WEEK 3 AREA HS FOOTBALL: Marceline outlasts deluge, Brookfield, reclaims ‘Bell Game’ prize

Hamilton, Polo join Tigers as area’s 2-0 football clubs

As reported to C-T/LCL
Having used blocks from Mason Barnett (66) and Nathan Cupp  (71) to slip to the perimeter, senior running back Hunter Nelson of the Marceline High School football Tigers tries to determine how best to try to elude Brookfield Bulldogs linebacker Amos Baum during the first quarter of the Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, "Bell Game" rivalry contest between the teams at Brookfield's Burlington Field. After heavy rain through much of the first half left the thousands of fans in attendance and the teams and officials drenched, the Tigers posted three second-half touchdowns to recapture "the bell" by a 20-0 count.

Points didn’t rain down during the Sept. 3, 2021, “Bell Game” rivalry clash between Linn County’s high school football teams.

It just poured.

On an evening of scattered rainstorms, while most C-T-area teams played – generally not too successfully – in calm, dry conditions, Marceline’s and Brookfield’s intense pigskin rivalry was renewed in a long downpour through much of what ended as a scoreless first half.

Finally, the rain relented and, after back-to-back years of hearing the Bulldogs bark for joy after capturing the prized bell, senior-laden Marceline generated enough of an attack on soaked Burlington Field in downtown Brookfield to reclaim the trophy, 20-0.

“Worst downpour I’ve ever coached in,” MHS fourth-year head coach Mark Ross assessed, incorporating his couple of years as a head coach prior to arriving in Marceline in that evaluation.

“Lost a tough one,” rookie BHS head coach Cory Luke reflected.

The triumph advanced MHS to 2-0 on the season, a mark now shared by Hamilton: Penney and Polo after their solid, defense-led victories in week two of Missouri’s high school football campaign. Hamilton blanked visiting Gallatin 28-0 and Polo spanked guest Slater 18-6.

Aside from Brookfield settling back to .500 (1-1) with its defeat, the remaining six area high school football programs followed by the C-T all dipped to 0-2 this season, including all four 8-man clubs.

In 8-man action, Southwest Livingston/Hale/Tina-Avalon was crushed at South Holt 74-0, Braymer/Breckenridge was dominated by host Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran 60-8, Keytesville/Northwestern/Brunswick was shut out 48-0 by Orrick, and Norborne/Hardin-Central lost to visiting Knox County 46-22.

On the 11-man side, Trenton was dispatched by visiting East Buchanan 

42-7 and Carrollton was handed a 21-7 defeat at home by Sweet Springs.

Having received a good kickout block on the end to create a hole off right tackle, senior running back Tommy Gunn of the Brookfield High School football Bulldogs finds running space in the early going of the Friday, Sept. 3, "Bell Game" battle between BHS and visiting Marceline. Marceline's defense, however, limited the yardage on the play to a modest amount and surrendered only about 190 yards of total offense all night in the rain-plagued game, which MHS won 20-0 to reclaim "the bell" after BHS wins the past two years.

Marceline 20, Brookfield 0

BROOKFIELD — Once the rain slowed and stopped, Marceline managed to find the end zone three times – on runs by Jace Bixenman and Hunter Nelson and another Jacob Stallo-to-Sam Gillman hookup.

That proved more than enough for the “Black Rage” defense, which limited Brookfield to 188 total yards, according to MHS statistics.

“We made some improvements, but it still was a gut-wrenching loss,” Luke assessed.

“We are proud of our guys for fighting through the conditions to find a way to get the win,” Ross stated.

Statistically, Marceline out-gained its host by about 100 yards (282-188 by MHS count).

Individually, Bixenman rushed for 71 yards on only four carries, complementing Hunter Nelson’s 95 workhorse yards on 25 carries for the victors. Brookfield had 51 rushing yards on 21 attempts by young quarterback Colton Parn and 49 yards on 15 attempts by Tommy Gunn as the Marceline defense and the playing conditions made it tough sledding for the Bulldogs’ attack.

In the air, Stallo found his target eight times in 14 tries for 91 total yards, 46 of which came from Gillman on three receptions, Ross reports. According to Luke, BHS’ Jaden Abongo latched onto half of the eight throws Parn completed, gaining 29 yards on the four catches. Kendrell Carter had a pair of receptions for 17 yards for Brookfield as Parn finished eight of 16 for 46 yards. He was intercepted once.

Marceline moves on to visit Quincy, Ill.’s, Notre Dame High in week three. Brookfield begins Clarence Cannon Conference competition at Centralia.

South Holt 74, Southwest Livingston 0

OREGON, Mo. — The graduation-decimated 2020 8-man state champions were fodder for another Highway 275 foe.

“It’s a learning year, a growing year,” new Southwest Livingston Wildcats head coach Pake Croy acknowledged about his squad’s prospects this fall.

South Holt, on the other hand, could do some things, the SLHS coach assessed.

“Very good athletes on (South Holt) and I look for them to have a very successful season,” commented Croy.

While Southwest Livingston had some positive moments with the ball, its coach observed, “Turnovers killed us.”

Up next for Southwest Livingston will be another conference home game against DeKalb Friday, Sept. 10.

Hamilton: Penney 28, Gallatin 0

HAMILTON — In week two’s other traditional area “rivalry,” Hamilton’s defense led the way and the offensive line paved the way for three Hornets ballcarriers to accumulate at least 67 yards each.

“The defense played really awesome,” first-year Hamilton head coach Alex Lloyd stated on a post-game radio broadcast. “… They did a good job of getting after the young (GHS) quarterback.”

Linebacker Tucker Ross’ 4-1/2 tackles, including a sack, paced the Hamilton defense. Hayden Sheppard also had a sack, while Silas Prothero forced a fumble which Fisher Nixdorf recovered. Bryson Speer had 3-1/2 tackles plus an interception and Clay Finch four tackles, second-most on the squad.

Playing at home for the second of 3-consecutive times to begin the season, the Hornets built a 22-0 halftime lead, including Corbin Henderson’s 6-yards second-quarter scoring run. The game’s final points were posted with 4:56 left in the third quarter.

Eventually, Henderson racked up 67 yards in the game, but hauled the ball 23 times to do so. Meanwhile, senior transfer Ty Speer reached exactly 100 yards rushing on 14 attempts, two of which saw him cross the Gallatin goal line. Senior quarterback Ross carried another 17 times for 78 yards and B. Speer tacked on 39 more on only three carries.

Lloyd said offensive linemen Austin Snow, Dawson Miller, Gideon McBee, Ethan Trosper, and Nixdorf were the heroes in the ground game’s success.

“(The Speers, Ross and Henderson) are tremendous athletes – I don’t want to take anything away from them, but we all know they’re not doing what they’re doing without those big guys up front,” the Hamilton coach commented.Ross connected on only two of his seven throws in the game, but one was a 27-yarder to end Andrew Rich.

Hamilton will begin KCI Conference play this Friday at home against North Platte.

Polo 18, Slater 6

POLO — Playing effectively all around, in the view of their head coach, Polo’s Panthers turned aside non-conference foe Slater at Bob Shearer Field.

Caleb Thompson rushed 22 times for 108 yards and Mason Chapman had 86 more plus a touchdown on only nine totes to pace the Panthers. Wyatt Kelly also ran for a score and 6’1”, 173-pounds freshman quarterback Maverick Gentry rushed for 23 yards, threw for 31 and a touchdown to Aiden Baker, caught a pass, and also intercepted a Slater pass.

“I thought that we were pretty consistent in all three phases of the game,” PHS head coach Kyle Ross commented. “Probably the biggest issues that we had was putting the ball on the ground, which we didn’t do (in week one).”

Ross also felt good about what the Polo defense did against the run.

““Our defensive front had a really good night as a group vs. the run, which is encouraging,” the Panthers’ coach saluted.

Polo will put its undefeated record on the line at Maysville Sept. 10 in its Grand River Conference-East opener.

Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran 60, Braymer/Breckenridge 8

CONCORDIA — Another lackluster beginning put the visiting Bobcats in a hole from which they were in no position to extricate themselves in their second 2021 outing.

With one of its three seniors currently unavailable and rotating in 11 freshmen or sophomores, Braymer/Breckenridge proved mistake-prone much of the night, although head coach Zach Douglas noted there were pockets of play when his team showed progress.

“It was kind of like (opening week),” he stated in a post-game radio interview. “We came out pretty flat and we let them score two or three touchdowns pretty early and got down on ourselves.”

The Bobcats lost three fumbles, one at the end of a long pass completion, Douglas recapped, and also damaged its cause with 10 enforced penalties.

One positive moment was the only Braymer/Breckenridge score of the night. Freshman quarterback Jordan Haley shook free from the pass rush to scramble for a 28-yards touchdown run, according to the second-year head coach, a Chillicothe High alumnus.

Heading toward their week three game – a golden chance to secure a victory as winless Keytesville/Northwestern/Brunswick comes calling, Douglas planned to stress working on his squad’s blocking and its tackling form.

“We get to where we need to go on defense and then it seems like we keep bouncing off their running backs,” he dissected the tackling issue.

On offense, while looking to sharpen the blocking skills, the Bobcats coach also said the mostly-young backs, some of whom have enticing speed, would be encouraged to look earlier for opportunities to “put their foot in the ground” and go upfield when on the perimeter, rather than drift toward the sidelines in an often-vain attempt to outrun pursuers.

“We’re trying to get them to go ‘north and south,’” explained Douglas. “They’re still trying to run a little ‘east and west.’”

East Buchanan 42, Trenton 7

TRENTON — A second-straight all-Bulldogs battle, this time on Trenton’s C.F. Russell Stadium, saw the visitors finally break the scoring ice late in the first quarter and take charge from there.

Trenton failed to make favorable early field position work for it, its second offensive series ending with a lost fumble on a fourth-and-3 play from the EBHS 22.

A few plays later, the walls started cracking and crumbling for the hosts, as “East Buck” struck for a 63-yards touchdown pass on a third-and-9 play with 2:26 left in the opening stanza.

A 55-yards EBHS TD throw to Aiden Hensley in the first minute of the second stanza doubled the guest’s lead to 14-0 and it tacked on two more touchdowns in the next seven minutes even with an 82-yards gallop to the end zone being negated by a blocking penalty.

Trevor Klein, who had the first-half TD struck down, went into the THS end zone twice in the third perio instead, on runs of 16 an 38 yards to close out the game’s scoring and inaugurate use of the “running clock.”

Even Trenton quarterback Coleman Griffin’s 10-yards touchdown trek with about three minutes left and a successful conversion kick could not terminate use of the timekeeping “mercy rule.”

Trenton reportedly did come away with at least three quarterback sacks in the game, two by Kaden Owen and another by Caleb Johnson, his third of the year.

Trenton will commence Grand River Conference-East Division play at home against Princeton Sept. 10.

Sweet Springs 21, Carrollton 7

CARROLLTON — The host Trojans were far more competitive than in week one against Fayette, but still lost by a couple of touchdowns, hurt by lost fumbles by each of their three ballcarriers.

Aidan Carpenter ran 17 times for 75 yards and had Carrollton’s only touchdown. Adam Crawford led the CHS blocking with four “pancake” blocks, according to statistics provided by coach Scott Finley.

The Trojans were held to only 42 passing yards out of 11 attempts.

Defensively, Treyton Bennett was very busy, getting in on a team-most 15 tackles, including one for loss, and Carpenter had both a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. Houston Varner also made a stop behind the line of scrimmage.

Carrollton is to host Lone Jack, a team it defeated for its first victory a year ago, Sept. 10.

Orrick 48, Keytesville/Northwestern/Brunswick 0

KEYTESVILLE — The host Thunder could not find the end zone as it lost a second time in a row.

No specifics on the game were reported or available, despite requests for info.

The Thunder will visit Braymer in week three for the first-ever officially-sanctioned Carroll-Livingston Activities Association football game Friday, Sept. 10. It also will be a Central River Conference-CLAA Division game.

It’s not coincidental that the first CLAA gridiron game ever – will be played between schools which were not part of the loop’s original membership.

This year’s inaugural CLAA title will be determined between three programs – Braymer/Breckenridge, Keytesville/Northwestern/Brunswick, and favorite Norborne/Hardin-Central.

Knox County 46, Norborne/Hardin-Central 22

NORBORNE — Playing at home against a former 11-man program in its first year of 8-man action, the Aggies put the ball in the end zone three times again, just as they had in a close week-1 setback, but this time the opponent reached paydirt about twice as often as did the hosts.

No specific details on the game or statistics from it were reported, despite a C-T request.

Norborne/Hardin-Central’s week three assignment is a home game against Central River Conference-CLAA Division foe North Shelby, the league’s prohibitive title favorite Friday, Sept. 10.