ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Parkway North football coach Bob Bunton knew his 2016 senior class was a special group, even when they were just freshman four years ago.
“It has gone according to plan,” Bunton says. “Five of our current seniors played regularly, as freshman, on the varsity. And that’s rare.”
Two of those players are Ryan Newton and Ryan Smith. The last three seasons have ended with a loss in the district tournament, but this year they’ve made it to the Missouri Class 4 State Championship Semifinal.
“Since we were freshman, it’s like coach has said, like ‘this is the year,'” Smith says. “Before every game I think about that. I think about like everyone who has came here, everyone who has played for the program, everyone who’s went North.”
Newton and Smith are also in their second seasons as captains of the 11-2 Vikings. And Newton says that has been an honor that he doesn’t take for granted.
“We’re very prideful in our history here at Parkway North,” Newton says. “There’s a lot of great players to come out of here. Not the big name players, but just guys that do the right work on and off the field and continue to do that after high school.”
Both players say the family-like feel of the team this year has made a difference. And it’s been built through the previous seasons, becuase Smith says it’s the things he learned from former players that is helping him this year.
“We’re playing for them like we want to get it done for everyone who’s been at North and our coaches. We want to get it done for them.”
Smith mentioned his coaches because Bunton and a majority of his coaching staff are also former players at Parkway North. Which Burton says just reinforces that family bond with his team.
“I got a text today from guy,” Bunton says. “That played ball here in 1981 from Houston, Texas saying he’s coming to Harrisonville, Missouri. That’s rewarding. And then when you share that with the kids on the current team ‘Hey fellas, this is bigger than you. This is bigger than all of us.’”
The Vikings have a travel day this Friday, and will head to the other side of the state for Saturday’s 1 p.m. semifinal game at Harrisonville High School. And when we talked to them on Monday, they were already itching to leave.
“It’s been the longest week,” Smith says. “I just woke up and I’m like ‘Can it be Saturday already?’ I’m just ready to play.”
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