Championships for Missouri’s prep football’s elite will be claimed this weekend at the “Show-Me Bowl,” presented by the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) at Faurot Field in Columbia.
Friday’s docket features the odd-numbered classes (Class 1, Class 3, Class 5) while Saturday contains the even-numbered classes (Class 2, Class 4, Class 6).
Within the teams competing are local legacy programs that look to add on to their dynasties as well as hard-charging squads that are looking to ride momentum towards a first-time trophy.
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A preview of each class championship, from largest to smallest.
CLASS 6: LIBERTY NORTH (12-1) VS. CBC (11-2)
Gametime: Saturday 7 PM
Saturday’s Show-Me Bowl finale is a re-match of the 2021 championship game, which CBC claimed over the Eagles with their 48-21 win. Liberty North’s return to the trophy tilt two years later finds the faction planning revenge and the contest is projected to be tight.
CBC seeks their third consecutive Class 6 title and sixth overall. The process to get to Faurot Field wasn’t easy as the Cadets edged rival Desmet at home, 31-28, last Saturday. Cadet senior wide receiver Jeremiah McCelllan scored the winning touchdown with under a minute left for the come-from-behind victory. The Ohio State pledge had another score earlier in the final quarter. Senior quarterback Cole McKey had three touchdown passes in the game to push his total to 21 strikes for the season.
The winning semifinal shootout pretty much mirrors CBC’s last four games. They’ve all been high-scoring affairs as the defense has surrendered an average of over 25 points per game. On paper, this seems to be a little high when heading into a trophy game where late-quarter theatrics may not be possible.
Liberty North had an even-tighter nail biter to make their second Show-Me Bowl finale in the last three seasons. The Eagles’ 28-27 overtime home win over Rockhurst at last Saturday’s semifinal was determined by placekicker Bleu Renfrow’s conversion in the extra frame’s second possession. Junior quarterback Tillman Martin had touchdown throws to receivers Joe Hall and Tayshawn Ross to propel the offense as senior running back MicahJo Barnett rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles have a 12-game winning streak heading into the meeting with CBC and the squads are comparably ranked. Liberty North tops the state’s hierarchy while the Cadets are ranked fourth. The key for the Eagles might be their defense, which held opponents scoreless twice during the regular season while only surrendering a solo touchdown in pair of games. Senior linebacker Melvin Laster leads the charge with a team-high 6.7 tackles per game.
CLASS 5: REPUBLIC (12-2) VS. CARDINAL RITTER (13-0)
Gametime: Friday 7 PM
After claiming last year’s Class 3 title with a spotless 14-0 record, undefeated Cardinal Ritter – jettisoned to Class 5 this go around – eyes back-to-back Show Me Bowl trophies and 28 straight wins overall. The Lions caged Cape Central last Saturday’s semifinals at home, 52-22, to earn entry to Friday night’s finale. In the lop-sided affair, junior wide receiver Dejerrian Miller caught five passes for 130 yards and three touchdown catches while junior running back Jamarion Parker romped for three TDs.
In four post-season games, Cardinal Ritter have collectively outscored their opponents, 262-60, and one would assume a similar performance might occur here. Senior safety Dominque Dixon – bound for Tennessee State next fall – leads the team in tackles (125) while Joseph Reed III and Isaiah Edwards supplement a very stubborn defense. Confidence is high heading into this one.
Meanwhile, Republic seeks its first-ever state championship after topping Central Ozark Conference foe Webb City, 21-20, last Saturday in the semifinals. The Tigers’ win avenged a 42-21 loss to the Cardinals earlier this season. In the winning effort, senior quarterback Wyatt Woods threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Caide White on a 4th-and-1 situation in the third quarter’s final play that gave the Tigers the deciding points. Woods also had a one-yard touchdown plunge earlier in the tussle.
Republic senior wide receiver James Rexroat caught a 63-yard touchdown grab in the victory while sophomore linebacker Kaleb Norman snared a pivotal interception deep in the second half that secured the duke. The task is mighty against the Cardinal Ritter juggernaut, so the Tigers must essentially play the perfect game if they wish to conclude their breakthrough season on a high note.
CLASS 4: KEARNEY (12-2) VS. HILLSBORO (12-1)
Gametime: Saturday 11 AM
A feel-good story this post-season, Hillsboro makes its first-ever trip to the Show-Me Bowl after topping former six-time champ Lutheran North, 34-12, last Saturday at home. The Hawks’ pair of the Brown brothers, junior quarterback Preston and senior running back Payton, were focal points of the offense in the semifinals. Preston had a pair of touchdown passes – one each to receivers Chase Sucharski and Gavin Hite – as well as dual 50-plus endzone romps while Payton – who is headed to SEMO next fall – notched his 33rd touchdown of the year with a one-yard plunge deep in the first half.
The Hawks’ defense must play at super-levels Saturday morning if they wish to lift their inaugural trophy. The squad posted two regular season shutouts over weaker foes but have been engaged in numerous shootouts during the post-season against comparable squads. Penalties must be held to a minimum if they wish to succeed.
Kearney reached the finale by overwhelming Jefferson City 42-7 last Saturday on the road. In the semifinal, sophomore Corbin Emmons claimed three touchdowns – a pair of endzone romps and a six-point snare. Senior wide receiver Manny Linthacum made the most of his two catches on the day – 160 yards and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Casey Rooney threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns in only 10 attempts while also claiming a solo score himself.
But as impressive as the Bulldogs’ offense was in the semifinal, the key to victory last weekend was its defense, paced by linebackers Carson Shear and Theo Grace, cornerback Brycen Morrison, and stubborn work in the trenches. This will be at the forefront if Kearney aims to claim its first state championship since 2015 and fifth overall.
CLASS 3: SENECA (13-0) VS. PARK HILLS (CENTRAL) (10-3)
Gametime: Friday 11 AM
Undefeated Seneca returns to the Show-Me Bowl for the first time in a decade and safe money has them claiming the Class 3 title in Friday morning’s opener. The Indians steamrolled St. Pius X 41-17 at Saturday’s road semifinal. Trailing 3-0 early, Seneca scored 41 points unanswered. Oooff! The ground game was at a premium as senior running back Jackson Marrs and classmate quarterback Gavin Hoover each rushed for a pair of touchdown runs as Marrs racked up 186 yards while Hoover churned 95. The defense this post-season has also been solid as they have only surrendered 25 points, paced by juniors Kaden Clouse and Lane Scribner. The future looks mighty bright as the Indians crave their first state title since 1995.
Park Hills (Central) earned their inaugural trip to the Show-Me Bowl with their 48-43 victory over top-ranked Blair Oaks last Saturday. In the upset, Rebels’ quarterback Casen Murphy had his most prolific game ever: 436 yards thrown with five touchdowns. You read that right! The senior connected with five different receivers – all claimed in the first half. Senior Jobe Bryant and junior Jaxson Jones each had a touchdown catch and run in the triumph. Although the Rebels currently possess a seven-game winning streak, and deservingly riding high on last weekend’s success, the 35-point-per-game average surrendered by the defense during the post-season is a major red flag, considering the juggernaut they’re facing this weekend.
CLASS 2: LAMAR (12-1) VS. VALLE CATHOLIC (12-1)
Gametime: Saturday 3 PM
Lamar has been a constant fixture in Show-Me Bowl games since 2010. The Tigers have made twelve appearances during that stretch – and have claimed eight Class 2 trophies in the process – yet they have been on the losing side of the ledger the past two seasons of title games. They plan on righting the ship Saturday after knocking off previously unbeaten Bowling Green 47-16 at home during last weekend’s semifinals. In the contest, Lamar junior quarterback Alex Wilkerson contributed to six Tiger touchdowns on the day: three via pass, two via solo runs and an additional pick-six while on defense. Sophomore Ian Ngugi had a pair of touchdown catches in the semifinal win.
But standing in the way is the legacy franchise of Ste. Genevieve’s Valle Catholic, who is seeking their first state title since 2019 and sixteenth overall. The Warriors thumped Fair Grove 51-26 last weekend to punch their ticket to Columbia. Senior running back Alex Viox and classmate quarterback Grant Fallert combined for five touchdowns in the semifinal win. Viox had two TD runs and a pick-six while Fallert added two TD runs. Defense must be at the forefront to claim a Class 2 trophy.
CLASS 1: NORTH PLATTE (12-1) VS. MARIONVILLE (13-0)
Gametime: Friday 3 PM
After a 25-year absence, North Platte returns to a Show-Me Bowl. The Panthers reached Friday afternoon’s Class 1 champs game by defeating Milan, 54-34, at home last Saturday. The win was their tenth in a row as senior quarterback Colton Kirkham scampered for three rushing touchdowns while throwing one end zone strike to senior receiver Jax Carpenter. The squad has scored over 40 points in their four post-season games. A victory this weekend nets them their second state title overall.
Meanwhile undefeated Marionville seeks its first state victory after a lesser time-lapse compared to the opponent. Winners of the 2003 Class 1 title, the Comets cruised to a 38-7 home win over St. Vincent last Saturday by scoring on each of its first six possessions of the game with sophomore quarterback Cash Pomeroy collecting three of them via run while senior running back Hugh Eaton added a pair.
With both squad’s comparable games focusing on the ground, one could project a coin-flip for a winner.
SHOW-ME BOWL SCHEDULE
11 AM CLASS 3: SENECA VS. PARK HILLS (CENTRAL)
3 PM CLASS 1: NORTH PLATTE VS. MARIONVILLE
7 PM CLASS 5: REPUBLIC VS. CARDINAL RITTER
11 AM CLASS 4: KEARNEY VS. HILLSBORO
3 PM CLASS 2: LAMAR VS. VALLE CATHOLIC
7 PM CLASS 6: LIBERTY NORTH VS. CBC
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.