Written by: Noah Bonner
With one week to go in the high school football regular season, the Smithville Warriors once again find themselves in the thick of things in Class 4, District 8.
“It’s always exciting to be playing for the first seed,” said junior running back Isaac Miller, one of the key figures in last year’s playoff run. “A lot of people thought we wouldn’t be in this situation and now that we are, I feel like we need to capitalize on it.”
Smithville currently sits at 7-1, putting them in first place in a very competitive District 8. No other district in Class 4 has three schools with six wins, let alone five schools with identical 7-1 records. The Warriors, along with Kearney and Platte County, are ahead of the pack due to a tough strength of schedule in the Suburban Conference, with Excelsior Springs and Lafayette at 4th and 5th. Kirksville, Marshall, and Winnetonka round out the rest of the district.
In any other year, even one loss would’ve set Smithville back in the standings. Last year, they finished 8-1 following a week eight loss to Chillicothe, bumping them from first to third despite having the best record in the district.
However, the move to the Suburban Conference has made a huge difference. Ushered in was a schedule consisting of three Class 5 schools, an unprecedented mark, and no school smaller than Class 4. The schedule is so improved from last year that, even after a loss to 3rd ranked Platte County, the Warriors remain atop District 8.
“The strengthened schedule has helped us because it has made us stronger each week,” said senior quarterback Kellen Simoncic, who has 15 touchdowns on the season. “You are playing an opponent every week that will challenge you. We’ve gotten better every week and it will help us in the long run when districts come around.”
A win in the regular season finale will secure a top-two seed, ensuring home field advantage through the first two rounds. There’s also the possibility that it would be enough to earn the top seed in District 8. However, this is easier said than done. In their way are the Kearney Bulldogs, a perennial Class 4 powerhouse that has seven straight regular-season wins at home.
“I think it’s awesome that we’re playing Kearney,” said Miller. “I like close games. It keeps us, as a team, energized and it’s kind of the game we’ve been looking forward to.”
A Smithville win would also secure at least a share of the Suburban Blue Division, clinching their first conference championship since the move from the Midland Empire Conference. There are no tiebreakers in the Suburban Conference, meaning that, if Platte County defeats Grandview, the Warriors would be co-division champions with the Pirates despite their loss to them.
And while a conference title is important, the first seed in the district is even more important since it has state playoff implications. Being atop the district not only means securing home field advantage throughout the district tournament, but also means avoiding Platte County and Kearney in the district semifinals.
“It is very important for us to have home-field advantage,” said Simoncic. “We play in one of the hardest districts in the state, so for us to get that one seed and play in front of our fans, it will be great.”
“We are trying to do something Smithville has never done before.”
DISTRICT 8 BRACKETOLOGY
- Smithville clinches a top-two seed with a win against Kearney
- Smithville clinches the #1 seed with a win against Kearney AND a Platte County loss
- Smithville finished third with a loss to Kearney
SUBURBAN CONFERENCE, BLUE DIVISION SCENARIOS
- Smithville clinches a share of a division championship with a win against Kearney
- Smithville clinches sole possession with a win against Kearney AND a Platte County loss to Grandview
- Smithville finishes in third with a loss to Kearney