|Olathe North senior quarterback Cole Murphy will have
huge expectations in 2014, leading a loaded Olathe
North roster that will be among the region's best.
1. Olathe North: On paper this looks to be Olathe North's best team since their 2009 unit, which went 13-0 and claimed a state title. Not only should this Olathe North club be good, but they have the foundation and experience to potentially be one of the best teams of the last decade in the league. Notice I said potentially.
2. SM East: Probably the biggest roadblock standing between Olathe North and that big, fat piece of steak that would be a ninth state title in program history is this ornery group from Prairie Village. The Lancers will return 16 starters from a team that finished 11-2 as the 6A state runner-up in 2013.
3. Lawrence: There's a bit of a gap -- in terms of preseason expectations -- between Olathe North and SM East, and the rest of the Sunflower League. But LHS might be the quiet favorite to sneak up on people. The Chesty Lions took their lumps last fall, going 3-6, but in the process developed an outstanding core of juniors and sophomores who should make 2014 a fun season for the south siders.
Did you know?
****Olathe North head coach Gene Wier has 199 career victories with Olathe North, meaning an Eagle victory in their season opener, a road game at Rogers Heritage (Ark.) High School, would be extra sweet.
****Thus far, three Sunflower League prospects have officially received FBS offers. Olathe North tight end Josh Moore (6-5, 255) has offers from Auburn, Florida State and Ohio State among many others. Free State offensive tackle Scott Frantz (6-6, 290) has nine offers, including Miami (Fl.) and all the local universities. Lastly, Olathe North linebacker Marcel Spears (6-0, 225) snagged an offer from Idaho last week.
****The past three teams to rank No. 1 in the Preseason Power Rankings have done quite average. In 2011, Olathe North was the early favorite but stumbled to a 5-4 finish. The 2012 darling was Olathe South, but they too succumbed to a 5-4 campaign. And last fall SM West was a favorite to repeat as state champions, but they staggered to a 4-5 finish.
****Olathe East has had a winning record every fall since 2000. To put that in perspective, the vast majority of this year's incoming freshman class was born in either 1999 or 2000 (yes, feel old).
Snippet from the Past - Preseason 2004
I remember the preseason prognostications from 2004 pretty well because that was the year I was entering high school as a freshman, and naturally I was in tune with the outlook for the league that year. Similar to 2014, Olathe North was the heavy favorite to win the league and a state title. All summer they were the team everyone talked about during weights and conditioning, and marveled at in 7-on-7. Wrote the Lawrence Journal World, later that summer on Sept. 2, 2004, "O-North returns workhorse running back Justin Gore, lineman Mike Wise, Mike O'Rourke, and Brent Sensenich on offense, as well as solid free safety Dustin Moomau on defense."
The thing was Olathe North had been shuffled to 5A due to their attendance decrease with the addition of Olathe Northwest.That left the door open for a team from the Sunflower Leauge not named Olathe North to take the 6A crown. The heavy favorites for that were Olathe East, led by Zach Clithero and Andre Jones, and SM North, led by quarterback Mack Brown (now the tight ends coach at Missouri) and a roster bolstered by 27 seniors. Lawrence and SM South were also receiving from solid preseason pub.
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