The first-ever football jamborees kick off on Friday across the state for high schools in Kansas. After legislation was passed by KSHSAA that allowed teams to get together for preseason scrimmages, programs quickly organized three-to-four-team jamborees that will allow schools to go live against varsity competition rather than hosting intra-squad scrimmages.
“It’ll be good for a lot of our kids to see live action against another opponent,” Parsons head coach Kurt Friess said. “We have so many new kids that haven’t truly played varsity yet, so we need to get them out there and see what they look like.”
Schools are allowed to have one jamboree date with no fewer than three schools and no more than four KSHSAA-member schools. Teams will be required to complete 10 days of practice before participating in a jamboree, with each player requiring nine practices to be eligible to participate. Schools are not required to participate in a jamboree and may still conduct public intrasquad scrimmages.
Four local schools are hosting jamborees on Friday — Cherryvale, Erie, Labette County and Oswego.
Labette County is hosting Columbus and Iola at its jamboree and will run both varsity and JV scrimmages simultaneously.
“We’ve got three schools in a jamboree where none of us play each other,” Labette County head coach Sean Price said. “We’re still trying to figure out who we are and hopefully we can find some answers. Now we’re able to get right into it.”
Oswego is hosting St. Paul and Maranatha Academy in an 8-Man jamboree.
“The advantages of jamborees for an 8-Man team are several,” Oswego head coach Matt Fowler said. “Even for a team with numbers, an intrasquad scrimmage is a challenge. We only have to provide one side of the ball at a time which really helps.”
KSHSAA allows each team to run a maximum of 36 offensive plays during a jamboree, so the three teams will run 18 plays against one another. Oswego’s jamboree will feature 12 varsity plays against each team and six JV plays.
“The JV will get an opportunity to get on the field in front of a Friday night crowd against another team’s second unit,” Fowler said. “Hopefully they get to taste some success. It’s a win all the way around.”
St. Paul head coach Keith Wiatrak said all three teams gave some basic playcalling plans to each other.
“My major goal is to see some kids that we’ve moved around in different positions and not get anybody hurt,” Wiatrak said. “For us, it’s going to be big because we’re changing our defensive scheme a little bit. So many teams do spread, so we want to test some stuff out.”
Cherryvale’s jamboree will host Baxter Springs, Southeast and Northeast.
Because KSHSAA requires at least three teams to be in attendance for a jamboree to be held, Cherryvale chose to recruit four schools in order to build in margin of error.
“When it got passed, we got on the horn and thought four teams would be good,” Hester said. “That way if somebody backs out, we can still have it. These are teams we don’t have on our schedule and are diverse, so they can give us different looks.”
“It’s unique and historic,” Cherryvale head coach Harry Hester said. “It’s a lot of good change. It helps the small schools a lot. Our numbers are not huge, so this gives us a chance to get a good look. Hopefully we can get some first-game mistakes out of the way.”
Erie’s jamboree will host Tri-Valley League foes Eureka, Neodesha and Yates Center.
Meanwhile, Parsons will travel north to Fredonia for its jamboree. The Vikings will also see former SEK League foe Chanute at the session.
“We just want some live action so we can see what our kids do in a helmet and jersey,” Friess said. “We’ll get to see our defense go up against two different styles of offense and our offense will face an even and an odd front. We can see our scheme against a couple of other opponents.”
Chetopa will not participate in a jamboree this year as the school was still in the process of hiring a new coach when the resolution was passed in late April.
Coaches and administrators widely supported the implementation of jamborees for football programs in Kansas as it gives teams a true preseason opponent prior to Week 1. Friday gives teams its first chance to cash in on the dividends from the new preseason structure.