CENTRALIA, Mo. — The opening series made it seem the Monroe City football team hadn’t lost a stride despite major graduations.
Monroe City marched down the field on the game’s opening drive on a 17-play touchdown drive that took more than 7 minutes off the clock. Fullback Keenan Batsell capped the drive with a 3-yard run.
However, it was the only score Monroe City managed.
Centralia answered with 35 unanswered points to pull away for a Clarence Cannon Conference season-opening victory Friday night.
"They did a good job," Centralia coach Jim Newsted said. "We made some adjustments immediately."
The tide turned just as quickly.
Early in the second quarter, the Monroe City defense stopped the Centralia offense, forcing a punt. Monroe City muffed the punt near the 20-yard line, giving Centralia the lift that Newsted said his players needed. It was one of two critical mistakes made by Monroe City in the game.
Three plays later, Centralia scored on a 5-yard run and took a 7-6 lead. Centralia scored another touchdown near the end of the quarter, taking s 14-6 lead into halftime.
Centralia came out on fire in the second half, taking 3:11 to drive five plays for a touchdown to take a 21-6 lead.
Monroe City rebounded, and started to drive the ball. Batsell took a handoff and raced outside, past the Centralia defense for 72 yards into the end zone, only to have the play negated by a holding call.
"That was a huge play, but I blame myself for that one," Monroe City coach David Kirby said. "I coach the offensive line and I need to do a better job teaching my players."
Monroe City never threatened again.
Centralia scored two more touchdowns on dominating drives that left the Monroe City defenders on their heels and backs, while the Centralia defense stopped Monroe City’s offense.
Afteward, Kirby said that he was proud of his young team for not quitting.
"They played hard the whole game. They never let down," he said. "This is a learning experience for all of us."
As he headed for a radio interview, Kirby said that work for Friday night’s home opener with Brookfield would begin as soon as the buses.
"We will immediately review game films and start planning…we will get better," he said.