Each year, the Linn County Leader takes a look at the Clarence Cannon Conference. What challenges will the Bulldogs face as they traverse their schedule this season? It is worth noting that this will be the final season that the Mark Twain Tigers will be a part of the CCC.

Each year, the Linn County Leader takes a look at the Clarence Cannon Conference. What challenges will the Bulldogs face as they traverse their schedule this season? It is worth noting that this will be the final season that the Mark Twain Tigers will be a part of the CCC.

Louisiana Bulldogs

The Louisiana Bulldogs are in their first season under Greg Purdum. Coach Purdum has a career record of 92-90. Last season, the CCC”s other Dogs were 1-9.

“We are very excited to begin a fresh start and new beginnings here at Louisiana,” said Coach Purdum. “All have been very receptive and have been looking forward to getting started.”

Offensively, Louisiana will run multiple sets out of the Pro-I. Defensively, the Bulldogs will run the Bear 46.

South Shelby Cardinals

The South Shelby Cardinals are in their sixth season under Head Coach Rob Wilt, who has been with the program for 14 years. Last season, the Cardinals were 8-5 overall, 5-4 in the CCC, and 3-1 in the playoffs.

The Cardinals were State Semifinalists in 2011, and State Quarterfinalists in 2010 and 2012. They have nine Conference Championships under their belts as well.

South Shelby will run out of a Two-Back Power set. Last season, the Cardinals averages 29.8 points per game, 273.5 rushing yards, and 80 yards passing.

“I like our speed at the skill positions this year,” said Coach Wilt. If our new quarterback takes a hold at the position, he will give us a running threat at that position. We haven't had that since the late 90's.”

Defensively, South Shelby will run multiple fronts, and allowed 17.7 points per game last season. :I like what we have coming back in the secondary,” said Coach Wilt. “Their experience will hopefully help the lack of experience at the defensive line position.”

“Our offensive and defensive lines are a concern, losing two starters,” admitted Coach Wilt. “But look for a few new wrinkles on offense. We may have to be more aggressive on defense.”

Mark Twain Tigers

The Mark Twain Tigers are in their fifth season under Head Coach Matt Hudson. Hudson is 18-26 in his career, all at Mark Twain. Last season, the Tigers went 2-8 overall. “We were inexperienced and unable to gain rel traction in the Clarence Cannon Conference last year,” said Coach Hudston.

The Tigers return 12 lettermen, with six offensive and five defensive starters also coming back. Mark Twain will utilize multiple offenses. They averaged 14.3 points per game last season.

“We must gain chemistry as a young team,” said Coach Hudson. “We will be a much better team late in the season than early in the season.”

Defensively, the Tigers will run out of a 4-4. They allowed 26 points per game last season. “We must have several linebackers step up and be a force behind our defensive line,” said Coach Hudson.

“I am extremely optimistic about the future of Mark Twain football in general,” concluded Coach Hudson. “The seasons ahead are filled with promise from talented players.”

Centralia Panthers

The Centralia Panthers are in their 20th year under Head Coach Erle Bennett, who has 32 total years under his belt. While holding the reigns at Centralia, Bennett is 167-46. The Panthers were 11-2 last season, going 8-1 in the CCC and 2-1 at District's.

Centralia returns 31 lettermen, eight offensive and eight defensive starters. Last season, the Panthers averaged 28.4 points per game, 1535 yards passing, 2464 yards rushing, which makes for 3999 total yards last season.

Offensively, they will use the Pistol Zone Option.

Defensively, the Panthers run out of the 3-4. They allowed 9.8 points per game, 120 rushing yards per game, and 62 passing yards per game.

“Our success will depend on the development of our offensive and defensive lines,” said Coach Bennett. “We could be suspect in the depth department, relying heavily on underclassmen as backups. Our skill players should be adequate, and our team speed should be very good.”

Macon Tigers

The Macon Tigers are in their 11th season under Head Coach Pete Claas. Coach Claas is 80-57 in 14 years as a head coach, and is 63-44 at Macon.

Offensively, Macon will run out of the Wing-T. Defensively, the Tigers will run out of the 4-3. Macon returns 16 lettermen, five offensive starters, and six defensive starters.

Macon had 1818 rushing yards total last season, and 1009 passing yards total as well. They scored 20.8 points per game, and allowed 15.6.

“Although we do return five offensive and six defensive starters,” said Coach Claas. “We still have a lot of questions and unproven players that will need to step up this season. Our biggest concern wil be our lack of depth and lower numbers than we have had in past seasons.”

Coach Claas continued: “We will be playing more two-way players than we have in several years, so conditioning will be a key factor. Avoiding injuries will also be crucial to our success. We hope to improve each and every week and be playing our best football at the end of the season.”

Highland Cougars

The Highland Cougars are in their fourth season under Head Coach Kenny Grubb. He is 6-25 in his career, all at Highland.

Last season, the Cougars were 4-7 overall, and 3-5 in the CCC. Highland earned their first Conference win in six season last year against Mark Twain, and defeated Monroe City for the first time in 20 years. Throw in a first round playoff win against Clopton-Elsberry, and the Cougars have some momentum despite their record.

Highland returns three All-Conference players, seven offensive starters, and six defensive starters.

The Cougars will run out of the Split Back Pistol on offense. “The loss of consistency and big play potential of last season will create balance in our offensive attack,” said Coach Grubb. “The return of several players, including our quarterback and several receivers, should create more passing opportunities. We will continue to be a run-first team, with more play-action and short passes.”

Defensively, Highland will run out of the 3-4. “Although we had a lot of improvement in 2012, we must work on consistency on defense,” said Coach Grubb. “Our returning players should stabilize our defensive line. The loss of three of our four linebackers is a concern, but the speed and athleticism of our newcomers is a positive.”