Members of the Monroe City R-1 senior class of 2023 decided to use a specific classic-rock music band as the motif for their float in this year’s homecoming parade.
The name of the band is Kiss. The seniors’ slogan was “Kiss the Cardinals Goodbye.” The float displayed an impressive depiction of the band’s bass guitar player, Gene Simmons.
Monroe City certainly kissed South Shelby goodbye in the homecoming football game.
The Panthers scored five first-half touchdowns in a 46-8 victory Friday, Sept. 16 at Lankford Field.
MCHS defeated Highland by the same score the previous week.
The road toward Monroe City’s goal of repeating as Clarence Cannon Conference champions now heads to Boone County when the Panthers take on Centralia. Kickoff Friday between the two undefeated teams is 7 p.m.
MCHS is 4-0 (2-0, CCC) after steamrolling Mark Twain, Montgomery County, Highland and South Shelby. In those four games, the Panthers outscored their opponents 186-37.
CHS (4-0) opened the season with impressive non-conference rivalry wins versus Mexico (26-21) and Hallsville (26-20). Since then, Centralia dominated CCC opponents Palmyra (35-0) and Brookfield last week (40-8).
Monroe City is the top-ranked team in Class 1 while Centralia was sixth last week in Class 2, based on polling of a 10-member statewide media panel.
In the week of practice preparing for South Shelby, a point of emphasis by the MCHS coaching staff was offensive line play. Head coach David Kirby liked what he saw against the Cardinals, but indicated the O-line will have to do some little things even better versus Centralia.
“We had a very physical couple of days of practice,” Kirby said after the South Shelby game. “It was something we needed. These kids grew from it and they saw the fruits of that hard work. Hopefully we go down to Centralia, play physical, and create new lines of scrimmage.”
Monroe City attacked South Shelby quickly.
On the Cardinals second play to start the game, Ceaton Pennewell recovered a South fumble along the Panthers sideline.
Pennewell capped a seven-play, 47-yard MCHS opening drive with a two-yard touchdown less than three minutes in. Pennewell also tacked on a two-point conversion.
Pennewell ended the game with 95 yards rushing on 16 carries and three TDs. The reigning Class 1 Defensive Player of the Year, Pennewell had the fumble recovery and, later, an interception.
South quarterback Trey Countryman was dislodged of the ball three plays into the Cardinals next possession on a jarring hit by Gabriel Creel. Landon Holland recovered and rumbled to the South 11 yard line.
Countryman was temporarily knocked out of the game.
“I got stuck. I’ve never been stuck like that in my life,” Countryman said. “I was trying to throw the ball. I didn’t even see him.”
Following a nine-yard Pennewell run, Cameron Jones scored from two-yards out and added two more giving Monroe City a 16-0 lead.
South (3-1, 1-1) got its offense going from the MCHS 48 with Countryman back in.
After a four-yard loss and incomplete pass, the Cardinals moved downfield highlighted by Cameron Wiseman’s 17-yard run. Countryman then threw a 17-yard TD pass to Eli Carter. Countryman successfully passed to P.J. Schmidt for two cutting the Panthers lead in half.
Monroe City went 65 yards on six snaps to go up 22-8. The big plays were a 23-yard Reece Buhlig pass to Jaylin Countryman and a 29-yard dash by Jones. Pennewell scored his second TD of the game from three yards out with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter. A try for two went for naught.
The MCHS defense came through big-time next, stuffing South on a fourth-down attempt at the MCHS 39.
Jones promptly ripped off a 20-yard gainer. Jones later capped a seven-play, 61-yard drive with a six-yard TD. He also added two more pushing Monroe City’s lead to 30-8.
Jones finished with a game-high 127 yards rushing on 11 carries and two touchdowns.
“We play as a team. It’s the offensive line,” Jones said. “It was when Jag (Hays) and Gabe (Creel) were out there pulling for me that I saw the grass.”
Pennewell thwarted the next Cardinals drive with an interception deep in Monroe City territory setting up the Panthers at their own 23. Former Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks head coach “Ground” Chuck Knox would have liked what happened next.
Following short runs by Pennewell and Jones, Buhlig hit Waylon DeGrave for a 27-yard pass completion. From there, MCHS was ground chuck. The Panthers reeled off eight rushing plays, seven in a row by Landon Holland. Normally a lineman, the 5-8, 220-pound Holland topped the 11-play drive with a three-yard TD. Jones added two to lift MCHS to a 38-8 advantage just over a minute before halftime.
Holland enjoyed his time being a bull in the china shop.
“I was the man, but the O-line – I’m O-line – we know what to do and we got it done,” Holland said. “Ceaton Pennewell, we go at it in practice. I learned from him. He’s a big part of this team.”
The only scoring in the second half was Pennewell’s one-yard touchdown early in the third quarter and Buhlig’s two-point conversion resulting in a rolling clock.