The reigning Class 1 state champion Monroe City football team picked up right where it left off, plowing past Centralia for a 38-0 home win on Friday night.
Legendary Alabama football coach Bear Bryant had a knack for poor-mouthing after overwhelming wins.
The late revered coach is reported to have said after his Crimson Tide posted a lopsided victory over a lesser team that save for “a break here and a break there,” the game could have taken a different turn.
Bear, meet David Kirby, head coach at Monroe City.
On Friday night, the defending Class 1 champions seemingly wasted no time making a statement they're ready for Class 2 competition.
The Panthers rolled over visiting Centralia 38-0 to open the 2018 campaign at Lankford Field.
Afterward, Kirby gathered his team at midfield and praised his players for the win but said they made a lot of mistakes.
“We came out on fire and played some good football and staked out a good lead in the first half but then we stalled out …picked up too many penalties. I am proud of the way the kids worked tonight but we have to work on the mistakes, eliminate the penalties…get stronger,” Kirby said.
But if the Panthers were not at their best as they picked apart Centralia, on paper and the scoreboard, they looked strong.
Keenan Batsell led a 301-yard rushing attack with 107 yards, while Monroe City’s smothering defense held Centralia to under 100 yards on the ground.
The Panthers did have a slow stretch early in the second quarter when Centralia started a drive that went deep into Monroe City territory before the defense buckled down and stopped a fourth-down attempt at the 15-yard line.
Monroe City started a march that stalled out at midfield.
Then came a play that crushed Centralia.
Sophomore Logan Buhlig hit a booming punt that nailed Centralia back to its own 5-yard line. Four plays later, Monroe City stuffed a punt, leading to a touchdown and 2-point conversion that put the game away at 30-0.
’’In years past, I am probably going for it there but I knew he had a big leg. He has been hitting the ball well in practice and he hit a huge punt there,” Kirby said. “It was a large play momentum-wise, and the kids really fed off it…that’s why they call it special teams.”
Monroe City plays on the road next Friday at Brookfield, which lost 7-6 to Palmyra in its season opener.