SHELBINA, Mo. | Monroe City reverted to form Friday night in a dominating road win 62-14 over South Shelby.
After leaning on the arm of junior quarterback Kyle Hays during wins in the first two weeks of the season over South Callaway and Winfield, the Panthers dug out head coach David Kirby's favorite offense, the run.
The passing game was almost an after-thought as Hays went five-of-nine for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Joshua Talton posted a huge night of 170 yards on eight carries. At halftime, Talton had 134 yards and two touchdowns, leading a 241-yard rushing attack in the first half, as the Panthers went into the locker room after two quarters leading the Cardinals, 46-6, with 296 yards in total offense.
Monroe City head coach David Kirby said that despite his team's offensive explosion of 80 points in the first two weeks of the season, he and his coaching staff were not convinced his line was playing up to potential, so the Panthers worked on blocking during practice last week.
“I have been blessed over the years some really good linemen,” Kirby said. “We take great pride in executing up front but in the first two weeks, I was not pleased with the total effort. We had some hard-nosed offensive line training this last week. I felt like the kids came out tonight and tried to meet the expectations.”
The Monroe City trio of running backs – Talton, Ceaton Pennewell and Kelson Painter – each had solid games on Friday, but it was a breakout for Talton.
“That is probably his best game,” Kirby said of Talton. “We have been working to get to read the guards better and tonight he did a good job of reading and getting kickouts. If he gets to the edge, he can outrun some kids. He did that tonight. He is a special talent.”
The Panthers started the game at their own 34-yard line following the opening kickoff, moving nine plays, grabbing yards in large chunks, as Pennewell scored on a five-yard play on second down to take a 6-0 lead, Hays hit Deion White for the two-point conversion.
In their first possession, the Cardinals made two first downs before stalling at their own 47-yard line.
At 3:41 left in the quarter, Monroe City took over on downs, and quickly ran through the overmatched South Shelby defense, moving seven plays in three minutes, scoring on a 12-yard off-tackle run by Talton. On the two-point conversion, the Panthers had one of their few mistakes on the night when Hays was intercepted.
Monroe City led 14-0 after the first quarter. And then came he second quarter. South Shelby had no answers for the Monroe City rushing game. Talton paced the Panthers, pulling off several large runs, including a 34-yard scamper around end, and 54-yard run for a touchdown.
By 6:47 left in the half, Monroe City had a 30-0 lead, adding two more touchdowns before the half ended.
Monroe City (3-0) plays host to Centralia on Friday night. The Panthers will be looking for redemption as Centralia opened the 2019 season with a thorough drubbing the Monroe City, 35-6, on the way to a 10-1 record and a first-place finish in the Clarence Cannon Conference. Centralia (3-0) blanked Brookfield on Friday night, 20-0, thanks to a scoring explosion in the third quarter following a scoreless first half.
Despite 142 points in three games, Kirby said his team will face a tough challenge of the young season when Centralia comes to Lankford Field.
“It is going to take a great effort on both sides of the ball.,” Kirby said “Centralia is a well-coached and disciplined team. We have to play a really clean game and eliminate the mental mistakes.”