Through five weeks, Thomas More Prep-Marian football coach John Montgomery is still looking for a complete performance from his 1-4 team.
The Monarchs have shown proficiency in all three facets of the game but haven’t put it all together yet. The hope is that the team can do just that in Friday’s 7 p.m. home game against Oakley (2-3).
Last week, the Monarchs dropped a 40-20 result to Cimarron, but Montgomery saw some positives takeaways. The TMP coaches challenged their special teams units to make a difference in the game, and they did.
Most notably, Gavin Schumacher took a kickoff return 80 yards for a score. The Monarchs also avoided special teams mistakes that have haunted them in the first five weeks.
“I think we saw our first game where we didn’t have a muffed punt return. We didn’t have any snaps over the punter’s head or we didn’t drop the snap,” Montgomery said. “We had good coverage in our kickoff and our punt returns. We fielded every punt. Those are all things that we saw, (and) our special teams took a tremendous step forward.”
Unfortunately for TMP, the progress made by the special teams units was nullified by five first-half turnovers. The Monarchs turned it over on each of their first three drives.
The only game the Monarchs won so far this year, Week 2 against Ellis, also is the only game TMP won the turnover differential. When the offense has held on to the ball, the unit has been relatively successful.
“When we’ve been able to minimize turnovers, we’ve had success offensively,” Montgomery said.
The number of turnovers has left the defense in tough spots, but the unit has done a solid job of causing opponents to give the ball back. Montgomery said his defense is forcing two or three turnovers per game.
Oakley will bring a different look than TMP’s two previous opponents. Instead of a dual threat quarterback, the Plainsmen will feature strong running attack, usually out of the I-formation, that will look to wear down the Monarchs.
TMP has allowed big scoring totals in the fourth quarters of games through five weeks but been stingy on the ground as well.
“We’ve shown an ability to stop the run,” Montgomery said. “It’s just a matter of can we make it happen for four quarters.”
Based on similar results against common opponents through the first five weeks of the season, Friday’s game at Lewis Field Stadium looks to be one that could be decided in the fourth quarter.
“It’s all got to come together, and this is the time of year it has to happen,” Montgomery said. “Especially for us, (it’s) an opportunity to gain some momentum going into districts. This is where you see teams start to thrive. Those teams that are thriving are the ones that are making it happen in all three phases.”
Oakley capitalized on a handful of TMP interceptions and won last year’s contest 33-0.