If Friday night showed anything about the Brookfield Bulldogs' football team, it's that the 'Dogs will win plenty of football games if they can limit mistakes and punch the football in the end zone when they are in position.
The Monroe City Panthers travelled to Brookfield on Friday, and although they scored just one touchdown, that proved to be all the defending Clarence Cannon champs needed in order to win the football game.
"We definitely need to fix our little mistakes," Brookfield two-way lineman Brooks Baker said. "Between penalties and loss of yards, all of that, it's just small, small errors. Our defense is phenomenal right now, but we just need to step it up a little on offense.
"We've grown a lot since last year, and we're not allowing points anymore. We're an all-around better team."
Monroe City's only score in its 8-0 victory came in the second quarter when standout back Keegan Batsell punched in a dive from one yard out to cap a 48-yard drive. Zacharee Osborn broke one off for 13 yards on the play prior to put Monroe City in position.
The Bulldogs, who lost 36-14 on the road to the Panthers last season, finished with more offensive yardage on Friday night. Brookfield finished with 185 yards, including 149 yards on the ground. Castor Dodd's 12 carries for 58 yards led the team, followed by Tim Izard's 16 rushes for 53 yards. Derek Liebhart finished with 40 yards on nine carries.
Brookfield head coach Scott Stevens was unconcerned.
"Once we turn that corner and get some offensive momentum, we'll be golden," Stevens said. "We honestly feel like we have one of the best Class 2 defenses in the state. We did some great things on special teams, and at times we overpowered them up front. Aside from some stalled drives, I think we played about as well as we could have."
Brookfield started most of its possessions in Monroe City territory in the second half, but was unable to convert crucial fourth downs throughout. The Bulldogs have now scored just six points across the first two games of the season.
Despite an impressive defensive showcase against the Clarence Cannon's best team, the Bulldogs struggled to put drives together and finish when they were in position, including four trips inside the Monroe City 20-yard line.
The Bulldogs cleaned up their turnover woes from last week. Brookfield's only two turnovers came on an interception on fourth and long and a pick on the game-ending Hail Mary throw from Dodd.
Monroe City coach David Kirby was pleased that his team was able to grind out such a tough-nosed, early-season Clarence Cannon victory.
"We showed a lot of heart and a lot of grit," Kirby said. "Brookfield is big and physical, and they're going to win some games, probably a lot of games if tonight is any indication. They're a good team, and that's a big credit to them. Our kids are resilient, and they're quick to let that last play get out of their heads. There was some physical stuff on both sides, but that prepares us for later in the season."
The Bulldogs skip down 36 to Marceline for the Bell Game on Friday.