In 2012, the matchup between the Macon Tigers and Monroe City Panthers was held at Hugh Dunn Field, where the Tigers picked up a pretty straight-forward 21-3 victory.
This season, the game will be played at Lankford Field, home of the Monroe City Panthers, with one big difference: Monroe has a new head coach.
With the departure of Tony DeGrave to Marion County, the coaching duties now fall to David Kirby, an assistant coach under DeGrave for many seasons.
The Panthers are coming off an ugly 1-9 season in 2012, which averaged only 13.4 points per game.
This season, the outlook for Monroe City is a better one, having played two games thus far in 2013, winning one and losing one.
Their first game was against the always tough Clark County Indians, and would post 25 points in the contest, only to see Clark put up 41 in a 16-point victory.
In week two, Monroe headed south to Center to take on Mark Twain, and would come away with a convincing 50-30 victory.
The individual pieces for success are there for the Panthers, now its a matter of putting them together.
Monroe returns seven offensive starters from 2012, with only three being seniors. One such senior is quarterback Grant O’Bryan (5’ 10”, 170 lb.) , who has a good arm that could give the Tiger “D” some difficulties.
His favorite aerial target will likely be fellow senior Kyle Fulton (6’ 4”, 200 lb.), who scored the Panthers’ lone points against Macon in 2012 on a field goal.
Fulton has the two big factors for a receiver, speed and size, to be a serious threat to the Tiger backfield.
Another aerial target for O’Bryan may turn out to be senior tight end Dylan Buckman (6’ 1”, 195 lb.). Buckman has good hands, and was a bright spot for the team last season.
On the offensive line, the Panthers are benefited by having all juniors at the essential positions.
The linemen will include Zach Benson (6’ 2”, 200 lb.), Alex Falls (6’ 0”, 175 lb.), Tyler Pugh (6’ 0”, 180 lb.), Caleb Fuller (6’ 2”, 255 lb.), and J.D. Brown (6’ 0”, 170 lb.).
Having all juniors on the o-line will be a huge help for Coach Kirby and this developing offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Fuller and Pugh will likely help to anchor the Panthers in that spot.
The linebackers are very experienced, with four starters returning from last season, including O’Bryan, Falls, Buckman and junior Tariq Garner (5’ 11”, 175 lb.).
After playing host to Macon in week three, the Panthers will welcome in the tough Bulldogs of Brookfield in week four.
Page 2 of 2 - In week five, Monroe will look for a road win at South Shelby, before heading to Centralia in week six. The Panthers will host Louisiana in week seven, head to Highland in week eight, then host Palmyra in week nine.
Macon looks for its first road win this week, but it won’t be as easy as last year!