By Clint Dye | Leader Reporter
Every season in the KCI Conference, or the best small school conference in Missouri as my colleague Brett Adkison and I like to call it, there are certain games that have that big fight feel.
Games that pair up the top teams in the conference to determine who the alpha of the KCI truly is.
This Friday we get that game when East Buchanan (5-0) hosts Mid-Buchanan (6-0).
Both teams are currently ranked in the Missouri Class 1 top ten. Mid-Buchanan sitting atop the castle at number one with East Buchanan hot on their trail at number seven.
For years, the Battle of the Buchanan’s, not the Buchanan Battle, considering East Buchanan is in Clinton County, was a one-sided affair dominated by East Buchanan.
In 2006, Mid-Buchanan defeated East Buchanan 42-7 in what would be Ron Musser’s final year at the helm of East Buchanan.
That next year, Musser’s replacement Kevin Bryan stepped in and the Bulldogs’ won seven out of the next eight contests, the lone loss, a tightly contested 14-6 game in 2009.
With just two head coaches running the program for over a decade, East Buchanan along with Lawson and head coach Todd Dunn, were the definition of head coaching stability within the KCI Conference.
While other conference teams, including Mid-Buchanan, saw a revolving door of head coaches, East Buchanan and Lawson stood firm with their leadership intact.
Mid-Buchanan’s head coaching instability finally came to an end in 2015 when Aaron Fritz took the lead for the Dragons.
With Fritz and his coaching staff, came an idea of what the program could be.
Improved weight training and a more disciplined approach to the game serving as two of the largest staples for the new Mid-Buchanan football program.
Success in the Battle of the Buchanan’s wasn’t immediate as the Dragons found themselves paired up against some of East Buchanan’s most dominant teams.
The first three meetings with Fritz leading the way, the Dragons lost by a combined score of, 116-14. But, in 2017, the year East Buchanan made it all the way to the Class 1 Semi-Finals, the game became more competitive with East Buchanan earning a hard fought 34-20 victory.
The following year during the regular season, the two engaged in an instant classic. Mid-Buchanan, hell bent on ending their losing streak to East Buchanan, jumped out to an early 21-point lead. However, it was meant to be that night for the Dragons’, as the Bulldogs’ battled their way back for a 34-28 victory
Despite the loss, Mid-Buchanan proved to everyone and more importantly to themselves, that they could hang with their fierce rivals.
Later that year the two met once again, this time in the semi-finals of the Missouri Class 1 District 7 tournament. It was on this night, with their 42-20 victory, that Mid-Buchanan finally snapped the 11-game losing streak to East Buchanan.
It was the Dragons’ biggest win of the season on their way to their first ever Class 1 Semifinal appearance.
In 2019, Mid-Buchanan defeated East Buchanan 46-6 in the regular season before eliminating the Bulldogs from the post season once again with a 49-22 victory.
It was another notch on the Dragons’ belt on their way to a second consecutive Class 1 Semifinal appearance and ended up being Kevin Bryan’s final game on the sidelines for East Buchanan.
Which brings us to this year. With Coach Bryan’s retirement, East Buchanan for the first time in two decades needed to find a new head coach.
In their search they came across former Central assistant Dan Ritter, who has ties to the Battle of the Buchanan’s through serving as an assistant to Ron Musser during Coach Musser’s one year as Mid-Buchanan head coach.
Year one under Ritter’s leadership couldn’t be off to a better start for East Buchanan.
The Bulldogs’ have won in a variety of ways. Week one was the comeback victory over South Harrison, they had blowout wins over West Platte and Trenton and then their biggest win was a shootout over rival Hamilton.
Meanwhile, Mid-Buchanan has been on a Bill Goldberg (for my fellow wrestling fans) type run through the 2020 regular season. Each week it’s been as simple as “Who’s next” for the Dragons.
So far, Mid-Buchanan has outscored their first six opponents, 335-40. In those victories were back-to-back wins over Lawson and Lathrop, two teams that have long been the bane of the Dragons’ existence.
Who to watch?
This contest features two of the premier running backs in northwest Missouri.
TJ Runyan of Mid-Buchanan has been outstanding so far in his final year in green and white. His long run against Lawson earlier this season was one for the highlight reel.
Freshman Trevor Klein for East Buchanan has emerged as a player to watch in the KCI Conference. His breakout game came against Hamilton and has been one of the Bulldogs’ biggest threats ever since.
The quarterback matchup is the age-old tale of the gunslinging veteran versus the up and coming signal caller.
Dragon senior Javan Noyes, a four-year starter at Mid-Buchanan, is the standard bearer for quarterback play in the KCI. His first three years were getting him ready for this moment as a senior and so far, he has delivered.
On the opposing sidelines will be junior Conner Musser. As a sophomore Musser shared time in the backfield for East Buchanan but has since been given the reins by Coach Ritter and is excelling as the Bulldogs starting quarterback.
While the quarterbacks and running backs are the superstars of this colossal collision, both teams have a plethora of playmakers to utilize.
Mid-Buchanan has the likes of Lane Ellison, Rawlins Brant and Caiden Bailey while East Buchanan has their own dangerous trio in Blake Antle, Drew Thomspon and Cru Conaway.
Battle of the Buchanan’s
Friday’s winner will not only have the inside track to a KCI Conference title but will also be sitting at the top of the Missouri Class 1 District 7 standings.
Which, if you go by recent history, means they will be hosting the rematch when the Battle of the Buchanan 2020 sequel most likely takes place in the post season.