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Football 2020: Suburban Red Conference Power Rankings

1. Ladue Rams

2019 record: 12-2

Key Returners (Offense):

Jared Rhodes (RB)

Marzion Cosby (WR)

Stewart Dove (WR)

Jack Mitchell (OT)

Ben Reiff (OT)

Max Eastman (OG)

Alex Zhou (OG)

Key Returners (Defense):

Ethan Deutch (LB)

Jack Mitchell (DE)

Max Eastman (DT)

Kenyatta Anderson (CB)

Marzion Cosby (DB)

Mel Woodson (DB)

Key Losses: Henry McIntosh (QB), Jelani Davis (OT/DT), Brian Faulkner (DT), Brock Jones (LB/TE), Mason Player (WR/CB), Gideon Boaten (RB/DE), Callen Morley (LB/C), Nick Stiebler (WR/DB)

The Skinny: You might think this version of the 2020 Rams will expect some kind of drop off after losing six all-state players who won a school-record 51 games in their careers. Think again. Ladue returns a healthy amount of kids who’ve played in more big-time games than most in the entire area plus a junior class with quantity and quality. Then the Rams boast 6’4, 215-pound sophomore wide receiver Samuel M’Pemba, who already has two offers from Texas and Texas A&M and fellow 10th grader, Max Eastman who started both ways last year in the trenches. Ladue promises to see more production in their run game with four starters coming back and 5’11, 191-pound junior Jared Rhodes being a year older at running back. Another junior to look out for is 6-3, 220-pound linebacker/tight end, Mason Taylor. Ladue has few questions to figure out on the field, but a gaping one is who will replace 2X all-stater, Henry McIntosh at quarterback? Marzion Cosby was their back up the last two seasons and in contention again this year. Then there’s 6-5 sophomore, Jaylen Swinney and 6-1 freshman Beau Dolan who both show promise. Mike Tarpey always has a good plan and expect to see a capable signal-caller for the Rams once again.

2. Lafayette Lancers

2019 record: 7-3

Key Returners (Offense):

Blake Micek (QB)

Pernell Garner (WR)

Daniel Akkerman (OT)

Dylan Fults-Evans (OG)

Gavin Oswald (C)

Collin Cundy (OG)

Key Returners (Defense):

Tommy Hagan (DT)

Mitchell Hoffman (LB)

Pernell Garner (CB)

Malik Hampton (DB)

Key Losses: Caden Phipps (RB), Antonio Cooper (DB), Jake Nelson (LB), Marsean Fisher (WR/CB), Ryan Findlay (DE), Anthony McRoberts (DT), Jalin Reese (DB), Jack Saunders (LB), Jonah Robinson (DE)

The Skinny: The Lancers made some noise for most of last year, including giving Eureka a scare while their defense surrendered less than 14 points in six games. This year’s Lafayette squad potentially has what it takes to build off of yet another seven-win season. What stands out is their four offensive linemen returning: Akkerman, Cundy, Fults-Evans, and Oswald plus senior quarterback, Blake Micek. Fellow senior, T.J. Bright can sling the ball as well. Pay attention to two-way athletes, Pernell Garner and Malik Hampton, while Kevin Fowler is their up and coming junior running back, who replaces 1,000-yard rusher, Caden Phipps. Another junior two-way threat is 6-4, 235-pound tight end/linebacker Owen Butler. The offense overall seems to be in good hands. On defense, however, the Lancers lost quite a few starters, but return promising junior defensive tackle, Tommy Hagan plus Mitchell Hoffman at linebacker and Garner and Hampton in the secondary. Lafayette will compete with everybody they’ll face.

3. Fox Warriors

2019 record: 8-3

Key Returners (Offense):

Brock Inman (QB)

Chase Maxey (RB)

Jahaud Thompson (RB)

Jake Waters (WR)

Vinny Milford (WR)

Mason Petty (OT)

Luke Allen (OT)

Key Returners (Defense):

Luke Allen (DE)

Chase Maxey (LB)

Luke Pisoni (LB)

Mike Merlenbach (LB)

Jahaud Thompson (CB)

Brock Inman (DB)

Ethan Phillips (DB)

Key Losses: Carson Elwood (FB/LB), Austin Dearing (C), Nick Nice (OG), Daemion Birlew (DE), Noah McGinness (DB), Jake Pisoni (CB)

The Skinny: The fair city of Arnold has reason to be excited about their Warriors. After coming off an 8-3 season, Fox returns the majority of their starters and bring back plenty of depth that sees them as a big player to challenge for the conference championship and perhaps a district championship in Class 5. Their best athlete, Brock Inman returns at quarterback as well as running backs, Chase Maxey and Jahaud Thompson. Those three guys will make for a highly effective wishbone offense. Mason Petty and Luke Allen return as starters in the offensive line including multiple players who gained experience through Fox’s ability to rotate guys in and out. On defense, Maxey is back at linebacker alongside the tough Luke Pisoni and Mike Merlenbach. Inman, Thompson, and Ethan Phillips are back in the secondary to add more defensive resilience. Return a big group of players after an eight-win season despite upping their schedule being in this conference, Fox is ready for the challenge and can beat anybody here.

4. Lindbergh Flyers

2019 record: 5-6

Key Returners (Offense):

Logan Kopp (RB)

Adam DuPont (FB)

Ben Stelken (OT)

Daniel Nickel (OG)

Key Returners (Defense):

Logan Miller (DE)

Ben Stelken (DT)

Tyler Coslow (DT)

Logan Kopp (LB)

Alec Clinton (LB)

Adam DuPont (LB)

Key Losses: Parker Johnson (OG), Bobby Tessler (RB), Logan Marchand (QB), Shawn Etzkorn (C), Alex Lauer (LB), Nate Skelken (OT), Joey Abeln (TE/DE), Jonathan Lauer (CB), Chaz Kachadorian (CB)

The Skinny: It’s no secret the boys of Sunset Hills love to pound the ball and play physical, hard-nosed football. After a relatively average season, the Flyers are ready to turn the volume up. What’s exciting about this team is them returning six starters on defense including all-state linebacker, Logan Kopp alongside Alex Clinton, and Adam DuPont. Lindbergh also welcomes back defensive linemen Logan Miller, Ben Stelken, and Tyler Coslow. This defense will be one more disciplined, physical units among the public large schools in the area, which will win games. Offensively the numbers are thinner, but the Flyers see the productive two-way tandem of Kopp and DuPont return at half-back and full-back respectively. Lindbergh needs to replace three starting offensive linemen, but that’s an area where they typically reload. This is Nathan Norman’s fifth year at Lindbergh after a successful stint at Cape Central and has helped rebuild Lindbergh to a consistent, respectable program that has the tools to enjoy a winning season.

5. Ritenour Huskies

2019 record: 1-9

Key Returners (Offense):

Brian Golden (QB)

Marcellus Griffin (RB)

Tre’von Moore (WR)

Corey Cooper (WR)

Nico Blount (TE)

Joey Mayberry (OG)

Kameron Cole (OG)

Travis Brown (C)

Key Returners (Defense):

Joey Mayberry (DE)

Kameron Cole (DT)

Ronnie Moore (LB)

Koreyon Harris (LB)

Likellon Smith (LB)

Corey Cooper (DB)

Caleb Harris (DB)

Tre’von Moore (CB)

James Furlow (CB)

Key Losses: Kevin Tyler (OT), Donaven Whitehorn (CB), Chris Blount (OT)

The Skinny: Ritenour was in a dark place for the last two seasons winning three games out of 20, but they might’ve made the best acquisition in the area this offseason by hiring former Lutheran North offensive and defensive coordinator, Kyle Wagner to lead their program. So far he’s instilled newfound optimism for his players, which was desperately needed, and if you look at who they have returning to the fold there’s more to be found. Golden (QB), Griffin (RB), their two best receivers, Moore and Cooper, plus three big linemen and tight end Nico Blount all come back on offense. Griffin in particular is an electric weapon returning for the Huskies who will have the protection of perhaps the biggest and deepest offensive line in the conference. On the other side of the ball, Ritenour returns almost everybody on defense. It should be noted they have much to improve upon after going 1-9 with everybody having to step up. Having said that, we should see an improvement of some kind by the Huskies weather that’s three wins or eight. If there is plenty of improvement then they'll be a tough out for all of their opponents and could even challenge for a conference title.

6. Hazelwood West Wildcats

2019 record: 8-2

Key Returners (Offense):

Jeremiah Johnson (RB)

Isaiah Stevenson (OT)

Jeremiah Smith (C)

Key Returners (Defense):

Alijah Bland (LB)

Khalil Jones (LB)

Jataruis McKinney (LB)

Key Losses: Darius Cooper (QB), Traevon Williams (OT/DT), Charles Davis (DE/WR), Brian Stiles (WR), Joseph Fuller (WR), Morion Thomas (WR), Jermaine Thomas (DB), Jaiden Mayberry (DE), Kyle Smith (OG/DT), Mario Whitaker (CB), Ka’Ron Marshall (DB), Khrishawn Butler (CB)

The Skinny: West enjoyed one of their best seasons in the 2010s decade ending up as Suburban North champions. However, the Wildcats lost 16 starters on both sides of the ball and over 20 seniors leaving them with many spots to fill. On defense, they do return all three of their starter linebackers in Alijah Bland, Khalil Jones, and Jataruis McKinney. Offensively they lose a lot of production out of the dual-threat quarterback, Darius Cooper, who accounted for over 2,000 total yards. His replacement will be McKinney (5-11 185-lbs) who has the potential to be as effective as Cooper. We’ll probably see more of big Jeremiah Johnson at running back who rushed for 522 yards on 81 carries last year. Expect Bland to also carry the rock this season. They are excited for their underclassmen to step up, but West could easily take some learning curve lumps at the beginning of the season with a bunch of new faces. One of those is 6-4, 275-pound offensive tackle Tavis Parsakis.

Overview: Once again I think we’ll have a conference that is loaded with teams that will be talented and competitive. Hazelwood West sticks out as the team with the most to replace, but hearing from their coaching staff and players, they’re excited with who they have coming up. Besides that, it’s hard to find positives. They’ll have a huge test in week two as they host Ladue. The Rams better not look past them, especially when that will take place at 4:15 p.m. On paper, Ladue is the most talented team in the Red not only with who they’ll bring out on the field, but also with what they have in reserve. It’s all there for them, except the quarterback position, which remains a looming question mark. If McIntosh was still around or Dolan and Swinney were a year older, Ladue would be conference favorites without any shadow of a doubt, but that’s not the case. I am however especially high on Dolan, a lefty who will definitely be a quality quarterback down the road. I also can’t wait to see Samuel M’Pemba in action, who could end up being a human cheat code at wide receiver for a guy his size. Experienced teams like Fox and Lindbergh will challenge the Rams by testing their young, albeit talented front seven with bruising rushing attacks. Brock Inman (Fox) is perhaps the most athletic quarterback in this conference, who can outrun secondaries with his legs and can make a long pass if secondaries are napping. I like Warrior’s depth and have the horses to wear down teams, especially with Maxey and Thompson in the backfield who have a balanced combination of strength and speed. For Lindbergh, I’m expecting to see a solid defense led by Logan Kopp, who is perhaps the best overall linebacker along with a veteran defensive core. The Flyers may be in fourth but can trouble anybody. Lafayette has the pieces to produce a quality team with a good looking offense returning and probably will see a capable defense out of them. It’ll be interesting to see young Mr. Fowler for the Lancers make an impression at running back, as will it be with Jared Rhodes from Ladue, who should get plenty of carries. Ritenour is going to be one of the most interesting teams in the entire area given their past records and returning numbers. Watch out for Marcellus Griffin, who is a human highlight at running back. Can they get the best out of their talent and turn their fortunes around very quickly or will it take some time early in the season to get going? They really have the athletes and bigs to do so. I won’t be surprised if they shock a lot of people, but they won’t get any free passes in this conference. Nobody will.

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