Friday, August 3, 2012

Ranking the Uniforms of the Sunflower League

Eli's completely subjective ranking of the uniforms of the 12 teams in the Sunflower League.  Mostly because it's August and by the time August rolls around it becomes a sort of game to come up with new information to blog about.  Teams typically end summer weights the first week of August and give their players a two week grace period to relax and gear up before practice begins in the middle of August.  That being said, continue to check in daily because it's this time of the year when I'm forced to be a bit more creative and/or statistical given the fact that I, probably like you, am anxiously awaiting the start of football (which kicks off in the Sunflower League on Friday, August 31st) which is relatively soon but still four weeks away and therefore I have four weeks to dabble into anything and everything I can possibly imagine posting on this blog because there aren't going to be many headlines in the coming weeks, and because I'm going to have to come up with the headlines.  I hope you enjoy this read and stay tuned throughout the rest of the month.

1. Olathe North
Sponsor: Reebok

Olathe North's mesh Nike jerseys of the mid-2000s were a thing of beauty and probably the best jerseys any team has donned over the last decade.  While their newer Reebok digs aren't as cool as the mesh Nikes, they still are the best design in the league.

The Eagles are blessed with a great color scheme which they've patterned tremendously into their uniforms.  My favorite aspect is the nostalgic cursive "Eagles" on the helmets, adorned with the triple stripe.

The actual jerseys flow well with the colors and look like college digs.  The big numbers on the sleeves are a nice touch and their all-white combination for away games are resoundingly intimidating for all-whites.  In fact, I've always felt Olathe North's all-whites are a staple for the program's aesthetics the way the University of Texas' all-white uniforms are. 

2. Olathe Northwest
Sponsor: Nike

Olathe Northwest has mesh Nikes but I think Olathe North has the better color combination.  The Ravens jerseys have a snug fit which looks very professional and there's really no part of their jerseys that isn't aesthetically pleasing.

Their helmets are awesome, featuring a triple striping of blue and black, on top of an all-black helmet adorned with the Raven logo.  They're also one of two teams in the league who has the luxury of player names on the backs of their jerseys--a very nice touch.

The entire jersey just flows well and it probably has to do with the fact that some Nike designer spent some time putting these together.

3. Lawrence
Sponsor: Adidas

I love the classic design that Lawrence has always employed.  The most hallowed feature within LHS circles is the solo white stripe on the all-black helmet.  Beyond that it's the simplicity of their uniforms which makes them great.

Solid red pants, with solid block numbers (including sleeve numbers) that aren't glitzy or glamorous, but instead powerful and to the point.  The white mid length socks and black cleats are also a staple of the most classic uniform in the Sunflower League.

Up until a few years ago LHS players weren't even allowed to wear gloves, but Dirk Wedd relaxed that policy (and the LHS offense) and I think it's been an overall good thing for the program (I'm not sure if they're allowed to wear sleeves though).

4. Olathe South
Sponsor: Adidas

Olathe South has the most eccentric combinations in the Sunflower League, mixing and matching their jerseys with the pants seemingly every year.

They made a shift towards something reminiscent of the Minnesota Vikings' jerseys in the late 2000s (which looked terrible) but their new black tops are among the league's coolest.  I like how their black tops feature "South" in a strong yellow, with their numbers in a blue outlined in the same yellow color.

The jerseys are also tight fitting which looks professional and is something all players prefer to baggy jerseys.  The jersey to pant combination is non-sequitur, but when you're a winner everything looks better.

5. SM Northwest
Sponsor: Nike

Hopefully Linn Hibbs stays away from the all-orange look.  Let's be honest--orange is only a nice color in the right proportions.  When the Cougars wear their orange tops with black pants it's really a neat uniform (Nike's touch helps).

Several seasons ago SM Northwest broke out the Nike uniforms and I've always thought that--when in the right combination--the color scheme and design looks great.  Their jerseys have an awesome font used for the numbers, and the wave piping on the pants is the best pant design of any team in the league. 

The biggest downside to their jerseys (assuming they aren't using the all-orange look) is is the God-awful helmet logo the team has used since the 2006 season.  It's a sort of a white oval which has "NW" written in black, with "SM Northwest" written in small orange font across the mid section.  The black helmet and orange stripes look good--but as far as the logo goes the Cougars could have a mid-40s woman hitting on younger men and it'd be a better looking and maybe more appropriate design.

6. Lawrence Free State
Sponsor: Wilson
Bob Lisher was smart when it came to Free State's jerseys.  Their colors--hunter green and white--aren't the most riveting, but they teamed with Wilson to come up with a nice design.  Most importantly, the Firebirds have always had jerseys that cut off just at the waste, preventing the need for their players to deal with tucking the jerseys in.  Having played I can tell you it's a royal pain in the you-know-what to have to tuck your jersey in every couple plays as longer jerseys tend to get untucked more often.  The short design eliminated this issue.  Also (and this may just be my imagination) but it has always seemed that the Firebirds use a lighter fabric that the typical jersey.  Wilson's background in tennis may have something to do with this.

The only writing on their jerseys, besides the green numbers, is the word "State" embroidered in small white font across the chest.  They have large alternate piping down the sides of each of their tops, with plain white pants, always.  Their helmet logo isn't cool, but it's not bad either, and it looks appropriate on the all green helmet with a white stripe.

7. Olathe East
Sponsor: Russell

It seems like every year Olathe East finds a way to make their uniforms look worse and worse.  Five years ago (when their uniforms were modeled after Ole Miss') I would have had them in the top two, but since that time their jerseys have become more and more like a sort of waiting room orange.

The helmets are a base orange with a dark blue facemask, including a white stripe with a blue outline on both sides.  This doesn't look bad, but the lack of a logo renders the design too orange.  The jerseys did away with the vertical Ole Miss piping this past season, replacing it with nothing but more orange.  They have large white numbers with a slight shadow of blue.  The pants are orange with white and blue piping.  On the away jerseys, basically replace the orange on the top with white.  It's also important to note that the Hawks jerseys are extremely baggy.

The totality of the evidence is that there is too much, you guessed it, ORANGE going on for them to rank higher than the middle of the pack.  Oh, and I almost forgot, the Hawks also have player's last names sewed on the back of the jerseys like Olathe Northwest.  This is an awesome feature and while I'm sure it's expensive there's no player in the league that would complain about it.

8. SM South
Sponsor: Adidas

Green and yellow are about the worst two colors you could come up with for a school but it's what SM South has to work with (the University of Oregon has done extremely well with this combination).  Despite this, SM South has a decent looking uniforms.

Their home jerseys are green on green, but a tiny yellow piping breaks up the monotony.  The helmets are all green with a logo that I would have a hard time describing as anything but futuristic.  Their numbers are yellow and on the smaller side, but it looks decent with the uniform.  Their away jerseys vary, but when they sport an all-white look I think it looks really good, about as good as their uniforms can look.

9. Leavenworth
Sponsor: Russell

Blue and white is a blas√© combination but the Pioneers have been forced to work with it.  The "LV" logo on the blue helmets is a little over the top but since its emblemized everywhere at Leavenworth, including the middle of the their turf field at their stadium, it will be kind of hard to do away with it in the next decade.

Let me just say this: while Russell isn't the brand most synonymous with making football jerseys they do a decent job, and it's hard to find many flaws with Leavenworth's design.  In fact, I do like the Pioneers look, it's just the color combination that's a bit unfortunate.  The numbers are kind of written in a weird font, but they look okay, and the writing across the chest which reads "Pioneers" is just big enough to avoid being too big.

10. SM West
Sponsor: Nike/Rawlings

I thought hell had frozen over when I saw the Vikings wearing white Nike tops in their opener against Lawrence last season, and I had to rub my eyes several times before I made peace with the fact that the tops were, in fact, Nike.  That being said, it must have been a Nike intern who designed the white tops because they look screen-printed and don't flow well with the gold helmets or solid black pants (an all-white look would be a cool feature for the Vikes).

The Vikings' helmet is classic and cool--it's a black, block "W" on a gold helmet with a black facemask.  I've always liked the look, although a black stripe would really tie the helmet together.  The Vikings' home jerseys are much better.  They are a Rawlings design which features "Vikings" written prominently in gold across the chest on the canvas of an all black jersey, with solid black pants.  The home jerseys are completely plain beyond that, but the black vibe makes that okay.  But, just okay.

11. SM East
Sponsor: Rawlings

I'm actually surprised SM East hasn't gained Polo Ralph Lauren as a sponsor yet because that would only make sense given the school's reputation that I would kindly label as more "dapper" than that of any other high school in the Sunflower League (and probably anywhere west of St. Louis, for that matter).  The Lancer's digs could use a little help from Ralph Lauren, that's for sure.

The helmets are completely black, facemask and all, and feature literally nothing.  The jerseys do fit professionally and are not baggy (probably the biggest upside to their uniforms) but they have a sort of roundish font that kind of resembles KU's, but with less pizazz.  And mind you, these numbers are large.   Like three stories tall large, and they're outlined in a hint of columbia blue.  The pants are plain black, and I feel the most appropriate term for the jerseys is, quite frankly, plain. 

12. SM North
Sponsor: Rawlings

I'm really not trying to hate on Rawlings.  It's just that Rawlings is in the business of making uniforms while brands like Nike are in the business of designing uniforms.  If that makes any sense at all.  The Indians have a general dullness to their jerseys that drops them to the bottom spot on this list.  Their helmets are white with red facemasks and a middle red stripe outlined by black.  Their jerseys are black with thin red piping, and white numbers outlined in red, and feature "Indians" stitched in a small font across the chest.  The pants are black and feature a red sort of wavy piping, similar to SM Northwest's.

Each player has, instead of their last name, a sort of motivational adjective printed in its place such as Respect, Belief, Trust, Integrity, etc.  I think the idea behind that is great, but I'm not sure I'm sold on seeing those on a football uniform.  Personally I think writing anything but a player's last name in that place (something we've seen at many levels, namely Texas Tech athletics of late) detracts from the purpose of the uniform itself.  The Florida State inspired uniforms SM North had in the early to mid-2000s were really cool and a look I think they should go back to.


Anonymous said...

Shawnee mission south is coming into the season with brand new uniforms.

EagleJunior said...

Olathe South has been apparently given a new full uniform by Adidas. I'm not sure how different it is though.

Johathon said...

Why the hell did SMN make those uniform changes...whos in charge a turkey sandwich ?

Anonymous said...

LV has new uniforms as well...Adidas

MahValley said...

SMNW is coming out with new uni's as well. Personally, I am not a fan of black pants(prefer white) or any pant that is one solid color and names(ANY word) on your back is rediculous unless you are getting paid to play, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Olathe East is receiving new Nike uniforms this year.

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares. This article is stupid.

Who's Your Daddy said...

Nice observations on the OE Jerseys. We have been getting drug down by those loose jerseys for years. The name plates are great. Too bad the players have to pay an over inflated price( Cash Only- Mandatory) to have them put on. Loaded with talent every year but still no State Championships in twenty years. Something needs to change besides the jerseys.

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