pass last week.

Gardner-Edgerton was able to run all over the Miege defense. The Trailblazers had more than 450 yards on the ground.

This week, Miege will have to look out for Blue Valley running back Justin Fulk. He ran for three touchdowns against Blue Valley West.

But how about that Blue Valley defense! The Tigers didn’t allow the Jaguars to score until the final two minutes of the game.

“It’s going to be a physical game,” Grunhard said. “Last year was very physical. Blue Valley always has a great football team. We’re looking forward to going out there and playing again. It’s a very, very spirited rivalry.”

You had to wonder just how good Blue Valley would be because of a coaching change. Steve Rampy left after last season to be the offensive coordinator for Division II Pittsburg State. But the Tigers haven’t missed a beat.

New head coach Eric Driskell is keeping the Blue Valley program at the top. He was an assistant for 15 years under
Rampy and was a member of Blue Valley’s first state title team in 1991.

Blue Valley had momentum going into this season. The Tigers started 1-6 last year before winning four of their last five. They made it to the state semifinals where they met eventual state champ Olathe North. The Eagles edged The Tigers 16-14 in that semifinals game.

The Tigers have 32 seniors back this season and six starters on each side of the ball. They’ll have to deal with a short week by having to play a Monday game. They’ll be taking on their toughest opponent of the season on Friday night at home in Stilwell, Kansas when they clash with the Stags.

 5. SM EAST AT OLATHE NORTH

It’s been a while since Shawnee Mission East has been in the spotlight. The Lancers football team has been a struggling program, but not anymore. Head Coach Chip Sherman is in his second year, and he’s making a difference. Shawnee Mission East is 3-0 for the first time in 27 years. Olathe North better take Shawnee Mission East seriously because the Lancers are up next on the Eagles schedule.

“It’s been exciting for the kids and the whole community,” Sherman said. “We’re going in the right direction. We’re very, very young. We start five or six sophomores. They have bought into the program. The young kids are figuring things out.”

Shawnee Mission East is pulling off quite a turnaround. Before this season, no Lancers team had won more than seven games. They haven’t

been 4-0 since 1978.

“It’s been interesting,” Sherman said. “The kids are reacting well.  We’re trying to keep them at a business like attitude.  We have to continue to get better.  We have to play our best game by far if we want to play with Olathe North.  They stubbed their toe last week.  We’ll get their best shot.”

We’ll find out how good Shawnee Mission East is come Friday night.  The Lancers will be going up against defending 6A state champion Olathe North.  The Eagles are hungry for a win after rival Olathe East shut them out 25-0.  It was the first time Olathe North had failed to score in five years.

“We’re going to get their best game,” Sherman said. “ With any program at that high level, when they lose it’s tough.  When I was at Platte County for 21 years, I remember if we would ever lose, life wasn’t good.”

Sherman can learn how to stop Olathe North by watching game tape from its game against Olathe East. The Hawks shocked the city with their dominating win against the Eagles. So how were they able to do it?

“Field position was big,” Sherman said. “Olathe East runs very well on defense. They have a lot of good players. East controlled the game on the ground.”

Olathe North features star quarterback Victor Simmons, who can make plays with his feet. The Eagles also have Adonis Saunders, who won the NBC Action Sports HyVee Athlete of the Week award earlier this year after running for 160 yards on six carries against Shawnee Mission West.

“The quarterback and their running back are both outstanding players,” Sherman said. “They can make a lot of things happen. We start four sophomores on defense. They’re young kids and getting better every week.”

The Lancers are coming off a 40-21 win against Shawnee Mission North. Shawnee Mission East is outscoring opponents 99-37.

To find out why Shawnee Mission East is succeeding, look no further than its head coach. Sherman came from Platte County High school where his team pulled off a 52-game winning streak and won three straight Class 3 state titles. He went 191-37 from 1988-2007. He was the head coach for Salina South two years ago before arriving at Shawnee Mission East last season. Now, Sherman will look to turn the Shawnee Mission East program into a power.

“It’s satisfying,” he said. “I retired in Missouri and came over to Kansas. I loved it out at Salina South. It was a great place. We were 2-7 the year before I got there. We won districts, sectionals and were beat by Hutchinson in the quarterfinals. We finished 8-3 that year. Here, we’re getting better. They’ve been down for so long. It’s really a challenge. The kids are working hard.”

So how do you make kids believe they can win again?

“Attitude was the whole key,” Sherman said. “Their work habits were not real good. We had to change the work habits where they’re focusing on positive things and acting the right way. They weren’t practicing very well. They weren’t training very well. The offseason program was not real strong. We implemented a good strong offseason program. We practice harder. Now, they’re seeing it all pay off.”

Sherman’s Lancers feature starting quarterback John Schrock. The senior went 7-16 for 148 yards and a touchdown against Shawnee Mission North. He also ran four times for 29 yards and a score. He has 686 passing yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions.

“He’s a real high character guy,” Sherman said. “He’s a great guy to have leading our program.”

Shawnee Mission East’s top wide receiver is Elliot Faerber. The junior has 14 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns.

“He’s one of those guys that’s worked extremely hard to play varsity,” Sherman said. “He’s doing really well.”

Junior running back Adam Lowe had 112 yards on only five carries and two touchdowns last time out. He has 29 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns this season.

“The players really get along well,” Sherman said. “That chemistry is gigantic.”

If you go to a Shawnee Mission East game, you may recognize some Kansas City area sports figures in the stands. The son of Royals Hall of Famer George Brett, Jackson, is the senior starting center for Shawnee Mission East. George’s other son Dylan is a junior starting guard.

“I really admire George and his wife by the way they handle their children,” Sherman said. “They just want to be like everybody else. Their kids are the same way. They are great kids, very unassuming and very humble. George just wants to be a dad and enjoy watching his sons play.”

Missouri Tigers legendary basketball coach Norm Stewart has two grandsons who play for the Lancers. They are sophomore twins David Stewart, who starts at linebacker, and Sam Stewart who is not playing right now because of an injured shoulder.

The Shawnee Mission East-Olathe North game is a rematch of last year’s state playoffs when the Eagles cruised to a 42-14 win against the Lancers. It was Shawnee Mission East's first trip to the state playoffs in three years. You might think the Lancers have revenge

on their minds against the Eagles, but Sherman doesn’t see it that way.

“Revenge is a poor motivator,” Sherman said. “I just think we need to go about playing the way it’s supposed to be played. We’re supposed to be teaching kids right.  I think it’s going to be a fun game to watch.  If I was a spectator, I’d be very intrigued to see how our young kids handle the pressure."

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