Hamilton, Marceline snare top seed in their football districts

Brookfield, Polo, Trenton stumble to regular-season finish line; postseason begins Friday

As reported to C-T

As had been anticipated, both the Hamilton: Penney High Hornets and Marceline Tigers will be the top seeds in their Class 1 football district playoffs.

A trio of other area teams – Brookfield, Trenton and Polo – messed up chances for better seeding fates in the 2021 regular-season’s closing weeks, including in their finales last Friday.

Week nine of the regular season action last Friday produced another regression for the 10 area teams covered by the C-T from a midseason surge. The area clubs struggled to a 3-7 mark in the last games of their regular seasons, likely setting the stage for two of them who had chances earlier in October to have winning years to shutter 2021 below .500.

Victorious last week were Hamilton, 41-0 over Lawson; Marceline, 30-16 over Harrisburg; and Norborne/Hardin-Central, 88-40 over Keytesville/Northwestern/Brunswick. Joining KNB’s Thunder on the short end of the stick were Southwest Livingston, Braymer/Breckenridge, Brookfield, Polo, Trenton, and Carrollton.

As a result of their regular-season results, Hamilton: Penney (6-3) produced a Class 1 District 7 top rating of 41.28, although that was a moot point, since it would have gained the top seed even if it had lost and fallen behind Grand River Conference-East champ Gallatin because of the Hornets’ week two 28-0 win over GHS.

As No. 1 seed, Hamilton will host winless Princeton/Mercer in the district opener this week and then, assuming a victory, host the South Harrison-Polo survivor.

Once 6-1, Polo’s Panthers sank to a 6-3 final mark and 34.44 rating when they lost 20-16 at Putnam County last week. However, even had they finished with a higher rating than South Harrison, the Bulldogs’ GRC-East win head-to-head would have meant a Panthers road trip this week.

“These last two weeks have hurt,” Polo head coach Kyle Ross admits, “and I hope that they can take that feeling and turn it into even more drive to finish the season playing our best football and finishing games off.”

Marceline’s top seeding in Class 1 District 6 carries with it a first-round bye, helpful for a team which had numerous health issues earlier this month.

The Tigers (8-1) will host either Scotland County or South Shelby in the district semifinals next week.

Brookfield’s 28-14 loss at South Shelby last Friday, sinking it to 4-5, didn’t alter its postseason course any – at least not from where it was going in. Because of their season-opening triumph at home over Trenton, their rematch this Friday was firmed up for being at Burlington Field in Brookfield, even though Trenton (4-5) posted a considerably-better season rating (30.56-26.93).

For the winner of the battle of Bulldogs, their Class 2 District 8 bracket will award them a trip to No. 1 seed and prohibitive district favorite Maryville next week.

Carrollton, in a ratings system gift, finished as Class 1 District 8’s No. 6 seed (out of eight teams), even though the Trojans have not won a game this season. Because of playing mostly Class 2 schools in the Missouri River Valley Conference-East and reaping the bonus points from that, CHS’ 21.0 rating beat out No. 7 Plattsburg (1-8) at 18.75 and No. 8 North Platte (0-9) at 15.14.

Being in the No. 6 spot doesn’t carry much practical benefit for Chillicothe alumnus Scott Finley’s Trojans, though. They’ll still draw a very formidable first-round foe this week as they visit East Buchanan (8-1), which finished behind 6-3 district leader KC: University Academy and unbeaten Mid-Buchanan.

On the 8-man level, even a 92-30 road loss to powerful North Shelby last Friday could deny Braymer/Breckenridge the No. 4 seeding in the District 3 fracas and thus a home game for the Bobcats of another Chillicothe grad, Zach Douglas.

That game against Pattonsburg/Gilman City/North Harrison won’t come for another week, though, because – with the significant increase in the number of 8-man programs this year – that style’s district tournament have – for three of the four districts – become 4-round affairs, due to the assignment of more than eight schools.

District 3, in fact, has 10, so both Braymer/Breckenride (3-5) and No. 6 seed Southwest Livingston/Hale/Tina-Avalon  (3-6) have this week off.

Southwest’s defending 8-man state champions will go to No. 3 Orrick a week from Friday.

Due to a conflict with the FFA national convention leaving it with not enough players to compete, winless Keytesville/Northwestern/Brunswick again will bypass the district playoffs, as it did in its first season (2020).

That actually drops District 2 to only eight teams, so No. 5 seed Norborne/Hardin-Central (3-6), which silenced the KNB Thunder 88-40 last Friday, also gets this week off, along with the other district members. The N/H-C Aggies will visit Hughesville: Northwest next week in a rematch of a week eight game the Aggies lost at home, 64-30.

Hamilton: Penney 41, Lawson 0

LAWSON — Dramatically-declined Lawson offered only limited resistance to the Hornets, who had two rushing touchdowns and over 100 yards each from Hamilton quarterback Tucker Ross (30-128 rushing) and halfback Ty Speer (16-121). Corbin Henderson added another 91 ground yards and TD.

Ross also hit T. Speer for a long touchdown while complete seven of 10 throws for 106 yards.

T. Speer intercepted a couple of Lawson passes, while Andrew Rich made 4-1/2 tackles, including 1-1/2 sacks, to pace the Hamilton defense.

Putnam County 20, Polo 16

UNIONVILLE — Strong offensive yardage statistics didn’t translate to enough points again for Polo.

“Same story as last week statistically, only worse,” coach K. Ross lamented. “We finished with just a shade under 500 yards of offense and only scored twice.

“… We lost the turnover battle, including a ‘pick six’ much like recent Tyreek Hill plays (for the Kansas City Chiefs), where the ball went off of our hands up into the air and landed perfectly in the hands of a defender who was beat and trailing the play.”

Some untimely penalties also thwarted the Panthers from twice being in first-and-goal situations inside the PCHS 5, K. Ross noted.

As for the statistics, backs Caleb Thompson, Mason Chapman, and Maverick Gentry all went past 1,000 yards from scrimmage for the year in the loss.

Thompson had 160 yards on 25 carries and five receptions for 52 yards. He also threw a 13-yards touchdown pass to Damion Tice.

Chapman ran 16 times, too, and netted 138 yards. He had a catch for another 16.

Freshman quarterback Gentry had 76 rushing yards on eight carries and hit seven of 12 throws for 71 yards.

Ayden Baker had the other Polo touchdown.

Marceline 30, Harrisburg 16

HARRISBURG — The game wasn’t settled until late until MHS’ Hunter Nelson scored – amidst a huge stack of players – on an 11-yards inside run to cap a night when he gained 187 yards on 19 carries, caught a 42-yards screen pass for a touchdown, and led the Tigers (8-1, 7-0) with 11 tackles.

Jace Bixenman chipped in 61 rushing yards and a score and five receptions for 40 yards.

Quarterback Jacob Stallo hit on 12 of 19 throws for 129 yards.

With the win, MHS clinched another Lewis and Clark Conference championship outright.

South Shelby 28, Brookfield 14

SHELBINA — Brookfield managed only about 100 yards rushing and 110 passing and scored only one offensive touchdown – a scrambling 12-yards pass from Colton Parn to senior Jaden Abongo.

The other BHS points came from Amos Baum’s 75-yards kickoff return, BHS coach Cory Luke reports.

“Played poorly and were ‘out-physicaled,’”  the Bulldogs’ coach commented.