COMMENTARY: Wildcats football team could end up being KCK's '69 Mets


By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

For those readers who follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, you know I'm a fan of the New York Mets.

While I'm from Kansas City and continue to support the Kansas City Royals, I've sort of adopted the Mets over the last five years or so as my National League team.

And for those novice baseball fans, the Mets are the sweet and innocent baseball team in New York City. The Yankees, on the other hand, are the Big Apple team entrenched in evil.

Despite the fact the Yankees have won 27 World Series and the Mets have won just two crowns, the Mets have one of the most famous World Series championships ever - the 1969 "Miracle Mets." They also won the World Series involving that little play with the Boston Red Sox first baseman, but that doesn't matter in this column.

The 1969 Mets team was one of the most unlikely champions in the history of baseball.

Having written a column this weekend about Washington's opportunity to win the league, I mentioned the fact this Wildcats team winning the league would be the most unexpected champion of the KCK league since I started covering sports.

KCK has not had a real Cinderella rise up in the last three or four years to shock the city.

All of the basketball seasons I've covered have went as I expected - with either Sumner Academy or Washington winning league. Schlagle's league crown in football last year was a little unexpected, but they had a good nucleus of juniors coming back and Sumner Academy had injury issues.

The Wildcats winning league this season would be a bigger surprise.

While the two teams are over four decades apart and in two different sports, the '69 Mets and the '12 Wildcats share some similarities.

1. They both had horrible years prior to their potential Cinderella season. The Mets, since becoming a franchise in 1962, had not finished higher than ninth-place in the National League leading up to the 1969 championship season. The Mets franchise also lost 100 games five times between 1962-68. The Wildcats football program won three games in three years entering this season. The Wildcats had not won more than one KCK league game since 2008; had not started 2-0 in league since 2008; had not defeated Harmon since 2008 or beat Sumner Academy for a while. You get the point. Both "programs" were at rock bottom.

2. A lot of young talent. Most of the everyday players for the Mets roster were under the age of 26 or 27. Pitching-wise, they were even younger. Tom Seaver, at the ripe ol' age of 24, was 25-7 that year from the mound. Jerry Coosman was 26 and finished 17-9. Nolan Ryan and Gary Gentry each had good seasons and were just 22 years old a piece. For the Wildcats, there's been some young underclassmen who have made this Cinderella run possible. Sophomore quarterback Kalem Harrison has won the same amount of games the last three seasons' worth of quarterbacks did for the Wildcats. Jaevon Williams, just a sophomore, is having a breakout season of his own in the rushing game. He had over 170 yards and three touchdowns against Sumner Academy. Steven Peoples, a sophomore defensive lineman, had a great game against Harmon. Shakir Love - who's a junior - has played very well at times for the Wildcats. There are some good seniors on the team, but it's the underclassmen who have grown up quicker than we thought. Just like the Mets in '69.

3. Both teams had a newish head coach or manager who played the game. Bryan Salsgiver played football in Shawnee Mission and is in his first year as the Wildcats head coach. Gil Hodges was a legendary member of those great Brooklyn Dodgers teams in the 1950's and he was in his second year as the Mets' manager.

4. Both Washington and the Mets weren't expected to win in 1969. This could tie into point one a little bit, but let's separate it. I thought Washington would win one game at the most when the season started. I did not expect them to beat Atchison or Sumner Academy. I thought Harmon was a coin-flip. A few around me thought my one-win prediction was optimistic. They've won three games. Of course, the Mets weren't predicted to do much in 1969, though Coosman and Seaver were expected to bring some improvement to the franchise eventually.

Of course, for the full comparison to become complete, the Wildcats will need to pull at least one more upset over Wyandotte or Schlagle. They may need to win both games depending on how that Atchison-Schlagle game goes.

However, the Wildcats are probably a confident bunch right now. Winning three games in a row will do that for you.

And believe it or not, I mean this as a good comparison. If I was comparing Washington to this year's Mets team, the school could sue me for slander because nothing deserves to be compared to the 2012 Mets.

If Washington wins the league this year, they are KCK's '69 Mets.

The next few weeks will be fun for KCK football fans. Washington's one of the biggest reasons why.