Redhawks hungry for another shot at state title
The sting from the way the 2013 season ended still lingered as Monroe High officially opened 2014 with the first practice Friday night.
The Redhawks came up just short last season of achieving the ultimate goal of bringing home a state championship as they fell 18-14 to T.W. Andrews in the 2AA championship game.
Rising senior Chase Byrum rushed for 1,661 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, helping the Redhawks go 13-3.
He is excited to see the 2014 season start and wants to write a different ending this time.
"It hurts that we lost by four points but it's a learning experience," Byrum said. "We're going to go back and finish it off. It stinks but we're going to finish it off this year."
Rising sophomore quarterback Zeph Wall is also back. His play at quarterback jumped the Redhawks from good to great in 2013 when he took over midway through the season.
This time last year Monroe was unsettled at QB, but now Wall has 10 wins under his belt as a starter.
Coach Johnny Sowell had mixed feelings about the first practice, but isn’t reading too much into it.
"The biggest thing is we wanted to make sure our practice was organized,” Sowell said. “When that whistle blows people have to go somewhere. We also wanted to do some game situation kind of deals. With that said, the first day out here, we got what we wanted out here."
Sowell felt his team had a good offseason.
"Our kids have been going at this for a while," Sowell said. "We've given them a window of when to do things and when not to do things. We told them football is going to be fun. Part of fun is to relax a little bit. If we feel like they get away a little bit it's our job to get them back to it. Those guys are way ahead of the game."
Byrum, entering his third year as a starter, doesn’t hesitate to give guidance.
"I feel good leading the team," Byrum said. "The last two years there were other guys leading and I'm following in their footsteps. I just have to do my job. We're going to have a good team this year on both sides of the ball. We're going to be strong. I'm going to make sure I do my part and be the role model I need to be."
The Redhawks open the regular season against Lexington on Aug. 22.
"We just have to get sharp and that comes with time," Sowell said. "We have a scrimmage coming up Aug. 12, then another on the 16th. Our job is to get them prepared to know how to take it from this field, to a scrimmage and into a game. Everything has got steps and that's what we're working on right now."