Leader Southwest Livingston Might Need Help in 8-Man Football District 2 Race
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
As Missouri’s 2020 high school football season hits the backslope this Friday, only one of the 10 non-Chillicothe C-T-area teams currently sits atop its district-seeding ratings – and it might need help to stay there, even if it “wins out.”
The Southwest Livingston Wildcats (4-1, 4-1 conf.), last season’s state runnerup and a solid contender for another deep postseason run, moved atop 8-man football’s District 2 last weekend with its romp past Stewartsville/Osborn and prior leader North Shelby’s loss to North Andrew.
However, currently at a 43.85 rating, SLHS – which includes students from there, Tina-Avalon and Hale – is an extremely-scant 0.02 ahead of Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran (4-0). North Shelby still is a strong third at 42.27.
While Southwest Livingston’s remaining four opponents of the regular season are eminently beatable, because of the tightness of the race with St. Paul Lutheran, securing victories in those four might not be enough to fend off the Saints, due to the middling-to-poor records of the Wildcats’ foes.
While the Concordia boarding school also has some mediocre foes still to play during the last month of the regular season, it also has a trip to undefeated Drexel/Miami next week. If it wins there in addition to getting the strength-of-schedule boost that west Missouri team will provide, it could be just enough to inch the Saints past Southwest Livingston.
However, if Drexel/Miami takes St. Paul Lutheran’s measure, Southwest should have little trouble securing home-field advantage throughout the district playoffs.
Pandemic permitting, the Wildcats are to commence October play Friday at home against South Nodaway/Jefferson (1-4).
The rest of the area’s week six schedule Friday includes one head-to-head duel.
Grand River Conference-East foes Trenton (0-3, 0-1 conf.) and Polo (1-4, 1-2 conf.) will collide at Polo.
Although Trenton, after missing two games with a COVID-19 quarantine, lost decisively at Milan last Friday, it did post its first 2020 points on the last play and generated several instances of very good field position it did not capitalize on against the strong foe. If the return to game play and a full week of practice help elevate the Bulldogs’ offensive sharpness this week, Trenton could register that elusive first win of the year.
On the other hand, Polo was very competitive through its first four games before running into league co-leader South Harrison. The Panthers certainly are eyeballing this game as a chance to tack on at least a second triumph this season after consecutive winless campaigns.
Marceline (4-1) will step out of conference play to host St. Joseph Christian (0-3) in what should be a mismatch. This is Christian’s first year of 11-man play after about a decade of 8-man competition.
MHS’ Tigers at present stand second to surprising Westran in the Class 1 District 6 ratings, but the top seeding there almost certainly will pivot on the outcome of the week eight meeting of those two at Marceline, which has three of its last four at home.
Hamilton: Penney (3-2, 2-1 conf.) greatly aided its district cause with last Friday’s dispatching of Class 2 Lathrop, but has to call on KCI leader and Class 1 state top-ranked Mid-Buchanan Friday. If the Hornets can navigate the last month 3-1, they’ll stand a good chance of rising from their current No. 4 place in the Class 1 District 7 to No. 3. Even a 2-2 finish might get it done, via the head-to-head tiebreaker with Gallatin, if GHS can stay ahead of Princeton.
Brookfield (2-3, 0-3 conf.) will conclude its stretch of facing the four toughest Clarence Cannon Conference teams at the start of its league schedule when it visits Monroe City (3-2, 1-2 conf.) Friday. Currently No. 4 in Class 2 District 8, BHS likely would stay there and host its district-playoffs opener if it can go 3-1 this month, a performance which appears achievable, but not certain.
Among the other area 8-man programs, Braymer (0-4) will host southwest Missouri’s Jasper (2-2) this week, since slated foe Chilhowee at least postponed its season until next spring, Norborne/Hardin-Central (3-2) will journey south to tangle with the Liberal/Bronaugh Bulldogs (2-2), and Keytesville/Mendon: Northwestern (0-4, 0-1) plays the inaugural road game in Thunder history when it journeys to fellow Central River Conference member North Shelby (4-1, 2-0 conf.).