KC, Moniteau meeting in annual showdown
Moniteau football coach Bob Rottman can't expect much more from his team's defense.
Since the Warriors dropped a 47-14 decision to Saint Marys to open the season, they've been very stingy, allowing four touchdowns over the last three games.
"Our defense is playing fast and being aggressive, but we've had 17 turnovers (including five in last week's 7-0 loss to Brookville)," Rottman said. "It's giving the other team short fields to work with."
Moniteau (1-3, 0-2) desperately needs its offense to start pulling its weight with backyard rival Karns City visiting Warriors Stadium Friday night for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Gremlins (2-2, 1-1) have their own issues to deal with, though the team has won two straight games after falling into an 0-2 hole to start the season.
Due to a cast to protect a fracture in his right wrist, senior quarterback Eric Booher has not thrown a pass since a loss to DuBois Area to open the season.
Mason Martin stepped in and played well in Week 2 against Redbank Valley, but he went down with an injury in practice a few days later.
Since then, the Gremlins have turned exclusively to their running game, chewing up 580 yards and scoring six touchdowns in wins over Ridgway (28-0) and Saint Marys (14-6).
KC coach Joe Sherwin said Booher’s injury is “getting better” and that the three-year starter is not expected to wear the cast the rest of the season.
Running back/linebacker Luke Cramer is currently out with an injury, but the team as a whole has gained a lot of confidence over the last two games.
“Especially last week against Saint Marys, they’re a really good team,” said Sherwin. “We continue to progress and improve.”
Leading the Gremlins on the ground is Levi Hawk, who has carried the ball 38 times for 205 yards. Cooper Coyle has added 152 yards on 25 attempts and freshman Nathan Hess 133 yards on 34 carries.
It’s marked improvement since KC struggled running the ball for much of that season-opener at DuBois.
“We came into the season with a whole new offensive line,” said Sherwin. “It took some time for the guys to get accustomed to each other.”
With the Gremlins relying solely on their rushing attack lately, a trick play, one where the ball ends up in the hands of a player capable of throwing the ball downfield, could catch a defense off guard.
“You always have to be prepared for something like that,” said Rottman. “That’s where a disciplined defense and not over-pursuing comes in. But I don’t expect a lot of surprises from Karns City ... they won’t be getting any from us. I think this game is going to come down to which team does a better job executing its regular game plan.”
For the Warriors, that also involves an effective ground attack. The team is averaging 157 yards rushing per game, paced by Hunter Stalker’s 334yards and 4.5 per-carry-average.
No other player on Moniteau’s roster has reached 100 yards for the season. Last week Matt Martino, who usually plays guard, received 10 carries and gained 55 yards. Rottman said Martino could see time on both the line and in the backfield Friday.
Junior quarterback David Dessicino has passed for nearly 300 yards, but has yet to throw a touchdown pass and has thrown a number of key interceptions. A big completion or two would help loosen up defenses geared to stop the run.
“Everybody involved in our passing game has to improve,” said Rottman. “Hunter is our workhorse running the ball, but we’ve also seen some good things from Logan Campbell (23 carries for 88 yards and four touchdowns) and Mathew Baptiste (14-79-0).
Standouts for Moniteau’s defense include Martino, Campbell, Stalker and Colton Thomas at linebacker and Dessicino at end. Martino leads the team with 54 tackles, including 12 for a loss.
For KC, Cramer’s absence at linebacker leaves big shoes to fill, but Sherwin lauded the recent play of linebacker Nathan Hess and defensive backs Coyle and Garing.
Karns City won last year’s meeting with Moniteau, 44-6.