After three straight undefeated regular seasons without a trip to the championship game, Marionville has captured some postseason magic and will look to add its biggest milestone to one of the great eras of Comets football.
Marionville (13-0) will play North Platte for the Class 1 state championship at the 2023 Show-Me Bowl on Friday at 3 p.m. at Faurot Field in Columbia.
The Comets, led by former player Paden Grubbs, are seeing their second championship in the program's history and first in 20 years. They've gone a combined 48-3 over the last four seasons but a 49th win would be quite the exclamation point.
Their challenger comes from North Platte (12-1) which is located between Kansas City and St. Joseph. The Panthers are seeking their first championship since 1998.
Here's what you should know before Friday afternoon and how you can watch the game.
Marionville's state championship history
The Comets find themselves in the state championship for the fifth time in the program's history and their first since 2006. A second title is on the line for the Comets who won in 2003 under current Lebanon head coach Will Christian.
Wednesday marked the 20-year anniversary of the last time the Comets brought home the state championship. Current head coach Paden Grubbs was a standout on the team. All of Marionville's championship appearances have been at the Class 1 level with second-place finishes in 2006, 2005 and 1997.
North Platte's state championship history
The Panthers are making their second state championship appearance with their most previous coming in a Class 1A title game victory in 1998.
How Marionville got here
No team in the state has been better defensively than the Comets this year. They've allowed more than eight points just once in a 17-14 state quarterfinal win over Portageville — which was ranked as the No. 2 team in Class 1 heading into the game.
At 13-0, Marionville advanced to the state championship with a 38-7 win over St. Vincent last week. The Comets' offense has only turned the ball over five times all season while showcasing a pair of 850-plus-yard rushers and a 1,300-yard passer. They've played football as close to perfection as you could play it all season.
How North Platte got here
The Panthers are 12-1 this season with their lone loss coming in a 23-14 Week 3 home defeat to Class 2 East Buchanan — which was defeated by Class 2 semifinalist Bowling Green in the quarterfinals.
North Platte has been pretty dominant over its current 10-game winning streak. The last seven wins have been by two scores or more with none of its postseason wins being closer than within 20.
The Panthers' 54-34 win over Milan last week saw quarterback Colton Kirkham deliver four touchdowns. They were shut out in the first quarter but rattled off 24 in the second to claim a 10-point halftime advantage before dominating the rest of the way.
How Marionville can win
The Comets need to continue to do the things that got them here — play elite defense and don't turn the ball over. Everything else would take care of itself.
Marionville has multiple ways it can move the ball offensively whether it's with Bryer Guerin's arm or on the ground with the duo of Cash Pomeroy and Hugh Eaton. The Comets haven't collapsed when the moments have been at their biggest this year and that shouldn't be a problem come Friday afternoon.
How North Platte can win
No one has had any offensive success against Marionville this season and North Platte is going to need to become the first. The Panthers can't afford to get off to the slow start they did last week against Milan and their defense is going to have to play much better than the 34 points they allowed — which was the most they allowed all year and it was more than the unit allowed in the previous three postseason games combined.
How to watch Marionville vs. North Platte
What: 2023 Class 1 Show-Me Bowl
When: Friday, 3 p.m.
Where: Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium; Columbia
An all-access pass to stream all of the MSHSAA state championship games can be purchased at MSHSAA.TV for $15.75.
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or X at @WyattWheeler_NL. He's also the host of the weekly "Wyatt's World Podcast" on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other podcasting platforms
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: MSHSAA football finals: How to watch Marionville vs. North Platte