Monroe City’s state title pursuit ends with semifinal loss to Adrian

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Monroe City football coach David Kirby addresses his team following Saturday's 32-16 loss to Adrian in the Class 1 state semifinals. | Photo courtesy Zach Richardson, KHQA

ADRIAN, Mo. — Even in the wake of a hurts-down-to-your-soul kind of loss, Monroe City football coach David Kirby needed the Panthers to remember one valuable thing.

“I said this all year long,” Kirby said. “We are not victims. We are victors. You make sure you hold your head high through anything.”

After losing 32-16 to Adrian in Saturday’s Class 1 state semifinals, the Panthers were able to do that.

“That’s why they are going to be fantastic community members, husbands, fathers,” Kirby said. “They understand how to handle the moment, no matter what that moment presents.”

This moment just happened to be tougher to take.

“It hurts,” Kirby said. “It hurts bad.”

It started out like another long road trip for a state semifinal — this trip was 240 miles and nearly four hours, similar to last year’s 300-mile, 4 ½-hour trip to Hayti — might prove fruitful as the Panthers snared the lead.

An interception by Monroe City freshman Toby Sapp on Adrian’s first possession gave the Panthers the ball at midfield, and a 49-yard burst by freshman Quincy Mayfield set up first and goal at the 1-yard line. Ceaton Pennewell plowed in for the touchdown and an 8-0 lead five minutes into the game.

Adrian answered on the first play of the ensuing drive as quarterback Colton Miller ripped off a 65-yard touchdown run. It was the first of three rushing TDs for Miller as the Blackhawks built a 22-8 lead.

“They won the line of scrimmage a majority of the time,” Kirby said. “They were big, and we knew that. They were physical, and we knew that too. They were able to sustain drives a little bit longer than what we’ve allowed in the past this season. They capitalized on that.”

Monroe City pulled within 22-16 by halftime as Landon Utterback scored on an 8-yard run with 32 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Panthers struggled to generate offense in the second half and finished with 201 total yard.

“They did a great job of squeezing our offense and making plays at the point of attack,” Kirby said. “They met a lot of people at the ball carrier. Hats off to them.”

A 1-yard touchdown run by Adrian in the fourth quarter sealed its victory, ending Monroe City’s season with a 13-1 record.

“They gave everything they could,” Kirby said. “We just didn’t come up on the right side of it today.”

Kirby knows the journey will mean more than the ending.

“We had a fantastic group of seniors who led by example,” Kirby said. “The kids worked hard and made themselves into a great, great team. I can’t say enough about how the kids worked, how they came with a great focus to practice.

“They wanted to be coached. They wanted to be the best they could be. They always put their best foot forward.”

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