Monett is coming off a 42-14 victory over East Newton while Aurora was dealt a 45-22 setback by Carl Junction.
"I saw several positive things about our win over East Newton," said Monett coach Chad Depée. "Penalties hurt us. We were able to overcome them, but when you commit mental mistakes that is Monett beating Monett."
"We gave them (Carl Junction) the ball twice inside the 10-yard line," said Aurora coach Rick Scholten. "They were able to score. We were down 14-0 four minutes into the game."
Tonight marks the 84th consecutive year these squads have tangled on an annual basis. The series is deadlocked at 42-42. During the period, Monett has scored 1,349 total points to Aurora's 1,372.
The historic aspect of the rivalry is one thing, but this year's matchup bears even more significance. Not only are both squads trying to stay alive in the conference title chase but position themselves for a higher seed and a coveted home game in the district playoffs.
Monett currently is ranked second in the district seeding standings with Aurora in fourth.
"From top to bottom this conference is loaded with quality teams," said Aurora coach Rick Scholten. "This year, any team on any given night can win. You have to be prepared if you want to be successful."
Last year, Aurora handled the Cubs 35-7. Everett Basham, a 5'9" running back for the Dawgs toted the pigskin 35 times and amassed 243 yards rushing, 174 in the first half and score three touchdowns.
"Aurora flat got after us a year ago. They made it difficult all night long" said Monett coach Chad Depée. "Basham is a tough-to-bring-down hard running kid. He reminds you a lot of Aaron Hall. He doesn't quit and seldom does he fall on first contact."
Basham is still the focus of the Houn' Dawgs offense this year. Through four games, Aurora is averaging 81 yards passing and 241 yards rushing per game. Basham averages 139 yards rushing, 5.94 yards per carry and two touchdowns per contest.
Quarterback Clayton Sumner accounts for 52 yards rushing per gridiron match and has found pay dirt five times this season on the ground.
"If you want to win you have to stop Basham," said Depée. "You know he is going to get the ball and you have to be ready to make the play."
Against East Newton, the Monett's offensive line combination of Devon Overall, Reese Bounous, Cristian Romero, Michael Childress, Fernando Salas and Matt Wentz allowed Monett running backs Hall, Kurran Blamey and Zack Swearingen to amass over 300 yards rushing.
"We have to be disciplined and physical," said Depee. "Our offensive line has improved every week and will face a tough challenge tonight."
The Cubs are averaging 99 yards passing and 260 yards rushing per contest.
A stalwart in the Cubs' backfield, Hall has amassed, 486 net-yards rushing this season and is averaging 126.5 yards and one touchdown per contest.
"Coach Depée has his team rolling," said Scholten. "We can't afford to let them get into space. They are too fast. Monett presents several challenges to our defense."
Monett's keys to success
* Move the nose. The Houn' Dawgs like to play a three-four defense. That means a defensive lineman will line up directly over Monett's center. If the Cubs line can push him to the side there will be running room up the middle.
* Find another target. Seven different Cubs (Balmey, Hall, Kyle Woods, Overall, Cooper Caldwell, Swearingen and Wes Abramovitz) have scored touchdowns this season. This makes Monett very difficult to defend.
* Stay within themselves. Monett has won three consecutive games by being the more fundamentally sound team on the field. Excessive penalties, turnovers and inconsistent play would change that.
* Give the team a chance. With Monett's explosive big play capability, they are never out of a close game.
Aurora's keys to success
* Eliminate distractions. Tonight is Homecoming for the Houn' Dawgs. "Football first, fun later," said Scolten.
* No turnovers. Turnovers age a coach really fast.
* Play Houn' Dawg football. Gang tackle and stop the big play and eliminate turnvers.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.