Most football teams would be a little downtrodden with a 1-3 record. Some football teams would even wilt under the strain of a 1-3 start.
To let the reader in on a little secret, the 2011 Monett Cubs football squad isn't like "most teams."
"Our boys continue to remain upbeat and focused this season," said Monett head coach Chad Depeť. "We haven't had to preach to the kids to remain positive. They come to practice every day ready to go to work."
Monett survived a three-game gauntlet against highly ranked opponents and lived to tell the tale of a team that could have laid down and called it a season, but has a realistic hope of making the state playoffs.
Through four weeks, Monett's 27 points against Rogersville are the most the Wildcats have yielded all season. Lamar surrendered 19 points to Aurora and 18 to Monett. Yet it was the Cubs who nearly pulled the upset on the Tigers.
Monett faces an opponent this week that is on the rise. If the Cubs want to pick up their second win of the season, they cannot overlook a 2-2 Carl Junction Bulldogs squad that is much improved over last season.
"I think our team speed overall has improved greatly," said Carl Junction coach Jesse Wall. "We always had one or two guys who could run; this season we have several."
The Bulldogs enter the contest with a deceiving 2-2 record. In the last three games the Bulldogs' defense has only allowed 13 points. The starting defensive unit for Carl Junction shut out Mt. Vernon and East Newton.
"Our kids come to practice and work hard," said Wall. "There is an obvious positive energy when we practice and play games."
The Bulldogs await a Cubs squad who is looking to right the ship.
|"Monett plays hard," said Wall. "They have had a murder's row of a schedule, and they made things really tough on their opponents.||"Defensively, they are not out of position," Continued Wall. "Offensively, they have kids who are capable of scoring on every play. You really have to tip your hat to the energy these kids play with."|
Carl Junction employs the spread offense. They will, however, show some two-back sets.
The Bulldogs will try to run behind senior offensive lineman Jacob Wall, a six-foot, 230-pound All-District and All-Conference selection.
"It's really not a big secret that when we run, we generally run in his direction," said Coach Wall.
Carl Junction features a big target in tight end Chase Mars a six-foot, one-inch, 215-pound senior.
Mars is extremely deadly near the goal line.
"They try to get him in jump ball situations," said Depeť. "He has the ability to go up and get the ball."
Carl Junction wants to load the box and stop the run.
"We have got make the tackle at the point of attack in order to be successful," added Wall.
Offensively, the Bulldogs want a 60 percent run to 40 percent pass ratio.
The Cubs come into Friday's contest with eager anticipation.
Monett has developed a very unusual ally: the big play.
While big plays are not that uncommon in the game of football, the frequency in which Monett has made them occur is indeed interesting.
The Cubs have scored touchdowns on plays that have covered 90, 87, 85, 75, 70, 68, 37 and 26 yards.
"It is kind of a double-edged sword," said Depeť. "While it is nice to get the quick score, we put our defense right back on the field."
|Depeť has witnessed positive growth in his team this season.|
"I saw some defensive big plays out of juniors Zach Swearingen and Tyler Bass the last couple of weeks," said Depeť. "Some of these younger guys are stepping up and taking control. Our philosophy on defense has been 'bend but don't break.' We want to force the other team to drive 80 yards and keep snapping the ball.
"If a team can execute a 12-play drive," continued Depeť, "and travel 80 yards and score, I'll tip my cap to them. More times than not a penalty or turnover will stop them."
Monett will try to re-establish their running attack on Friday. Look for Monett to exploit areas along the Bulldogs' line.
The Cubs need to get off to a quick start to ensure success.
Kickoff for the game is set for 7 p.m.