Both coaches are telling their team's that the Saturday tilt is just another contest.
"It's just another game on our schedule," said Monett coach Chad Depée. "We are going to go out, put our pads on, practice, warm up and get ready to play."
"I firmly believe that this game comes down to who can get past the emotion of the last game," said Eldon coach Shannon Jolley. "Whoever can get past the three hour travel or lack of travel time. The team that can establish their brand of football, that is who will win the game."
While it is true that the game is "just another contest" the significance of the gridiron battle is undeniable.
Eldon, was the fourth-seed in the Class 3, District 3 tournament.
Wins over Ava (12-7), Springfield Catholic (40-7) and Osage (42-7) gave the Mustangs a district title and a berth into only the schools second quarterfinal.
Monett, earned a three-seed in the Class 3, District 4 pod and emerged the champion with victories over Aurora (37-20), Reeds Spring (35-6) and Cassville (10-6).
The entrance into the quarterfinal is the third time Monett has achieved this level. The last quarterfinal achievement was in 1977
For those nostalgic fans, Benny Lawson was the Cubs' coach and Dick Brady patrolled the sidelines for The Monett Times in 1977.
Eldon and its Wing-T option offense invade Burl Fowler Stadium intent on running the ball with counter, misdirection and option plays.
"The Wing-T is old-fashion football," said Jolley. "We feel it allows us to maximize the potential of our players. Under ideal condition we would like to run the ball 70 percent of the time."
The Cubs have faced four different option-style offenses this season in Lamar, Cassville, Carl Junction and Reeds Spring and have won three of the five contests.
The Mustangs' workhorse running back is senior Sheyne Stafford. Stafford has amassed 1,815 yards rushing the year and averages 151.3 yards rushing per game. He is no stranger to the end zone having reached pay dirt 21 times on the ground.
Raymond Kwok, is the Mustangs' counter punch running back and has 891 yards rushing on 158 attempts this season. He has scored 9 rushing touchdowns.
As a team, Eldon rushes for 290.9 yards and throws for an additional 42.9 yard per contest.
Monett fans are well aware of the thunder (Aaron Hall) and lighting (Kurran Blamey) running back tandem. However, the Cubs have now added a little rumble (Matt Murphy) to the ground attack package.
At Cassville, Murphy displayed a quick burst of speed and the ability to hit the hole in a hurry. He rushed for 42 yards on seven carries. Against McDonald County, Murphy gained 44 yards on only three carries. He gives the Cubs a great change-of-pace option.
Hall and Blamey average 116 and 74 yards rushing per game respectively. Monett as a team averages rushing for 236 yards and passing for another 79.5 yards per game.
Eldon runs a four-two-five defense and will cheat a defensive back down into the linebacker spot.
"Our defensive front allows us to adjust to what our opponent throws at us," said Jolley. "Monett players have a high football IQ and they will make it hard on us. Adjustment will be key."
Depée stated that the Mustangs have a pair of good linebackers that are quick to plug gaps.
"They know how to play a physical style," said Depée. "Executing the fundamentals is key."
Eldon keys to the game
* Ignore distractions. A three hour bus trip, the energy of the opposing team and the fact that they are happy to advance out of district cannot distract them from the focus of playing another game.
* Control the line. The Mustangs will have to contend with an aggressive Monett defense that is starting to peak at the right time.
* Clock management. The Mustangs possess the ball nearly 13 minutes longer than their opponents per game. If Eldon maintains that trend it could be a long day for the purple and gold
Monett keys to the game
* Ignore distractions. Monett must treat this like any other game. Settling down and refocusing after the emotional win at Cassville will be huge in determining the outcome of the match.
"We set team goals when the season began," said Depée. "We now have to set new goals. One of them is winning this game. We are going to ask our players, 'Are we happy just to be in this game, or do we want to win it?'"
* Trench warfare. Reese Bounous, Devon Overall, Fernando Salas, Cristian Romero, Michael Childress, Matt Wentz, Dezmond Bradford, Aaron Aldrich and Nick Childress are the young men who represent the purple and gold on the offensive and defensive line. Monett will need a solid performance from this group to achieve victory.
* Purple Haze. Coach Depée stated before the season started that the identity of the team would be forged by the defense. The Cubs hard-hitting defense must impose their will upon the Mustangs.
* No mental mistakes. Penalties and turnovers will cost you. Cassville had a crucial run called back on an illegal procedure penalty and two turnovers that flipped the momentum in Monett's favor. The Cubs have to be error free.
"We have been in some tough spots this season," said Depée. "The resolve of this team to bond and grow together has been the most amazing thing for me to see."
When you boil it all down, the winner of this game might be the team that can refrain from blinking.
Gates open at noon. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
|Editor's||Note: The Monett Athletic Booster Club will be hosting a tailgate party from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Burl Fowler Stadium. Cost is $4.00 for Pulled Pork, BBQ Beef, Booster Club Hot Dog, or Hamburger with Chips and a drink.||All fans are encouraged to attend.|