Marceline and Brookfield both traveled to Kirksville for their Jamboree on Friday night, and with each of the four attending schools having at least one mutual opponent at the event, everyone played it close to the chest.
Macon was also in attendance.
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No team was too anxious to open up the playbook, but both Brookfield’s and Marceline’s coaches saw some positives and negatives from their players.
“I think you can look at both sides, you can see things we did really well and things we did poorly,” Brookfield second-year coach Scott Stevens said. “At times, we opened up holes up front, and at times we weren’t being physical. That’s both offense and defense. We’ve just got to work on our physicality.”
Brookfield’s only score in its three scrimmages of the 12 plays of offense, 12 plays of defense format came against its Bell Game rival.
Marceline did not score in its 36 offensive plays on Friday night, but there were only three touchdowns in total across the six scrimmages.
First-year Marceline coach Mark Ross was pleased to simply see his kids finally compete against other teams.
“We learned a little bit about ourselves,” Ross said. “It was good to have some live-action stuff, and we needed that. Some of the guys have been splitting reps, and this helps finalize some positions. It opened up for some of the stuff that we need to focus in on. We wanted to keep it simple.”
Ross, as a new coach, has made simplicity imperative for his players.
Greg Hough, now the head of the Boonville program, left behind an intricate offensive system with which Ross is both familiar and adept. Ross inherited a strong program depleted of key pieces who were members of the Class of 2018, but he is not jarred by the challenge that Class 1 District 8 presents.
For Brookfield, there is nowhere to go but up. Stevens acknowledges his school’s tradition, and he believes that the Bulldogs can achieve the level of success the area is used to as soon as this season.
On the first play in the Marceline scrimmage, senior Brookfield quarterback Castor Dodd broke loose for a 30-yard run, and sophomore backup Derek Liebhart was more than competent on each of his snaps.
“I think we played pretty well,” Stevens said. “You look at that first series, and it’s easy to get fired up against Marceline, but we got tired as the evening went on, but we’ll get better about playing until the fourth quarter. It’s great when you have guys that played on Friday nights the year before, and we have that. They’re embracing that leadership role. I definitely think we’re better at this point than we were at the end of last season.”
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