No matter how much you scout, evaluate and study in the preseason, there will always be a few teams that emerge from off the radar as legitimate playoff contenders. Others end up not being as good as the year before.
To start, let’s compare the 2011 and 2012 preseason state polls with the final rankings that came out a few months later.
• 2011 preseason local rankings
Class 5: No ranked local teams. Lebanon received votes, but not enough to crack the Top 10.
Class 4: Webb City No. 1, Bolivar No. 3. Carthage just missed the Top 10, while Hillcrest got a lone vote.
Class 3: Rogersville No. 1, Cassville No. 4, Catholic No. 5. Rogersville would win a state title.
Class 2: Lamar No. 4, Liberty T10. Lamar would win a state title.
Class 1: Miller No. 10, Pierce City received votes.
• 2011 final local rankings
Class 5: Glendale No. 7, Nixa No. 8, Camdenton No. 10. Ozark received votes. Camdenton was 7-6 but benefited from some playoff victories.
Class 4: Webb City No. 1, Hillcrest No. 6, Bolivar No. 10.
Class 3: Rogersville No. 1, Cassville No. 5, Catholic No. 7. This poll played out surprisingly accurate.
Class 2: Lamar No. 1, Liberty T5. Fair Grove received votes
Class 1: Skyline No. 9. Miller and Thayer received votes.
# of teams ranked in preseason poll but not final poll: 1
# of teams unranked in preseason poll but ranked in final poll: 4
• 2012 preseason local rankings
Class 5: Camdenton No. 9.
Class 4: Webb City No. 1, Bolivar T6. Carthage received a couple of votes.
Class 3: Cassville No. 3, Rogersville No. 4. Springfield Catholic received a few votes.
Class 2: Lamar No. 1, Liberty No. 3.
Class 1: Miller T6, Skyline No. 10. Thayer received a vote.
• 2012 final local rankings
Class 5: Ozark No. 3, Camdenton No. 9, Nixa, No. 10. Lebanon received votes. Everyone missed the boat on Ozark.
Class 4: Webb City No. 1, Hillcrest No. 8. Carthage and Bolivar received votes. If they allowed high school gambling, which I’m pretty sure they don’t, you could’ve won a lot of easy money betting on Lamar and Webb City the last couple of years.
Class 3: Monett No. 4, Cassville No. 5.
Class 2: Lamar No. 1, Liberty No. 8, Mountain Grove No. 10. Strafford received votes.
Class 1: Miller No. 4, Skyline No. 8.
# of teams ranked in preseason poll but not final poll: 2
# of teams unranked in preseason poll but ranked in final poll: 5
A couple of thoughts…
First, let me just quote South Park and proclaim, “RABBLE RABBLE BIG-CITY BIAS! RABBLE RABBLE.” If you look at the full preseason state polls, it seems the schools from the Kansas City and St. Louis area get the benefit of the doubt, whereas the Southwest Missouri teams have to prove it first. Of course, more voters come from those areas, so that would explain why.
It’s really, really hard to predict what any group of 17- and 18-year olds is going to do, especially in a chaotic, brutal sport like football. Depth is a luxury, and one or two injuries at any position could wipe out a team’s season. Some, like Monett and Ozark last year, get rolling with a large senior class and suddenly become dominant.
These rankings hold no value whatsoever. They’re meant to be fun, conversation-starters and help everyone figure out who the best teams are. They don’t affect district seedings or future schedules in any way whatsoever. So, if your team wasn’t ranked in the preseason poll or still isn’t ranked, don’t worry, it’s a long season.
With all that said, let’s see how the 2013 preseason polls are shaking out and what we know about some of the top local teams so far.
Camdenton (Class 5, No. 7 in preseason, currently No. 5): Camdenton hasn’t played its best yet, and is still 3-0 after a pair of three-point victories. With quarterback Bo Dean suffering a concussion in Week 1, the Lakers still have room to improve.
Ozark (Class 5, No. 9 in preseason, No. 7 currently): A lot of people, myself included, figured it would be a rebuilding season for the Tigers. Mark Bliss’ offense ain’t got time for that. Ozark has still lit up the scoreboard.
Nixa (Class 5, unranked in preseason, No. 10 currently): I’m not sayin’ this is the year a COC-Large team beats Webb City, I’m just sayin’ Nixa is the best candidate to do it when it hosts the Cardinals on Sept. 27.
Kickapoo (Class 5, unranked & unranked): The Chiefs are 3-0, but still have matchups remaining with Hillcrest, Lebanon and Camdenton. We’ll find out just how good the Chiefs are after their trip to Bob Shore Stadium this Friday night.
Lebanon (Class 5, unranked preseason and recently dropped out): Lebanon is usually the consistent team in the OC, but the Yellowjackets have been hard to figure out so far. Maybe Rolla is better than we think, but they struggled to beat Waynesville and let one get away against Camdenton. Their schedule plays out favorably though, with home games against Hillcrest and Kickapoo.
Willard (Class 5, unranked & unranked): The Tigers have taken care of business so far, but the schedule gets much tougher. Willard’s next three games: Home versus Nixa, at Ozark and at Webb City. Ouch.
Webb City (Class 4, No. 1 preseason, No. 1 currently): Obligatory comment that Webb City remains really good at football.
Bolivar (Class 4, No. 4 preseason, No. 2 currently): Finally showing it can beat Harrisonville, that Webb City-Bolivar state title game might not be so far-fetched this year.
Hillcrest (Class 4, No. 8 preseason, No. 8 currently): I haven’t seen Matt Rush play this year, but based off the remarks I’ve heard, I envision him as some sort of hybrid of Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson and Madden 04 version Mike Vick.
Reeds Spring (Class 3, No. 7 preseason, No. 6 currently): Barring a pretty big upset, we’re looking at the undefeated Wolves and undefeated Liberators playing Oct. 25 for the COC-Small title.
Class 2, District 3: Let’s just mention this whole group as one. Mountain Grove, Liberty and Strafford are all in the Top 5 in Class 2. This is probably the most loaded district in the state. Whoever wins will have earned it. Strafford had to come from behind late last week to beat Marionville. There are two ways of looking at that. Maybe Strafford has underachieved so far, (albeit with a 3-0 record),and its best football is ahead, or perhaps Marionville has really improved?
Lamar (Class 2, No. 1 preseason, No. 1 currently): Lamar is Class 2’s Alabama. They’re not absolutely unbeatable, but it’s close. You’ll need to play your best football and catch them on an off-day. Their line would trump most Class 4 and 5 schools.
Ash Grove (Class 2, unranked, currently receiving votes): You really like what the Pirates present on paper and have done so far, then you look at their district and see they’d have to get through Lamar.
Marionville (unranked preseason, currently receiving votes): Things are looking up for the Comets. A new coach and new system, and Marionville is in the midst of a turnaround year.
Seen Marionville last week against Strafford. Very much improved and we'll coached.
This is a great blog. It is thought provoking!
I am a loyal Lamar Tiger Brotherhood fan and this side of the Ozarks appreciates the coverage these young men are getting.
How will Liberty and Mt Grove end up?
Willowsprings has so much talent on thier team that goes unutilized and unknown. They would b a dominate force on the football field if they utilized thier wide variety of highly talented athlet. To what bettered them as a team n whole and not just for afew individual players.
Is there any reason on Gods green earth for Lamar to just obliterate people? Webb City could do that @ the drop of a hat each week but John Roderique has class and doesn't do it. He knows to let young kids play and build a program. Coach Bailey is classless and when he has a down year I hope teams will pound him the same way. Grow up coach, you are only making your town look bad beating Mc County 75-0.