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Youthful Marceline HS Football Tigers Post Strong Opening Win

Staff Writer
Linn County Leader
Linn County Leader

MARCELINE — The hosts had the most after the first quarter of last Friday’s 2020 season opener, erasing an 8-6 Scotland County lead after one segment with three unanswered touchdowns.

Unleashing an impressive array of talented underclassmen that should give Lewis and Clark Conference foes fits this year and next, MHS third-year head coach Mark Ross saw his squad amass 183 of its 320 total yards through the air as his Tigers posted an important 26-14 conquest.

Marceline, seeking to reload after graduating some top-drawer talent from last year’s Class 1 state semifinalists, impressively met the immediate challenge of a squad their coach estimated could be the biggest threat to their Lewis and Clark Conference crown.

Junior Jacob Stallo made a highly-impressive debut as the starting quarterback.

Having played the position more than a little in a backup role last year, Stallo connected on 12 of 23 passes for those 18 yards. He split the hookups evenly among four receivers, three of whom found paydirt on theirs. Wyatt Molloy had a team-most 88 receiving yards and one score, Sam Gillman 38 yards and a TD, Jace Bixenman 38 yards, and Will Heller 19 yards and a touchdown.

Hunter Nelson led the Marceline ground game with 54 yards on 14 carries.

Defensively, linebacker Brendon Catron had a big night with a team-high eight tackles – all unassisted – that included four sacks. Braydon King was in on seven stops and four others on six, including Nathan Cupp’s all being solos and including a sack.

In addition to his catch of a J. Stallo pass for a score, Gillman twice picked off SCHS tosses, one of which he ran back for a second touchdown as MHS built up a 26-8 lead by the third quarter.

“Incredibly proud of the way the boys played versus a very talented Scotland County team,” Ross reviewed. “A lot of guys played a lot of reps in the high temperatures and handled it well.

“We learned a lot about ourselves in week one and look to improve on some details that you see in week one of every season.”

Each of the Marceline players cited above is only a junior.

Although MHS now has dispatched the team its coach initially had fingered as the biggest threat to his Tigers in the L&C race in ’20, runaway opening-week wins by Harrisburg and, perhaps most impressively, Fayette over Carrollton mean Marceline won’t be able to coast to another league crown.

Its game at Fayette will be in week four, while Harrisburg will visit in the regular-season finale.

Before then, however, there is the small matter of this week’s “Bell Game” against Brookfield.

Both the Tigers’ and Bulldogs’ sharp debut victories should stoke fan fever for this Friday’s annual class, set for MHS’ Chester Ray Stadium.