Camdenton, Mo. – With another year under the belt, I find myself already thinking about what 2014 may bring. I've heard a number of people say how bad 2013 was for them, and others hoping 2014 is half as good as 2013 was.
As for me, I believe 2013 was the first real year of my adult life.
In my first full year on the job, I gained plenty of experience and have plenty of stories to tell.
But, as I stated earlier, I can't help but look forward. So here are my predictions for 2014.
2013 saw the Kansas City Chiefs make one of the greatest comebacks of all time, and I have to believe that the franchise is on their way up. This current staff has found a way to win, and I think a solid draft this season will make this an even tougher opponent.
In short, Kansas City will make the playoffs once again in 2014, most likely as a wild card, unless Peyton Manning is somehow forced from the field.
Jamaal Charles? Easily another 1,000 rushing yards next season, well over 2,000 offensive yards total. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston will combine to help the Chiefs lead the NFL in sacks-as a team.
I've really grown to enjoy watching the Rams in these last few years.
Any of my friends will tell you that I am not a Steven Jackson fan, and that I always said he was going to be replaced. The Rams' first season without Jackson as the starter began rocky, but I'll go ahead and say it: I believe Zac Stacy is the future of St. Louis' rushing attack.
I have no idea what this team will accomplish next season, but I believe we are in for a more balanced offensive attack and a dominating defense. That last part of my statement should be read with one name in mind: Robert Quinn. My predictions: Quinn leads the NFL in sacks next year, cornerback Cortland Finnegan is replaced. Rams draft heavily on offensive line.
Let's just say the Rams have been building that defense from the ground up, and it is paying off.
Oh, you want to know about the St. Louis Blues? Well, I figure they'll one of the two final teams competing for the Stanley Cup in 2014.
Baseball...well, let's make this easy. The Cardinals are going to be stacked for next season with a pitching crew that could make you cry. Some off-season moves are already looking to make some splashes on the team, so I expect some growing pains.
They will not make the World Series this year, though.
For you Royals fans, it'll be another year where they start off really well, then start playing badly. But this time, they make the postseason.
I personally hope for another I-70 World Series every year, but the chances of that are very slim.
Let's talk college sports: For the rest of the current season, Mizzou's basketball program will be one of highs and lows. They'll never be ranked extremely high, but they will be ranked. This team has talent, but needs more time to develop it. But maybe this March they can do something that they haven't been able to do in the past two seasons, when they were extremely hyped: win a game in the NCAA Tournament.
I admit that Mizzou football surprised me this year. Before the season began, I projected them as a 6-6 team. I was wrong.
That being said, this team will not be performing at this same level next year. I expect some loss in production with the loss of some key seniors, and no, I'm not talking about James Franklin. I believe that Maty Mauk will exceed Franklin in time, if given the right tools and experience, so I expect no turnover at that position. No, saying farewell to Josey and Sam will be things that worry me for the Tigers.
So I'll say they win 7 games at the most next season.
As for local teams, I'll be a little more vague. Each of the lake area teams will be more competitive next year.
In football, I expect Camdenton and Eldon to continue playing at a high level, and I predict that Osage and Versailles will both finish with more wins than last season.
One of the lake area softball teams will win a district title next year, and the boys' soccer teams will have better seasons overall. Two lake area basketball programs will play for their district titles, and one of them will be Macks Creek.
In baseball, two teams from the lake will compete in the district title games in 2014, while one, if not both, of the girls' soccer teams will win their district.
The lake area teams will see more kids through wrestling districts this season, and have a solid number of state-level competitors.
This year, rain won't be an issue at the Lake Race, and the record at the Shootout will stand for another year-sorry, guys, but I've spotted a trend here. Every two years, the old record is beaten since the Shootout began.
In short, 2014 will be good for the lake sports.