Brookfield gridiron ’Dogs bite unbeaten Monroe City
Defense reins in favorites, two 4Q TDs net BHS 14-6 upset
BROOKFIELD — In at least some corners of the Clarence Cannon Conference – perhaps at Clark County, Highland, and South Shelby in particular, coaches may be “crankin’ out the oldies” this week, at least one oldie specifically – the Baha Boys’ 2000 sing-along smash “Who let the dogs out?”
That’s likely what quite a few football fans, coaches, and team around the rugged league are wondering this week after the Brookfield High School Bulldogs last Friday night followed their somewhat-surprising 32-28 triumph over Macon with an even-bigger jaw-dropper – a 14-6 victory over the visiting and previously-undefeated Monroe City Panthers.
The BHS defense having smothered Monroe City’s multi-dimensional, misdirection-heavy running game on one touchdown – and no conversion – through three quarters, the Bulldogs’ offense finally broke through in the fourth quarter after two near-misses in the third, first-year coach Cory Luke reports.
First, the Bulldogs (3-3, 2-2 conf.) tied things at 6-6 early in the fourth on quarterback Colton Parn’s short run. Then, they took the lead with a conversion run by Parn, putting the Panthers under the gun.
When Monroe City gained some yardage, but eventually was shut down one more time by the BHS defensive gladiators, the ’Dogs moved the ball back into MCHS territory as the clock dwindled. Finally, with under two minutes to go, Luke shared, Brookfield sprung senior Jaden Abongo for about a 20-yards run to paydirt.
Even though the conversion try failed, keeping it a 1-score (touchdown and 2-points conversion) game, BHS’ defense completed its job and Brookfield had a second-straight eye-opening victory.
Monroe City (5-1, 3-1 conf.) had opened its season with four games of scoring at least 40 points, including a 44-6 stomping of Centralia at Centralia, before winning 18-13 over Palmyra in week five and then being mostly silenced by Brookfield.
“We really focused on stopping the run,” Luke explained to the LCL Sunday night. “Coach Ken Polley does a great job (of) defense coordinating and he got the guys in the right spots.
“With a team like (Monroe City) – they do some option stuff, a lot of motioning guys around, fake a handoff one way and give it (going) the other way. Everyone had to play their role and do their job and I felt like our players really did that.
“They played physical for four quarters and that’s what it takes to beat a great team.”
Now, future opponents – beginning with faraway Clark County (1-5) at Kahoka this Friday – might start thinking of the resurrected Brookfield Bulldogs as “a great team.”
“You’ve got to be able to win, whether you’re favored or the underdog,” Luke understands, even as a rookie head coach. “We haven’t really been favored many times, so, after putting together a couple of big wins, I think we’ve shown a lot of people that we are a good team and we can compete.”
Of course, success like the ’Dogs have generated the past two games carries with it a bit of a risk of self-satisfaction that takes the edge off a team’s play.
“I hope our kids don’t get complacent,” the BHS coach mused. “I hope our kids realize (Clark County) is still a good team, still a CCC team, and we’re going to have to show up for 48 minutes.
“I think they’re ready to do that.”
Even as his team trailed last Friday’s game despite the outstanding defensive showing, Luke indicated he could sense the game coming the Bulldogs’ way.
Brookfield had a couple of drives into Burlington Field’s “red zone” early in second half, he pointed out.
A missed connection on a pass into the end zone, then a TD pass being negated by having an ineligible man downfield on next play thwarted one, but the offense made it inside the Monroe City 20 again later in the third quarter. Even without getting the payoff in paydirt that time either, the BHS running game had found its next gear.
“We really built up some momentum, making it all the way down to the ‘red zone,’” the Bulldogs’ head coach said he sensed.
When the defense provided another opportunity with yet another stop late in the third quarte or early in the fourth, the BHS offense finally broke through.
Adding to the sense of positivity from the unexpected home win is that Brookfield won without playing a “perfect” game. It committed a couple of turnovers on a lost offensive fumble and a muffed onside kick and had the third-quarter misfires close to the Monroe City end zone, but battled through those disappointments.
“I told a couple of people how proud I am of the kids,” recent (May) Central Methodist University graduate Luke stated Sunday. “I think they’re starting to understand the offense, understand our schemes, and they’re going to fight. They’re going to battle.”
The pair of impressive triumphs that fighting spirit and determination has engendered could be just the start of something big.
“Hopefully that turns into some momentum,” said Luke. “Hopefully, the kids realize we are a pretty good football team and we’re going to make a (late-season) run.”
Statistically against Monroe City, Brookfield received 123 yards on only eight carries by C. Parn, while senior fullback Tommy Gunn ground out 88 more on 20 totes.
The Bulldogs completed only two of their eight passes for a mere three yards.