TMP looks to snap skid
Published on -9/20/2012, 10:10 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Thomas More Prep-Marian first-year football coach John Montgomery admitted to feeling a bit nervous after his team's 31-21 loss at Larned.
There appeared to be a good chance his team would lose three of its starters, including senior captain Anthony Walters, for an extended time to injuries.
The athletic trainers on site thought Walters and senior Tanner Unrein, wide receiver and defensive back, might have broken their collarbones, and there was a chance senior wide receiver Ryan Mayorga suffered a concussion.
Walters' and Mayorga's tests eventually came back negative, while the coaches discovered Unrein actually broke his collarbone and will miss the rest of the season.
Unrein was a tough loss, but losing all three would have been worse.
"We feel confident in (the second string's) ability to step in and fulfill a certain role," Montgomery said, "but when you look at potentially losing two seniors starters and a junior starter on both sides of the ball, that's a tough obstacle to overcome for any team."
Unrein, who hadn't played football since eighth grade, had worked himself into the starting lineup on defense and was in the wide receiver rotation.
"It's unfortunate for a kid to come in, make the commitment, give top effort and see something like that happen," Montgomery said.
Montgomery said Mayorga is fine and Walters is probable for Friday's 7 p.m. homecoming game against Ellsworth (2-1) at Lewis Field Stadium.
There's a chance Walters still might not play, but Montgomery said having those two back sooner than expected has provided a spark in the locker room heading into Friday's game.
It might be needed, because the Monarchs (1-2) enter the contest riding a two-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Ellsworth has won its past two games, defeating Russell 36-14 and Republic County 49-19.
TMP and Ellsworth also have a common opponent: Larned. The Bearcats played Larned in the first week of the season and lost a close one 27-25, while TMP fell by a 10-point margin.
However, Montgomery said his players saw the film of that game and recognized the areas they need to improve.
For instance, TMP had four turnovers (three fumbles and one interception) against Larned that ended scoring drives or gave Larned good field position.
"That's us. We can control that," Montgomery said.
Under first-year coach Tyler Hampton, Ellsworth runs a more balanced attack than years past. The Bearcats operate out of a number of formations but often use spread formations.
Ellsworth sophomore quarterback Takota Anderson is his team's top playmaker. He leads his team in rushing with 416 yards and seven touchdowns, and he's completed 25 of 50 passes for 340 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Senior Trevor Miley is the Bearcats' second-leading rusher, and he's a bruiser. Weighing more than 200 pounds, Miley's rushed for 249 yards and four touchdowns on 37 touches. Jesse Kidd leads his team in receiving with six grabs for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Ellsworth runs a 4-3 scheme.
"I feel like they are going to give us their best game of the season," Montgomery said. "It's homecoming for us, and there's nothing like being the homecoming spoiler."
Playing well in its homecoming game could help for the rest of the season since TMP has two upcoming games on the road against La Crosse (3-0), ranked No. 1 in Class 2-1A's statewide media poll, and Phillipsburg (3-0).
"We do have some tough opponents," Montgomery said. "This would be a great morale boost, but what we are most concerned about right here and right now is Ellsworth. Our guys aren't looking ahead. I can confidently say, they think this is the most important game right now."