By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Monett’s defense will face another test when the Cubs take on Eldon at 1:30 p.m. today in the MSHSAA Class 3 football quarterfinals.
Eldon’s offense has scored 12 touchdowns in the last two games, a 40-7 victory against Springfield Catholic and 42-7 decision against Osage.
The maroon and gold Mustangs, coached by Shannon Jolley, are 8-4, with losses to Miller Career Academy, California, Osage and Blair Oaks.
“Anytime you put those kinds of points on the scoreboard, it’s scary,” said Monett head coach Chad Depee. “They’re peaking at the right time.”
Monett’s defense limited Cassville to 97 yards rushing in a 10-6 victory Monday in the district championship game. The Cubs have held seven of their opponents to less than 120 yards rushing.
The Cubs’ leading tacklers are senior linebackers Matt Murphy, an all-Big 8 Conference selection, and Devon Overall. Murphy has 127 total tackles, including 8 1/2 sacks, and Overall has 88 total tackles, including 12 behind the line of scrimmage.
The defensive line is led by seniors Nick Childress and Reece Bounous, an all-conference choice, along with juniors Dez Bradford and Matt Wentz.
All-conference safety Kurren Blamey, a senior, is in the defensive backfield along with seniors Tyler Bass and Zach Swearingen. Zach Hammond and junior linebacker Cooper Caldwell round out the defensive unit.
Monett (9-3) started out this season with a 26-10 loss at Mount Vernon, won its next four in a row, then slipped to 4-3 with back-to-back losses to Cassville and Lamar.
Since then, Monett has won five in a row and has allowed a total of 12 points in its last two games.
“That’s no secret,” Depee said. “For us, the majority of the time it starts with the defense playing very well.”
On offense, Monett’s ground attack is led by Aaron Hall, a 180-pound senior who has rushed for 1,396 yards and 13 touchdowns. Another big-play weapon is Blamey, who has 888 yards rushing, 535 yards receiving and 16 total touchdowns.
Quarterback Kyle Woods, a 175-pound senior, has completed 54 of 108 passes for 954 yards and nine touchdowns.
Eldon’s defense became stingy as well late in the season. The Mustangs allowed just 21 points in their three district games.
This is Eldon’s sixth playoff appearance, but the Mustangs’ trip to the playoffs last year was their first since 1993. The Mustangs were 1-29 in three seasons before they went 6-5 last year.
“They’re a wing-T team, so they present a little different look than anybody we see in the Big 8,” Depee said. “But in all honesty, they have a similar story we do. They won a district championship against a team (Osage) they had lost to in the regular season.”
“They run the football very well and play good defense, especially during the playoff format,” he said. “Our job is to play great defense and take care of the ball.”