Herald-Whig

Curtain Call: Monroe City knows road won't be easy to get back to state title game

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Monroe City's Cole Pennewell twists away from Marceline's Dylan Wheeler as he crosses the goal line in the third quarter to increase the score to 28 to 7. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
Michael Kipley 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 13, 2017 12:01 am

MONROE CITY, Mo. -- The Monroe City football team became the buzz of Northeast Missouri last November by making a run to the Class 1 state championship game.

Mornoe City settled for runner-up after falling to Penney in the title game, finishing with an 11-4 record. However, chatter of the run still lingered.

That's the last thing the Panthers want to talk about now.

"We just have to move on," senior Cole Pennewell said. "Last year isn't going to help us this year. We have to put that on the backburner and focus on this year."

All of the players and the coaching staff are on board with focusing on this season.

"We had a high school graduation," Monroe City coach David Kirby said. "I know that sounds corny. We met with the 2018 seniors, and we talked about as a group our favorite part of last year, what was your least favorite part and what does your chapter of the story say?

"All the kids looked at me and said, ‘We have to make sure we don't talk about last year.' It was cool, but it was in the past."

Monroe City's opponents, however, won't forget. That means the Panthers can expect to get everyone's best shot each Friday night.

"That target is kind of motivation for us," junior quarterback Blake Hays said. "We know we're one of the teams everyone wants to beat. That's a good thing for us because it makes us work harder and we strive to be the best we can."

Monroe City still has the weapons to make another run to the state title game.

The Panthers lost their top two leading rushers in Logan Minter (1,107 yards) and Cody Porter (1,008) to graduation, but return junior running back Zach Osborn who ran for 739 yards on 88 carries with nine touchdowns. Osborn also became a threat on special teams, and returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown against Lincoln in the state semifinals.

Pennewell also returns after rushing for 563 yards on 107 carries and scored eight touchdowns. All that happened with Hays under center, engineering an offense that averaged 297.7 rushing yards per game. Hays completed 31 of 55 passes for 516 yards and five scores last fall.

Monroe City also returns the bulk of its offensive and defensive lines in Alex Wilson, Brad Cheek, Jon Saxbury and Michael Ryan. The Panthers lost all-state lineman Josh Underhill to graduation.

"The kids have a ton of experience on Friday nights," Kirby said. "Because of that, they've elevated their speed in practice. They're excited to put their stamp on things."

Even though the Panthers aren't talking about last season's run, the goal remains to get back to state.

"Of course," Hays said. "It's the goal every year. Some years you don't meet it, but you still work just as hard. If you don't make it, at least you went down trying."

MONROE CITY: AT A GLANCE

Coach: David Kirby (25-23 at Monroe City, fifth season)

2016 record: 11-4 (5-3 Clarence Cannon Conference)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: Multiple

Returning starters

Offense -- QB Blake Hays; FB Cole Pennewell, 6-0, 205, Sr.; RB Zach Osborn, 5-9, 155, Jr.; OL Alex Wilson, 6-0, 265, Sr.; OL Brad Cheek, 6-3, 220, Sr.; OL Jon Saxbury, 6-1, 285, Jr.; OL Michael Ryan, 6-4, 195, Sr.

Defense -- LB Pennewell; DL Saxbury; DL Wilson; DB Dawson Shively, 6-2, 173, Sr.; DB Nathan Mehrer, 6-0, 155, Sr.; DB Hays, DB Osborn.

New faces: LB/FB Nolan Pennewell, 5-10, 185, Jr.; RB/LB Brice Falls, 5-10, 175, Sr.; OL/DL Jadon Underhill, 6-2, 220, Jr.; TE/LB Max Hays, 6-2, 195, Soph.; TE/LB Dane Derksen, 5-11, 175, Sr.

Key losses: FB/LB Logan Minter; OL/DL Josh Underhill; RB/DB Cody Porter; TE Michael Speaks.

SCHEDULE

Aug. 18 at Clark County

Aug. 25 Macon

Sept. 1 South Shelby

Sept. 8 at Louisiana

Sept. 15 at Highland

Sept. 22 Brookfield

Sept 29 Paris

Oct. 6 at Centralia

Oct. 13 Palmyra

LAST TEN YEARS

Year Overall (Conf.) Coach

2016 11-4 (5-3) David Kirby

2015 3-8 (1-7) David Kirby

2014 8-4 (5-3) David Kirby

2013 3-7 (3-6) David Kirby

2012 1-9 (1-8) Tony DeGrave

2011 7-5 (4-3) Tony DeGrave

2010 4-7 (3-4) Tony DeGrave

2009 6-4 (4-3) Tony DeGrave

2008 8-3 (5-2) Tony DeGrave

2007 5-5 (3-4) Tony DeGrave