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MVP’s High School Football Preview: Missouri | St. Louis

The Gridiron Geek’s 2017 Missouri High School Football Preview

Welcome to The Gridiron Geek’s brand new column on MVPSportsChannel.com, a weekly ticker of results, rankings and reconnaissance from prep gridirons along the western bank of the Mississippi…from Cape Girardeau to the Gateway Arch.

Our 2017 preview begins in St. Louis – not exactly a gridiron mecca. The NFL is gone, and the Missouri Tigers are fighting to avoid the cellar of the SEC. St. Louis University does not field a pigskin team.

Given that context, it’s even more impressive how so many Gateway City programs have risen to prominence in the past few years. MSHSAA football is far from a model of parity, but it’s nice to see St. Louis schools making the system work to their advantage for once, challenging the highly-touted powerhouses of Missouri’s western plains.

The Kirkwood Pioneers are defending Class 6 champions, and always play in a season-capping scrum known as the Turkey Day Game. Actually, in 2016 the Turkey Day Game was a closer shave for the Varsity Pioneers than the Show Me Bowl. Quarterback Reece Goddard (now a freshman at Western Michigan) passed for 3 touchdowns in a 31-14 state championship win over Blue Springs on the Friday before Thanksgiving. But Kirkwood’s forever-opponent on Turkey Day is not the Washington Generals – it’s cross-town rival Webster Groves. Angry after a frustrating season, the WGHS defense stymied the newly-crowned champions for most of 4 quarters before succumbing 17-6. Senior Ryan Kraichely takes over for Goddard in 2017.

The Metro area has its share of large-enrollment duds, schools with gigantic student bodies who couldn’t beat Anarene High. But the number of high-fallutin’ juggernauts is growing. Chaminade College Prep is an annual Class 5 contender – Cape Central fans can recall the Red Devil defense dealing Kway’Chon Chisom a life-lesson last October. Look out for big, mobile Trevor Trout this fall, as the senior lineman recorded 60 total tackles and 4 sacks in his junior campaign.

Vianney High School upset Chaminade 63-44 on its way to a Show Me Bowl triumph in 2016. Sophomore Kyren Williams led the way with 11 combined touchdowns in the final 3 playoff games. The nimble 175 lb. RB/slot receiver has a nose for the end zone and could lead the Metro Catholic Conference in scoring and rushing yards in ’17.

Christian Brothers College (CBC) is another goliath, rich in outstanding athletes. The Varsity Cadets whipped Kirkwood and Kansas City Rockhurst in 2014 to claim a state title of their own. Chaminade and CBC will meet on September 8th at the Red Devils’ home field in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

St. Louis bears less championship-level fruit in the mid-range enrollment classes. Private schools like Westminster continue to flourish in conference play with spread offenses and deep rosters, an advantage given MSHSAA’s notorious season-kickoff in early August. (Preseason “jamborees” are taking place on August 11th, team buses melting in the urban sun.)

Small-school teams seem to rise and fall quickly in the ‘Lou. Maplewood was once an absolute killer, beating Lamar (Class 2 MSHSAA champs since Obama’s first term) on the way to the dance in 2010. But the Blue Devils soon faced a vicious cycle of epic proportions. A rash of injuries led to a losing record, which led to fewer kids going out for football, which led to more injuries due to fatigue. Finally, the school district scrapped the program altogether.

Brentwood High School is located near the sweetest outdoor mall in the whole city, and has a pretty good Class 2 team to call its own. The Varsity Eagles ran into Lamar in the 2016 state semifinals, losing 62-19. Brentwood lost its entire starting offensive backfield to graduation this spring, but young RBs Chris Hill and DeAndre Boykin will try to pick up the slack in 2017.

The Geek’s favorite Archfront Cinderella is Confluence Prep Academy, a 5 year-old Varsity program with little funding and no home field. Head coach Rory Seals pushes the mantra “No Excuses,” befitting a team that has often found itself practicing without pads, helmets, or suitable turf. Last year, the Varsity Titans completed a new weight room and achieved their first .500 record, fighting hard against John Burroughs (Class 3 champs in 2015) in a 31-14 District loss. QB Ryan Pitts returns for his senior season in ’17, but Seals will have to do without veteran pass-rusher Justin Steele who is now an alum.

Check MVP Sports next week for The Gridiron Geek’s 2017 preview of teams along the river from Jefferson to Pemiscot County. Cheers, padawans!

 

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