Polo knocked from ranks of prep football unbeatens

Hamilton, Marceline stroll, Brookfield surprises Macon

As reported to C-T

After coming up with the clutch plays at the necessary times over and over again through the first four weeks of the season, the Polo High School football Panthers saw the odds finally catch up with them last Friday.

Trailing visiting Grand River Conference-East foe South Harrison much of the night, Polo closed to within 26-22 inside the game’s final minutes, but could not pull off this comeback, falling 32-22 in its Homecoming contest.

“The week before, the ball bounced our way, so to speak, and this week it did not,” reflected Kyle Ross, PHS head coach. “We had some things that were out of our control happen and we just have to be mentally tough enough to overcome those, as well as a quality opponent.

“The best news is that we will not quit. I thought the fourth quarter we really showed how tough we could be.”

Elsewhere in area 11-man prep pigskin action in the middle week of the 2021 regular season, Brookfield produced at least a mild surprise, topping visiting Macon 32-28. Hamilton dominated Lathrop 36-7, Marceline slammed visiting Paris 46-8, Trenton moved above .500 with a third win in a row – topping Milan 18-14, and Carrollton was drilled by Knob Noster 44-6.

On the 8-man front, it was a split. Southwest Livingston got its second win, slipping by visiting Stewartsville/Osborn 22-12. Braymer/Breckenridge bested Norborne/Hardin-Central 40-34 for the Bobcats’ second victory of the season, and Keytesville/Northwestern/Brunswick was creamed by Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran 63-6.

As usual thus far this season, no information was relayed to the C-T on any of the 8-man games.

This week’s slate of 8-man contests includes Southwest (2-3) visiting South Nodaway, Norborne/Hardin-Central (1-4) will host KC: Northland Christian, and Keytesville/Northwestern/Brunswick’s Thunder (0-5) will host North Shelby. Braymer/Breckenridge is idle.

South Harrison 32, Polo 22

POLO — Although the Panthers’ offense was better than it had been to date and put up a season-high in points and total yardage, it wasn’t enough to avoid the first PHS loss after four wins.

Polo (4-1, 2-1 conf.) “did not tackle as well early in the game, didn’t line up correctly on defense, and I made a mistake in play calling in the red zone early, which all proved costly,” Ross related.

“Homecoming week provides a lot of distractions and I’m not sure that we made it through those as focused as we needed to be.

“The good news is we have fixable issues, if the kids are willing to work at them, which I’m sure that they are.”

While no individual statistical specifics were relayed by Ross, he did observe, “We did have our best offensive night of the year, so that might be a positive moving forward. We finished with 233 yards on the ground and 180 in the air.”

The Panthers will seek to bounce back at Trenton (3-2, 3-0 conf.) this Friday in a game which could decide the GRC-East Division crown, although its back-to-back wins make South Harrison (2-3, 2-1 conf.) a factor now.

Brookfield 32, Macon 28

BROOKFIELD — Senior defensive tackle Austin Tucker pulled a ball free from a Macon ballcarrier and bulled his 6’4”, 280-pounds frame about 60 yards to the end zone for a critical touchdown that helped spur the Bulldog (2-3, 1-2 conf.) to the Clarence Cannon Conference home win.

“It was a pretty exciting play,” Cory Luke, BHS coach, admitted.

That defensive score helped offset a Macon touchdown return on a kickoff, letting BHS senior running back Tommy Gunn’s three touchdown runs and 246 ground-and-pound yards on 41 carries carry the day.

“Having the ability to keep the ball on the ground, limit the turnovers, and kind of play the field-position game was huge for us,” related rookie coach Luke. BHS did not have a turnover and took the ball away twice, including Tucker’s snatch-and-score.

“Our defense really played well. Had a couple of big plays (allowed), but, other than that, we for the most part kept them in check.”

Next for Brookfield will be a visit from unbeaten CCC foe Monroe City.

Hamilton: Penney 36, Lathrop 7

LATHROP — The visiting Hornets spoiled the Mules’ Homecoming weekend behind 342 rushing yards and another 106 in the air.

Hamilton nearly put three ballcarriers in triple digits. Quarterback Tucker Ross picked up 128 and two touchdowns on 30 carries, Ty Speer carried 16 times for 121 yards and two TDs, and Corbin Henderson gained 91 yards on 34 totes, including a touchdown, as the Hornets ran an astounding 92 offensive plays.

Ross connected on seven of 10 throws for 106 yards, finding T. Speer for a 19-yards touchdown and another 56-yards gain. Andrew Rich pulled in four of the seven completions for 37 yards.

On defense, according to statistics supplied by PHS coach Alexander Lloyd, T. Speer picked off a couple Lathrop throws, while twin brother had a team-leading four tackles. Rich made 1-1/2 sacks and two tackles for loss.

The Hornets scored in every quarter and posted the game’s first 36 points.

Hamilton(4-1, 2-1 conf.) will host Mid-Buchanan this Friday in a KCI Conference game it must win, if it wants to pinch off a piece of the league title.

Trenton 18, Milan 14

MILAN — Sam Gibson’s third touchdown run of the night – a 2-yarder with just over three minutes left in the third quarter – ended up being the difference for the Bulldogs (3-2, 3-0 conf.).

That TD was set up by Caleb Johnson’s strip sack which Gabe Novak recovered and ran to the end zone, although a penalty during the runback nullified it. Still, THS’ offense took over at the MHS 27 and got it in the end zone to reclaim the lead. Trenton led 12-0 briefly late in the first half.

Milan had a chance to snatch victory away late, but fumbled the ball away around the THS 40 with about four minutes to go. The Bulldogs’ offense responded with a pair of first downs that killed the remaining time.

Trenton will host Polo this week, looking to solidify its grip on the GRC-East lead.

Marceline 46, Paris 8

MARCELINE — With Hunter Nelson providing 147 of them on only 14 carries, Marceline’s Tigers (4-1, 3-0 conf.) ran for 262 yards and added 173 more through the air from Jacob Stallo’s right arm.

Nelson found paydirt five times in his 14 carries as the hosts tightened their grip on another Lewis and Clark Conference crown.

Defensively, lineman Brendon Catron had a huge night, being credited with 13 solo tackles – seven for lost yardage – and a forced fumble. In addition, sophomore Cooper Quinn picked off two PHS passes.

Marceline will host Kansas City: Northeast this Friday in the third of 4-consecutive home appearances.

Knob Noster 44, Carrollton 6

KNOB NOSTER — The hosts intercepted three CHS passes and kept the Trojans under 100 yards passing (95) and running (75).

The only points by Carrollton (0-4, 0-1 conf.) in its Missouri River Valley Conference-East clash came on a run by sophomore Parker Minnick, who picked up 39 yards on only thee runs.

Treyton Bennett had three pass receptions for 50 yards and led the Carroll countians’ defense with nine tackles, one for loss.

Carrollton will host league foe Richmond this week with the Spartans likely arriving in a foul mood after surprisingly being knocked off by Higginsville.