It’s an understatement to say the Lamar High School football team had an easy time cruising through the Class 2 state playoffs last season.
In the six games en route to their second straight title, the Lamar Tigers surrendered just 70 points. The team averaged nearly that many during the run, scoring at a clip of 65.7 points per game.
Even scarier, Lamar could be better this season.
The Tigers graduated lineman Austin Boice, but bring back two dominant blockers in Sam and Ben Bailey, in addition to its top two offensive players, running back Jared Beshore and quarterback Levi Petersen.
There are no sure things in high school football. But if Las Vegas put odds on teams to win state championships this season, Lamar would be the safest bet in Missouri, even safer than the powerful Webb City Cardinals in Class 4.
That brings more intrigue to the Sept. 13 home game against Class 3 Cassville, which could decide the Big 8 title.
Cassville could bring a 31-game conference winning streak into the Week 3 game, not to mention its status as four-time defending champions.
And Lamar, despite the two straight state titles, has won just two conference titles since 1933, with the most recent coming in 2003.
A Big 8 title would be a remarkable accomplishment for a Class 2 team in a league with Class 3 and Class 4 teams.
But don’t put it past these Tigers, despite lopsided losses to Cassville in each of the last two seasons. Lamar had key injuries in last year’s 31-0 drubbing, an insurmountable hurdle for the Class 2 team.
District 3 in Class 2 should bring the real drama, as the quartet of MV-BT Liberty, Mountain Grove, Strafford and Willow Springs are again strong.
I like Strafford to this time get through the South Central Association gauntlet, beating two of those three teams en route to a quarterfinal run.
But you-know-who will be awaiting there. And the Lamar Tigers look unbeatable this year.
In Class 1, recent local powers Skyline and Miller were hit hard last season by graduation.
That means I’m forecasting the streak of local teams not winning the Class 1 state final to a 10th year — since Marionville won in 2003.
The team with the best chance to get to St. Louis is probably Thayer, the last local Class 1 team to make the Edward Jones Dome in back-to-back losses in 2007 and ’08.
The problem for Thayer is Valle Catholic is again in its district. And after giving up 27 unanswered points to lose last year’s state final to Hamilton, I’m not picking against the Warriors.