A late comeback attempt couldn’t lift Bolivar High School football over Fort Scott last year, but the Liberators will have a fresh shot at the Tigers this week. 

The Kansas school, which beat Bolivar 28-27 in 2018, arrives for a rematch at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at Southwest Baptist University’s Plaster Stadium. 

The Liberators will celebrate senior night at the game. 

On the surface, both teams look different this year. Fort Scott is 1-5, amid a five-game losing streak. The Tigers were 4-2 going into the game last year. They finished the season 7-3.

Bolivar is 7-0. It entered the game last year 3-3 before finishing the year 4-6.

“I believe we grew up as a team last year during this game and played from behind the whole game with an opportunity to win at the end,” Liberator coach Glen Johnson said. 

Johnson said the Tigers return three starters from last year’s squad, which jumped out to an early lead, then held off a Bolivar rally in the fourth quarter. 

This year’s Tigers have scored just 99 points on the season, while surrendering 188, Johnson said. Bolivar enters the week averaging 44.7 points per game and surrendering just 8.3.

However, Johnson said he sees an opposing team with several junior and senior starters that “will give us a good test.”

“They run a traditional offense that is sound and a true 4-3 defense,” he said. 

Bolivar enters ready to go to work on a night planned to celebrate Liberator seniors, he said. 

“I expect to have some emotions from our seniors, but a very focused team will show up for this one,” he said. 

The postseason picture

At 7-0, Bolivar is on track for its best season since 2013, when the Liberators finished 12-1 with a district championship. 

As of Oct. 7, the Liberators were ranked 10th in a Class 4 statewide poll. District 6 opponents Webb City (6-1) and West Plains (6-1) were ranked second and fifth, respectively. 

Bolivar sits third in district standings behind the two. Both teams own losses to undefeated opponents, with Webb City falling to Class 6 Joplin in Week 2, and West Plains downed by Class 4 Camdenton in Week 3. Camdenton is ranked third in the state, according to the poll.

Bolivar will end its regular season next week with a 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, game against Cape Girardeau Central in Cape Girardeau. District play starts Friday, Nov. 1, with finals held Friday, Nov. 15. 

Week 7

The Liberators jumped out to an early lead and never looked back against Clinton Friday, Oct. 11. Bolivar’s Hunter Berry kicked things off, pulling in a pass from quarterback Hayden Burks to give his team a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game. 

Running back Eathen Dinwiddie charged to the first two of his four touchdowns early in the first quarter. He tacked on two others throughout the game.

After setting up Bo Banner with a first-quarter touchdown, Burks found the end zone with his feet in the second quarter. Banner later entered the contest under center to oversee a series of snaps, including the Liberators’ final drive as the team ran out the clock. Clinton’s lone score came on a blocked Bolivar punt attempt in the fourth quarter, which set up an end zone pass. 

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