July 31, 2021

By Fred Liggett

A number of NCAA Division 1 conferences decided to go ahead and have a fall football season in 2020 but not many on the Division II level took the field due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Among those sitting on the sidelines was the MIAA conference. Now that the calendar has been changed to 2021 the entire league is excited for their return to the field and compete for a conference title.

The MIAA traditionally has sent teams to the national championship game and this fall looks to be no different with several schools looking to make a successful run to the title game to be played in McKinney, TX on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021.

Alumni here in Jackson County of a number of MIAA schools are looking forward to the upcoming season a little more than usual due to no games since the fall of 2019. Another reason for the excitement level getting higher is watching former high school standouts in Lee’s Summit succeed at the next level.

Pitt State Head Coach Brian Wright commented on former Lee’s Summit North Bronco Christian Carter….”Expect big things from him”, Does a good job when the football is in his hands.” Carter, a wide receiver for the Gorillas, Wright feels will find “more success on offense this year.” Carter, who primarily played quarterback for the Broncos, could also see action this season as a kickoff returner.

Going back to 2019 season the UCM Mules were co-champions with Northwest Missouri State. UCM Mules Head Coach Jim Svoboda commented on having no games in 2020, “It’s a challenge, focus on developing the program, developing players.” The Mules are scheduled to open play against Pitt State on Thursday, Sept. 2. Svoboda says “tough openers” are the norm for Central. The Mules “must be ready to play a team with a great tradition.” Svoboda adds “that UCM and Pitt State is 1 and 2 in attendance” in the MIAA conference. Svoboda admits the “Pitt State game has been on our board for a while.”

The 2021 season will still be dealing with vaccines as a subject. Defending MIAA champion Northwest Missouri State Head Coach Rich Wright knows this. In 2020 with no games Wright says “try to provide them with stability and structure” for around 130 guys. In a “COVID year” couldn’t do that which was “a big disappointment.” Regarding team members and staff having the vaccine Coach Wright says “had a meeting this spring with staff.” Wright adds “It’s a personal choice, do the best thing for them.” Wright realizes his players “work hard for this opportunity.”

The new football season opens on Thursday night Sept 2 with five conference games headlined by the Pitt State at Central Missouri contest in Warrensburg, MO. No matter the outcome of the games fans, players, coaches and officials will all be happy to be back doing what they love.