A new football season is set to begin and there is hope for all five area teams that success can be shared rather than a split of the spoils.

Basehor-Linwood made a run to the Class 4A-I semifinals and the University of Saint Mary had it best season ever, finishing 8-3. 

However, on the other side of the coin, the Lansing and Pleasant Ridge teams battled a bevy of injuries and Leavenworth’s youth didn’t help things as the three teams combined to go 8-20.

What are the biggest keys to the new season for these teams? Well these are the five burning questions that will have to be answered.

Will Saint Mary prove the program won in 2016 and not just a particular team?

This is the key year in Jay Osborne’s hope to build a program. After an 8-3 season that saw the Spires finish tied-for-second and essentially as the third-best team in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) and just out of the NAIA Top 25 and playoffs, this is the key year to establish the program has the identity of winning.

Will they replace some top defensive stars like KyRandall Smith, Kenny Nez and Isaiah Ross and can the offense’s maturity led by blossoming junior quarterback Drew Cortes continue to take those next big steps? If those happen, this is a team that could challenge for league supremacy. Albeit two of the three games against league challengers will be on the road, so they will have to negotiate through that.

How will Leavenworth decide to play in the final year of Sunflower League play?

Yes, in some ways, the Pioneers have to decide how they want to play against a league they say goodbye to after this school year. In 2016, the Pioneers played a schedule of teams that finished only 22-44 combined and only two of eight regular season teams had winning seasons. 

Leavenworth has talent and if they can avoid the key turnover or mental faux pas here and there, they could easily see themselves improve from 1-8 a year ago. If they can believe they can win and not expect to just hang in there, this group of solid, young men and athletes has what it takes to push for a .500 record and send the message they shouldn’t have left the Sunflower in the first place.

Will Lansing overcome the injuries of 2016 and parlay the adversity into success?

If injuries aren’t epidemic, well Lansing High School football was the exception last fall. The Lions were hit all over the place with physical adversity that derailed a 3-1 season. A lot of talent has left, but many then-sophomores were inserted into the lineup to fill the void created by injury and other factors.

So now, will those juniors decide to except that the experience gained during the previous fall was beneficial and should make them even better ball players? If they do, the rebound should be in the making as the talent is there to make a final push in the last year of Kaw Valley League play.

Can Basehor-Linwood come close to replicating a historic 2016 season?

The Bobcats went 11-1 and won a first regional title and a state semifinal appearance in Class 4A-I, also a landmark for the program just a year ago. Now, they need to replace a number of offensive stars and fill holes in a depleted secondary. The front seven defensively could be nasty and carry the team’s water early in the year.

Head coach Rod Stallbaumer has created a state power with now, higher expectations, and this new edition of Bobcat football will be expected to keep this winning train on the track rolling at 100 mph.

Will Pleasant Ridge avenge the haunting loss to MH-MA and reclaim the district?

The Rams had the win in their hands and the fans were ready to storm the field after a win over Maur Hill-Mount Academy. Problem was, MH-MA still had time and the ball and ultimately scored in the waning seconds on a pass that was deflected away and ultimately into the hands of a receiver that would land in the end zone and crush the Rams’ hopes of a District 3A-2 title. 

Pleasant Ridge won two straight after that loss, but the lower seeding coming out, put them in a tougher bind for a playoff opener and the season ended quickly. A win at MH-MA in October could flip that narrative for the Rams, who won the district title in 2015 and may feel they should be winning a third in a row.