In a football season that has seen more rain than anyone could expect, there have certainly been some contenders for the title of Mudbowl 2009.


In a football season that has seen more rain than anyone could expect, there have certainly been some contenders for the title of Mudbowl 2009.
Thursday night, the Palmyra Panthers and the Monroe City Panthers made a strong bid for that title in a sloppy 14-8 victory for the black and gold.
Monroe City head coach Tony DeGrave said he couldn’t have asked for a better effort from his team. With both teams eliminated from contention for a postseason run, it was a battle for pride for both teams, with his team taking home bragging rights.
“When you look back on it in 20 years, that’s how you want the football game to go,” DeGrave said. “You want them to work for it and enjoy it. They will talk about this and tell their kids about it. Those are the memories that you have. You don’t remember the ones where the clock is running in the fourth quarter. It’s the ones that you work for that you remember.”
From the first whistle, field conditions were poor and deteriorated from there. Footing was close to impossible to find, especially around midfield. While the run was the only real option for either team, both teams struggled with it at first. Even Monroe City’s Joe Chinn, who had the first two touchdowns and two-point conversion of the game in the first quarter, found working in the conditions a challenge at best.
“It’s pretty terrible,” Chinn said. “You can’t make any cuts and you slip and slide everywhere. But you’ve just got to have short, choppy steps.”
While Chinn’s breakaway runs for 40 and 20 yards, respectively, were a large contributor to the early 14-0 deficit Monroe City held over its regional foe, it wasn’t the only reason. Palmyra’s inability to hold on to the ball, which would manifest itself several times throughout the game, hurt them just as much. After Chinn’s first touchdown, Palmyra’s Austin Hinkle fumbled the ball on the first play of the ensuing drive, setting up Monroe City for the second of Chinn’s scores.
Palmyra did not spend the entire night with unsuccessful offensive drive. Early in the second quarter, the orange and black’s Adam Wright capped off a sustained drive down the field with a touchdown from four yards out. Hinkle made the deal that much sweeter when he punched in the two-point conversion.
Although the first quarter was definitely dominated by Monroe City, it appeared after the touchdown that the second quarter was going to go to Palmyra. After being forced to punt late in the quarter, luck seemed to favor Palmyra when the officials ruled that the ball had bounced off of a Monroe City player, which would have breathed new life into the offensive drive.
But the call that reversed the ruling on the field hit the Palmyra hard. Just two plays later, Chinn would have had his third touchdown of the game, a 50-yard gain, had a penalty not called it back.
While the second half didn’t actually feature any scoring, it wasn’t for lack of trying. In the third quarter, the combination of a sack by the Palmyra defense, a Monroe City fumble an illegal procedure call against Monroe City and a flubbed punt attempt allowed Palmyra to start a drive on the 29-yard line.
However, both times Palmyra made it into the red zone in the second half, fumbles neutralized the scoring threat.
Palmyra head coach Jason Keilholz said that asking anyone to hold on to the ball in the conditions his team played in Thursday night was a tall task for anyone.
“On a night like this, that is going to happen,” Keilholz said. “We had some trouble with the quarterback-center exchange. That set us back on a couple of drives. But you’ve got to take care of the football, especially on a night like this. But that is hard to do.”
With less than two minutes left in the game and no time outs left, Palmyra made one more stab for the end zone, going to the air. While Hinkle’s first pass of the drive was successful, his second attempt landed in the waiting arms of Monroe City’s Aaron Peters, to put a seal on both teams’ seasons.
DeGrave said that it was at that point that the unease that came with such a tight point margin finally disappeared.
“It was just a sigh of relief,” DeGrave said. “That’s a kid who had never played free safety all year. ... He’s got a great football mind and he just got where he needed to be. You’ve got to be proud of a kid like that.”
Keilholz, who’s team finished 2-8, said that despite the lopsided record, there are still positives to take away from the season.
“We played really, really hard tonight,” Keilholz said. “In a game where nobody is going to move on, our kids came out and responded hard. Our seniors played their guts out tonight, knowing that it was their last game.”