Polo High Panthers stay in tie atop GRC-East football race

Big week for area’s 11-man squads with composite 5-1 mark

As reported to C-T
Polo High School football Panthers quarterback Maverick Gentry strides across the Princeton/Mercer 5-yard line on his way to an easy touchdown during the Grand River Conference tri-leading Panthers' 41-18 victory Friday, Oct. 8.

nullThe most-successful showing of C-T-area high school football 11-man teams in years during last Friday’s 2021 season week seven play propelled the area’s overall ledger to .500 for one of the few times the past couple of years.

Victories by Hamilton: Penney, Polo, Trenton, Brookfield, and Marceline offset the defeats sustained by Carrollton and all four area 8-man contingents, leaving the area slate at 5-5.

No details were received on any of the five losses.

Among the 8-man ranks, Southwest Livingston/Hale/Tina-Avalon dipped to 2-5 overall with its 68-14 non-conference loss to Rock Port. The Wildcats will welcome league foe West Nodaway this Friday.

Braymer/Breckenridge (2-4), which quietly secured the first-ever Carroll-Livingston Activity Association football championship when it outdueled Norborne/Hardin-Central on Sept. 24 to finish league play 2-0, battled long and hard with Concordia, but came up short, 68-56. The Bobcats will welcome Alma: Santa Fe this week.

Norborne/Hardin-Central was an 80-34 victim of Orrick to fall to 2-5 overall.

Keytesville/Mendon: Northwestern/Brunswick stayed in search of the 2-year-old program’s first-ever victory after losing to Kansas City, Kan.: East Christian 26-8. The K/N/B Thunder will host Concordia this week.

Polo 41, Princeton/Mercer 18

PRINCETON — The visiting Panthers (6-1, 4-1 conf.) stayed alongside also-victorious Trenton and Gallatin at the head of the Grand River Conference-East pack.

With Gallatin and Trenton clashing at Gallatin this coming Friday, a Polo win over visiting Milan this week – no sure thing – would mean PHS was one of two co-leaders entering the final week of the regular season.

If Trenton were to beat Gallatin (5-2, 4-1 conf.), the Bulldogs would have another significant hurdle to clear in week nine at South Harrison, so a pair of Polo victories to wrap up the regular season could leave the Panthers – only two years removed from the second of back-to-back winless campaigns – as undisputed champs of the GRC-East.

“We just need to keep trying to get better every day and see what happens on Friday nights,” PHS head coach Kyle Ross, who returned to the Panthers’ helm last year after stepping aside for the winless years to focus on his then-new job as district superintendent.

In the Polo victory over Princeton/Mercer, it was too much Panthers run game for the host Tigers to handle. Polo rushed for 436 yards on 53 attempts, getting all of its touchdowns on the ground.

Senior running back Mason Chapman led the onslaught with 219 yards and three TDs on only 15 carries. Caleb Thompson had a score and 89 yards and freshman quarterback Maverick Gentry 61 more yards and a TD of his own.

“I wanted to really sharpen our ground attack as we go into the stretch run and our offensive line, TEs and running backs really took that to heart,” K. Ross disclosed. “This was, by far, our best rushing output in the last several years.”

The Panthers’ defense – stout all season – remained in character.

“Andrew Stone did a good job of getting us aligned and the calls in. Gage Gilbert had a really good night setting the edge and had several big-time tackles,” K. Ross reported. However, he cautioned, “We need to continue to shore some things up.”

Trenton 34, Maysville/Winston 8

TRENTON — Trenton’s Bulldogs – a winless team only last year – kept themselves in the first-place tie largely on the strength of a 20-points third quarter after Maysville/Winston tied things at 8-8 only 10 seconds before halftime.

Gabe Novak’s second 46-yards scoring scamper of the contest less than 90 seconds into the last half puts Trenton in front to stay.

Ian Elbert’s 50-yards TD trek virtually doubled the lead to 21-8 and Nate Burkeybile’s pass interception return for six points at the 4:37 mark of the third quarter effectively settled the game’s outcome.

Trenton (4-3, 4-1 conf.) added a final touchdown when Coleman Griffin found Burkeybile for a 57-yards completion midway through the final quarter.

Although the final margin was relatively wide, the contest could have developed differently if not for the THS defense forcing a Wolverines fumble which Novak recovered at the Trenton 1 several minutes into the second quarter.

Had the Bulldogs not thwarted that long, long Maysville/Winston drive, the TD just before halftime could have put the visitors in front at intermission and led to the final two periods being played with a different atmosphere.

As Trenton makes the relatively-short trip west to Gallatin this Friday for effectively an elimination game in the GRC-East race, it does so trying to further develop its own “Cinderella” story.

Hamilton: Penney 57, Plattsburg 14

HAMILTON — The host Hornets already led by about 35 points when they scored three touchdowns in the final 3-1/2 minutes of the first half to make it 57-0 on Homecoming night.

The big lead in the KCI Conference contest allowed head coach Alexander Lloyd to get every player on the roster some varsity playing time.

“We have had issues with slow starts and were adamant that would not happen this week,” he related. “Hopefully, we do the same this week against a good West Platte team.”

Statistically against Chillicothe High alumnus Brandon Boswell’s Plattsburg team, Corbin Henderson led Penney High (5-2, 3-2 conf.) with 197 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries. Quarterback Tucker Ross added 84 yards and two scores on five run and Bryson Speer sped 57 yards to paydirt on his only run of the night.

Ross also threw a 55-yards touchdown pass to Jared Potts.

Brayden Reynolds made a Hamilton-high five tackles, while Gage Shaw and Fisher Nixdorf were in on four each. Nixdorf also recovered a fumble, while Andrew Rich sacked the quarterback twice and forced a fumble. Potts joined F. Nixdorf in grabbing a ball fumbled by Plattsburg.

Brookfield 40, Clark County 8

KAHOKA — Strong defense and the Bulldogs’ best offensive balance of head coach Cory Luke’s first season keyed Brookfield’s third Clarence Cannon Conference win in a row.

The Bulldogs (4-3, 3-2 conf.) got over 100 passing yards and touchdown strikes from sophomore quarterback Colton Parn to Jaden Abongo, Gambal Staddie, and Jase Thurlo, while running back Tommy Gunn carried for about 130 yards and s score and C, Parn found paydirt twice while netting over 80 yards running.

“For the most part, it was the best mix of run and pass we’ve had all year,” Luke confirmed.

On defense, the strong overall play included Amos Baum and Abongo snaring interceptions.

“Our defense played really well, kind of like it has it seems all season,” Luke lauded.

Brookfield has Homecoming this week with Ewing: Highland the opponent for what should be a tough, close game.

“That’s going to be exciting for our guys, but it’s also going to pose a challenge,” opined the BHS coach. “Obviously, the guys have got to stay focused. There are going to be a lot of distractions”

Marceline 49, Salisbury 24

MARCELINE — Jace Bixenman had 88 receiving yards, 42 rushing, and returned two punts for 96 yards, scoring in each of those facets as the host Tigers (6-1, 4-0 conf.) registered the easy Lewis and Clark Conference victory.

Marceline’s defense made a whopping 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and had a pair of takeaways.

The Tigers played without leading rusher and key linebacker Hunter Nelson, but did have Wyatt Molloy and Sam Gillman return to action after sitting out the week six game.

Marceline will visit Westran this week.

Lexington 42, Carrollton 0

CARROLLTON — The Trojans remained winless while going pointless last Friday.

They’ll welcome Holden for another Missouri River Valley Conference-East game this week.