KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tom Radke's favorite college football team is Iowa State University as he played for the Cyclones, but now he knows who his least favorite team is.
"I'm not, I'm not. I love Couch House and Jackson, but I'm for sure not cheering for LSU this year," Radke, head football coach at St. James Academy, said.
Radke won't be cheering for Louisiana State University because his starting quarterback and 2021 Frank Fontana Award winner Jackson House, won't be returning to St. James Academy this season.
Jackson House's dad, Matt House, was the linebackers coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, but the LSU Tigers hired him away to be their defensive coordinator.
Now, Jackson House will play his senior season in Louisiana.
"They were honest with us about what was going on, and you know they thought if he took another job they'd try to get to stay, but what it comes down to is, family first," Radke said. "We preach that at St. James obviously, so they got to take care of their family, it's just a bummer because he's such a great kid."
St. James is coming off two straight state titles and are looking to stay ahead of the pack.
It was Jackson House that helped the Thunder get back on track, winning nine in a row after starting the season 0-4.
"This would have been the first year we had a returning quarterback since I've been here for 12 years and it was like 'Yes, No,'" Radke said.
Taking the reigns this season is Ben Wheeler. His older brother Sam Wheeler was a star at St. James and now plays tight end for Kansas State University.
"He's a really good athlete, so we're still in good hands," Radke said.
Sept. 2 will be a clash of the defending champs. 4A St. James will open the season against the Class 6A state title winner, Blue Valley Northwest.
"Yeah, playing those 6A teams prepares us for the playoffs and you know, suffering those losses is a good learning point for our team," Josh Boone, cornerback at St. James, said.
Boone tells KSHB 41 as the Thunder chase another state title, they have to leave the last two in the past.
"We try not to lean on that too much, if we do, we're kind of forgetting what it took to actually get to those state championships," Boone said. "And if we let that get to our head, we won't perform well."
St. James will open the season on Sept. 2 against Blue Valley Northwest. The game will be played at Bishop Miege High School.