Unbeaten football Wildcats will welcome offensive juggernaut Mound City/Craig Friday (Sept. 17). Marceline also puts perfect status on line at Fayette in area play

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

Three C-T-area high school football teams face hyper-critical conference assignments tonight as week four of Missouri’s 2018 season unfolds under calmer weather conditions.
The area’s two undefeated squads – Southwest Livingston and Marceline – and Hamilton all could see their league title hopes take a severe hit or vanish entirely.
In 8-man action, Southwest Livingston, which co-ops with Hale and Tina-Avalon, will host Mound City, which partners with Craig, in a Highway 275 Conference clash of 3-0 teams. Among the 11-man contests, Marceline will travel to Fayette for Lewis and Clark Conference action and Hamilton will welcome undefeated KCI Conference foe Lathrop.
The remainder of the area slate will find, in 11-man play, Trenton having Homecoming against Putnam County and Polo at South Harrison in Grand River Conference-West play, Brookfield hosting tough Lexington in a second-straight non-conference outing, and Carrollton trying to make it two wins in a row as Salisbury visits. Braymer/Breckenridge will host North Shelby in non-league, 8-man competition.
Around the Midland Empire Conference, besides the Cameron at Chillicothe contest, undefeated St. Joseph: Lafayette will call on Savannah, Maryville will visit Kansas City: St. Pius X, and Benton will observe Homecoming while facing Bishop LeBlond in a pairing of winless St. Joseph teams.
A year ago, Mound City/Craig pounded Southwest’s Wildcats 86-40 on its field and it has walloped its first three foes a combined 182-6. Problematically for the Wildcats, while they have been almost as prolific offensively with 168 points scored, they have surrendered 104 points.
Southwest Livingston (3-0, 3-0 conf.) figures to be able to put points up again. Slowing the offensive pace of the Panthers (3-0, 3-0 conf.) likely will be the contest’s critical factor.
Hamilton (2-1, 0-1 conf.), which almost certainly must win to maintain any possibility of successfully defending its KCI crown, couldn’t keep up with undefeated East Buchanan in the late going last week. It can’t afford an early mistake like last week when East Buchanan returned a first-quarter pass interception for a 56-yards touchdown to take a lead it never gave back.
The Mules of Lathrop (3-0, 1-0 conf.) have kicked their first three foes all over the field, averaging more than 50 points a game while allowing a total of only 26.
Marceline (3-0, 2-0 conf.) not only has a determined, capable foe to confront in Fayette’s Falcons (3-0, 2-0 conf.), which defeated Scotland County by the same 30-points margin the Tigers did, but also has to battle a potential emotional letdown after its last-play, 9-6 “Bell Game” victory over Brookfield last week.
If MHS can’t get back to its top level of play, Fayette – which gave the Tigers fits for most of last year’s encounter – could be the team which walks off the field late Friday night still with a zero in the “losses” column.
Like Marceline, Brookfield (0-3, 0-2 conf.) has a tough customer in front of it while it tries to regenerate its physical and psychological energy level following last week’s emotion-packed clash.
The Bulldogs will have the home-field advantage, but they’ll need that plus a high caliber of play against the unbeaten Minutemen of Lexington (3-0). The game could hinge on whether the stout defense Brookfield has played thus far – the Bulldogs have surrendered only two touchdowns and 24 points in three contests – can hold the potent LHS offense in check. Lexington has racked up 118 points (39.3 per game) thus far, although it also has allowed at least 20 each time out.
Trenton (0-3, 0-1 conf.), one of Lexington’s victims, seeks improvement on both sides of the ball – more consistency on offense, where it’s been held to seven points twice in the games, and overall better play on defense after surrendering 130 points thus far.
Putnam County’s Midgets (1-2, 0-1 conf.) come calling, having topped only badly-strugging Bishop LeBlond and that by a modest 26-12 margin in week one. They were shut out 12-0 by South Harrison in their GRC-East opener last week.
Polo (0-3, 0-1 conf.), having found the end zone only once the first three weeks, might find it difficult to alter that trajectory as it visits Bethany. South Harrison (2-1, 1-0 conf.) is coming off that whitewashing of Putnam County and began its season with what ranks as an impressive loss, a 32-22 road defeat by 3-0 East Buchanan.
Carrollton’s prospects for balancing their won-lost ledger appear bright as Salisbury (1-2) calls on the Trojans (1-2).
After being blanked by two of Salisbury’s Lewis and Clark Conference brethren (Fayette, Westran) to open 2018, Carrollton flipped the script last Friday, not only registering its first points of the season, but gaining a shutout win, 28-0, at Concordia against St. Paul Lutheran.
Like the Trojans, Salisbury’s Panthers tasted victory for the first time in week three, dominating league foe Harrisburg 36-6.
Braymer/Breckenridge (0-3) will have the first of its consecutive non-conference outings as it welcomes North Shelby. The Raiders (2-1), by far the easternmost 8-man program in the state, commenced 2018 with runaway victories over Hughesville: Northwest and Rockford, Ill.: Christian Life School before stumbling 28-22 at home against the Norborne/Hardin-Central Aggies last week.
Braymer/Breckenridge will visit neighboring Norborne/Hardin-Central next week.
This week’s key Midland Empire Conference game will be the one at Savannah, where the previously-winless Savages (1-2, 1-0 conf.) erupted for a 83-14 crushing of undermanned Bishop LeBlond last week.
Projected for a potential second-place finish in the loop this year, Savannah encounters a Lafayette squad that has begun the season explosively.
The Fighting Irish (3-0, 1-0 conf.) had their hands full with Benton for a half last week, but still ended up posting 46 points, the second time they’ve scored in the 40s.
While Maryville and St. Pius X have squared off in the regular season for a handful of years or longer, tonight’s clash in north Kansas City will be their first as league opponents The Spoofhounds (2-1, 1-0 conf.) figure to have more than the Warriors (2-1, 0-1 conf.) can handle, but big I-back Ben Wade of SPX could present a challege for MHS.
After an encouraging showing against Lafayette, Benton (0-3, 0-1 conf.) projects to be able to handle Bishop LeBlond (0-3, 0-1 conf.).