The Missouri State High School Activities Association has announced district football pairings for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, with the Trenton Bulldogs remaining in Class 2, District 8, and seeing just one change to the potential playoff field. East Buchanan, a strong program in districts for the past two years in Class 2, is moving down into Class 1, but the Class 2 district may end up being stronger in 2016 and 2017, with the state power Higginsville Huskers replacing East Buchanan, sliding over from District 7, which the Huskers dominated in recent years.
Now, Trenton will be joined in District 8 by Lexington, Carrollton, Higginsville, Bishop LeBlond, Higginsville, Lathrop, and Brookfield. Trenton is 0-2 in district first round matches over the past two years, suffering a blowout loss at Brookfield in 2014, and a heartbreaking four point loss at Bishop LeBlond last October.
One of the hot topics in football districts over the past decade has been whether the powerhouse Penney Hornets will be a “Big Class 1” or “Little Class 2” on the enrollment scale. In 2016 and 2017, the Hornets will be Class 1, staying in the same classification where they picked up runner-up hardware last November. Penney is in Class 1, District 8, joined by Maysville, Polo, Gallatin, South Harrison, Princeton, Putnam County, and Milan. District 8’s reach shifted slightly east for the next two years, mainly due to the lack of 11-man teams west of Bethany and Maysville. Putnam County and Milan will replace King City and Braymer from the past two schools, with both the Wildkats and Bobcats going eight-man this fall.
Plattsburg’s enrollment has fallen, dropping the Tiger football program into Class 1, District 7 for the next two years. District 7 will be dominated by the KCI Conference, with Plattsburg joined by Mid-Buchanan, North Platte, West Platte, East Buchanan, Orrick, Wellington-Napoleon, and Concordia.
The Marceline Tigers will remain a Class 1 football school, and no doubt a strong challenger for a state title in 2016, with MHS in District 6, joined by Salisbury, Slater, Westran, Harrisburg, Fayette, Santa Fe, and Sweet Springs.
The Chillicothe Hornets will see very little change in Class 3, District 8, with CHS facing an eight-team field that continues to see Maryville as the preseason favorite, joined by Cameron and Richmond, and four Kansas City schools in St. Pius X, Lincoln Prep, Pembroke Hill, and Central Academy of Excellence.
For the first time in well over a decade, instead of 11-man football teams battling to get to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis for the “Show-Me Bowl”, teams in 2016 will duel to head to Springfield, as Missouri State University’s Robert Plaster Stadium will host Class 1 through 6 state championship game on Thanksgiving weekend. In 2017, the “Show-Me Bowl” will go to Memorial Stadium, on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia.
Eight-man football will have a different look in 2016, with the addition of King City, Pattonsburg and Braymer to the Grand River Conference’s eight-man division, a group of eight schools from northwest Missouri that will include the likes of North Andrew and St. Joseph Christian, along with Worth County, Albany, and defending state champion Stanberry.
As in past seasons, eight-man football will bring four districts into postseason play. District 1 will consist of six schools generally based along to, or close, to U.S. Highway 136, west of Albany. The Albany Warriors will be joined by Worth County, Stanberry, North Nodaway, Rock Port, and Tarkio. District 2 will find schools further south, and closer to St. Joseph, with Mound City, South Holt, South Nodaway, North Andrew, DeKalb, and St. Joseph Christian.
Braymer and Southwest Livingston are both in District 3, along with Pattonsburg, King City, and Stewartsville. Two schools in southwest Missouri, in and near the Joplin area, are in eight-man football, with McAuley Catholic and Greenfield in District 4, along with Norborne, Northwest-Hughesville, Sedalia Sacred Heart, and Chilhowee.
Unlike the past handful of years, when the eight-man state title game was played at the Edward Jones Dome on the morning after Thanksgiving, the title game for 2016 and 2017 will be played at a much smaller and closer venue. MSHSAA has announced that they are continuing to study proposals made by Cameron and Chillicothe, two cities with field-turf surfaces at their high school facilities, to see which one will host the eight-man state title game the next two years. A final decision is expected later this spring.