PARKER CITY — For a Class A program boasting just a couple hundred students, No. 7 Monroe Central is big, fast and strong. Even more impressive, though, the Golden Bears have depth — especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Specifically, Monroe Central boasts a strong group of running backs. Three different rushers found the end zone for the Golden Bears in the first half as they took a two-score lead against visiting Eastern Hancock.
The Class 2A No. 15 Royals, despite 12 first downs in the game, struggled to securely gain traction in sloppy conditions and fell 34-13 on Friday.
The Golden Bears (7-0) continued their strong rush attack in the second half and added two more scores to run away with their seventh consecutive win.
“We had to adjust to what they were doing,” senior outside linebacker Brandon Francis said after the loss. “Unfortunately, they beat us and knew what we were doing. It was hard to prepare for these guys, all those types of runs and how they were able to fake the ball.”
Three players entered the game for the Golden Bears with more than 200 rushing yards this season in a balanced attack.
“It took a lot of research (to prepare) for them,” Francis added. “We need to adjust our mental game. When a big play happens, we lose our mentality.”
Eastern Hancock (4-3) senior running back Devin Denny led the team with two scores — one on the ground and one through the air — and finished with 101 rushing yards (15 carries) and 65 receiving yards.
Junior quarterback Jarett Lewis was 7 of 18 passing for 150 yards and one touchdown. Royals’ junior linebacker Spencer Maxwell recorded an interception in the fourth quarter while Francis recovered a fumble in the first half.
Monroe Central do-it-all senior Logan Conklin, the team’s leading passer and rusher, started the scoring early for the Golden Bears after a fumble on Eastern Hancock’s first possession at its own 35-yard line.
Monroe Central used a first down and a 30-yard touchdown run by the 5-11 Conklin to take a 6-0 lead. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
Despite four first downs in the opening quarter, Eastern Hancock struggled to get anything going after the early turnover, which came after consecutive first downs on the team’s first drive on a wet night.
The Golden Bears scored again on the ground in the second quarter and took a 14-0 lead after a 19-yard rush from senior Maurice Richardson. Richardson ran with purpose and scored twice on Friday.
However, on the prior possession for Monroe Central, on fourth-and-long, Francis recovered a Golden Bear fumble. Eastern Hancock failed to capitalize, though, but later scored on a big play from Lewis to Denny on the ensuing possession.
On third-and-10, Lewis, who was just 2 of 6 passing before the score, found Denny in stride down the right sideline. After breaking two tackles, Denny walked in for a 65-yard touchdown reception with six minutes left in the second quarter.
The Royals trailed 20-6 at half. Denny picked up 41 yards on nine carries while Lewis was 3 of 10 passing for 84 yards.
Monroe Central is in its sixth season with a football team.
Eastern Hancock will play Shenandoah at Lucas Oil Stadium next Saturday at 2 p.m.