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Cape Boys and Indians

The Gridiron Geek’s Week 2 River Rankings

Among the terms used by Missouri coaches, boosters and fans is “Kid from Oklahoma,” used to denote an unstoppable athlete who, having competed for one’s opponent, becomes a tidy excuse for any lack of success. “That receiver is fast,” a scout might say, “but he’s not as fast as that kid from Oklahoma we had to play against.”

Recently, a wrestling coach from Seckman (MO) High School was asked about his star heavyweight’s grappling record. “Heck, Matt only lost 2 matches all year,” he told the Jefferson County Leader. “Once was to a state champion, and he lost to that kid from Oklahoma the other time.”

No one bothers to recount the name or statistics of the Kid from Oklahoma. Suffice that if a prep athlete hails from the Sooner State, they’re better than anyone you’ve got.

A popular variation is “another kid,” as in, “Sure, Smith is a great QB, but if I know Coach Jones, he’s got another kid ready right behind him.” Huh? Any quarterback has a backup, of course, but it’s strongly implied that “another kid” ran a 4.5 as a sophomore and could be even more talented than the starter.

Cape Central football fans knew that their offense was primarily a solo act in the 2016 MSHSAA playoffs. When Kway’Chon Chisom moved on to SEMO, the popular pipe-dream of Tiger boosters became “another kid” immediately stepping in and producing big numbers as a shotgun QB, the way Al Young replaced Mikey Jones as a go-to senior TD machine in the I-Formation.

Does newly-anointed starter Cameron Cox qualify? On the stat-sheet, definitely. The underclassman piloted a 41-point explosion of offense (though a touchdown did come on a kick return) in Cape’s 41-27 opening-Friday night win over plucky Liberty Mountain-View. Cox hit Austin Parker for a score, then reached pay dirt twice on carries as the Tigers amassed 326 rushing yards.

But head coach Arlen Pixley was not pleased, telling a reporter he had “problems and issues” with an interception his sophomore QB tossed “straight to a defender” during the battle.

Pixley’s playbook is new territory for CHS, so Cox’s game-management should be graded on a curve. The shotgun-spread is built around its QB passing, running or decoying on every play, putting added pressure on the student-athlete taking snaps. Turnovers will happen.

The upside is that Cape Central’s offense continues to look explosive against good teams, even without Kway’Chon at the helm.

The Bootheel is Kickin’

The Geek is so painfully poor at predictions that readers tend to hope their favorite teams are chosen against. But if he wrote that some well-known Bootheel teams are trending up these days? Well, maybe there was something to that.

Jackson QB Cooper Callis passed for 400+ yards and 5 touchdowns in a 39-24 win over Columbia Hickman in Week 1, while Hayti laid an unexpectedly brutal smack-down on Thayer High, 56-14.

Not to leave out the Caruthersville Tigers, who romped 69-34 over Portageville. But they’d better shore up that defense before visiting the Malden Green Wave this Friday night.

The Gridiron Geek’s River Rankings (District 1, All Classes)

Most local polls divide teams into enrollment classes, or large and small schools. That’s no fun. 60% of the animated discussion around prep gridirons is about whether small-school X could beat larger program Y.

The River Rankings rate the top 10 teams in MSHSAA’s District 1 region along the Mississippi. Teams are ranked on pure gridiron prowess – not relative to campus size. Just enough St. Louis schools are in District 1 (including a pair of defending state champs) to help gauge how country-side programs stack up with high fallutin’ metropolitan powers.

If the format seems unfair to smaller schools, remember that the contenders in Classes 5 and 6 are fighting to stave off embarrassment. If they’re not ranked near the top, something’s wrong. Meanwhile, any Class 1-thru-4 team to ascend through the River Rankings must be truly special.

The Geek will also give small public schools “bonus” consideration if they play a smart, tough brand of football.

#1 Kirkwood – Former Festus QB Justice Johnson transferred to Kirkwood High 10 days before the season, and passed for a TD in limited action against Chaminade last weekend. The Pioneers won a 20-14 squeaker and will face Jefferson City on Friday.

#2 Vianney – The defending 5A MSHSAA champs polished-off Pattonville 42-28 in Week 1 and will now cross the river to face Cahokia.

#3 Jackson – If Callis has the type of senior year we’re all expecting, the Injuns could find themselves in the top 3 often.

(Tie) #4 – #5 – #6:

Lindbergh, Lafayette and Eureka High School boast above-average Class 6 football programs. There doesn’t appear to be much difference between the 3 right now, but as Paul Johnson likes to say, it’ll sort itself out. Big junior QB Ryan Novak of the Lafayette Lancers had an off night in a sloppy Week 1 win, and will try to bounce back against Hazelwood East on Friday.

#7 Cape Central – Impressive Week 1 victory over an unlikely nemesis. Next: at St. Charles West.

#8 Northwest – Stirring comeback win for the Lions last Friday, Caleb “Macho” Camacho rushing for 300+ yards in a 43-39 foil of Francis Howell North. A winnable trip to Riverview Gardens awaits.

#9 Hillsboro – The Hawks held an “extended Jamboree” in Week 1 by allowing Affton to score early. Then the Blue & White woke up and wound up coasting to a 34-20 win. This week: vs Oakville.

#10 Malden – For years the Green Wave have been threatened by the Caruthersville Tigers. This season, it could be the Jefferson Jays who are most likely to pull off a District upset. Next: vs Caruthersville.

Knocking on the door: Farmington, Festus, Valle Catholic

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