Kyle Hays growing at quarterback in second season as starter

Monroe City quarterback Kyle Hays readies to throw a pass at practice on Tuesday as head coach David Kirby watches.

MONROE CITY, Mo. — For the past six years, Monroe City has had a Hays line up behind center as the Panthers quarterback.

Junior Kyle Hays is in his second season as Monroe City’s starting quarterback, and watched his brother Blake Hays play quarterback during his freshman season.

“My older brother taught me pretty much everything I know, so I have to give a lot of credit to him,” Hays said. “We were always out playing in the backyard, me and Blake. My dad also played a big role in that, but we were always out there together. It was fun.”

Monroe City head coach David Kirby said he sees a lot of similarities between the two Hays brothers.

“They are both very hard-working young men,” Kirby said. “Kyle has got a little bit more moxie than his brother and is a little more vocal than his brother. It is very neat to see how similar they are because they both would do anything for the team and they would anything for anybody.”

Although Monroe City is a team that likes to run the football, Hays has had some success in the passing game. He has thrown for 852 yards with six touchdown passes and three interceptions. Hays also has ran for 97 yards and a touchdown.

Hays credits his offensive line, as well as wide receivers Josiah Talton and Logan Buhlig and running backs Joshua Talton, Kelson Painter and Ceaton Pennewell for the team’s offensive success.

“Run complements pass, pass complements run,” Hays said. “We’ve been doing a lot more passing this year and I like it. You know every time we run, it opens up the passing. When we pass, the safeties and corners drop back and we can always run it on them.”

In his second season as starter, Hays feels that has gotten better at reading defenses.

“I still have to focus on taking easy money, get what I can get and don’t get too greedy or dumb with it,” Hays said. “But I think my reads have been the biggest thing that I have improved on this year.”

Kirby said Hays has done a good job of understanding Monroe City’s offense and putting people in good positions to succeed on the field.

“I think he is still going to improve as a passer,” Kirby said. “He is reading defenses much better, but there is still room for growth. I think he has done a very good job of understanding the option attack, but I still want him to read a little quicker and make a quicker decision when we run the option.”

In Hays upcoming senior season next year, Kirby feels like it could be a special season for his quarterback.

“He’s having a great year this year and we are really focused on him continuing to do the best he can this year,” Kirby said. “Hopefully we can continue playing for a long time (this season). In the offseason, (we will) try to make some improvements and see how good he can be as a senior.”

With Hays at quarterback, Monroe City has averaged just above 31 points a game this season and has a 5-2 record with two games remaining in the regular season.

Kirby also credits Hays for leadership and said its one of the reason’s Monroe City has been successful this season.

“Not only is he a hard worker, but he is also a guy who is really approachable,” Kirby said. “He’s very helpful to the younger kids. He’s just a great ambassador to what the program is and we a really fortunate to have a kid like Kyle on our team.”

Hays said he can’t pick out his top performance this year and mainly cares about the Panthers winning football games.

“Obviously (my goal is) to win the state championship,” Hays said. “I take it week-by-week. I couldn’t care less about individual goals, I just want the team to be successful.”

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