After many months of waiting, football is finally back. We saw the first games in the new United Kansas Conference, coaching debuts, wins and Spires pulling an upset to start the first weekend.
On top of that, we saw more thrilling results across the national scale in college football and some big news across the NFL.
Friday saw the start of high school football across the state. The Leavenworth Pioneers and Lansing Lions opened the year with a loss, while the Pleasant Ridge Rams and Basehor-Linwood Bobcats won their season openers.
In the Pioneers’ opener against De Soto, Leavenworth fell 42-7. The score did not tell the full story. While the Wildcats had a lot of success against the young Pioneers defense, Leavenworth showed flashes throughout the game.
This team may have some growing pains in these early games, but this team has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.
This could be a strong team by the end of the season.
The Lions opened the 2018 season on the road against Blue Valley Southwest where they fell 37-14 in Dylan Brown's debut as head coach. Derrick Robinson and Konnor McQuillan combined for 243-yards on the ground, but costly mistakes held back the Lions.
"We played hard," Brown said. "But in the end, we made too many mistakes and missed too many opportunities.
The Bobcats dominated in their 42-6 win over Tonganoxie. The Chieftains did not score until the final play of the game. Bobcats coach Rod Stallbaumer was pleased with the team's performance, but still has aspects for the Bobcats to work on as the season goes on.
"Defense played very well," Stallbaumer said. "We had some young guys step up and play aggressively. I was really proud of how well Dylan Mussett distributed the ball and read the defense. We have a lot of mistakes to clean up and had way too many penalties."
Pleasant Ridge Rams
The Rams opened the season with a victory over Jefferson County North 30-12. The Rams offense ran for 258-yards and added another 69 in the air. The Rams also got a 75-yard kickoff return from Jamar Reed for a touchdown in the win.
"We played very well on defense all night stopping a strong backfield at JCN," Rams coach Pat McCollim said. "I was extremely proud and happy of the way our defense played. Offensively we had very good moments in the game but had far too many penalties that slowed or stopped drives. Jamar Reed's 75-yard kickoff return was a huge moment in the game, JCN had just put together their best drive to open the 2nd half and pulled the score to 14-12. Reed took the next kickoff 75 yards for a score and killed any momentum they had gained on the previous drive. I am very proud of our kids and feel once we get out of our own way with penalties and mistakes we can be hard to stop."
The Saint Mary Spires opened the year with a win on an emotional start to the season. In the home opener, the Spires upset 18th-ranked Tabor College 13-10. The Spires defense held Tabor to only three points in the first three quarters and Nicholas Holmes had three interceptions for the defense.
The big win came in the same game where the Spires honored Christain Yanos, the Spire who died this spring."There's so much going on right now with the emotions and Christian that we just wanted to go out there and get better," Head coach Jay Osborne said. "I was happy to see that the team was able to control their emotions and I thought we used it to our advantage when we were playing. I felt great about the guys on the field and it was the type of game where we pinned them deep. We’ve played that way before and I think that’s a strength in our program.”
Around the nation
College football kicked off for the majority of the teams across the country this weekend. Like years in the past, the opening Saturday showed us a lot of the same things. Texas still is not back, Appalachian State is a team that should not be taken lightly, Alabama is still good and Kansas is still really bad.
If I am Kansas, I would already start looking now at potential new head coaches after another embarrassing loss to start the season. The first week of college football is also filled with the end of the NFL preseason and all the roster moves that comes with it. Jerick McKinnon's ACL injury also comes at one of the worst times, just days before the season opener and right in the middle of fantasy draft season.
The biggest NFL story though was the Chicago Bears trading for Oakland Raiders' standout Khalil Mack. The Bears already had a defense on the rise, now with the addition of arguably one of the NFL's best overall players, this defense could turn into one of the better defenses in the league.
Luke Peterson is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org