Courier-Post sports editor Joe Alberico looks at three area players who had an impact in Friday's Hannibal, Mark Twain and Palmyra district tournament victories.

The playoffs are the perfect time for a team’s best players, and perhaps its most underrated, to step up and make an impact. That was certainly the case in the first round of the HCP area teams’ three district tournament openers, each of which saw Hannibal, Mark Twain and Palmyra come away victorious. Here’s an expanded look at some of those players:

1. Senior Jerry McBride starts Hannibal off with a bang against Kirksville

What makes the Hannibal High School football offense so dangerous is its ability to score quickly. Numerous Pirates drives have ended within the first five plays this season, leaving opponents scrambling to catch up. That was certainly the case on Friday, as senior quarterback Jerry McBride took the game’s opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown, and the Pirates never looked back in their 47-7 Class 4, District 7 victory.

From there, McBride wasn’t finished, as he added a 39-yard touchdown run later in the game before finishing with 163 yards on just nine carries.

A look at McBride’s game-by-game stat sheets shows the Bowling Green University commit has a knack for doing more with less. McBride gives Hannibal big-play ability with each snap, and he was a major reason for his team’s easy victory Friday at Hannibal’s Porter Stadium.

2. No more ways to describe the things Tyler Elledge does

Speaking of less is more, Tyler Elledge made the most of his nine carries Friday.

The senior running back exploded for 226 yards and three touchdowns as the Tigers routed Chaffee 48-6 in their Class 1, District 1 opener in Center.

Elledge is much like McBride in that he can go from his own 20 to the opponent’s goal line in the blink of an eye. He continues to rack up yardage despite sharing snaps with a plethora of capable MTHS ball carriers.

Elledge is the clear workhorse in the Tigers’ offense, and why shouldn’t he be? He’s only rushed for 2,332 yards and 23 touchdowns this season.

3. And then there’s this kid named Clayton Hudson

If you’re wondering who Palmyra running back Clayton Hudson is, don’t feel bad. He probably didn’t even know who he was until the junior running back broke out in a big way in a week-nine victory over Monroe City.

But now, opponents should be on notice, as Hudson continued to fill in nicely for injured senior tailback Travis Harvey in the Class 2, District 6 opener that saw Hudson rush for 84 yards and a score. His 14-yard score opened up the scoring in a 35-0 shutout of Montgomery County.

And even though Harvey is expected to return this week, Hudson has asserted himself as a viable No. 2 behind the Panthers’ top rusher.

HCP Area district tournaments: Round 2

Helias Catholic (4-6) at Hannibal (10-0), 7 p.m.

Monroe City (3-7) at Mark Twain (10-0) 7 p.m.

North Callaway (5-5) at Palmyra (8-2)