After this weekend, the high school football season will be more than half over.
As it always does, the season is flying by.
Let’s take a look at some things we may have missed when prognosticating the gridiron year. Here are what I see as some of the biggest surprises thus far:
* The South Central Association is back: The league has long been well thought of, but since I’ve been in the Ozarks, there really hasn’t been much to write about.
Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty has had a strong team but could not get over the Class 2 state quarterfinal hump. This year, MV-BT Liberty, Salem, Thayer, Ava and Mountain Grove are teams that already have quality wins this season.
Speaking of Mountain Grove …
* Mountain Grove is ringing in year No. 100 in style: The Panthers had coach Steve Ary leave for West Plains and not a lot of preseason hype surrounding the proud program.
However, new coach Rich Johnson has the team at 4-0 and state ranked, with a nice chance at winning the 38th SCA title in program history.
The Panthers, who rank among the state’s best in all-time wins, could be a sleeper for the state playoffs, especially after moving down to Class 2 this fall.
* Hillcrest and Parkview are city’s early elite: If you would’ve known two city teams would be a combined 8-0 this season with huge Ozark Conference matchups on the horizon, you maybe wouldn’t have guessed it was these two.
Parkview’s 58-game losing streak of a few years ago is well documented, but don’t forget where Hillcrest came from a half-decade ago, either.
After Camdenton and Lebanon, the OC was pretty tough to figure this year. Now, Parkview (at Camdenton) and Hillcrest (vs. Lebanon) have chances to show the strength of the conference is in Springfield this year.
And let’s be honest, both would be upset wins. But if they both pull it off, we could possibly have a dramatic matchup set up for Oct. 4 at Hillcrest’s Hoyt Shumate Stadium between two 6-0 city teams.
* Is Bolivar not the favorite in the Central Ozark Conference Small Division this year? Well yes, the Liberators still are.
But with injuries to quarterback Rafe Peavey and tailback Kolby Follis, perhaps coach Lance Roweton’s squad is in danger of not earning that 10th straight conference title.
However, who is going to beat them?
It’s a bit of a down year in the league this time around, but the toughest test should be Oct. 12 at home against the Catholic Fightin’ Irish.
* Mountaineers on the move: How about a little love for first-year coach Ozzie Riley and the 3-1 Mount Vernon Mountaineers.
Shane Williams is one of the more dynamic players in the Ozarks. And, despite a loss Friday night to defending Class 2 state champion Lamar, the former Central coach has the team moving in the right direction.
Contact Matt Schoch at 417-836-1191 or email@example.com. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattSchochNL.