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Monroe City’s Kyle Hays (9) fakes a handoff to Ceaton Pennewell (24) and instead hands the ball to Cameron Jones (7) during the district championship game between the Monroe City Panthers and the Mark Twain Tigers at Lankford Field on Friday, Nov. 12.

MONROE CITY, Mo. — Monroe City bulldozed its way through the Class 1 District 2 Tournament, defeating its three postseason opponents by the combined score of 168-16.

The Panthers are fresh off a 52-0 shutout win over Mark Twain in the district title game, which advanced Monroe City to the Class 1 state quarterfinals. It was the second straight shutout for the Monroe City defense.

Monroe City’s defense forced five turnovers by Mark Twain, including two interceptions from Clarence Cannon Conference Defensive Player of the Year Ceaton Pennewell.

“They are dialed into the game plan,” said Monroe City head coach David Kirby. “We’re playing much faster and more aggressively.”

The Monroe City rushing attack ran wild last week, with Joshua Talton running for 227 yards and four touchdowns. Pennewell also rushed for two touchdowns out of the fullback position.

Panthers quarterback Kyle Hays also came up with a couple of long passing plays to Waylon DeGrave, including a touchdown pass.

One of the reasons for the Monroe City offense has been so explosive is the protection they are getting from their offensive line.

“It has allowed us to be more dynamic,” Kirby said. “Our offensive line is creating a surge and that’s granting out running backs bigger lanes and our passing game more time to develop.”

Monroe City (11-1) will be facing a formidable offense of its own when it faces Hayti (11-0) in the Class 1 state quarterfinal on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Indians are coming off a 48-15 win over Scott City in the Class 1 District 1 title game and have scored at least 40 points in every game this season. Hayti is averaging over 57 points per game in 2021.

Hayti has also been a strong defensive team, holding opponents to just over 10 points a game.

“It very well could be (decided by who gets the ball last),” Kirby said. “We need to be focused on playing four quarters at a high level.”

The Panthers will travel on Friday and stay overnight for Saturday’s state quarterfinal game at Hayti High School.

Kirby has identified three aspects Monroe City will need to do well to be successful on Saturday.

“We want to control the line of scrimmage, limit their big plays and tackle well in the open field,” Kirby said.

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