Monroe seniors want to leave a mark
Monroe High's senior football players know how to win games.
Over the last four seasons dating back to 2010, the Redhawks have a record of 43-15 and have claimed the last three Rocky River Conference championships.
Monroe reached the 1AA state quarterfinals in 2010 and 2011 before advancing to the semifinals last season.
Now the Redhawks have a chance to win the school's first-ever football state title when they take on T.W. Andrews in the 2AA state championship tonight in Chapel Hill.
"Those guys are big because they are the leaders," said Monroe coach Johnny Sowell of the seniors. "They've all developed into being leaders of their own and I think it's definitely showed during the playoff run."
The Redhawks have 15 seniors on their roster, including 10 that are listed in the two-deep depth chart.
"I think we've been successful because this is pretty much the same team we've had since middle school," said senior linebacker Ashad Byrd. "We've got a lot of team chemistry. We know how to play with each other without arguing. If one guy messes up, someone is always there to back them up."
Eight of Monroe's 15 seniors are starters.
Tre'Shun Wynn, Jamarcus Glenn, Jaylan Barbour, Dequavis Allen, Montez Rorie and Byrd are all three-year starters, while Isiah Thomas and Julius Stradford are two-year starters.
Wynn is the team's lone four-year starter.
"Tre'Shun is more of a rah-rah leader on Friday nights," said Sowell. "During the week he's more laid back and goes with the flow, but that's his way of leading. Everbody knows Tre'Shun will be fired up during pregame warm-ups and they know that he's been here for four years, so guys look to him."
Byrd said the chemistry on the field starts away from football.
"If we aren't all hanging out after every practice, we're always together after a game," said Byrd. "We always talk about the game that night and what we need to do to correct mistakes and get better. We want to play better every week."
Byrd admits the atmosphere at school this week has been different, but he and his teammates haven't lost focus on the task at hand.
"Everybody's been asking me about the game, but I don't like to talk about it too much," said Byrd. "We just have to go out there and play Monroe football on Friday. That's all that matters. We want to bring home a state championship.
Sowell expects his team to be ready for tonight, especially the seniors.
"After losing to Swain last year and not walking away with the big prize, that motivated our guys," said Sowell. "We've talked to them about how most teams aren't fortunate enough to get to this point, and they are, so we want to take advantage of that. There's no question our guys focused."