Monroe City looking to finish season strong

Monroe City quarterback Kyle Hays throws a touchdown pass to Panthers receiver Andrew Shoemaker during a Sept. 24 game against Palmyra at Lankford Field in Monroe City.

MONROE CITY, Mo. — Monroe City scored a season-high 58 points in its win over Macon last week after being held to a combined 24 points in the Panthers prior two games.

The good news from last week’s win was not only that Monroe City was able to rebound from its first loss of the season, but they were also able to regain their offensive form that put up 40-plus points in the first four weeks.

Monroe City hopes to carry that momentum into Friday’s game against conference rival Clark County (1-6), the final home game of the season for the Panthers.

“We need to focus on being more physical at the point of attack and finishing off blocks,” said Monroe City head coach David Kirby. “We had some pretty dynamic plays last week, but we still have room to improve our blocking. That will be the primary focus for the week.”

The bad news is the Panthers defense gave a season-high 38 points against Macon last week.

It was more points than Monroe City had given up in the three previous games combined. The Panthers aim to return to being the team that was averaging 11.7 points a game prior to the Macon game last Friday.

“The kids were disappointed with our defensive effort and know they can do better,” Kirby said. “The focus will be on limiting big plays and being better tacklers.”

Monroe City will need to keep the winning going to stay in contention for the Class 1 District 2 title, with St. Pius X and Mark Twain also at 6-1 entering Week 8. The Panthers rank first over Mark Twain and St. Pius X in points.

Kirby said it is very important to finish strong going into district play.

“We don’t want to limp in,” Kirby said. “We want to be running full steam ahead. This team has big goals and understands we must be hitting on all cylinders to be competitive.”

Joshua Talton had a huge game last week, rushing for 244 yards and ran in a 70-yard touchdown.

“(The coaching staff) have to try to find ways to get the ball in his hands,” Kirby said. “Whether it’s running or receiving, Josh definitely opens up the offense.”

Teams cannot just focus on Talton, with Monroe City also having Landon Utterback, Ceaton Pennewell and Elmer Mendez-Martinez in the backfield.

Pennewell had 86 yards, Utterback had 70 yards and Mendez-Martinez had 29 yards rushing last week. All three backs ran in at least one touchdown.

“That’s the beauty of our Wing-T attack,” Kirby said. “If they are taking away one thing, we have counter attacks with other players. We have selfless players who understand on any given night it could be a big offensive night for them.”

The Panthers also have strong receivers with Waylon DeGrave, Cade Chapman and Deion White. DeGrave caught two touchdown passes in last week’s win over Macon.

It also helps to have senior quarterback Kyle Hays, who went 7-for-11 passing for 248 yards and three touchdown passes last week.

“He’s a three-year starter and understands the nuances of our system,” Kirby said. “That allows him to process information and play faster. He makes really good reads.”

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