The Brookfield Bulldogs' football program took care of business in the inaugural home game of the 2017 season, defeating Highland 36-6 at Burlington Field on Friday evening. The week two victory, advancing the Bulldogs to 1-1, also marked Scott Stevens' first career victory as Brookfield head coach.
"It was pretty awesome," Stevens admitted. "It's great to get the monkey off the back. The guys did a great job of prepping this week, and I think that really showed. We played a great three quarters, we need to finish a little better, but the things we needed to work on, we definitely did."
In its final game before the rabid football faithful of northern Missouri swarm Burlington Field for the Bell Game on Sept. 1, the Bulldogs showed prowess in both the defensive and offensive phases of the game. The Brookfield special teams units left something to be desired, as both of its turnovers were the result of muffed punts. Nonetheless, Brookfield won the turnover battle by three.
Brookfield held the Cougars to just two first downs in the first half, and Highland committed three turnovers in that same opening 24 minutes. Though Highland has had its fair share of struggles in recent years and now fall to 0-2 on the season, the Bulldogs opened the ballgame with pace and never looked over their shoulders from thereon.
"They kind of changed up defensively from last week and messed with our game plan offensively there," Highland coach David DeGarmo said. "Offensively, their quarterback did a really good job of making reads, and they have a nice combination of some size up front and some speed. Once they figure their passing game out fully, they'll be dangerous and hard to stop."
The Bulldogs received the opening kickoff. Junior quarterback Castor Dodd completed a pass into heavy coverage to fellow 11th-grader Blake Cavanaugh for a 28-yard touchdown less than four minutes into the game. The Bulldogs were stymied on the two-point conversion attempt.
The 'Dogs struck again with 43 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Following a 39-yard bomb from Dodd to Tanner Wallace -- who also intercepted a pass early in the third quarter -- senior halfback Khalil Walker pounded his way across the goal line from seven yards out.
Brookfield's final touchdown of the half capped a four-minute drive following a Cole Daugherity fumble recovery. The Bulldogs took a 22-0 lead on a designed Dodd rush with 23 seconds remaining in the half.
"We knew we'd come out of the gates going hard, and that's what we did," Cavanaugh said following the victory. "We just didn't let up. We tackled a lot better this week, and we caught the ball a lot better. We improved a lot this week overall."
The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 30 points to nil two minutes into the second half after Wallace returned an interception to the Highland 10. Tim Izard scored on the first play from scrimmage following the turnover.
On the ensuing Highland drive, the Cougars managed to find the endzone to cap a 66-yard march led by running back J.T. McDermott. He had six carries on the drive, including the Cougars' only score, to narrow the Brookfield advantage to 30-6.
The final touchdown of the game came from 25 yards out when Dodd connected with Wallace on a fake jet sweep with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter.
Entering the Bell Game next Friday, the Bulldogs admittedly will have to make improvements to halt a Marceline team that has won its first two games by a combined 103 points after defeating Knox County 61-0 on Friday.
Stevens said that his team still has a long week of practice ahead of it, but he was pleased with how his Brookfield side turned around after a tough loss to a talented South Shelby team on Aug. 18.
"We tackled better tonight than we did against South Shelby, and that's going to have to continue if we want to be successful against Marceline. We have to make sure we're able to complete passes. Obviously, it's nice to get that first win, but it's the old cliche that you have to treat every game like just another game. We have to make sure we're focusing on things to get better and put ourselves in a position to win next week's football game."