By Ronald Fraizer
Monroe Academy showed why they are again one of the favorites for the 2018 AISA class AAA title as the defending state champions defeated Glenwood in the season opener for both teams by a 34-7 score on Aug. 18 at Huntingdon College field.
Despite rain off and on during the day, the field was in excellent condition and both teams did not have footing problems due to wet turf.
The Volunteers showed the field was to their liking as they took a 21-0 lead at halftime and the Gators never recovered.
“This was our first scrimmage of the year and we knew going in that we were going to face a strong opponent,” said head coach Jason Gibson about the contest.
“Due to several changes in the schedule, we had to find new opponents as teams dropped us from last year’s schedule and now, every team we play this year is a playoff team. And we open with the state champions,” Gibson added.
“Plus last year we were able to scrimmage against Columbus High before the season started but we had none of that this year. This game was like our first scrimmage,” Gibson said.
Two long pass plays were the difference in the first half, one of those an 80-yard TD pass just before the half and another long pass that set up the Volunteers second touchdown.
“Those pass plays hurt us. They drove the ball on us the first series on the ground but after that, we buckled down and played better,” Gibson pointed out.
In the second half, Glenwood finally got on the board when Bryce Newman found Trevor Crisco on a nine-yard pass in the end zone. Crisco went high in the air and came down in the end zone edge in the third period for the touchdown.
“That was a good catch,” Gibson said of his junior receiver.
The score was set up by the Volunteers turnover in the third when linebacker Scott Anderson made a play on a short pass and intercepted the ball and getting it back to near midfield.
“We made fewer mistakes as far as turnovers and executing plays than last year’s squad but Monroe is a quality team. It was a huge game,” said Gibson. “We played them tough in the second half and were only outscored 13-7 after halftime and that shows improvement on both sides of the ball.”
“Both our offense and defense were also hurt when our tackle, Nathan Trzpuc was called for targeting on the second series and was thrown out of the game. That stung on both sides of the ball.” He added.
Senior quarterback Newman was the key offensive cog for the Gators. He was the leading rusher with 28 total yards and passed for 51 more including the touchdown. He accounted for 78 of Glenwood’s 91 total yards in the game, most of that coming in the second half.
“Now we need to get back to work Monday and tailor our offense and defense to what we have learned and get ready for Lakeside,” Gibson said.
Gibson was referring to the Gators next opponent on the 24th, Lakeside School in a game to be played in Eufaula. The Chiefs also opened their season and lost a 28-14 game to Tuscaloosa Academy.