By PAUL STURM, Constitution-Tribune sports editor
As Missouri's high school football season gets underway in the heat for most teams this weekend, the C-T-area's slate is highlighted by a game between a pair of 2012 champions – one a conference title-winner, but the other a conference, district, and state champion.
The Hamilton Hornets, last year's Class 1 state title-winners after claiming their district crown and, in their inaugural year in it, the KCI Conference flag, will travel north to Bethany for a clash with the defending Grand River Conference champ South Harrison Bulldogs. Hamilton won 31-7 at home last year to ignite its 15-0 run to the state crown.
As of press time today, that game still is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff, but that could change. The same is true for the Hughesville: Northwest at Southwest Livingston and Carrollton at Trenton contests, but three area games have been pushed back.
Brookfield's home opener against Center: Mark Twain will not begin until 8 p.m. at Burlington Field, the same time Polo's game against Van Horn at the William Chrisman High field in Independence will get started.
Marceline also has delayed the opening kickoff of its home game against Knox County by a half-hour to 7:30 p.m.
Braymer doesn't have to worry about the issue because, for a second year in a row, it is idle in week one.
Those games still sticking to the original 7 p.m. start time could yet adjust them, of course.
As far as the on-field action, whatever time it begins, the Hamilton-South Harrison game has the most allure.
The Hornets return two-time first-team All-State defensive back and big-play offensive back Kellen Overstreet, as well as quarterback Drew Finch and several other players from their state-championship club. South Harrison, which – after winning nine straight following the loss to the Hornets in the opener – didn't get a rematch with Hamilton last year because Polo knocked it off in the district semifinals, will be led by returning first-team All-State quarterback Dylan Heitz. The Bulldogs did graduate first-team All-State receiver Kaid Hendren, however.
Led by its own first-team All-Staters in quarterback/linebacker Ethan Crowe and defensive lineman Jordan Konopasek, Southwest Livingston should have a good chance to match or better its 9-3 mark of a year ago when the Wildcats reached the 8-man state semifinals.
At Trenton, the host Bulldogs will welcome a Carrollton team which feels it's ready to rebound from a winless year. This game will give the Trojans an immediate chance to prove they can. Trenton won 18-14 a year ago.
Brookfield, led by returning quarterback JJ Abongo, should be able to handle Mark Twain in Clarence Cannon Conference action.
Polo will try to avenge last year's 5-turnover-hampered, 2-TD loss to Van Horn.