It is hard to believe that we are a little over four weeks away from the start of practices for the 2022-2023 prep sports season. We are excited to start previewing the upcoming seasons in many of the fall sports over the next seven weeks as the excitement is starting to build for what many believe could be another outstanding year in high school sports for teams in the metro area.

The power in high school football is once again back on this side of the state as the area will look to continue the trend of winning state championships on the football field. After winning three state titles in the top four classes last season in Missouri, the local teams are primed to continue their dominance over the western side of the state as teams return many key players to their squads this season.

Let’s start our football previews today with Fort Zumwalt North and Webster Groves taking center stage. The Panthers have built a program over the 10 years under the direction of head coach Joe Bacon while first-year head coach Connor White will look to get the Statesmen program back to the promised land after a few down seasons.

Fort Zumwalt North Panthers

  • Head Coach – Joe Bacon
  • Record at school – 114-45 in 14 years
  • Conference – Gateway Athletic Conference Central
  • 2021 record – 7-4
  • 2021 highlights – Won their eighth consecutive GAC Central title before falling to Chaminade in the Class 5 district final.
  • Returning players:
    • Offense – Senior Andrew Goeke – OL, Senior Brayden Miller – RB, and Senior DJ Jones – RB
    • Defense – Senior Colin LaBell – DL, Senior PJ Henderson – LB, Junior Shane Pruitt – LB, Senior Brayden Miller – DB, and Senior Carter Madere – DB
  • Newcomers:
    • Senior Connor O’Neal – QB
    • Senior Andrew Guthery – RB and LB
    • Junior Austin Bauer – OL and DL
    • Junior Marq Futrell – RB and DB
    • Junior Maurice Hamilton – WR
    • Sophomore Jacob Sweeten – LB

Season Outlook:

“Last season contained several highlights along the way but most people in our program were disappointed that our win total didn’t reflect the hard work invested throughout the year and the talent level of our players,” stated Bacon.  “Fortunately, the ’22 team is fully committed to doing all they can to keep that from happening again this year.  Their commitment in the offseason to developing as athletes, their dedication to being “as perfect as possible,” and their willingness to fill whatever role needs to be filled to make the team strong have been remarkable.  I have been impressed with what we’ve done so far this off-season and we’re looking forward to the challenges that this coming season will bring.”

Key Games:

  • Friday, August 26 vs. Howell
  • Friday, September 23 at Holt
  • Friday, October 21 at Fort Zumwalt West

 

Webster Groves Statesmen

  • Head Coach – Conner White
  • Record at school – 0-0 in first year
  • Conference – Suburban Orange
  • 2021 record – 0-10
  • Returning players:
    • Offense – Khamari Smith, Sean Patrick Keegan, Trevion Hulsey
    • Defense – Trevion Logan, Qwalan Miller, Jackson Torbit, Gah Kaanagbara, Tristen Wagner, Noah Kaplan, Qwame Miller.
    • Notes on Returning Players:
      • Hulsey is an all-conference running back that will anchor the offensive side of the ball for the Statesmen. He is a physical runner that will look to get north and south and set the tone for the offense. Kaanagbara was all-conference on the defensive line last year and will move to the outside this season. Smith is the lone returner on the offensive line this season and will be counted on to lead a young group in the running attack up front. Torbit is a dual-threat as he will play both wideout and safety. He is one of the best athletes on the field and can be a difference-maker. Keegan will take control of the Webster Groves offense as the sophomore quarterback will look to continue his growth in the position as he has made big strides over the offseason.

Season Outlook:

“We are instilling in our players the right way to do things and what it takes to win,” stated White. “Winning is a decision. Not at the coin toss, but an accumulation of decisions you have made in your preparation leading up to the game. We are focusing on taking everything one day at a time and giving great effort and attention to detail. By doing all these things we want to show our players that hard work and preparation are the differences makers on Friday night. By creating a “want to”, and not a “have to culture”, we hope to bring excitement back to this historic program and return to the high standards of our past.”

Key Games:

  • Friday, August 26 vs Rockwood Summit
  • Friday, October 7 vs Parkway North
  • Friday, October 21 at Seckman
  • Thursday, November 24 vs Kirkwood (Turkey Day Game)

 

 

Jim Powers
Jim Powers

Jim Powers has been covering prep sports in the St. Louis area for 15+ years and a part of the Missouri State High School Activities Association Championship Broadcasts for the past 11 years. Powers is also a part of the Fox 2 Verlo Mattress Prep Zone Friday nights at 10:10 during the football and basketball seasons. If you have a prep sports story, please contact Jim at japowers2421@yahoo.com. Follow Jim at @hssportscaravan