Friday night marked the unofficial beginning of the football season in northern Missouri. Brookfield and Marceline both traveled to a Kirksville-hosted jamboree to, for the first time in 2017, compete informally against teams aside from their own.
The jamboree consists of six 24-play scrimmages, with each team getting three opportunities to face a new opponent. Macon was the fourth team in attendance. Neither Brookfield nor Marceline's sides kept statistics for the event, but both coaches and players alike said that they had learned quite a bit about what their 2017 teams had to offer by the conclusion of the evening.
"It was fun, we haven't been doing it for a while," Brookfield junior Brooks Baker said. "We were nervous coming into the night, but by the end we felt like we did pretty well. After the first play, the nerves usually slip away. Nothing is going to get us down, we're going to keep playing."
The first scrimmage either Linn County side saw was amongst one another, and with the Bell Game less than a month away, both teams were pleased to see the other's level of competition.
Neither Marceline nor Brookfield sustained any noticeable injuries during its 72 total plays.
"We came out well that first series [against Marceline] on offense, we moved the ball. The second series started with a fumbled snap, but it's definitely something we can build on. Once the season starts, it'll be a lot more physical," Brookfield coach Scott Stevens said.
"We came out of this healthy, and that's every coach's first goal out of a jamboree. With that said, we definitely came in with a small amount of our plays on offense and defense, and we executed those things very well. We still have work to do, but we did things well today."
Marceline coach Greg Hough said that his team's schedule was heavily backloaded this offseason. His group had been in camp five of the past seven weeks, with June being a crucial time for physical gains in the weight room and seven-on-seven competitions.
Hough said that it was a great experience for his Bulldogs to see someone else in a fully-padded scrimmage.
"It was good for us to get out here and hit somebody else. We were basic today, we had a script and didn't worry about down-and-distance, things like that. We're trying to get good, quality film to evaluate who the best 11 are to get on the field.
"I don't get too excited about this. We do so much offensively, but we were pretty vanilla tonight."
One of Hough's senior captains, lineman Gabe Kelly, said that one of the biggest upgrades his team will make from the 2016 campaign is camaraderie and communication.
Kelly said that, as a result, he and his teammates have a better understanding of how to win football games than they did last season.
"We came together as a team. Last year, we'd battle it out, but when something went wrong we'd point fingers. Tonight, things may have gone way wrong, but no one would point fingers. Everyone accepted responsibility, and that was good of us.
"We won't have those issues this year. I think intensity off of the snap of the ball is where we lack right now. Once we get there, we do the job."
Marceline opens its season next Friday, August 18, against Scotland County on the road. Brookfield's season begins the same night when the Bulldogs take their first official reps of the 2017 season against South Shelby in Shelbina.