Monday, August 31, 2015

Ultimate Roadtrip: Week 5

I'll be taking a note from ESPN's Big XII team and talk about the games that I think will highlight each week and which ones will be the best to attend! This list will be based on the teams playing, the stadium, the possible implications of the game, and of course how rowdy and exciting the atmosphere will be! Of course, these games will be based on my pre-season thoughts on each team so the best games for each week might change as time moves forward. 

NOTE: I will try to avoid adding venues outside of the Sunflower League unless a game truly becomes a can't miss situation. That means no Garden City, Blue Valley, or other schools of the sort.

Crowd-Pleasers (Runner-Ups)

Olathe South @ SM West
Location: SMSDS, Shawnee, KS
Date: October 2nd, 2015 7:00PM

This is just a game that should include two hard working teams trying to scavenge every win they can get. SM West will likely be in a better situation than the Falcons, but both teams can be expected to give us a great game that doesn't stick out on paper, but you could still find yourself enjoying this game thoroughly. Olathe South tends to have pretty loyal fans regardless of the opponent, so you can expect a decently sized away crowd this week.

Ultimate Roadtrip: Week 5

Lawrence Free State @ SM East

Location: SMNDS, Shawnee, KS
Date: October 2nd, 2015 7:00PM

Photo by PV Post, 2014
This is making up to be Game of the Year material. SM East doesn't have many challenges this year, but by god did they get a perfect team to show how good they really are. That doesn't mean Free State will just be a bigger step for the Lancers. The Firebirds went into last year's game as a small underdog, but they will likely be an even match or even a favorite in some minds. If the stars align and both teams enter the game at 4-0, this will be a must-see for any fan of high school football. 

KC Metro Sunflower Football Connections - Where are they now?

As we enter week-3 for the KC High School Football teams, there are already a few surprises linking the old Sunflower League. Our Sunflower schools will kickoff Friday night while our counterparts across the State Line will begin playing the meat of their schedule.

Currently, the Lee's Summit North (LS North) Broncos are now 2-0, defeating PH South, and
Winnetonka, in Jamar Mozee’s first season. This is the Broncos first 2-0 start since the 2000 season. Former SM East, and SM West Head Coach Harold Wambsgans led the Broncos from 1996 to 2008. Entering week-3 against they face the NKC Hornets. Early on, this play by the Broncos is a great step forward.

At North KC, former SM East Lancer Lineman, Assistant Coach Karl Zubeck (a former Buck Buchanon Award winner – SM East ‘99) is part of Leon Douglas’ staff. The Hornets at 1-1, will face the LS Broncos at home this Friday.


Over in the West Central, the Center Yellowjackets, Coached by former SM North AC Brian DeLong in his 7th season is 44-24, and 2-0 overall in 2015. The Jackets have a third consecutive road game at Pembroke Hill. Center has two road wins versus University Academy, and Nevada already in the books. 

Former Olathe North Running Back legend Maurice Mack Jr., a player under Gene Weir and member of the 6A State Football Eagles Champions 2000-2001, is a former THOMAS A. SIMONE Winner '01 is in his first year Coaching the Washington Wildcats of the KCAL.

Jeremy Milne, another former Olathe North Eagle coached by Gene Weir in the mid-1990’s will be entering his fourth season with the Turner Golden Bears. Former Washington Wildcats Head Coach Bryan Salsgiver (of SM South under Don Hanna in the early 2000s) is part of the Turner staff. Jeremy Milne’s record at Turner is 10W-17L in 27 games coached.

At Washington, Bryan Salsgiver compiled a record from 2012-2014, 13W-14L in 27 games coached. Bryan Salsgiver is now on the Turner Golden Bears Football staff. 

Thank you to our Sunflower Football alumni making an impact in our current student-athletes lives across the KC-metro both in the classroom and on the field. Your work does not go un-noticed and we are looking forward to continue tracking your progress in your Coaching career.

If you know of any other former Sunflower Football alumni in the local Coaching ranks at the High School level, please let us know!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

This past week, 810Varsity released its KC Top 25 Football Programs released it's Preseason Top 25 Poll for the Kansas City Metro area. The Sunflower League boasts five members, all of whom have seen a lot of success in recent seasons.

Of the 25, all Sunflower teams find themselves within the Top 20, which is a great compliment as to how the league has grown in strength and talent. 12 of the 25 are KS schools while, 11 of the 13 MO schools are all Suburban League Teams, and one MRVC. Rockhurst stands alone at the top with the Lancers here in the metro with SM East closing out 2014 13-0, while the Hawklets ended 11-1 with no league affiliations.

1 - SM East Lancers - SFL
How SM East made the Top 25:
* 2010-2014: 46W-11L-57GP & 6A Playoffs 8W-5L
* First time in history of Varsity program, five straight winning seasons 2010-2014
* 7W-1L-8GP in Playoff games, back-to-back trips to 6A State Final in 2013 & 2014  
* Former Head Coach Chip Sherman (26-15 at SM East, now at Olathe NW 8-10), and current Grid leader Dustin Delaney 24-2 in two seasons (most Wins of any SFL Head Coach 1951 to Present) leading the way. 

2 - Rockhurst Hawklets - Independent
3 - Ft. Osage Indians - Suburban
4 - St. Thomas Aquinas Saints - EKL
5 - Staley Falcons - Suburban
6 - Blue Valley Tigers - EKL
7 - Blue Springs Wildcats - Suburban
8 - Lee's Summit West Titans - Suburban

9 - SM West Vikings - SFL
How SM West made the Top 25:
* 2010-2014: 36W-18L-54GP & 6A Playoffs 6W-3L
* 12-1 & 2012 6A State Champions
* A leader and legendary duo in the Football hallways of West - Andre Maloney & Houston St. John (SM West theatre) 

10 - Bishop Miege Stags - EKL

11 - Olathe North Eagles - SFL
How Olathe North made the Top 25:
Head Coaches: Pete Flood, Gene Weir 
* 2010-2014: 38W-18L-56GP & 6A Playoffs 7W-4L 
* Lost in consecutive seasons to SM East in SubState Finals '13 & '14

12 - Park Hill Trojans - Suburban

13 - Lawrence Lions - SFL
How Lawrence made the Top 25:
* Head Coach Dirk Wedd 83-77 (17th season)
* 2010-2014: 25W-24L-49GP & 6A Playoffs 1W-3L 
* Best finish 8-3 in 2013

14 - Harrisonville Wildcats - MRVC
15 - Liberty North Eagles - Suburban
16 - Ray-Pec Panthers - Suburban

17 - Free State Firebirds - SFL
How Free State made the Top 25:
* Head Coach Bob Lisher 111-76 (19th season)
* 2010-2014: 37W-16L-53GP & 6A Playoffs 4W-4L 
* Lost to the Hutchinson SaltHawks in the SubState Final 2014

18 - Blue Springs South Jaguars - Suburban
19 - Mill Valley Jaguars - Kaw Valley
20 - Raytown South Cardinals - Suburban
21 - Kearney Bulldogs - Suburban
22 - Bonner Springs Braves - Suburban
23 - Platte County Pirates - Suburban
24 - Blue Valley West Jaguars - EKL
25 - Piper Pirates - Kaw Valley

Monday, August 17, 2015

SFN Preseason Coaching Interview with Indians Ben Bartlett

This week the #SFL met up with Second year SM North Indians Head Coach Ben Bartlett. Coach Bartlett's back ground begins as an Student-athlete for four years under former Indians Head Coach Sam Brown. Coach Bartlett has been a teacher at SM North for nine years entering the 15-16 school year. Coach Bartlett's Overall, and Sunflower records stand at 2-8, 0-5. This will be the 94th season of Indians Football dating back to its beginnings as the Shawnee-Mission Indians in 1922 led by AL Berry 1922-1923.

#SFN - JR Will Schneider has been spectacular numbers wise in his first two seasons as QB. What are his strengths coming in to this 2015 season as he now has 19 games under his belt?

Ben Bartlett
Will has established himself as the clear leader on the offense.  In addition to his varsity experience the last couple of years he has worked incredibly hard in the off season.  I anticipate him taking another step forward in his progression at the QB position.

#SFN - Everyone on the outside believes the Indians will struggle this season due to the loss of Nick Perez to graduation. Who do you see stepping in to his place?

Ben Bartlett
Haha, “everyone” is a rather blanket statement Kevin.  There is no doubt that Nick Perez was a special athlete and his absents will be felt, but we have many athletes that are looking forward to the opportunity to establishing a name for themselves at the wide receiver position in his absence.

#SFN - In recent seasons the Indians have lost 12 straight Hula Bowl games to the NW Cougars since 2002. Can this be the season that number changes? 

Ben Bartlett
Our players are highly motivated to win every game that they play.  Our game against the Cougars will be no different.   

#SFN - Your Shawnee-Mission Indians are the second longest tenured team in the league outside of the Chesty Lions. Who is the biggest rival the team has circled on their calendar each year before school starts?

Ben Bartlett
Traditionally our rival had been the Cougars due to the fact that there was a middle school (Hocker) in which students of both SMN and SMNW shared before splitting to go to high school.  I believe that familiarity with each other at that time helped fuel the rivalry.  Since the school district changed a few years ago so that each high school has just one middle school feeding each of the one of the high schools  I don’t think the rivalry is as strong as it once was. 

#SFN - As the Indians enter their 94th season, is their one thing as an alumni you bring to your players before the season starts, or stories of Indians games of the past that help make the season get off to a great year?

Ben Bartlett
I believe my experiences as a SM North alum help me in relating to the players and imparting some of the great traditions of the past.  This team though is looking forward to writing their own chapter in our schools storied history this seasons. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

SFN Preseason Coaching Interview with Eagles Chris McCartney

This week the #SFL met up with First year Olathe North Eagles Head Coach Chris McCartney. Coach McCartney's back ground begins as an Assistant Coach for 19 seasons beginning with Gene Weir, Dave Bassore, Pete Flood, and Gene Weir (2nd tenure.) Coach McCartney's Overall, and Sunflower records stand at 0-0, 0-0. This will be the 96th season of Eagles Football dating back to its beginnings as the Olathe Eagles in 1920 led by JD Edgar 1920-1922.                                                          


#SFN - With 19 years as an Assistant Coach under a great Coaching tree, how does this transition 
from Gene Weir to your time at the school make it easier for the players to get used too and being 

Chris McCartney
I would like to think that being here at Olathe North for the last 19 years has made the transition 
much easier. Coach Wier was very good to me and allowed me to be in control of certain aspects 
of the program including the weight room and the defense.

#SFN - Losing any SR’s to graduation always is a struggle for many high schools. 
How does the loss of Chaz Burgess affect your defense?

Chris McCartney
Chaz Burgess was not only a big loss to defense, but, he was also a great receiver and big asset 
as a back-up QB. He is a great all-around athlete that was a big "utility player" for us and he will 
definitely be difficult to replace.

#SFN - OS, SMW, and SME have all won a State Title since 2010, How does this represent a 
great passion for High School players here in NE Johnson County and retaining the State’s 
biggest trophy?

Chris McCartney
I think with titles being won by various programs has raised the reality that with great effort 
and a lot of hard work, a title can be with-in anyone's reach.

#SFN  - Gene Weir is a legend amongst the JOCO High School Football guard, and around the State 
by many local writers, is there any advice he gave to you in accepting this challenge as Head Coach?!

Chris McCartney
Coach Wier has been a great mentor to me.  Over the years, and especially recently, I could write a 
book with all the advice he has given.   He has been very supportive
since I have become head coach here at Olathe North.

#SFN  - Cole Murphy’s leadership has been a great strength on and off the field the last two seasons. 
Do you have a certain student-athlete, or position player stepping up in his spot to continue in his 

Chris McCartney
Right now we are still in the early stages of figuring out our leaders.  We have several kids that 
have shown great character in the off-season.  Isaiah Simmons, Ryan Workman, Vinnie Shabazz 
and Kaleb Brooks have shown very high character.

#SFN  - You have been part of all 8 State Titles the Eagles have won. Is there any particular season 
that you recall has been your favorite to be part of?

Chris McCartney
I don't have a favorite season.  They were all special in different ways.  
The most important part is the relationships I've built with the kids and coaches from those teams.

Coach, Thank you for meeting with #SFN, and best of luck to the Eagles as they start their 2015 season! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

SFN Preseason Coaching Interview with Lancers Dustin Delaney

Recently, the SFN caught up with Dustin Delaney who is in his third season with the SM East Lancers. In two seasons, Coach Delaney has compiled a record of 24-2, and 11-1 in Sunflower competition. The Lancers completed the 2014 season 13-0 accomplishing the schools first ever 6A State Football Title.

#SFN - Congrats on winning the schools first ever 6A State Title Coach, how does this game rank among your favorites in previous seasons?!

Coach Delaney 

It was a great day for our school and our community. Being the first state champion football team in school history was very special.

#SFN - The Lancers have had plenty of nay-sayers in the recent seasons due to having schools like Harmon and Wyandotte on their schedule, and being called “soft” at times. Does this deter the hard work and mentality of your athletes?

Coach Delaney 

It has zero to do with us whatsoever. We don't control who we play. All we try to do is get better every week. Our kids don't care who we play, we prepare the same way and expect the same things as always. We have some control over our future schedule and we are scheduled Rockhurst to play in 2016 and 2017. 

#SFN - The Lancers scored 600 total points in 2014, and most ever in any 6, or 5A State Title season with 12 or 13 games played. Is this a testament how much your students have learned from you and your staff in game planning?

Coach Delaney The credit should go to the kids. We can have all the wild ideas as a staff we want, but if our kids don't execute it with precision, it will not look good. We have very special kids at SME. First and foremost, they are intelligent and extremely hard working. Our kids are also tough and love to compete. They are truly a joy to coach. 

Coach Delaney returns 12 players with starting experience
this year. Photo by PV Post, 2014
#SFN - SM East is on a high, and will be for a while after staking claim to its first ever title. Come time for the Lancer Day Parade, how do you see the boys coming out to represent Prairie Village, and the SMSD at the start of the season?

Coach Delaney

Our goal is the same every season- to win the state championship. But our kids are smart enough to understand that it is a long journey to get there. We focus on getting better every day in practice and getting better every week during the season. We don't get too high or too low, we try to stay even-keeled throughout games and the season. Our kids will come out like they do every week. 

#SFN - G-E is the first team on the schedule this year, and will be playing at home (SM North) in week-1? Is there a lot of anxiety from the younger SO’s & JR’s looking to earn playing time, and to learn your offense?

Coach Delaney We lost some very good players, but our younger players have now been in the system for their 3rd year. They know the expectations and how we operate. They won't be anxious, they will be prepared. We have 12 kids back who started at some point last year, so we are not void of veteran players. 

#SFN - SR QB Gunner Englund has been lost to graduation, who is your QB or QB’s expected to step up in 2015?

Coach Delaney Luke Kaiser will be our QB this year. He is a junior who will be running our offense for the 3rd year in a row. He is slightly different than Gunnar, a little smaller and quicker. He is very comfortable running our offense.

Thank you Coach Delaney, Good luck to the Lancers this season! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Regular Season Predictions 2015: Week 1 (Part 2)

In preparation for the new season, we will be taking a look at the season on a week-to-week basis. This can also be seen as my season preview each team this season. I'll split the first week up into two parts considering the unusually large amount of games. Onto the second half of opening week!

Olathe North vs. Rogers Heritage (Ark.)

Photo by "Unknown", 2014
This is another case where I know almost nothing about the non-Sunflower team aside from recent records and how they did the year before. The Rogers Heritage Eagle finished 4-9 last season. Among those losses was an 18-13 loss to Olathe North. From what I heard, the game was far from perfect for either team and Olathe North barely escaped Arkansas with a win.

A year has passed and we'll be looking at a fairly new faced squad for ONHS. However, I don't really see this being as big of an issue as others may think. The only issue the Eagles have is the offensive line and some spots on the linebacker side. A lot of starters were lost on both sides but I wouldn't bet against their replacements. The major skill positions on offense should be just fine assuming QB Matt Wright is capable of starting and playing at the same level we saw him play in Arkansas last year. Arkansas may be crazy about football, but that doesn't necessarily mean every school is good. Heritage never really competed in most of its losses (They lost by an average of 19.56 points). I have a lot of faith that our Eagles will be able to persevere against a relatively unknown opponent just like they did last year.

We see a game very similar to last year. Olathe North gets off to the usual slow start to the season and gets stuffed on their first few drives while giving up a couple scores going into halftime. They finally get into gear and in a mad dash to score, manage to hold off Heritage and score on short drives and turnovers. North does it's best to show it's still good and sends Heritage back home with a very close and mind-boggling loss.
Winner: Olathe North 16-12

Olathe South vs. Hutchinson

I currently work with a graduate of last year's Olathe South squad and after talking with him for a few hours about the state of team, I'm not as sure about how this year's squad will turn out. I initially picked the Falcons to win but with this new information and the fact that Hutchinson is the current 6A State Runner-Up, I'll have to change my mind.

Olathe South obliterated the Salthawks last year 24-2 and went on to finish 7-3 while Hutch actually finished 8-5 at the state championship game. Both teams should be motivated but Olathe South and Hutch both lack any defined playmakers who could tip the scale either way. What makes Hutch the favorite here is the rash of injuries that plagued the team last year and forced them to test their depth. That should benefit them greatly to start the season.

Both teams struggle to score as the mental mistakes of either offenses turn everything into a big game of hot potato. Hutch's experience helps them in the fourth quarter as they are first to find their groove and run out the clock just enough to make a comeback impossible.
Winner: Hutchinson 17-10

SM East vs. Gardner-Edgerton

Remember when everybody feared the big bad Trailblazers during districts? It feels like decades ago now after watching the team fail to win a single game last season. I wouldn't have said this two years ago but now, it doesn't take an in-depth analysis to tell which team is clearly better. Maybe Gardner has improved enough to make a game out of things (compared to last year's 40-0 shutout anyways), but I wouldn't expect things to be much better this year unless there are some magical starters returning for the Trailblazers.

SM East rolls over a Gardner team that might spend another season looking for answers. The flexbone proves effective once again and we witness a 400-yard rushing frenzy in a huge blowout.
Winner: SM East 49-6

SM North vs. SM South

A good number of people (myself included) are curious about these two teams. They combined to go 5-15 (.333 win %), which isn't anything to write home about, but many are wondering if either of these teams are close to becoming truly competitive and winning the close games. It'll really be a battle between SM North's offense and South's defense which should both be good units that might regress a bit due to losing some key seniors like WR Nick Perez and RB Dalton LeWallen.

If any matchup showcases two teams working out a lot of kinks, it would be this one. Both teams struggle out the gate on offense and only a touchdown is scored by each side by halftime. SM South experiences the same struggles they had last year and fail to capitalize on the week Indian defense and bow out for the second half.
Winner: SM North 21-7

SM Northwest @ Blue Valley

Photo by the Kansas City Star, 2014
There isn't much to this one. Blue Valley showed how good they were last year and blue away the hapless Cougars who aren't expected to do much better this year. This game ending even relatively close would be a huge step forward for SM Northwest.

Blue Valley jumps out early by three scores and hold off a poor Cougar offense throughout the entire first half. Northwest scores a few times in garbage time late in the fourth, but it's too little too late in a bad opening game.
Winner: Blue Valley 37-14