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Libs seek to upset West Plains

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From the sidelines, Bolivar’s Toby Bunn, No. 32, applauds a play by teammate Andrew Bunn during the Liberators’ win over Kickapoo. 

Just over two hours southeast of Bolivar, a giant is waiting for Liberator football. 

Undefeated Class 4 West Plains is Bolivar’s final game of the 2020 regular season.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23. 

At 8-0, the Zizzers own wins over two teams Bolivar has lost to. West Plains beat Glendale 66-44 and won 56-20 over Waynesville. 

However, those games, and some of West Plains’ other wins, actually highlight shortcomings the Liberators may be able to exploit Friday. 

Glendales’ 44 points are 24 more than Bolivar allowed the Falcons to score earlier this season.

Also earlier this year, West Plains just squeezed by 1-7 Hillcrest 27-26. 

Bolivar, which has the Ozark Conference’s stingiest defense, won its game against Hillcrest 41-0. The Liberators are allowing opponents to average just 14.9 points.  

In a year where COVID-19 precautionary quarantines have forced teams to compete without some of their brightest stars, Bolivar will likely hope to utilize some of the adaptability it demonstrated this year to claim an upset win. 

Week 8

Three Bolivar fumbles defined the Liberators’ 34-14 win over Class 6 Kickapoo on Friday, Oct. 16. 

On the first drive of the game, Bolivar’s offense appeared to develop early momentum. 

A fumble changed that, giving Kickapoo the ball in scoring range, and the Chiefs capitalized to take a 7-0 lead.

Then, the same thing happened again. A fumble gave Kickapoo the ball, and a short drive saw the Chiefs score. After just a handful of minutes, Bolivar trailed 14-0. 

That deficit proved a minor interruption for the Liberators, who scored twice to tie the game by halftime. 

Bolivar claimed a 7-point lead on a Darrin Fugitt rush in the third quarter, but the win didn’t feel locked away until lineman Drayton Huchteman scooped up an offensive fumble in the backfield and took off running. 

Huchteman, who also pulled shifts on defense punishing Kickapoo’s ball carriers, dodged tackles and shoved aside defenders to cross about 30 yards for the touchdown. 

The home sideline went wild, and the Liberator lead stretched 27-14 on a play that signaled, if nothing else, Bolivar’s ability this season to make good on opportunities and consistently punch above its weight class. 

The Liberators added another touchdown on a Bo Banner rush and controlled the clock to close the game with a win. 

The postseason picture

Down another road, another undefeated team could be waiting for Bolivar. 

Jefferson City Helias is 8-0 and remains the top team in Class 4 District 6. 

Bolivar still sits second, but a win over a larger Kickapoo program has helped drive daylight between the Liberators and third-placed Warrensburg. 

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