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Kickoff of prep football season draws near

So close, in fact, that we can start talking about it. So close, that we can speculate. So close, my friends, to prep football season.

The weekend of Sept. 5, Missouri high schools across the state will kick off the 2003 football season, and that includes Affton, Lindbergh, Mehlville and Oakville.

Each one of these schools, for different reasons, has plenty to be optimistic about as the season approaches.

In Class 6, the Lindbergh Flyers bring back so many athletes that you cannot even begin to list them off a team that reached the Class 6 Show-Me Bowl last season. Mehlville, meanwhile, also brings back some very talented players, and there is reason to believe that once again the Flyers and Panthers could square off in the semifinals just as they did a year ago.

Oakville, you might remember, was much improved in 2002 and should have enough firepower to improve its 5-5 record from a year ago. Unfortunately for someone, Lindbergh and Oakville are in a district together so no matter how much Lindbergh brings back or how improved Oakville might be, only one of these teams can advance out of the district.

Parkway South and Northwest round out a very strong district for Lindbergh and Oakville.

For Affton, it all comes down to one thing: Beat Clayton. Clayton kept Affton from winning the conference last year, and Clayton kept Affton from winning the district. With enough talent returning to avenge its 2002 loss to Clayton, Affton may have enough to make a legitimate run in the Class 4 playoffs in November.

Overall, there is little doubt that each of these four teams can enjoy a great deal of success in 2003. The Flyers, with so much returning talent, will have a target on them all season long, and Mehlville fans won't forget that the Panthers were an eyelash from sweeping the Flyers in 2002. Oakville will be turning heads this season and Affton has enough to make a deep run, too.

Unless the Hazelwood Central Hawks can put it all together, there is little doubt that Lindbergh and Mehlville will be among the top few Class 6 teams with a chance to reach the Show-Me Bowl. Stay tuned.

Be sure and pick up the Call's 15th annual Fall Sports Preview on Aug. 28 for much more on the upcoming season.

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