Monroe High School senior slotback/rover Tyler Hendricks talks about the 2018 season during an interview at the school this week.

Prep football: Monroe, Stubbs hoping to finish strong, but major challenges loom

The Hornets are just 2-6 heading into the last two games of the season, but they’re feeling good after winning two of their last three. Now they travel to Madison (8-0) on Friday and host Bellbrook (8-0) for Senior Night in Week 10.

If that seems like a hopeless situation, don’t forget that Monroe went 1-9 last year, yet handled Madison 27-13 in Week 2.

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“We’re not mathematically eliminated from the (Division III, Region 12) playoffs,” Monroe coach Brett Stubbs said with a smile. “It would be crazy, but if we could beat those two teams, we’d probably feel like we had a chance at winning some games in the playoffs.

“Obviously that’s not what we’re thinking about. The attitudes are good, the kids have gotten better and better every week, and we’d like to finish strong. We’re just focusing on Madison. Their offense is really good, but I think their defense is better. This is our Super Bowl right now. We’ve got some tricks up our sleeve to try to do our best.”

The Hornets have actually been pretty strong over the last three weeks, sandwiching wins over Eaton (37-0) and Oakwood (52-28) around a 21-13 loss to Brookville. Monroe had more yards (400-360) than the Blue Devils, but struggled around the goal line.

That’s been a common theme for the Hornets in 2018. They’ve scored 89 points in their two victories, 44 in the other six games combined.

Monroe football coach Brett Stubbs

“We are getting better,” Stubbs said. “We’re getting closer and closer to where we need to be.”

Monroe has rushed for 910 yards and thrown for 884 this year. Senior quarterback Nick Osterman is 62-of-146 for 872 yards and six touchdowns, and junior TeJean Rice (26 catches, 424 yards, four TDs) is the No. 1 receiver. Junior running back Tyler Tracey leads the ground attack with 477 yards on 97 carries.

Against Oakwood, two-way senior tackle Quienten Brown got in on the touchdown fun. Stubbs put him in the backfield and he crossed the goal line twice.

“The rest of the offensive line got a kick out of it too,” Stubbs said. “I don’t want to say they blocked even harder than normal, but they were really excited when he scored his first touchdown. Now they all think they should get their turn this week.”

Senior Tyler Hendricks has been one of the Hornets’ best players on both sides of the ball. He’s a rover with an interception and a fumble recovery on defense, and he’s a slotback with 13 receptions for 200 yards on offense.

“We did start with the Wing-T for about the first three weeks, then we just kind of went to the spread after that, which is what we ran last year,” Hendricks said of Monroe’s offensive approach. “We’ve been able to make some plays in the open field with that.”

Defensively, the Hornets started the year in a 3-3 stack, but have gradually shifted to the 50. Senior linebacker Tanner Allford, senior tackle Will Striet, junior safety Nick Snell and Brown have been among the defensive standouts.

Losing is never fun, but Hendricks said he’s had an enjoyable ride with the Hornets, even though they’re only 6-22 over the last three seasons.

Stubbs is near the end of a lengthy coaching career as well. Barak Faulk was Monroe’s head coach in the offseason, but a contract issue prompted him to step down last spring, and Stubbs agreed to take over this season before retiring at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

And he hasn’t changed his mind.

“I’ll let the seniors know I appreciate everything they’ve done for me this year, but it’s time to go,” said Stubbs, who was 13-17 as Monroe’s head coach from 2010-12. “Thirty-two years of coaching, that’s a lot of hours out on that practice field and game field, and I have four grandkids that I want to watch grow up.

“I’ve truly enjoyed this year. Honestly, I think part of the reason I’ve enjoyed it so much is because I know it’s the last one, and I’m going to make sure I have fun in the time I’m spending with these kids. I hope they’re feeling the same about me as I do them.”

He does expect to be emotional when the end comes.

“It’ll probably hit me around 6:00 on that Friday before Bellbrook,” Stubbs said. “I’ll probably be a wreck. I want to go out with a bang, and I hope these kids do too.”

Hendricks said that’s the plan.

“We want to make sure we send him out with a good vibe,” he said. “He was able to make our senior season happen, so we really want to make sure that we do the best we can for him.”

Friday’s game

What: Monroe (2-6) at Madison (8-0), 7 p.m.

Where: Brandenburg Field, 5797 W. Alexandria Road, Madison Township

Last meeting: Monroe won 27-13 in 2017

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