Facing quality football teams has become the norm for the Monett Cubs. In each of the past two seasons, the Cubs have played a team that has held the number one ranking in Missouri Class 3 football.
Friday, Monett will extend that streak to three years as they travel to Logan-Rogersville High School to face the Wildcats.
"Rogersville is a solid program," said Monett Head Coach Chad Depeť. "We will definitely be tested."
Monett fell 28-18 to the Wildcats last season with turnovers dooming the Cubs' chance of victory.
Rogersville's depth is what is improved from a season ago. The Wildcats return 10 starters on offense and six starters on defense from a team that finished 10-3 last season.
"Our experience at quarterback is the key," said Rogersville Head Coach Doug Smith. "Last year, we were unsettled at the position 'till the middle of the season. Once we found our guy, things started to click."
That "guy" was junior quarterback Evan Gruener. Gruener blossomed once put into the starting signal caller's role, leading Rogersville to the quarter-final round of the state playoffs where they fell 20-6 to Cassville.
"It was really a trial by fire last year," said Smith. "Evan has put the effort in over the summer, and we feel confident in his decision-making ability on the field."
While the maturity of Gruener may prove to be key for the Wildcats, they still have a deadly one-two punch of Dylan Cole and Joe Zimmer in the backfield.
The honors for these two backs reads like a Who's Who list of football accolades.
Both Cole and Zimmer were named to the All-Central Ozarks Conference, Southwest Missouri Football Coaches Association, All-Ozarks and All-State teams. Cole rushed for 1,492 yards on 210 carries, averaging 7.1 yards per carry last season. Zimmer was a dual threat rushing for 1,092 yards on 147 attempts, averaging 7.4 yards per carry. He also threw for 654 yards.
As a team, Rogersville averaged 220 yard rushing per game last year and scoresd and average 25.4 points per contest.
"Monett is a very hard-working and hard playing team," said Smith. "I have a lot of respect for Coach Depeť and what he is doing with his squad. They (the Cubs) have a lot of skill guys that can hurt you. Moving (Tyler) Green out to wide receiver causes some matchup problems. (Kurran) Blamey showed some great speed. We will have to be disciplined to be successful."
The Wildcats' keys to success are simple: run the ball and control the line of scrimmage.
"If we can't run we will struggle," said Smith. "We are going to try to mix in the play action pass a little more when Monett crowds the box to loosen them up. Only our best effort will be exceptable."
For Monett, they are trying to become "week two" ready.
"Our preparation is not going to change just because we are playing a team with a high ranking," said Depeť. "We have a system and a plan in place that we believe can and will be successful on Friday nights throughout the season. That being said, we were not perfect last week against McDonald County.
"We looked like a team playing their first game of the season," continued Depeť. "I expect to see a Monett team take the field on Friday that is week two ready. We have worked on areas that needed to be addressed and grown as team."
Monett's road to victory is to follow the same path that they laid last week.
"We have got to run the football," said Depeť. "On defense, we have got to tackle. Cole and Zimmer can turn a one-yard gain into a 70-yard score if we don't make the tackle at the point of attack. Thirdly, we gotta eliminate penalties."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.