Mooney (right), Olathe North's new transfer running back from Arizona has created more hype without having set foot under the Friday night lights in the league than any player of the last decade. Some say he's a cancer who will screw up Olathe North's team chemistry, while other's claim he's the second coming of every great Olathe North running back from the past that shred your team to pieces. Either way, he's created a hype machine the size of Olathe and he'll have all eyes on him come September.
2. SM East -- Fight or Flight?
Chip Sherman has turned SM East into a respectable program and the big expectation machine has caught up to the Lancers. The team returns arguably the league's top offensive threat in Illinois wide receiver commit Elliot Faerber, and they have a solid core of experienced talent returning around him--enough to make a good run this season.
The true question will be how SM East handles their week two, four, and eight home contests against Olathe East, Olathe South and SM West, respectively. Win two of the three and the Lancers could be sitting pretty at 8-1 heading into the playoffs with a chance to do some damage. On the flip side, a down season would really hurt the momentum machine that the football program has now generated in Prairie Village.
3. Complete the Sentence, "Olathe North will __________ in 2011."
Olathe North will have new starters at the quarterback and running back positions, among other spots. They lost playmakers Adonis Saunders and Victor Simmons to the division one ranks, not to mention defensive stalwart Kyle Swartz, and yet they still look like the preseason favorite to carry the torch in the Sunflower League.
The Eagles have won 42 games the past four seasons, including three Sub-State appearances, two state championship games, and one state title. The true question is whether their new crop of starters will be able to handle the pressure that comes with being the top dogs in the league, and getting everyone's best effort week in and week out.
Most Hated Program - Olathe East
Maybe it's the visors and armbands, the flashy players like the Parks brothers Anthony and Adam (right), or the seemingly endless string of good teams, but for whatever reason the Hawks seem to get under people's skin, and stay there. The program hasn't had a losing season since 1999, and they rank second behind Olathe North in wins since then.
Most Respected Program -Olathe North
After a brief hiatus, the most notable program in Kansas has come back with a vengeance going a combined 24-2 the past two seasons including two state title appearances and one title victory. Olathe North seems to have an endless plethora of talent especially at the running back position.
Best Fanbase - SM West
You have to give up up to the Black and Gold--their fan section brings it, home or away. They have one of the most enthusiastic student sections in the league and they travel better than any program. It's just too bad the school doesn't have their own true "home stadium."
2011 Dark Horse - Lawrence
Lawrence head coach Dirk Wedd is a seasoned veteran and it looks like he may have his program on the rise. Year two in their new on-campus stadium could be a breakthrough for the Chesty Lions, who will look to improve on their 3-6 record under second year starting quarterback Brad Strauss.
Most Impressive Streak - Olathe East's 11-straight winning seasons
As alluded to earlier, Olathe East has had a winning record every year since 2000, including nine or more wins in six of those seasons.
Least Impressive Streak(s) - SM South and Leavenworth
The Raiders and Pioneers are the only two teams in the SL that haven’t produced a winning record in the last 10 years. Olathe Northwest has also failed achieve a winning record, but the school has only fielded a varsity team since 2004.
Biggest Shoes to Fill
SM East Quarterback: Last year’s quarterback John Schrock is heading to walk-on at Colorado. If you knew nothing about what he did for the Lancers last season, his walk-on status at a division one program should help you out. Whoever does take over will have one of the best receivers in the league to throw to in Faerber.
Lawrence Free State Backfield: The Firebirds have a way of finding quarterbacks with sub-4.5 speed to fill in on a yearly basis, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see another one emerge out of the woodwork come September. The running back position is also in question with Preston Schenck’s graduation.
Olathe South Backfield: Jeff Gourley’s winged-T offense requires the efforts of several running backs—unfortunately for the Falcons, their three primary ball carriers from last season (Nick Sands, Jake Crist and Kendal Harland) all graduated. That leaves a lot of carries to be distributed to a new set of running backs with limited varsity experience.