With only 15 players in uniform for Louisiana, Friday night's Class 1 District 5 opener against No. 1 state ranked Monroe City was a true David vs. Goliath matchup.
With only 15 players in uniform for Louisiana, Friday night’s Class 1 District 5 opener against No. 1 state ranked Monroe City was a true David vs. Goliath matchup.
And while Monroe City beat the Bulldogs 60-0 in the regular season, the Panthers didn’t take Louisiana lightly.
Monroe City scored early and often en route to a 62-6 win at Lankford Field.
“First of all I give Louisiana a lot of respect,” Monroe City coach David Kirby said. “They don’t have a lot of kids out for football but the boys play hard. They fought every down and fought for every yard and every inch they could get tonight. That’s a testament to their coaching staff and those kids.”
It didn’t take Monroe City long to take control of the game.
Gage Bottoms busted through the Bulldogs defense on the second play from scrimmage for a 57-yard touchdown. After the Monroe City defense forced a punt, Zach Osborn extended the Panthers lead to 16-0 with a 75-yard punt return for a score.
Sticking to the big-play theme, Blake Hays hooked up with Dawson Shively for a 33-yard touchdown pass after another Louisiana punt.
The third score of the game gave the Panthers a 24-0 lead with 5 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“We just wanted to come out and compete at a high level tonight,” Kirby said. “We wanted to make sure we were executing at a high level and limiting our mental mistakes, penalties and any flaws we may have had in the past few weeks.”
On the next possession, Hays found Nehemiah Batsell for a 26-yard catch and run for a score, making it 32-0.
Shively came up with an interception on the next Louisiana possession and returned it down to the Bulldogs 19. Two plays later Bottoms extended the Panthers lead to 40-0 with a 17-yard score.
Bottoms was filling in for Cole Pennewell who was held out of the game due to an illness.
“Gage is just unfortunately stuck behind some very good backs on our team,” Kirby said. “But we is a pretty tough back himself and we knew tonight when his number was called he was going to do some good things.”
Hays and Shively teamed up for a 51-yard passing score on the Panthers next possession before Keenan Batsell capped the first-half scoring with a 34-yard touchdown for a 54-0 lead at intermission.
By midway through the second quarter, the majority of the Panther starters were removed from the game.
“It was big for us to be able to give some guys some rest tonight,” Panthers starting lineman Brad Cheek said. “We just had a couple big games back-to-back, so it was nice to get some rest tonight so we can go even harder next week.”
Gatlin Bichsel tallied the final points of the night for the Panthers with a 26-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“We have some pretty good guys behind our No. 1’s and they don’t always get a lot of reps in games,” Kirby said. “But it was nice to be able to get those guys a lot of reps tonight and be able to evaluate them on film now. It was a good opportunity for those guys tonight and they made the most of it.”
Zac Harrison ended the Panthers bid of a shutout with a 9-yard touchdown run with 8:36 left in the game.
Harrison finished with a game-high 95 yards rushing.
Eight different Panthers carried the ball for 201 yards. Bottoms led the way with 74 yards on just two totes, while Keenan Batsell finished with 45 yards on four carriers.
Hays completed all three of his passes for 110 yards. All three passes resulted in touchdowns.
Monroe City (10-0) will host Mark Twain next Friday in the district semifinals.
Mark Twain knocked off Knox County, 36-32.