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Liebhart, Defense Lead Bell-Keeping Brookfield Gridiron Rivalry Romp

Paul Sturm
psturm@chillicothenews.com
Brookfield HS football Bulldogs quarterback Derek Liebhart glances back to make sure no Marceline Tiger will catch him as he races up the right sideline on a go-ahead 77-yards touchdown run in the middle of the second quarter of Friday's (Sept. 4, 2020) 42-7 BHS victory over its Linn County rival in the 85th "Bell Game" t Marceline. Liebhart also had TD runs of 71 yards in the game's first two minutes and five yards late in the first half as BHS retained possession of "the bell" and improved to 2-0 this season.

MARCELINE — The visiting Brookfield Bulldogs and senior quarterback Derek Liebhart took most of the drama out of Friday’s (Sept. 4) 85th “Bell Game” high school football clash with Linn County rival Marceline by the start of the fourth quarter.

Liebhart started the scoring with a 71-yards dash less than two minutes into the duel at MHS’ Chester Ray Stadium, then added a 77-yarder to put his team back on top in the middle of the second period and a mundane 5-yards scoring run later in the second stanza as Brookfield took a 21-7 halftime lead on its way to a surprisingly-tilted 42-7 victory.

When Trace Alexander burst across the Marceline goal line from five yards away in the third quarter, with the way Brookfield’s more-veteran squad was controlling things defensively, there appeared little chance the younger Tigers would be able to rally.

Just to reinforce that perception, BHS seniors Gabe Rodriguez and Garrett Starlin intercepted third- and fourth-period passes, respectively, and returned them for touchdowns to make certain their final “Bell Game” would end with the Bulldogs retaining possession of the prized “trophy.”

Brookfield (2-0) already has won as many times in the first two weeks of its 2020 season as it has in any of head coach Scott Stevens’ previous three seasons at the blue-and-white helm.

It will face a challenge going to 3-0 next week in its home opener as defending Clarence Cannon Conference champion Centralia (2-0) pays a call at Burlington Field next Friday.

While disappointed in dropping the contest voted about 10 years ago as the country’s “best” high school football rivalry game, Marceline (1-1) ultimately won’t quibble about the repeated outcome of the 2019 battle if it also can do what it did the rest of last year – follow the loss with 10-straight victories and/or advancing to the state playoffs semifinals. The Tigers will try to set that in motion this coming Friday when their first road trip of the season takes them to Edina to face Lewis and Clark Conference foe Knox County.

Junior Hunter Nelson of the 2020 Marceline HS football Tigers is about to cross the Brookfield goal line on an early-second-period 4-yards run that tied Friday's (Sept. 4) "Bell Game" at Marceline 6-6. MHS kicked the conversion to take the lead, but Brookfield scored all 36 of the remaining points the contest would see, giving the Bulldogs a 42-7 victory and continued possession of "the bell."