Week 1 preview: Local football teams look to start strong

Jason Brown
The Leavenworth Times
Aiden Ingram

With the 2021 high school football season set to kick off in less than two days, it's time we take a closer look at the matchups for each of Leavenworth County's high schools in week 1. During the football season, you will see these weekly game previews in the Thursday edition of the Leavenworth Times and online at Leavenworthtimes.com/sports Wednesday so you can be ready for the games Friday.

Basehor-Linwood at Tonganoxie

Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Tonganoxie

The Bobcats enter the 2021 season ranked No. 8 in Gannett's Kansas High School 4A rankings and will have a tough test Friday against Tonganoxie – receiving votes. Tonganoxie handed the Bobcats a season-opening 62-28 loss in 2020 and finished the season 9-2 behind standout running back Tyler Bowden (2,326 yards and 32 touchdowns). Basehor won't have to worry about Bowden this year and will have a standout rushing threat of their own in senior Zack Sisemore. The opener will also mark quarterback Brady Garrison's first varsity snaps as the team's starting signal-caller. Look for the Bobcats experienced defense to try and set the tone early. 

Read more about the 2021 Bobcats here. 

Leavenworth at Shawnee Heights

Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Shawnee Heights High School

The Pioneers have improved their record in each of their first two seasons under head coach Sean Sachen. Something they have not done under Sachen is win a season opener. Tough tests against United Kansas Conference powerhouses De Soto and Basehor-Linwood might explain the lack of early success over the last two seasons but Sachen said the Pioneers are focused on having a strong start. Leavenworth dominated the Thunderbirds in 2020 with a 34-3 win. Quarterback Eddie McLaughlin proved to be a challenge for Heights in his sophomore season - multiple rushing and passing scores - so look for the junior to get going quickly in this one. 

Read more about the 2021 Pioneers here.

Lansing vs. Odessa (MO)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Lansing High School

Lansing was originally scheduled to match up against Schlagle but the Lions had to look elsewhere for an opponent due to COVID-19 issues at Schlagle for the second consecutive year. Now the Lions draw a difficult test in Missouri Class 3 Odessa, which won the state championship in 2019 and were the favorites to repeat last season before a COVID-19 outbreak halted a 9-0 season for the Bulldogs. Odessa favored a heavy rushing attack in its season-opening win against Southern Boone Friday with 30 of 37 offensive snaps resulting in hand-offs. 

The Lions will likely have the advantage at quarterback and linebacker where senior three-star prospect Caden Crawford lines up. The University of Iowa commit appeared to already be in midseason form on both sides of the ball at the team's jamboree Friday. Expect to see Crawford involved in plenty of tackles as the Bulldogs look to primarily move the ball on the ground

Read more about the 2021 Lions here

Pleasant Ridge at Jefferson County North

Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Jefferson County North High School

The Rams open with a tough test against the Chargers for the second year in a row. JCN got the best of Pleasant Ridge with a 42-14 win and went on to finish 7-4 overall last season. Following the 2020 loss to the Chargers, the Rams were forced to miss their next two scheduled games and various periods of practice due to COVID outbreaks, leading to a 2-5 overall season. Pleasant Ridge has a new quarterback in sophomore Cooper Beying but he will have an experienced weapon on offense in senior Devin Stutz. The Rams will have their hands full with the Chargers' returning talent Friday. 

Read more about the 2021 Rams here

Follow @LVTSportsGuy on Twitter for score updates from Friday's games.