For the first time since 2010, the Kansas team was victorious in the annual Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game.
Kansas won the football game 30-0 at Pioneer Stadium in Leavenworth Thursday night. The team was coached by Leavenworth head coach Mark Littrell.
This was Littrell’s second time coaching in the game. He coached the Kansas team in 2002 when he was at Olathe South. Missouri won 28-14.
Littrell didn’t change any of his preparation for this year’s game from the last time he coached. He treated it like it was a regular Pioneers’ game, but this year’s work paid off with a win.
The workload leading up to the game was a lot for Littrell as he had to balance the morning workouts for the Pioneers with practice for the all-star game. He wasn’t too bothered by it though and the last two weeks flew by for Littrell as a result.
“These last two weeks went by pretty fast,” Littrell said. “We did our weights for Leavenworth in the morning from 7-9 a.m. and after I would sit in the weight room and my office and do stuff before I would head home before going to practice. We would get done with practice around 8:30 p.m. and then I would go home and do it all again the next day.”
With some of the best players from the Kansas City area on the team, Littrell’s biggest goal was to get the players to mesh together. Some players who wanted to play offense had to play defense and vice versa, but their ability to work together was an aspect that Littrell said was important to prepare for the game.
The ability to work together paid off for the team with the strong performance in all three facets of the game. The offense had more than 300 yards, the defense got a safety and special teams returned a kick for a touchdown.
The camaraderie of the Kansas players showed after the game when they all were jumping around together on the field shouting “Kansas” in celebration of their victory.
Along with the on-field victory, a victory came for the Leavenworth school district with the game as well. After trying to get the game at Leavenworth since Littrell returned to Kansas after coaching in Texas, Leavenworth was eventually awarded the chance to host the game. Littrell praised the hard work of everyone involved from the administration of the district and high school to the grounds crew at the stadium.
“Everyone involved did a fantastic job,” Littrell said. “It was amazing just how everything came together. The way I look at it, it was a great team effort. Kinda like the game, they had a great game plan for everything.”
With the victory by Kansas, the series is now 14-12 with Missouri leading.