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Brookfield HS Football Bulldogs Look to Build, Marceline Seeks to Rebound from Rivalry Result

Staff Writer
Linn County Leader
Junior defensive back Jack McCauslin of the Marceline HS football Tigers breaks up a first-half Brookfield pass during last week's "Bell Game" at Marceline. Beaten 42-7 by Brookfield, MHS' Tigers (1-1) will try to regain their footing this Friday (Sept. 11) at winless Knox County.

By PAUL STURM, Special to the Leader

The annual “Bell Game” now in their rearview mirrors, the reinvigorated Brookfield High School football Bulldogs (2-0) and Marceline Tigers (1-1) can get down the full-time business of conference play this week with positive mindsets.

Brookfield will play its home opener against defending Clarence Cannon Conference champion Centralia (1-0), Marceline will journey to Lewis and Clark Conference foe Knox County.

Brookfield’s 2020 Burlington Field debut pits it against a Panthers squad which needed breaks in the form of recovering two red-zone fumbles in the fourth quarter to barely fight off a solid Hallsville team 34-28 in non-league play last week while Brookfield was thumping Marceline 42-7. Centralia’s scheduled season opener at Mexico was canceled, due to COVID-19 issues.

CHS quarterback Beau Gordon didn’t rush for a lot of yardage, but did find the end zone three times last week. Encouragingly for Brookfield’s hopes, the Panthers’ defense not only surrendered 28 points, but also about 350 yards of total offense about evenly split between the ground and air.

Coming off the “high” of the “Bell Game” win to face the reigning conference champs in their first home appearance might be the best thing for the Bulldogs’ chances. They could use that challenge and being at home to sustain that emotional and competitive peak, rather than have to build back up to it some time later.

If Brookfield can spring its big-play running game with quarterback Derek Liebhart and fullback Trace Alexander a time or two early Friday, it could set a positive tone that could infuse the rest of the game with uncertainty about the eventual result. At the same time, Brookfield was thumped 34-0 at Centralia last year, so that’s a healthy gap to erase.

The Bulldogs, winners of only five games total the past three years, will be after their first 3-0 start since 2015. That fast start ended with a 13-12 loss at Centralia.

At Edina, Marceline will encounter an 0-2 Knox County Eagles team which has been unimpressive to date. It dropped its opener at home to Sweet Springs 40-8 and lost its L&C lidlifted last week to a likely-middling Westran squad by two scores, 36-22.

MHS’ youthful Tigers will want to get back on track quickly to be trending upward for their week four road showdown with fast-starting Fayette. That could well be the pivotal conference battle of the year, but only if Marceline first takes care of business this week.

Senior running back/receiver Jaden Abongo of the 2020 Brookfield HS football Bulldogs goes up to pull down a third-period pass from quarterback Derek Liebhart during BHS' 42-7 "Bell Game" victory at Marceline Friday, Sept. 4. Brookfield (2-0) will play its inaugural home game of the season Friday (Sept. 11) against defending Clarence Cannon Conference champion Centralia (1-0), which barely squeaked by Hallsville last week after its week one game was canceled, due to COVID-19.