Far-flung prep football district ensnares Brookfield this fall
Stretches from northeast to northwest corner of state. Marceline closer to home
By PAUL STURM, LCL Sports Editor
When the Missouri State High School Activities Association unveiled its 2021 fall sports classifications and district assignments Aug. 27, the primary newsmaker for Linn County schools’ teams was Brookfield’s football allocation.
Always a candidate to bounce west or east by its north-central geography, Brookfield this year finds itself aligned with only five other Class 2 schools stretching from far northwest Missouri (Maryville) to far northeast (Palmyra, Kahoka) with BHS and two others in between.
The grouping reflects Maryville, a perennial state power in the Class 2 and Class 3 ranks the past decade-plus, landing in the smaller-enrollment group this year. Popular perception is that the downsizing to 8-man football by another half-dozen or more previously-11-man Class 1 schools pulled some Class 2 schools down into Class 1 and, not coincidentally, some ex-Class 3 teams into Class 2, with Maryville and anticipated 2021 powerhouse Richmond among them.
With only six teams assigned to Class 2 District 7 with Brookfield – Trenton, Macon, Palmyra, Clark County and Maryville, it means the quarterfinal round of the district playoffs will consist of only two games, while the regular-season ratings leader and runnerup sit out the first week with byes.
With Brookfield squeaking by Trenton in overtime last week, BHS picked up a significant advantage. If those two land in the bottom two spots in the district standings, as seems a reasonable scenario, regardless of whether Trenton, with its smaller-schools schedule in the Grand River Conference-East, does better in the ratings than Brookfield, BHS will get the higher (No. 5) seed and, potentially, less-formidable first-round foe by dint of its head-to-head triumph over THS.
The only other county school with a football program – Marceline – largely is status quo for postseason action.
With its unexpectedly-narrow victory over fellow district member Scotland County now safely tucked away, the defending district champion is a strong candidate to repeat as top seed in Class 1 District 6. However, historically-salty South Shelby can’t be discounted, particularly when factoring in the bonus points it will get most weeks while playing a mostly-Class 2 schedule.
With a 7-schools district – Salisbury, Westran, Ewing: Highland and Paris are the others, that again will provide the top regular-season squad with a district-quarterfinals bye in week 10 of the season.
Looking at the other sports – softball, golf, volleyball and cross country running – in which some or all of Linn County’s four schools participate in a postseason during autumn, the widest breadth of involvement is softball.
In that sport, Marceline and Brookfield share residence in Class 2 District 5 with six other teams – Hamilton: Penney, Trenton, Putnam County, Milan, Gallatin, and South Harrison of Bethany. Marceline’s Lady Tigers figure to be among the top contenders for the district crown and perhaps the favorite.
In Class 1, understandably, Linn County R-1 and Meadville have been placed in the same district – No. 5. It will have only five total members, the others being Atlanta, Bevier and Bucklin.
Brookfield and Marceline’s girls’ golf squads have been assigned to 15-schools Class 1 District 3 to try to qualify for the state tournament. Others in that district include Trenton, Westran, Tina-Avalon, Salisbury, Schuyler County, Richmond, Putnam County, Princeton, Cairo, Macon, La Plata, Harrisburg, and Glasgow.
Brookfield has the only county programs in volleyball and cross country running. MSHSAA has not set the cross country running classifications and districts yet, but the Lady Bulldogs volleyball team will be in 5-members Class 2 District 16 with Hamilton, Trenton, South Harrison and St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond.