TMP in first road game
Published on -9/13/2012, 1:52 PM
By KLINT SPILLER
In the past four years, the Larned High School football team has been bad.
Larned won just two games in four seasons, going 2-34 in that stretch, and lost every game in 2010 and 2011.
However, the past is the past and now is now.
Right now, Larned is 2-0 under first-year head coach A.B. Stokes, defeating Ellsworth 27-25 and Ellinwood 29-14 and tying their win total from 2008-2011 combined in two games.
Unexpectedly, the Thomas More Prep-Marian football team (1-1) appears to be facing a tough opponent with their first road trip of the season Friday at Larned. Game time is 7 p.m.
"I'm sure (Stokes has) brought in a lot of excitement and hope and promise for a better future for the program," said TMP coach John Montgomery, also in his first year as head coach. "I know some of the assistants he hired, and I know he hired some quality assistant coaches as well," Montgomery added. "When you combine all that and they have success early with the two wins that they have, that's a potent combination."
Larned is chock full of experience this season, returning seven starters on offense and five on defense.
"They are a very improved team," Montgomery said. "Much improved. They've got a lot of depth and a lot of skill across the board offensively and defensively. There's a good reason why they're sitting 2-0 right now. They are a strong team."
The Indians return their starting quarterback, junior Easton Palmer, who passed for 1,105 yards, 11 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last season.
"What's impressed me is he's throwing some nice footballs," Montgomery said. "When he's got a receiver open, he is able to get the ball to them and it's a catchable ball. That's about all you can ask out of a quarterback. Get a ball to an open receiver and give them an opportunity to catch it."
However, Montgomery said the skill player that most impressed him was senior running back Brady Keith.
Keith was used at running back and quarterback last season. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry while accumulating 357 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Montgomery said Keith's not the biggest kid, standing approximately 5-foot-6 and weighing approximately 140 pounds, but he said he takes hits and gets back up quickly.
"When I look at him, I think toughness," Montgomery said. "And then speed, he's a guy that when he finds a crease, he's going full speed. That makes it difficult on defenses."
The Indians use a 3-4 defense, and Montgomery said Larned is running a similar offense as TMP, operating a balanced offense out of multiple formations.
"It's nothing new that nobody has seen before, but they execute it well," Montgomery said.
The Monarchs fell 28-7 to Clay Center last week, and the Monarchs managed to gain just one first down in the game.
Montgomery said his team will use the loss as a learning experience for this week and the rest of the season.
"I think in order to be the best, you have to play high-quality opponent," Montgomery said. "Playing an opponent like Clay Center early on, if we approach it right, elevates our level of play. That's what I've seen a little bit from practice this week and I hope to see happen on Friday night is an elevated level of play from our guys offensively and defensively."