Monarchs in third year under Montgomery
By AUSTIN COLBERT
By AUSTIN COLBERT
Thomas More Prep-Marian football coach John Montgomery believes he has it figured out. Entering his third season leading the Monarchs, he feels he has grown a lot as a coach, often by learning what not to do.
"I think by year three you are starting to get everything ironed out," Montgomery said. "You've had different experiences and in-game situations, practice situations, that make you more prepared to think quick on your feet and get your team ready to play at their highest level."
Year three under Montgomery began Monday with the start of fall practice. The Monarchs are coming off back-to-back 2-7 seasons, but everything about this season looks to be a lot different than in previous years.
For one, the players are starting practice at a higher level, entering the fall with more than a rudimentary understanding of the game.
"Where we are at offensively and defensively, I do, I feel we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were even last year," Montgomery said. "We are at a point where we can make little changes. We've got the basics down, and when we make little changes we can adapt to those challenges and pick them up really quick."
TMP is trying to replace a deep senior class, led by lineman Adam Schibi and defensive back/wide receiver Ryan Mayorga, who signed to play football at Hutchinson Community College earlier this year.
But with an intensified weight program and deep freshmen class, the feeling is the Monarchs will be able to overcome last year's losses.
"With the hard work we put in this summer, yeah we lost a lot of size, but we've gotten a lot faster and quicker," senior linebacker/tight end Cameron Fouts said. "I feel like we are actually more athletic than we were last year. Mayorga was a really good wide receiver but I think we have more to pick from instead of just one main guy."
Fouts will be a key player for TMP on both sides of the ball. Also key is the return of starting quarterback Max Megaffin, now a senior.
Megaffin spent most of last fall in a heated quarterback battle, where he eventually earned the starting job, a position he held the entire season. There is no controversy this season, and Megaffin has stepped into a major leadership role, one he is more than happy to undertake.
"I like the pressure I guess, so I don't really see it. I don't use it in a negative way," Megaffin said. "Every season brings a new opportunity, a new challenge. This year we lost a big senior class, so it's time for my senior class, even though we are a small senior class, we got to step up and be the leaders of the team and show everyone else what to do."
Key for improving on the team's 2-7 record the previous two seasons is maneuvering through a difficult conference schedule. The Monarchs are joining the Mid-Continent League full time this year, and will see new opponents such as Smith Center and Oakley. Their district slate includes games with powerhouse Beloit, Russell and Norton.
Ellis, Plainville, Cimarron and their Sept. 5 opener against Phillipsburg round out the schedule.
"We got a lot new. We got new leadership; we've got a new conference that's football rich. A tremendous amount of tradition and it's exciting for us to come into it knowing we are playing high-level opponents week in and week out," Montgomery said.
"When you mix all that up new, you throw in new uniforms, you throw in all that, we've got a package that I think is going to be pretty exciting and I think we are going to be able to do some things we haven't been able to do over the past few years."