Monroe City captures another Mayor’s Cup, setting tone with touchdown on first play

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The Monroe City football team retained the Mayor's Cup with Friday night's 50-0 victory over Palmyra at Lankford Field in Monroe City, Mo. | Steve Eighinger photo

MONROE CITY, Mo. — Sure, Monroe City and Palmyra are long-standing football rivals. It’s always a game where emotions run high.

Talent and execution, probably in that order, often take emotion out of any such equation.

Such was the case Friday night at Lankford Field.

Monroe City’s talent and execution, most certainly in that order, took control exactly 12 seconds into the annual Mayor’s Cup game between the Clarence Cannon Conference rivals.

Monroe City quarterback Reece Buhlig delivered a perfect 57-yard touchdown strike to receiver Jaylyn Countryman on the first play from scrimmage. For all intents and purposes, that emphatic touchdown all but erased any doubt about some sort of potential upset.

Monroe City, which went on to post a 50-0 Clarence Cannon Conference victory, entered the game ranked No. 1 among the state’s Class 1 schools.

“We thought we’d take a shot when (Palmyra’s defense) loaded up the box,” said Monroe City coach David Kirby, whose team is 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the CCC. “We worked on that play all week.”

Not unexpectedly, Monroe City players were in a celebratory mood afterward.

“The Palmyra game is always special,” said Ceaton Pennewell, Monroe City’s all-state running back/linebacker. “I think that first snap kind of set the tone.”

Monroe City led 36-0 by halftime. That meant a running clock the entire second half.

Establishing a presence early was important, according to Monroe City middle linebacker/tight end Landon Utterback.

“But it was even better because it was against P-Town,” Utterback said.

Ah, that rivalry thing again.

Monroe City maintains possession of the Mayor’s Cup for a second straight year and holds a 12-7 advantage since the two schools began playing for the trophy in 2004. Monroe City has won six of the last seven Mayor’s Cup games.

The 50 points scored by Monroe City represents the most in a Mayor’s Cup game. Monroe City’s shutout of its arch rival was the first in the series since it collected a 32-0 victory in 2014.

“This is a rivalry game, and that trophy’s important,” Kirby said. “We respect Palmyra, and it’s a very special trophy.” 

Kirby-coached Monroe City teams are 7-3 against Palmyra, which has been outscored 311-66 this season.

Palmyra (0-6, 0-4 CCC) is staring at the possibility of its worst season since back-to-back 1-8 finishes in 1992-93.

“Our kids fought hard,” Palmyra coach Kevin Miles said. “We just have to find a way to be better. We have to fix Palmyra before we worry about anything else.”

Miles, however, remains optimistic.

“There will always be ups and downs,” Miles said.

Fleet-footed junior Waylon DeGrave scored three touchdowns for Monroe City, highlighted by a 34-yard sprint in the fourth quarter. He also scored on bursts of 1 and 4 yards in the first half.

Pennewell also reached the end zone on runs of 1 and 4 yards in the first half. Pennewell increased his season touchdown total to 17 and career mark to 47. He thinks the best may be yet to come for Monroe City.

“We can still do things better,” Pennewell said. “We just have to keep improving week by week, keep working on the little things.”

Pennewell was the leading rusher in the game with 77 yards, even though he did not carry the ball in the second half. He has now rushed for a team-best 717 yards and boosted his career total to 2,666, leaving him 334 shy of becoming the 37th player in area history to crack the 3,000-yard barrier.

Freshman Jayden Holland added Monroe City’s other touchdown via a 12-yard run midway through the final period.

While Monroe City’s 44-points-per-game offense gets much of the attention, its defense has given up just 44 points the entire season and only one opponent has scored as many as two touchdowns. That’s the kind of math that adds up to a No. 1 state ranking, although Kirby can do without that kind of talk.

“That No. 1 ranking is nice, but it really doesn’t mean anything,” Kirby said. “We don’t worry about that.”

What may wind up being the game that determines the conference championship comes Oct. 14 when Monroe City hosts Macon. Like Monroe City, Macon is 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the league. Macon topped Brookfield 53-20 on Friday night.

Prior to meeting Macon, Monroe City travels to Brookfield on Oct. 7. Macon plays at South Shelby the same night.

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