Hawks, East, LHSN, Stars Host Football Openers on Saturday

Late Summer Heat Changes some Game Times

By Jim Wieners

High School Football 2013 is scheduled to begin Friday night Aug. 30, but for the majority of teams in North St. Louis County the season stars Saturday afternoon, Aug.  31, with hot temperatures in the mid 90s expected.

Just about the majority of Saturday games are scheduled to start at 1 p.m. with the exception of Northwest Academy of Law (St. Louis) at Jennings, which begins at 12 noon. (Starting times may change before, on or after the day this article is published to avoid the heat.  Late Tuesday, Hazelwood Central and Hazelwood East moved their games to 10 a.m. because of the heat.

Hazelwood Central, defending Suburban North Conference champions, host Webster Groves, who shared the Suburban South Conference title with defending Class Five State Champion Kirkwood and Parkway Central. Elsewhere Hazelwood East hosts the Suburban North opener against McCluer, Lutheran North hosts Class Four Quarterfinalist Clayton, McCluer North hosts Jefferson City, Riverview Gardens hosts Gateway STEM (formerly Gateway Tech), Class Three, District Five runner up McCluer South-Berkeley hosts Lift for Life Academy Charter and Normandy hosts Summit Christian (Lee’s Summit, Mo.)

Friday at 7 p.m., just before sunset, Hazelwood West visits Illinois Class 7A Quarterfinalist Edwardsville, Trinity Catholic visits Wright City, Pattonville hosts Kirkwood and Ritenour hosts Cardinal Ritter.

HAZELWOOD CENTRAL-WEBSTER GROVES — Van Vanatta begins his third year as Hazelwood Central head coach and the Hawks are coming off an 8-3 season including a 7-0 mark in Suburban North games. Last year the Hawks won eight games over Suburban North teams including two over Hazelwood West but is 0-3 outside the conference including two losses to DeSmet. In fact Vanatta, in his first two years as Hawk head coach, is winless outside the Suburban North (0-7) while he has a 13-2 record against Suburban North teams.

Cliff Ice, former Hazelwood Central assistant coach, makes his first visit to Central as the Webster Groves head coach, is coming off a 9-3 season and was Class Five, District Two runner up to Kirkwood. However, on Thanksgiving Day the Webster junior varsity defeated the Kirkwood junior varsity, 29-21, and it counted in the varsity standings as Webster, Kirkwood and Parkway Central were each 6-1 in the Suburban South.

HAZELWOOD EAST-McCLUER — New coaches from both teams make their debut this Saturday after both teams saw last season end in a three-way tie for second place in the Suburban North (5-2) with Ritenour and both the Spartans and Comets had second-round losses in Class Five, District Two. Aaron Whittington, who played on the 2001 Class 5A State runner up team, returns to his Alma Mater as the Spartans’ fifth head coach in school history replacing Brian Simmons who is now coaching at Lutheran North. Mario MacDonald, who was an assistant coach last year to Joe Henke, takes over the Comets’ reign after Henke, a long-time veteran in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, apparently retired.

Hazelwood East, under Simmons’s reign last year, was 6-5 overall shared and had two wins over McCluer North to go with two losses to Kirkwood. McCluer under Henke was 8-3 overall, won seven straight between losses to Hazelwood East and Hazelwood Central and defeated Riverview Gardens twice.

LUTHERAN NORTH-CLAYTON — Simmons begins his reign Saturday as the successor to retired legendary football coach (and athletic director) Mike Russell, who coach in two stints for the Crusaders with the first stint from the mid-1970s to the mid 1990s included winning four of the team’s five state titles. Russell’s final year with Lutheran North (1-4 in Metro League, 4-7 overall) last year started with five straight losses and finished with four wins in the last six games. Clayton, (9-4) who finished second in the Suburban East Conference (4-1) to Ladue, went the farthest of any Suburban East team last year before losing in the Quarterfinals to eventual Class Four runner up Jefferson City Helias Catholic.

McCLUER NORTH-JEFFERSON CITY — Jim Schottmueller begins his Suburban North record 29th year as the second coach in McCluer North history and the Stars are coming off a 3-7 season and 3-4 in the Suburban North. Jefferson City, 7-4 and District Three second round losers to Class Six State Runner Up Francis Howell, is making the first of two visits to North County, the second Sept. 21 at Hazelwood East.

HAZELWOOD WEST-EDWARDSVILLE — Hazelwood West is coming off a 0-10 season, 0-7 in the Suburban North. Edwardsville, 10-2 overall, avenged their only Southwestern Conference loss (6-1) to East St. Louis (14-7) with a 21-18 second round win in the Illinois Class 7A Playoffs.

 



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