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Monarchs run past Ellinwood

Published on -9/1/2012, 12:19 PM

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First-year head coach John Montgomery wanted a more balanced offense this season for the Thomas More Prep-Marian football team.

Will 399 yards rushing and three TD passes work for you, coach?

The Monarchs overcame 11 penalties and more big plays surrendered by the defense to claim a 36-20 MCAA win against Ellinwood in Friday night's season opener at Lewis Field Stadium.

Senior running back Luke Brull rushed for a career-high 203 yards on 15 carries, and sophomore running back Nick Schmidt added a career-high 144 yards on 21 carries, and scored two TDs.

"We knew going in, if we executed our offense, that our running backs would have an opportunity to do some special things tonight," Montgomery said. "We got a nice dual threat in Luke Brull and Nick Schmidt. They both run hard, and they both have that hunger to carry the ball."

Senior Shane Zimmerman, in his first start at quarterback after starting the last two seasons at receiver, completed 7-of-14 passes for 87 yards and threw for three touchdowns.

"First game as a quarterback, I think he did a nice job," Montgomery said.

The game started, however, with the TMP defense allowing another big-play score, something which has been a problem area for several years now. Ellinwood senior running back Patrick Ringering ran around left end 84 yards for a TD on the game's second play from scrimmage. Ringering, who rushed for 180 yards, later in the game scored on another big play, from 38 yards out.

"They came out a little bit different formation than what we practiced for, kind of caught us a little off-guard," Montgomery said. "Second play, really showcased a weakness in the defensive front we were using.

"When you have talented running backs like Ringering, you just never know when he might pop one."

Montgomery, TMP's defensive coordinator the last two years when Jon Borer was head coach, took over head coaching duties this season after Borer moved back home to Nebraska to coach there. Montgomery thought his personnel better suited a balanced attack than Borer's pass-happy spread offense. It showed on the Monarchs' first offensive series.

The Monarchs ran the ball seven straight plays, going 57 yards to the Ellinwood 7, where on second down Zimmerman threw a jump ball into the end zone, and 6-foot-2 junior wide receiver Ryan Mayorga leaped and came down with the ball for the TD to tie the game at 6-6 with 7:26left in the first quarter.

"The goal of that was to just throw it up and beat the corner, with the height," Zimmerman said.

TMP made it 14-6 with 2:29 left in the first, when Zimmerman hit Mayorga in the corner of the end zone for a 29-yard connection. Mayorga streaked down the left sideline and used his height once again to come down with the ball.

After a scoreless second quarter, TMP led 14-6 at halftime. The Monarchs took the ball to start the second half, and scored on their first possession, going 72 yards in nine plays, including a 30-yard burst by Brull on the drive's first play. At the Eagle 10, Zimmerman rolled right and found senior tight end Anthony Walters in the end zone, who made a diving catch for the score.

"I thought he made good decisions," Montgomery said of Zimmerman. "I really thought he kept the offense together as he was trying to move them down the field."

TMP scored again with 5:04 left in the third, with Schmidt getting in from a yard out. Brull rambled 52 yards on the first play of the series to set up the score.

"They did great; they carried the ball hard, ran hard, ran people over, and kept their feet moving," Zimmerman said of Brull and Schmidt.

Zimmerman also gave credit to the offensive line.

"They did a tremendous job today," he said. "Big holes, tons of running room."

TMP allowed some running room on the ensuing kickoff after Schmidt's score. Ellinwood senior Cody Isern found a seam and returned the kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to get the Eagles within 28-12 with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

After Zimmerman fumbled the ball into the end zone for a touchback on TMP's next possession -- one of three lost fumbles for the Monarchs -- Ellinwood scored again, this time on Ringering's 38-yard run around right end on the fourth play of the fourth quarter. The 2-point conversion made it a one-score game, at 28-20.

TMP got some breathing room on the very next series, marching 56 yards in seven plays. Schmidt's 34-yard scamper set up his score two plays later, a 3-yard run off-tackle with 7:11 left in the game.

"It's really great to see (Schmidt and Brull) have success, and I think a lot of that can be attributed to the offensive line," Montgomery said. "The offensive line worked their tail off this evening, opening up holes. As a running back, you can't ask for anything more than that."

The win was Montgomery's first as a head coach. Up next is another home game, against Clay Center on Friday.

"It's very exciting, but I'm more excited for the kids, because of all the hard work, and the commitment they made over the summer, to see it all pay off," Montgomery said. "My excitement is for them; they deserved it, they earned it."

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