Polo Panthers area’s last remaining unbeaten in prep football

Went to 4-0 with 1-point week four win; Hamilton lost

As reported to C-T

Less than two years removed from consecutive winless seasons, the Polo High School football Panthers are spending this week with the distinction of being the  lone remaining undefeated squad in the C-T coverage area after shading Gallatin 13-12 at home in Grand River Conference-East play last Friday.

Only one of the four triumphs has been by more than one score – and it was an 18-6 verdict.

Polo trailed 12-0 with less than seven minutes left.

“We have shown to be a gritty team,” PHS head coach Kyle Ross voluntarily acknowledges. “There were a lot of things that could have gone differently Friday night for both teams and, in the end, we were the fortunate ones on the scoreboard.

“I truly appreciate the effort that my guys are giving me and I think that effort is the key reason we have been able to compete in these games so far this season.”

Polo became the last area unbeaten when Hamilton: Penney could not overcome a strong, quick East Buchanan start and lost 22-12.

In other area 11-man action last week, Marceline clobbered Fayette 37-0 in a battle for the inside track to the Lewis and Clark Conference title, Trenton won a second time in a row 26-0 over Putnam County, and Brookfield lost at Palmyra 23-6.

Carrollton was to have visited Salisbury, but that contest was scrubbed, reportedly when the winless Trojans developed a player shortage, due to COVID-19 quarantines.

At the 8-man level, Southwest Livingston (1-3) was drubbed by Mound City 72-8, Braymer (1-3) gave state-ranked Orrick a bit of an argument before losing 90-58, Norborne/Hardin-Central (1-3) jumped into the winner’s pool by a 56-46 margin over Alma: Santa Fe, and Keytesville (0-4) went down to Stewartsville/Osborn 78-34.

Despite standing requests, no information or details were shared on any of the 8-man games.

Polo 13, Gallatin 12

POLO — Tight end and placekicker Jace Bolling stepped into the spotlight at Bob Shearer Field when the Panther caught the game-tying touchdown pass from Maverick Gentry and then booted the extra-point that stood as the margin of victory.

“Huge night for Jace,” coach Ross praised, noting 6’3”, 208-pounds senior Bolling caught three passes in the game.

While Caleb Thompson and Mason Chapman contributed some “determined” running, in the coach’s word, the Polo defense remains the foundation of the Panthers’ successes to date.

The 12 points it allowed was its most surrendered thus far. Through four games, foes are averaging under nine points a contest against Polo.

“Defensively, we ran to the football and it showed, as we helped cause several turnovers” by getting several players involved in stopping plays, Ross reports.

Thompson forced a fumble and recovered one and also picked off a GHS pass. Andrew Stone added a recovery and Gentry swiped a Bulldogs aerial, as well.

Polo’s prospects for staying undefeated don’t look that bad, in terms of upcoming foes’ records to date.

This Friday’s opponent, South Harrison, is 1-3. After that comes currently 2-2 Trenton and then still-winless Princeton/Mercer. Neither of the last two foes in the regular season has a winning record at this time either.

East Buchanan 22, Hamilton 12

GOWER — Trevor Klein scored a pair of early touchdowns on short runs and Hamilton (3-1, 1-1 conf.) never recovered in the KCI Conference clash.

“Our kids showed resilience, never quitting, but ultimately came up short,” PHS Coach Alex Lloyd assessed.

Hamilton: Penney got on the scoreboard in the second quarter on a 10-yards pass from Tucker Ross to end Andrew Rich, making it 16-6, but Klein’s 20-yards TD run re-established the 16-points spread before intermission.

A Hornets touchdown run in the third period provided an opportunity to make it a 1-score game with a successful 2-points conversion, but it was stopped.

“We failed to score twice in the ‘red zone,’” Hamilton head coach Alexander Lloyd points out. “Needless to say, when you let a good team get on you early and don't capitalize on opportunities to get back in the game, it is tough to win.” 

Statistically, Hamilton had 211 yards on the ground, but managed only 31 through the air with Ross finishing three for nine.

On defense, Jared Potts led with 7-1/2 tackles and forced a fumble.

Hamilton goes to Lathrop this Friday.

Marceline 37, Fayette 0

MARCELINE — With the winner becoming the clear favorite to take the Lewis and Clark Conference crown this fall, Marceline (3-1, 2-0 conf.) got a huge night from senior quarterback Jacob Stallo.

Stallo completed 16 of 23 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a fourth.

His scoring throws were reeled in by Jace Bixenman, Wyatt Molloy, and Will Heller.

Bixenman had a big, big game himself with eight pass receptions for 112 yards and two pass interceptions on defense.

MHS’ defense even outscored the Falcons as Jaxon Schmitt scooped up a FHS fumble and ran it in.

Next for the Tigers will be home play against league foe Paris this week.

Palmyra 23, Brookfield 6

PALMYRA — The visiting Bulldogs had one of their best games of the season, in terms of moving the ball, but had some turnovers and other breakdowns deep in PHS territory to limit their scoring to Gambal Staddie’s 47-yards TD catch in the fourth quarter.

That strike from sophomore quarterback Colton Parn pulled Brookfield within 14-6, but Palmyra let them get no closer.

Parn threw for 145 yard, but was intercepted three times. Staddie had two catches for 74 yards and Jaden Abongo four for 54.

On defense, Gavin Rodriguez forced a second-period fumble Staddie recovered and Trent Polley made an interception in the opening stanza.

Brookfield was out-gained 341-237. Each team turned the ball over three times, according to online statistics.

Brookfield (1-3, 0-2 conf.) goes to Macon this week. Macon’s head coach unexpectedly resigned late  last week.

Trenton 26, Putnam County 0

TRENTON — A second-straight triumph at C.F. Russell Stadium brought the Bulldogs up to .500 heading into this Friday’s game at Milan, which also is 2-2.

Prospering in spite of four turnovers because of takeaways of their own, Trenton (2-2, 2-0 conf.) cashed in on Gabe Novak’s pick with a 5-yards run by Novak a short time later and followed that with a Nate Burkeybile TD return of an interception to lead 20-0 at halftime.