By the time you read this, the last few local fall sports teams waiting to play will have started their campaigns while others have started their third week of the season.
So how have things gone so far?
In softball, Union is undefeated with a win over Washington in a regularly scheduled game. Those two teams had advanced to the championship game of the Union Tournament.
Sullivan started Four Rivers Conference play with a victory and should start seeing more area action soon. Don’t be surprised if Pacific doesn’t pull off some nice wins as well.
In soccer, we’ll get to see two area teams in action this weekend when Washington hosts a three-team event with Union and Helias. This used to be the Duane Haddox Memorial Tournament, but Borgia declined to continue it this year. Word is the tournament will restart again next season.
Speaking of Borgia, it will be back in action Thursday at Helias. The Knights were impressive in the season opener, but will have some major challenges in the Archdiocesan Athletic Association, one of the toughest soccer leagues in the state.
Speaking of this weekend, the Borgia Volleyball Tournament should have some very strong teams. The eight-school event runs Saturday.
Besides Borgia, there is defending champion Mater Dei of Breese, Ill., which won the Edwardsville Tournament last week. Quincy, Ill., returns with a team good enough to draw preseason notice from PrepVolleyball.com. Lutheran South made the Class 3 state tournament last year.
Two Parkway schools, South and West, are in the field as well. Those usually are solid teams with many players with big club experience. Jefferson City has had success in the past and Francis Howell North is a big school with unknown talent this season.
As for Borgia, we’ll find out more about the Lady Knights after Tuesday night’s AAA opener against Duchesne. Maybe that’s fitting. While both are new to the AAA this season, they have a long rivalry with each other, including state championship matches.
Borgia is transitioning to a quicker offense this year under new Head Coach Brad Bruns. The quicker the transition goes, the better the Lady Knights should be.
Other teams to watch in the area should be Hermann, New Haven (although a loss to Cuba is a bit puzzling), Washington, Pacific and maybe Owensville. As all of those teams are in the Hermann Tournament around the middle of the season, that should be the unofficial area championship.
The New Haven Short Course Invitational was a good warmup for local teams, but we’ll see what happens when they start running at the full length.
In football, the local Class 4 district is looking very tough and we’ve got a trio of local teams with the potential of earning the top seed for Week 10. Right now, St. Clair leads Sullivan and Borgia. Don’t count out Westminster Christian for that top spot either.
Borgia has things in its own hands with games later in the season against all three of the other top teams, oddly during the final three weeks before the start of the playoffs.
The MSHSAA district standings are out there, but hard to find on the site. The easiest way is to go to the schools tab on mshsaa.org, search for your school, pull up varsity football and then click the small link at the bottom for the district standings.
I know folks aren’t happy because the standings aren’t easy to find. They’re really not going to be happy when the first round of the playoffs open with a number of rematches. Right now, St. Clair would host Pacific and Sullivan would host Union in Week 10.
By the time this year is over, expect to hear a lot of complaining about the new system and chuckle when folks talk about how great the old system was!
Despite a 2-2 record so far, I’m still convinced the East Central College soccer team is going to have a very good season. I’m not so sure about the volleyball team, although it picked up a four-game win over Lewis & Clark in a nonleague match Friday. Lewis & Clark departed the Midwest Community College Athletic Conference this season. That leaves just four volleyball schools in the MCCAC.
Don’t forget that Saturday also will be the Great Midwest Football League championship game between the Missouri Cyclones and Midwest Chargers. Kickoff at Borgia is set for 7 p.m.
The two teams have played each other twice with the road team winning both times. Either that trend will continue or the Cyclones will continue another streak of never having lost a GMFL playoff game. Either way, it should be a fun time at Borgia and a lot closer than most of the other Cyclones games this season.
The St. Louis Rams open the regular season Sunday at Detroit.
So how will the Rams do? ESPN the Magazine predicts a 0-16 season, but I’m certain Jeff Fisher’s team will finish a bit better than that. I expect the Rams to knock off someone they have no business in beating, just like the Saints last year. Could that win be against the Patriots at Wembley Stadium in London? Now that would be nice.
With Rams Owner Stan Kroenke also being the top shareholder of Arsenal (a top-flight London soccer team), a win in London would go over nicely for the sports fans paying attention. The Rams-Patriots game is scheduled on the same day as Chelsea hosts Manchester United in what could be for the lead of the Barclay’s Premier League not far away in London at Stamford Bridge in what will be the major news of the day in British sports.
At least Arsenal hosts Queen’s Park Rangers (the same team Matt Pickens played for when he was in England) the day before. Maybe some of the Arsenal supporters will come to see the curiosity of what Kroenke’s other team looks like.
The Rams recently made their final cuts with some interesting players being released.
Fisher must be sold on the fact that quarterback Sam Bradford not only will stay healthy this year, but will be very good. That’s probably why the Rams opted to keep just two quarterbacks on the roster with the second one being rookie Austin Davis. Will the Rams shop the waiver wire for a more veteran backup? That’s also a possibility.
At running back, the trio of Steven Jackson, Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson seems to be a bit improved over last year’s running backs. The receiver corps also seems to be a bit better than last year.
The offensive line appears to be much better than last year’s unit as well.
Most of the depth is on the defensive side of the ball. Even without the injured Michael Brockers, the line is very impressive and is the strength of the team.
The linebackers are satisfactory with questionable quality outside of James Laurinaitis. The secondary is improved.
Special teams lacks experience, but it seems that kicker Greg Zuerlein from Missouri Western could be a good one.
With the fluid nature of NFL talent and the rapid turnaround of many organizations, there will be many surprises and shocks in the league this year. The Rams did that in 1999. Is this another year like that? Hard to say, but it would be nice if this is another season for the Rams to fly well above expectations.