By Chris Parker
Before I go any further, THESE ARE NOT A HEAD-TO-HEAD RANKING, BUT A RANKING OF DOMINANCE BY CLASS. I am not saying I think the Class 1 schools on this list could beat all the Class 4-6 teams ranked below them or not ranked.
1. Carthage (C5 – 8-0)
Carthage beat Nixa in a 35-12 win to finish an unbeaten regular season. The Tigers got it done on the ground with 214 rushing yards including four rushing touchdowns from quarterback Patrick Carlton. The margin of victory proved to be huge as it is likely what tipped Carthage over the top for the No. 1 seed in the district. The Tigers get a bye week before facing the winner of Branson and Republic in the semifinals. They beat Branson 33-10 and Republic 63-29 in the regular season. Barring massive upsets, Carthage and Webb City are on a collision course for a district title game, which will be the biggest game in Missouri that week if it comes to pass.
2. Webb City (C5 – 8-1)
Webb City remained on cruise control with a 55-0 win over Willard to finish the regular season. Devrin Weathers turned 11 carries into 153 yards and four touchdowns. The Cardinals get a bye this week before facing the winner of Neosho at Ozark in the district semifinals. They beat Neosho 45-0 and Ozark 48-13 in the regular season. Webb City should get its shot to play unbeaten Carthage in the district finals barring upset.
3. Lamar (C2 – 7-1)
Lamar claimed the Big 8 West title thanks to a 53-14 win over East Newton on Friday. The Tigers rushed for 364 yards in the win to finish off a 7-1 regular season in Jared Beshore’s first season as head coach. Lamar is a heavy favorite to win the Class 2 District 4 title. The No. 2 seed Sarcoxie has a 5-4 record. None of the other four teams have more than two wins. Catholic is the No. 1 seed in the district Lamar would cross with in the state quarterfinals. The Tigers beat Catholic 56-12 in the first game of the year. Lamar has a clear path to a state semifinal.
4. Thayer (C1 – 7-1)
Few teams in the area had a better Friday night than Thayer. The Bobcats took care of business in a 43-14 win over Mountain Grove. St. Vincent, which was the No. 1 seed in the district, lost which helped push Thayer to the one seed guaranteeing home field advantage throughout the district playoffs. If Thayer would’ve stayed behind St. Vincent the Bobcats would’ve been jumped by Hayti in the final standings. It was the difference between three home games and one home game. Now, the Class 1 District 1 title has to go through Thayer.
5. Marionville (C1 – 9-0)
Marionville wrapped up an unbeaten season and its first conference title since 2007 with a 60-0 win over Miller. Dakota Wilson needed just nine carries to eclipse the 100-yard mark and score three touchdowns. Quarterback Wil Carlton threw for 123 yards and three touchdowns with just six completions while rushing for 81 yards on three (3!) carries. Marionville will face winless Greenfield to open district play this week. In the semifinals, Marionville would see either Pierce City or Ash Grove. The Comets beat both teams in the regular season. Lockwood and Cabool are the top two seeds on the other side of the bracket.
6. Skyline (C1 – 8-1)
Skyline locked down the top seed in Class 1 District 3 with a 50-14 win over Strafford. The Tigers will get a bye this week before awaiting the winner of the Lincoln-Cole Camp game. A matchup with Lincoln would be interesting. The Cardinals ended Skyline’s season last year and in 2016, but Skyline beat the Cardinals in the playoffs in 2015. Unbeaten Windsor resides on the other side of the bracket at No. 2. I would love to see a Skyline vs. Marionville quarterfinal game. They feature two of the most dynamic offenses in Class 1 and would be fun to watch go head-to-head.
7. Bolivar (C4 – 7-2)
Bolivar picked up the biggest win of the week in a 42-21 win over previously unbeaten West Plains. It provides a huge confidence boost for the Liberators heading into the Class 4 District 6 tournament. Class 4 No. 1 Helias Catholic holds onto the No. 1 seed in that district. Bolivar is off this week. If seeds hold, one-loss Class 4 No. 8 Warrensburg will await the Liberators in the district semifinals.
8. West Plains (C4 – 8-1)
The Zizzers lost to Bolivar by three scores to close the season. The loss didn’t affect West Plains’ standing in either the conference or district where they are No. 1. West Plains gets a bye to start the Class 4 District 5 tournament this week. They will host the winner of the Marshfield at McDonald County game. There are a lot of interesting possible matchups in this district with two teams each from the Ozark Conference, Big 8 East and Big 8 West along with Carl Junction out of the COC.
9. Cassville (C3 – 7-2)
Cassville won its fourth consecutive game and did it in impressive fashion beating a McDonald County team that was looking to clinch a conference title 44-21. Jericho Farris was a star with five touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns came on the ground, one on a reception with another on a 77-yard kick return. Cassville rushed for 350 yards as a team with Farris contributing 134 while teammate Zach Coenen added 142. The Wildcats get a bye this week in the Class 3 District 6 tournament. They await the winner of Reeds Spring at Hollister.
10. Nixa (C6 – 7-2)
Nixa fell 35-12 to Carthage to close the season. It was Nixa’s second loss in three games. Nixa makes its first foray into the Class 6 playoffs this week with a home game against Lee’s Summit North. A win over LSN would guarantee a home game for the No. 2 seed Eagles in the semifinals against either Lee’s Summit West or Kickapoo.
OTHERS TO WATCH (alphabetical): Buffalo (C3 – 7-2), Liberty (C2 – 7-2) Lockwood (C1 – 7-1), Pierce City (C1 – 7-2), Rogersville (C4 – 7-2)