This may be season Mid-Missouri teams break through with title

Sports Commentary

A few Mid-Missouri high school football teams came close to breaking a drought last season.

And there’s reason to think a few of those teams could finish the job this year.

It’s been seven years since a Mid-Missouri team won a state championship in football. For some parts of the state, a title every seven years would be good. But with so many proud and historic programs in the area, it’s tough to believe no school has brought home a football title since Blair Oaks won the Class 2 championship in 2006.

Four teams made legitimate runs last year. California and Tipton saw undefeated seasons come to a close in the semifinals. Helias made it all the way to the state title game in Class 4 before running into Class 8 Webb City. Blair Oaks had a chance in the fourth quarter of its Class 2 title game against Lamar before the wheels fell off.

With practice just around the corner, here are a few tidbits to whet your appetite until the last Friday in August arrives.

• Helias used its brutal schedule as a springboard to roll through Class 4 all the way to the Edward Jones Dome. Unfortunately for the Crusaders, powerhouse Webb City was waiting. Helias certainly has a lot of pieces back, including quarterback Wyatt Porter and tight end Hale Hentges. Another crack at Webb City in St. Louis is a good possibility.

• After promising starts to each of the last two seasons, Jefferson City couldn’t keep the momentum going all the way to the end. The Jays are now faced with replacing a plethora of starters, including four new offensive linemen and a new quarterback. With a lot of new faces, Jefferson City is likely to be better toward the end of the season. After tough endings to each of the last two years, I’m sure the team is perfectly fine with that.

• Until a disastrous fourth quarter in its loss to Lamar, Blair Oaks could smell a state championship. A return trip to St. Louis means finding a lot of new players who can produce in a hurry. Research by fellow News Tribune sportswriter Tony Hawley shows Blair Oaks lost nearly 90 percent of its rushing and passing yards from last season. But at the high-school level, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to find quick fixes. Just like Jefferson City, Blair Oaks may be a better team by the time districts roll around.

• The California Pintos were one of the better stories in the area last season. Unbeaten until the end, the Pintos ran into a Maryville team that has been strong for the past several years. The Pintos have key players back, including quarterback Jaden Barr and running back Dylan Albertson. One thing to remember is California’s defense was outstanding last year, allowing just nine points per game.

• Last season was Tipton being Tipton. The Cardinals rolled through the regular season again. But once again they weren’t quite able to get over the hump, falling in the Class 1 state semifinals to Valle Catholic. It’s been seven years since the Cardinals lost a regular-season game. Even with the loss of running back Dallas Peoples, the Cardinals should once again be a threat in Class 1.

This is nothing more than a quick synopsis. Like every year, someone will come out of nowhere to score a big touchdown or come up with a big stop on defense. Teams that didn’t look great on paper will rise up and make some noise by the time the season is over.

But if last year is any indication, Friday nights in the fall are going to be fun around here once again.

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