Over the next 365 days to start the decade, fans will be on the edge of their seats as what expects to be a wild year in local sports unfolds.
On the high school scene, two of the best individual talents will take steps toward their college futures. The rivalry between local college football programs appears to be ready to be as heated as ever. Add in a Super Bowl run 50 years in the making, and there is no shortage of storylines going into 2019.
Here are the top 10 questions regarding area sports for the year ahead.
10 How will two local greats wrap up their careers on the hardwood?
East Buchanan senior Ethan Kilgore and Maryville junior Serena Sundell will put a bow on their careers among the top hoopsters to ever come through the area. Kilgore has already surpassed 2,000 points as a Bulldogs before heading to Idaho, while Sundell is in the early stages of entertaining a long list of D-I offers with more than 1,300 points and plenty more to come.
9 What’s ahead for city
The past season was one to forget on the gridiron for much of the city. The five schools went a combined 9-39 with Central and St. Joseph Christian failing to win a game. Each of the 11-man schools graduate their starting quarterbacks after two consecutive of years without a home district game for any of the five schools.
8 What steps will area
Kansas showed improvement, but finished with the same result in Year 1 under Les Miles. It was a different story elsewhere in the Sunflower State as the Wildcats rode the first season under Chris Klieman to eight regular-season wins and a bowl game. There would be no bowl game for Mizzou after NCAA infractions, but a 6-6 record was enough to move on from Barry Odom. Elijah Drinkwitz will coach his first game against Central Arkansas on Sept. 5.
7 What’s ahead for the Royals under new manager Mike Matheny?
The Royals moved swiftly to elevate Matheny after Ned Yost retired and new ownership took over. Now the Royals will try build a roster they hope will help the team contend in two-to-three years. That means looking to extend Jorge Soler, entertaining calls on Whit Merrifield and Danny Duffy and continuing to bring up young talent from the minors.
6 Can Northwest win its first regional title since ‘16?
It’s hard to believe the Bearcats have gone the first three seasons under Rich Wright without a trip to the national semifinals. They came up just short in 2019 with a trip to the regional final, losing to Ferris State. Former MIAA Freshman of the Year Braden Wright was the surefire starter going into ‘19, though struggles coupled with the talents of Mike Hohensee could mean a battle leading
up through ‘20.
5 Will Chiefs training camp return to St. Joseph?
Missouri Western and the Kansas City Chiefs are officially without a contract for preseason practice on campus and the club has said it will explore all options. After a record-setting year, will the Chiefs keep to the 10-year tradition and work out a deal to remain an hour from their home base for a month?
4 Can Missouri Western football return to the playoffs?
Matt Williamson has won back-to-back bowl games and was a couple of home snaps away from the postseason in 2019, settling for a 9-3 record. Aside from the offensive line, quarterback Wyatt Steigerwald, a pair of running backs and linebacker Anthony Williams, nearly the entire roster is back. Can the Anthony Vespo-led offense and a ball-hawking defense push the Griffons back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012?
3 Is another title in store
for Northwest hoops?
While the Bearcats already have one loss, they are still the team to beat in Division II with Ryan Hawkins on an MIAA Player of the Year pace next to Trevor Hudgins and Diego Bernard. A championship run would be the third and fourth year and would only make more Division I programs call for the services of head coach Ben McCollum, who is in the perfect situation at his alma mater.
2 How much money will
the Chiefs dish out
Patrick Mahomes II is now available to sign what will be the richest deal in NFL history after three years in the league. Chris Jones would like to become on the top paid defensive lineman, and his 2019 campaign is one that should make him a priority for the Chiefs long-term. The team is likely to move on from wide receiver Sammy Watkins and his contract and prioritize the offensive line, running back and cornerback spots in the offseason.
1 Will the Super Bowl
drought end at 50 years?
Kansas City is playing its best football of the season heading into the playoffs as the 2020 bye. The Lamar Hunt Trophy hasn’t returned to its namesake since a trip to Super Bowl IV, and the Chiefs have the second-best odds to bring home a championship. The road likely goes through Baltimore, but the combination of offense and defense has the team poised for its best shot since 1970.