On his way to filling out the schedule for Clever's inaugural season of varsity football later this year, Jays Athletic Director Brian Breeden had to react to shifts in the Mid-Lakes Conference, Ozark Mountain Conference and Missouri River Valley Conference.
Through it all, Breeden was able to complete a nine-game, regular-season slate that will see Clever play five home games and four away contests. The Jays will play the same foes in 2021, while having four home games and five road trips.
The Jays will celebrate their opening kickoff on Aug. 28 at home against Willow Springs. They will follow up by playing, in order, El Dorado Springs, Forsyth, Strafford, Greenfield, Skyline, Stockton, Fair Grove and St. Michael.
The dates with Forsyth, Strafford, Skyline, Stockton and Fair Grove are Mid-Lakes Conference matchups.
"It has been tricky to figure out a schedule, with a lot of conferences moving around and scheduling football, compared to other sports, has been challenging," Breeden said. "A lot of (the schedule) has been four or five years in the making and we started planning two years out. Having five Mid-Lakes Conference games has been a lifesaver."
Breeden originally had dates lined up with the likes of El Dorado Springs, Buffalo and Warsaw under the assumption the contests would be part of each school's Ozark Mountain Conference slate. But once Clever and other schools opted to remain in the Mid-Lakes Conference, those dates fell by the wayside, with the exception of a deal with El Dorado Springs.
"We were able to keep them on our schedule," Breeden said.
Breeden was also thrown a curve when Clinton joined the Missouri River Valley Conference and had to back out of an agreement to play Clever. Enter Greenfield, which became the final piece to the Jays' puzzle. The Bears will be the lone Class 1 school the Jays face.
"Luckily, we were able to pick up Greenfield," Breeden said of the Class 1 independent. "It was one of those deals where it all came together. With us being a Class 2 school, it will help them out (as a Class 1 school) to play us. By playing up, they will get points. With us being a new program, a lot of Class 1 schools reached out to us."
Clever has no prior history with St. Michael, which is in Lee's Summit.
"St. Michael reached out to us," Breeden said. "They have a fairly new program, are similar in size to us and were looking for a game. That game might make me nervous in the future when we have to travel there."
Of Clever's opponents, Fair Grove had the most success a year ago, when the Eagles were 10-1. Last season, Skyline was 7-5, Willow Springs 6-6, Strafford 5-5, El Dorado Springs 4-6, Stockton was 4-6, St. Michael 3-7, Forsyth 2-8 and Greenfield 1-9.
Clever has prepared for its transition to varsity ball by playing jayvee ball the past three years.
"I feel like we're ready to make the jump to varsity," Breeden said. "We had conversations about having some varsity games last year. But we decided to have one more full year of a jayvee schedule. We feel we have good athletes and think we will be able to compete. With that being said, it will still be a large jump."