High-SchoolMissouri: Connor Harris

2011 final football rankings: Staley finishes at No. 1

November, 28, 2011
11/28/11
2:00
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2011 Final Rankings

Staley has been around for just four years, but in two weeks, the Falcons cemented themselves in Missouri football lore.

In the Class 5 semifinals, Staley outlasted defending champ Lee's Summit West, 76-70, in an instant classic. Then, the Falcons completed an undefeated season by downing Kirkwood for its first state title. Trent Hosick and Morgan Steward continued their dominance on the ground by combining for 285 yards and five scores in the 35-21 win. And with this impressive effort, the Falcons can lay claim to the top spot in state rankings.

Just behind them is Blue Springs South, which had an equally impressive run to the Class 6 title. The Jaguars downed the defending champs in Class 5 (Lee's Summit West) and Class 6 (Rockhurst) before beating the state's top team, Christian Brothers College, 40-37 in the final.

Steven Sullivan (three rushing touchdowns) and Connor Harris (two scores, two interceptions) proved to be the difference, as the Jags (12-2) stopped CBC from completing its perfect season. Blue Springs South also beat CBC in 2006 for its first state crown.

History repeated itself (and was made) in the Class 4 final. Webb City and MICDS lit up the scoreboard for the most combined points (98) and yards (1,048), but Webb City outlasted the Rams for its second straight title.

Here's how the final rankings shake out (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Staley (Kansas City) 14-0 (2)
The Falcons beat Kirkwood, 35-21, to win their first Class 5 title in the school's four-year existence.

2. Blue Springs South 12-2 (8)
The Jaguars beat previous No. 1 CBC, 40-37, to win their first Class 6 title since 2006.

3. CBC (St. Louis) 13-1 (1)
The Cadets' drive for a perfect season came up just short, as they fell, 40-37 to Blue Springs South in the Class 6 final.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Missouri football rankings.

Football state championships to be decided

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
3:30
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The day before Thanksgiving. It's like Christmas eve for your stomach, with dreams of turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese and sweet potato pie dancing in your head right up until the moment you sit down at the table.

But for you, Missouri football fans, it's also time for us to take a glimpse at the intriguing slate of championship football games set to take place this weekend. All the hard work, hitting and offensive firepower has built up to this, 12 teams vying for state supremacy at Edward Jones Stadium.

Class 6: CBC vs. Blue Springs South (7:30 p.m. Friday)
After meeting at this same high-stakes juncture five years ago, these two get to do it again in 2011. Last time, Blue Springs South took the crown, but this time CBC, ranked No. 31 in the POWERADE FAB 50, enters as the favorite after running the table up until this point. The Cadets have morphed into an incredibly balanced team this season behind QB Dalton Demos (2,434 yards, 31 TDs) and a defense that's given up 10.8 points since surrendering 49 in a season-opening win against Fort Zumwalt West.
The Blue Springs South defense has also been solid and poses the greatest challenge to the Cadets this season. The Jaguars shut down a powerful Rockhurst team in the quarterfinals and have given up a touchdown or less in three of their last four wins. Plus, when the Jaguars D isn't on the field, the rushing attack of RB Steven Sullivan (1,303 yards, 17 scores) and QB Connor Harris (738 yards, nine TDs) eats up the clock. Whichever offense can control the clock and has the least amount of turnovers will win this game.
My pick: CBC 28, Blue Springs South 20

Class 5: Staley vs. Kirkwood (6:30 p.m. Saturday)
Imagine being Staley, fresh off a 76-70, quadruple-overtime win against Lee's Summit West to avenge last year's semifinal loss and produce arguably one of the state's greatest games ever...and that wasn't even the biggest game of your season. But quarterback Trent Hosick says that shouldn't be a problem.
"We're already back down to the earth," says Hosick, who scored seven times last week. "The goal this year wasn't to beat Lee's Summit West, even though we knew they were very good and would probably have to beat them sometime, but that was just another step in achieving the ultimate goal. So it's not hard for us to get ready for this game against a very, very good Kirkwood team."
Offensive weapons will be on high in this one. Staley boasts Hosick along with standout tailback Morgan Steward while Kirkwood possesses one of the state's top wideouts in Mike McHugh (20 TDs) and has scored 40-plus points in 11 of its 12 games. Staley will look to eat up clock behind its talented rushers, especially considering the Pioneers' solid secondary. One team will emerge with its first loss of the year while another hoist its first-ever title.
My pick: Staley 35, Kirkwood 31

Class 4: Webb City vs. MICDS (4:15 p.m. Friday)
Scoring has never been a problem this season for MICDS. The Rams are averaging nearly 42 points per game behind gritty running back Michael Scherer, who has racked up 1,542 yards and 27 scores this year.
Winning has rarely been a problem for Webb City this season...and long before now. The defending champ Cardinals have won three state titles since 2006 and triumphed in their last 81 regular season games. Defense has been the Cardinals staple this year, as the unit has posted four shutouts, including one against Hillcrest and its All-American wideout Dorial Green-Beckham in the quarterfinals.
The Rams will be closely studying film of last week's Webb City, as the Cardinals had to overcome a 21-point deficit to win. It'll be interesting to see which unit bends (or breaks) between the MICDS offense and Webb City defense.
My pick: Webb City 34, MICDS 28

Class 3: Burroughs vs. Logan-Rogersville (3:15 p.m. Saturday)
Burroughs pulled off a major upset last week against Osage behind RB Ezekiel Elliott (40 TDs) but stopping a Logan-Rogersville offense that had 400 yards against defending champ Richmond last week will be no easy task.
My pick: Logan-Rogersville 28, Burroughs 17

Class 2: Lamar vs. Lafayette County (1 p.m. Friday)
Lafayette County has the moment after winning its last 13 games and knocking off two-time defending champ Penney in the quarterfinals but Lamar has had its way for most of the postseason.
My pick: Lafayette County 24, Lamar 18

Class 1: Valle Catholic vs. South Shelby (Saturday at noon)
A week before districts, South Shelby was 3-4. But after seven straight wins, the Cardinals find themselves in the state championship as perhaps the biggest underdog. Valle Catholic has won 10 titles and outscored its last eight opponents 334-54.
My pick: Valle Catholic 31, South Shelby 21

Brandon Parker covers Missouri for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Blue Springs takes rival's spot in Week 8 Missouri football rankings

October, 17, 2011
10/17/11
1:15
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Results as of Saturday, Oct. 15

The score wasn't as high and it didn't end up being the first team to 42 points, as has been the case in recent years. But the battle between crosstown foes Blue Springs and Blue Springs South had plenty of what you would expect in an intense rivalry matchup.

This time, the underdog came through, as Blue Springs pulled out a 26-21 win. The outcome is quite the turnaround from the Wildcats' first two games, when they let Rockhurst and Staley run all over them. Against Blue Springs South, the Wildcats D held strong, limiting running back Steve Sullivan and quarterback Connor Harris as well as an offense that was averaging more than 40 points per game.

Deiondre Hall proved key, racking up 82 receiving yards and two touchdowns for Blue Springs, which held off a late comeback try by the Jaguars. With the win, the Wildcats re-enters the rankings at No. 10, but they can't get comfortable. Fort Zumwalt West has also rebounded from a slow start and faces a big matchup this week against No. 2 Jefferson City.

In other news, Dorial Green-Beckham had several familiar eyes watching him play this past week. Multiple sources have reported that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino were in attendance as Hillcrest clinched its first Ozark Conference title in 10 years with a win against West Plains. DGB went for 116 yards and two touchdowns, leaving him just 253 yards from breaking the national career yards record of 5,867 set by Abram Booty (Shreveport, La./Evangel Christian) in 1996.

Nationally, Christian Brothers College is knocking on the POWERADE FAB 50 doorstep, receiving votes for the first time this season and giving Missouri a chance to re-enter a team into the rankings after Rockhurst fell out last week.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings are in parentheses):

1. CBC (St. Louis) 8-0 (1)
The Cadets won again, this time in a 51-7 decision against Marquette. Next up: Parkway South.

2. Jefferson City 8-0 (2)
In their first game as the state's second-ranked team, the Jays looked strong, beating Troy by the count of 38-3. Next up: Fort Zumwalt West.

3. Staley (North Kansas City) 8-0 (3)
The Falcons keep on rolling, beating Park Hill by the score of 31-7. Next up: Central.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Missouri football rankings.

Blue Springs South re-enters MO rankings after upset of Lee’s Summit West

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
4:19
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They did it again. For the second straight year, the Blue Springs South Jaguars upset Lee's Summit West, this time by the score of 28-14.

In easily their biggest test of the season thus far, the Titans struck first on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Luke Knott to Shaq Harrison. But the Jaguars reeled off the next 21 points, taking a decisive lead on two touchdown throws by Connor Harris and a Steve Sullivan 22-yard score. Sullivan finished the night with 194 rushing yards and two TDs. With the win, the Jaguars re-enter the rankings at No. 10 and have a good chance of moving up. Their only loss on a brutal schedule is a 16-3 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Rockhurst.

As for the Titans, there is a silver lining. They played without All-State offensive lineman Evan Boehm (concussion), and remember what happened the last time the Titans lost to the Jags: a Class 5 championship. But it's safe to say the Titans, who rolled to easy wins in three contests against teams with one combined win, will take this as a wake-up call.

One team that doesn't need waking up is Kirkwood. Point much of the credit to Mike McHugh, who earned ESPNHS Southwest Region Player of the Week honors with 214 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The senior wideout and Northwestern commit also returned an interception 98 yards for a score in the Pioneers' 47-0 win against Hazelwood Central.

Here's how the state rankings shake out this week:

1. Rockhurst (Kansas City) 4-0 (1)
Hawklets keep on rolling, beating Liberty 34-14. Top OL Christian Eatherly has missed the last couple of weeks and tailback Jordan Walker missed much of last week's win after banging up his leg. But both are expected in uniform when the nation's No. 38 squad takes on Rock Bridge this week.

2. CBC (St. Louis) 4-0 (3)
Cadets put together a complete effort in 34-7 win against SLUH. QB Dalton Demos threw for 224 yards and two scores, Antonio Brown rushed for 105 scores and two more touchdowns and Marcus Wheat racked up 112 receiving yards and a TD. Next up: Howell.

3. Staley (Kansas City North) 4-0 (4)
Falcons rolled past Liberty North, 42-6, behind Morgan Steward's four touchdowns. A battle against Kearney is next on the schedule.

Click here for the full POWERADE Missouri weekly rankings.
Last week, Blue Springs South just faced the state's undisputed top team in Rockhurst, losing 16-3 in the Hawklets' closest battle this year. So what do the Jaguars get as a parting gift?

A date with No. 2 Lee's Summit West.

Quite the gamut for the Jaguars, but they can walk into this contest with confidence. After all, they were the only team to be Lee's Summit West during its run to the Class 5 title last season. And this was no barnburner. The Jaguars won 41-17.

Lee's Summit West has rolled to a 3-0 start against a relatively easy schedule, so the 2-1 Jags will be the Titans' first test of the year. Of course, the defending champs will be prepared. Quarterback Luke Knott's stock is rising, totaling eight scores while helping the Titans average more than 45 points per contest. On defense, linebacker Nick Ramirez will be key in slowing a solid run-by-committee Jaguars attack featuring QB Connor Harris joins Trey Ervin and Stephen Sullivan.

The contest will certainly be closer than last year, and with the Titans a year wiser, I expect the outcome to be different as well.

My pick: Lee's Summit West 35, Blue Springs South 27

Kirkwood (2-0) at Hazelwood Central (1-2)
It's been a tough go to say the least, for Hazelwood Central, last year's Class 6 runner-up. The *8 have dropped two of their first three games and losses aren't exactly acceptable for fans of a team that won the state title as recently as '08 and '09. Thing is, the Hawks' two losses have come against very good DeSmet and Rock Bridge squads. But the road doesn't get any easier with Kirkwood on tap tonight. The Pioneers are paced by wideout Mike McHugh, a Northwestern commit who has helped his squad put up 78 points in two games. The Hawks will put up a fight, but this non-conference opponent won't be any nicer than the others.
My pick: Kirkwood 31, Hazelwood Central 17

Brandon Parker covers Missouri for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

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