Brookfield blowout win highlighted area prep football’s limited opening week of district action
BHS Bulldogs, Polo prevail, join four idle squads in reaching this week’s prep district gridiron semis. Hamilton: Penney, Norborne/Nardin-Central each received COVID-19-forced forfeit victories
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
Given that it’s 2020, last weekend’s opening round of Missouri high school football district playoffs fittingly had a “socially-distanced” array of results and circumstances.
While normally most or all of the 10 C-T-area gridiron squads (not counting Chillicothe’s) would have been in action, between byes, opt-out decisions, and COVID-19 trump cards, less than half – four – were. Of those, half were able to push their seasons to an 11th week.
Long before the postseason neared, two area 8-man programs – Braymer/Breckenridge and Keytesville/Mendon: Northwestern – had decided not to involve their winless teams in the district and state playoffs. Rather, they chose to make up their COVID-19-caused September postponement as a regular-season finale, one which Braymer/Breckenridge (1-8) claimed 22-12.
That snapped the Bobcats’ 29-games losing streak which extended back to the 2017 district semifinals and ended the Keytesville/Northwestern Thunder’s inaugural season of high school football with a 0-9 mark.
Of the eight area squads participating in the postseason, 8-man Southwest Livingston and 11-man Class 1 Marceline each finished No. 1 in their respective districts’ regular-season ratings and thus earned first-round byes that had them idle last Friday, as they’d known for a week.
Unexpectedly joining them in sitting out last Friday’s start of postseason play, however, were 11-man Class 1 Hamilton: Penney and 8-man Norborne/Hardin-Central. Each received a forfeit victory when respective planned opponents Gallatin and Schuyler County came up short of players because of coronavirus quarantines.
That left Brookfield, Trenton, Carrollton, and Polo to carry the fictional area banner onto the gridiron last Friday. They experienced perfectly-mixed fortunes, some of which might or might not have been pandemic-influenced.
In an extremely-impressive performance, Brookfield overwhelmed Lawson 44-0 in Class 2 District 8. Polo avenged its season-opening 7-0 loss to Plattsburg with a 21-7 rematch triumph in Class 1 District 7.
On the flip side, Trenton completed a winless (0-8) season with the expected 36-0 setback at Lexington in Class 2 District 8 and Carrollton ended its year at .500 when it fell, 34-19, at Fayette in Class 1 District 6.
Despite standing requests, no specific details on the Braymer/Breckenridge-Keytesville/Northwestern, Trenton, or Polo games were reported or available prior to press deadline for this article.
Looking ahead to this week’s district semifinals when, coronavirus willing, all six area squads remaining active are due to be in Friday action, Southwest Livingston (8-1) is to host 3-4 Concordia – a 42-32 winner over Alma: Santa Fe last Friday, Marceline (8-1) will welcome 6-4 Fayette, Hamilton: Penney (7-3) will go to 8-2 South Harrison, Brookfield (5-4) will travel to 9-0 Kansas City: St. Pius X, Polo (3-7) will visit 9-0 Mid-Buchanan, and Norborne/Hardin-Central (6-3) will make the long trek to 7-2 North Shelby.
Brookfield 44, Lawson 0
BROOKFIELD — Heading into last Friday’s Class 2 District 8 playoffs opener, there was a sense that the host Brookfield High School Bulldogs might have just the right offensive components to give foe Lawson fits.
The ’Dogs proved that projection accurate, leading 30-0 at the break and eventually put the “running clock” into use for the duration after its first post-intermission touchdown.
With Lawson’s Cardinals having been shown, a week earlier in a wide loss to Hamilton: Penney, to be vulnerable to a balanced inside-outside ground attack, Brookfield’s tandem of quarterback Derek Liebhart and running back Trace Alexander seemed perfectly suited to do similar damage in BHS’ 2020 postseason opener.
They – and others – did just that.
Brookfield ran for virtually 400 yards, mirroring the damage Hamilton’s rushing attack had inflicted on Lawson a week earlier, with both Liebhart and Alexander reaching surpassing the century mark in ground gained.
Liebhart, getting to the edge on option keepers, picked up a team-high 162 yards on only nine carries, reaching paydirt twice in the season-extending triumph which assured Brookfield of no worse than a .500 season.
Alexander didn’t have that high a per-carry average, but still picked up an average of over six yards per attempt as he totaled 126 yards on 19 runs. He reached the end zone twice, as well.
When the final whistle sounded, the ’Dogs had out-gained Lawson a stunning 469-91 as Brookfield’s defense followed up well on its strong showing against South Shelby in the regular-season finale the week before.
“We played really well,” Stevens understated. “The boys came ready to play and ready to make a statement that we feel like we were one of the best teams in our district. ”
Fayette 34, Carrollton 19
FAYETTE — Although a bit closer than their season-starting loss at home, Carrollton’s Trojans could not reverse the outcome against the host Falcons.
Statistically, senior quarterback Gavin Claud hit on 16 of his 26 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns, but also was intercepted three times. Treyton Bennett had one of the TD catches among his five receptions for 83 yards and Xavier Yoakum another as he hauled in three throws for 81 yards. The other scoring catch was by Cedar Metz, who had three snags for 59 yards. Gage Fitzpatrick had five catches, as well, Trojans head coach Scott Finley reports.
CHS managed only 58 rushing yards on 23 attempts.
Defensively, senior linebacker Darrik Diamond’s team-high 15 tackles included two behind the line of scrimmage. Nolan Johnson was in on seven CHS stops.