The Monroe City football team's offense continued its season-long roll with a 54-0 trouncing of the visiting Paris Coyotes on Friday night.

The Monroe City football team's offense continued its season-long roll with a 54-0 trouncing of the visiting Paris Coyotes on Friday night.

There was a stark contrast between the teams even before the game started. Monroe City had 50 players in uniform. Paris had 16 with three injured players on the sidelines.

The Panthers running game was strong, running methodically downfield with a mix of huge plays to wear down the Paris defense.

“I was happy with our players, particularly in the first quarter,” said Paris head coach Gary Crusha. “But they do wear you down. Some of their second-team players are as good as most varsity players.”

Paris played a tough first quarter. After going nowhere after taking the opening kickoff, the Coyotes punted and after a 31-yard yard return, Monroe City was at the Paris 44.

The Panthers took over with 10:36 left in the quarter. Three plays later, they scored the game’s first touchdown after runs of 13 yards by Cole Pennewell, 26 yards by Zach Osborn and a 2-yard scamper into the end zone by Pennewell. The 2-point conversion was good, and Monroe City took an 8-0 lead.

But that is where the scoring stopped in the first quarter. Miscues by the Panthers and a hard-hitting Coyotes defense helped stall the Panthers offense. At one point, Monroe City head coach David Kirby called a timeout and came to the field, giving his offense a loud pep talk.

“Sometimes, you have to do that,” Kirby said of the timeout. “But give Paris credit, their kids played hard.”

The Panthers broke the game open in the second quarter, scoring four touchdowns. Monroe City scored on the first play of the second quarter, with a Pennewell two-yard run.

After a brief Paris possession, Monroe City took over on its own 31-yard line following a punt and a holding penalty.

Quarterback Blake Hays directed a nine-play drive, ending with a 13-yard pass to Osborn for the touchdown.

The Panthers struck twice more in the quarter, taking a 42-0 lead into halftime.

“We are trying to set a standard of play here … and we started to do that after the first quarter,” Kirby said.

But this was a game that was more than the score. It was an ending with pure sportsmanship.

With 3:33 left in the game, and down 48-0, Paris allowed Monroe City’s Chase Buckman to score on a 39-yard touchdown run.

Buckman, who has Down Syndrome, is one of the most popular players on the Monroe City team — and in school.

He was named homecoming king during halftime. Buckman has spent three years as a team manager.

“He runs everything in practice… everything. He is a member of the team,” Kirby said.

The plan to allow Buckman to score was hatched between Kirby and Crusha.

Kirby told the Paris coach that he intended to start Buckman for the first play of the game in offense.

“I had him on one side of the field and ran the ball to the other side,” Kirby said.

Crusha, though, added to the plan.

“They did not ask us to let him score. He told me they were going to start him, so I said if the game is out of hand, we will have him score a touchdown,” Crusha said.

With the game out of hand, Kirby sent Buckman into the game to the cheers of the crowd. The ball was handed to him and he ran untouched into the end zone and was then mobbed by his teammates.

“I have known Gary Crusha for a few years and I cannot say enough about him,” Kirby said.

Monroe City, now 7-0, travels to Centralia next week, while Paris, 2-5, plays host to Schuyler County.