It’s not even a week old.
But we’ve already learned a tremendous amount about how the area sports teams line up for the 2017 fall season.
Obviously, there’s still time for everyone to change and improve, but the tone has been set.
In football, a number of teams and individuals made a major statement. Union, Borgia, St. Clair, St. James and Warrenton logged massive wins. Hermann and Wright City also won, but by smaller margins.
Owensville, the preseason favorite to win the Four Rivers Conference title, fell in the closing minutes at home.
Washington, Pacific, Sullivan and Cuba will be trying to figure out what went wrong in the opener.
There are some big games to watch this week. Union, which currently leads the Class 4 District 4 standings, hosts Borgia at Stierberger Stadium Friday at 7 p.m. While both teams had similar wins, Union’s carried more weight against Washington, a bigger school. The Knights are ranked fourth.
One can always throw out the records when those two schools play. It’s a longtime rivalry and hopefully we’ll see another good contest this year.
The teams who lost to Union and Borgia last week, Washington and Pacific, will meet for the Pacific home opener. That’s a redemption chance for a pair of teams who believe they can achieve more than they did last week. Redemption would go a long way toward helping to bring positive momentum into Week 3.
How good are the St. Clair Bulldogs? Thanks to last week’s big win at Bowling Green, they are ranked third in Class 4 District 4 behind Union and Parkway West, but ahead of Borgia. They travel down Highway 47 to take on Potosi, the team that stopped the Dutchmen.
I know Brian Robbins will have St. Clair fired up for the game. The Bulldogs lost 35-7 last year to Potosi and that score probably has been pointed out to St. Clair’s players multiple times. If St. Clair can carry confidence earned at Bowling Green into this game, they’ve got a shot. It could be a track meet though as it didn’t seem like much defense was played between Owensville and Potosi last week.
Elsewhere, I think the preseason claims that St. James has a team to be beaten are true. Sure, they beat Cuba, but they also shut out a high-powered spread offense. And many feel Cuba’s Levi Mitchell is destined to continue playing at a higher level after throwing for 2,700 yards last year.
Hermann won a big rivalry game over Montgomery County. The Bearcats just keep reloading year after year.
There have been some classic games between those two Highway 19 schools over the years. I still remember Chip Stutzman’s veer team beating Brent Eckley’s spread offense in a shootout at the old Hermann field years back in an instant classic.
The other sport to get off to a fast start has been softball. Many of the area teams saw action in tournaments last weekend. Top performers included Pacific (second in the Union Tournament), Washington (third in the 16-school Troy Lead Off Classic) and Sullivan (consolation winner in its own 16-school tournament).
Two teams I think will be better than their showing last weekend are Union and Borgia.
Union finished third in their own event, losing 2-1 to Pacific in the semifinals. The Lady ’Cats have had to make some major changes in the circle with Lauren Boyd opting not to pitch this season. Boyd showed she’s a shutdown pitcher as a freshman. She’s an outstanding hitter and solid fielder. It’s still a bit different when you’re not getting 15 outs a game by strikeouts and that’s an adjustment Union will have to make.
I believe Union will do so. There’s too much talent on that team to struggle for long. The big question for Union is if it can jump back into the Four Rivers Conference race with Sullivan and Pacific.
Union’s hosts Hillsboro Thursday in a game which could determine playoff hopes for the district winner. Hillsboro is fresh from winning the Troy Lead Off Classic last weekend over the defending Class 4 champions. Union had expected to play Hillsboro in last year’s playoffs, but Hillsboro was upset.
Borgia finished seventh in the Union Tournament, but I feel the team will be better than that. The Lady Knights were without two of their key players, Elizabeth Lynchard and Josie Lindemann. Both had played with their summer club teams during a national tournament and missed too many practices to be eligible for the tournament.
Getting those two back into the lineup will make a major difference for the defending Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Division champion.
Borgia wasn’t the only school to have players have to miss out on early games due to the overlap of an extremely early MSHSAA start and the end of the club season. It’s too bad that they had to make a choice between finishing summer ball and getting enough practices in for school play. I understand next year the start of practices is being pushed back. I honestly hope that’s the case.