Pirates football team leads the way in awards

Eight different Piper Pirates football players earned awards at last weekend's KCK Preps Awards Presentation. Head coach Chris Brindle and linebacker Colton Beebe took home two of the top three awards.

PHOTOS: KCK Preps Awards ceremony

Check out some photos from last weekend's awards show at The Legends Theatre in KCK!

Prospect Profile: Tanner Eikenbary (Piper)

Here's a look at Piper Pirates quarterback Tanner Eikenbary.

KCK Preps Prospect: Kendall Short, Mill Valley

Despite missing nearly half the season, Mill Valley Jaguars running back Kendall Short finished with over 700 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns.

Top 10: Ten important high school football games worth looking at this season

Slowly, but surely, high school football is inching closer to the opening Sept. 2 slate of games.

When looking at the schedules, about 25 games standout to me as those being important towards league or district races.

Listing 25 games, however, would take too much time.

I've limited this list to ten.

10. Washington vs. Schlagle, October 28: Throw the records out when these two teams meet. Last year, you had to – Schlagle and Washington were a combined 2-18. Ouch. Both programs are looking to rebuild off horrible seasons and this game is a district game. A win here is a must win for both teams to even consider advancing out of district. Plus, it's a fun little rivalry in KCK.

9. Wyandotte at Harmon, October 7: An underrated rivalry that's had three good games the past three seasons. Both programs have improved over the last two years and the winner of this game could finish in the top half of the Kansas City Kansas – Atchison League.

8. Sumner Academy vs. Schlagle (at Washington), September 16: Call this a barometer game. Until last year, this was the most important game inside the KCKAL. The Sabres ran away with it last year, but these games are generally competitive. Will the young Stallions rise up and make a game out of it this season?

7. Turner at Bonner Springs, September 16: These games are also generally tight. While Turner might enter as a slight favorite, Bonner nearly beat them last season and they feature some nice talent on the offensive side of the ball. This is a key game in the Kaw Valley League race and also represents bragging rights in a long rivalry.

6. Basehor-Linwood at Turner, September 30: Turner has lost to the Bobcats two straight seasons and Basehor's really been a thorn in the side of a successful Bears program. For Turner to have any shot at a Kaw Valley League title, they must overcome the Basehor hurdle.

5. Basehor-Linwood at Piper, September 2: Basehor is getting some run and have found themselves ranked in the Top 10 preseason 4A football poll. Piper came close to getting them two years ago and played them relatively tight at Basehor last year. Still, Piper has the athletes to spring the upset and with the game being in Piper, there's an opportunity. This is a very interesting season opener.

4. Piper at Turner, October 7: Like the Bonner Springs-Turner affair, this one offers the winning team bragging rights amongst the locals. Last year, Turner ran all over Piper in what was Piper's worst regular season loss. The Bears mauled them and Piper is out for revenge. These two schools have some of the largest and most supportive fan-bases across Wyandotte County, so it should be heavily attended. And again, this is a key Kaw Valley League game.

3. Harmon at Sumner Academy, September 9: Talking to some members of the Hawks football team this season, this is the game for them. The game. This is the one a senior class led by Terrance Simmons and Darrin Hawkins wants so, so badly. Last year, Harmon jumped all over them, leading 19-0 before a rain delay pushed the game back to a Monday. Sumner came back for the victory, but the circumstances about the make-up date and loss itself have this team fired up beyond belief. Some of those Hawks players believe school and district politics pushed that game to a Monday, while all of the other games made up from that stormy night occurred on Saturday. Harmon will be coming for the Sabres this year and they better be ready. Trust me. This one could get nasty between the players as well and it's why I'll likely be covering it in Week 2.

2. Mill Valley at Turner, October 28: Why does a game that includes a Johnson County team rank in the Top 2? With Mill Valley, Turner, Harmon and Bishop Miege in the same district, I think this game will determine the final district spot for any team in Wyandotte County. It did last year and I see no reason why it won't again. Barring injuries, I believe this will be Turner's opportunity to get back to the postseason and with Mill Valley losing some very key seniors, the Golden Bears could do just that. This one is an under the radar game that many will overlook except me.

1. Sumner Academy at Piper, October 27: Ah, the best football rivalry in Wyandotte County. Like last season, I believe this will be for not just a spot in the postseason, but for the district title itself. Piper sprung an upset on the then undefeated Sumner Sabres to close out the regular season. This rivalry is growing nasty based on the two years I've covered it. It's getting competitive, but the Sabres have not cracked through yet against Piper. This will be another good chance. Both teams lose important seniors from last year, but this should still be another good game.

Advice to the Athletes: Don't get too obsessed with recruiting rankings

Having covered many games the past three years and developing some off the court friendships with athletes in Kansas City, Kan., I know recruiting rankings by scouting services is on the mind of several football and basketball players.

While those rankings done by ESPN, Yahoo, Rivals and Scout are important and should be a goal, they should not be the "be all to end all" for the career of athletes.

I would like to introduce readers to two NBA Lottery picks – Arizona's Derrick Williams and Kansas City's own Alec Burks.

They don't have too much in common. They both play different positions and Williams played for Arizona, one of the better programs in NCAA basketball history.

Burks, meanwhile, played for Colorado – a team that had two road games a year against KU prior to their move to the Pac 10.

One thing they do have in common – they received very little attention from the scouting services.

Burks was not listed at all in them, while Williams was only considered a "three-star" recruit.

Williams, when he was on, was flat out the most dominant player in college basketball I saw last year.

Burks was the best player in the Big 12 – I don't care what Kansas fans have to say about the Morris Twins or Kansas State followers say about Jacob Pullen.

Burks was the best in the Big 12 last year and should have won the Player of the Year award.

Both of those guys went from unheralded in the recruiting rankings to NBA Lottery picks.

Is that the ideal pathway?

Certainly not – it's easier being called a phenom and dominating several recruiting rankings. Being listed on those rankings is a goal worth aiming for.

But again, careers are not ruined by being omitted from those lists. You can still work hard, find an opportunity and become a great player.

Other reasons why not to live and die by recruiting services:

• Many of those scouts very rarely see a kid more than twice – and in some cases, don't bother scouting them. My biggest complaint with scouting services is how important they now are for recruiting, but how often they have flaws. They are national services and KCK (along with many cities) will often be overlooked based on the perception of the city and the past five years.

• They are biased towards popular and historic programs. Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari is my single favorite coach in the sport. But his presence alone would raise the star level of any recruit in KCK. What if Calipari visited a game between Schlagle and Washington this year to scout Tra'Vaughn White or Rozell Nunn? I guarantee you both of those players would have been listed in the Top 100 if he did. Headlines should be published across recruiting blogs around the nation. If North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams thought highly enough of a kid from Piper, he would certainly get more love than he probably earned by just having Ol' Roy interested. I respect both Calipari and Williams (they are the two coaches I'd want my theoretical "basketball star" son to play for), but high profile coaches have too much clout in the game.

• Once again, many recruiting services put too much stock into AAU basketball. I've made my feelings known about it before, but recruiting rankings often don't include intangibles. Intangibles can only be on display during the heat of the moment in a high school basketball state tournament. Or heck, even a Washington-Schlagle-Wyandotte rivalry game.

Again, I'm not arguing recruiting rankings don't matter.

They matter too much, if you ask me.

I'm just trying to say that those rankings are not accurate enough of a measurement to judge an athlete's high school career on.

Ask future millionaires Derrick Williams and Alec Burks about that.