Marceline survives Scotland County scare in season opener

Visitors take Tigers tussle 19-18 last Friday

As reported to LCL
2020 All-State defensive end Nathan Cupp of the Marceline High School football Tigers corrals a Scotland County player with the ball as teammates Mason Barnett, left, Aden North (behind ballcarrier) and Hunter Nelson, right, close in to help, if needed. Cupp had a team-high nine solo tackles and 11 stops overall in MHS' narrow 19-18 win.

MEMPHIS, Mo. — A year after Marceline High School football Tigers Mark Ross analyzed beforehand that his then-young-veteran team could face – and did – its toughest test of Lewis and Clark Conference play in its season opener against Scotland County’s Tigers, an accomplished, well-tested MHS squad nearly universally utilizing senior returning starters traveled to Scotland County High last Friday and found the sledding even tougher in the tussle of Tigers.

After winning 26-14 at home last year, Marceline eked out the narrowest of triumphs in its 2021 opener at Memphis, prevailing 19-18 by the margin of a Sam Gillman extra-point kick.

Despite accumulating just over 360 yards of well-balanced total offense – 188 through the air, including a touchdown bomb from Jacob Stallo to Gillman, and 177 on the grass, MHS couldn’t exhale until it climbed on the bus for the trip back home.

Gillman streaked past a defender down the right sideline to catch up to Stallo’s deep second-quarter rainbow. Gathering in the ball at about the SCHS 20, Gillman evaded the defender’s desperate lunge from behind a couple of strides after making the catch and proceeded the final 10-15 yards to paydirt unimpeded.

That 57-yards catch-and-run accounted for about a third of Stallo’s passing yardage on the night. The senior signalcaller connected with seven separate targets a dozen times total out of 26 throws. He was not picked off.

On the ground, top running back Hunter Nelson was his usual effective self with hard running behind strong blocking by the veteran line still intact from last year’s 10-2 L&C- and district-title-claiming campaign. Nelson covered 120 yards on 18 carries (6.7 yards per carry average) and scored one of MHS’ other two touchdowns.

As tight end Will Heller (15) and lineman Mason Barnett (66)  provide blocks to seal off interior pursuit and lineman Nathan Cupp (71) pulls to lead him toward the point of attack on the right side of the formation, Marceline High School football Tigers senior running back Hunter Nelson strides toward the line of scrimmage on a second-quarter run at Scotland County last Friday. Nelson rushed for 120 yards and one touchdown as MHS squeezed by, 19-18.

The third Marceline score came on a run by senior wide receiver Jace Bixenman, who was checked on only eight yards on four carries.

While Gillman’s one catch on the night went the long distance, junior Cayden Davis matched senior tight end Will Heller for most MHS receptions on the night with three. Davis had the most yardage with 69.

On defense, senior All-State defensive end Nathan Cupp powered the “Black Rage” with nine unassisted tackles, including a sack for a 6-yards loss. He helped on two other stops.

Wyatt Molloy was second in Marceline tackles with six solos and one assist. Mason Barnett and sophomore Caleb Stallo contributed five unassisted stops apiece.

The MHS defense made two takeaways – a Bixenman pass interception and a Davis fumble recovery, while forcing four Scotland County fumbles. this Friday’s “Bell Game” at Brookfield 1-0 overall and in the L&C.