Redhawks in state title game
Monroe High's football team will play for a state championship for the first time since 1989 after Friday's dominant 48-20 home win over Parkwood.
The Redhawks face High Point Andrews (13-1) in the 2AA title game in UNC Chapel Hill's Kenan Stadium on Friday starting at 7:30.
Monroe (13-2) reached the state semifinals a year ago, but fell short on the road against Swain County.
"It feels good and I'm just speechless," said Redhawks senior Tre'Shun Wynn of advancing to the state championship. "Congrats to Parkwood. They started as a 16 seed and had faith to get all the way here, but we just knew we couldn't fall short. We had one thing on our mind and that's a state championship."
Monroe has now won 10 straight and defeated its four playoff opponents by an average of 26.5 points per game.
"It really hasn't sunk in yet, but I'm excited and happy for my team," said freshman quarterback Zephaniah Wall. "We worked hard for this all through the summer and season, so we deserve this."
The Redhawks were never threatened in Friday's victory, jumping out to a 26-0 lead by halftime.
Junior tailback Chase Byrum scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half and senior Isaiah Thomas added a pair of scores, including a pick-six on defense and a 28-yard pass from Wall on 4th-and-22 late in the first half.
Monroe scored three more times in the third quarter to put the Rebels (8-7) away.
Wall threw a short screen pass to senior back Julius Stradford, who rumbled 37 yards to the end zone for a 34-0 advantage.
Wynn added a two-yard TD run following a Parkwood turnover just a minute later and senior receiver Jaylan Barbour reached the end zone on an 80-yard kickoff return in the closing minutes of the third.
"Everybody was on the same page," said Wynn. "We had a team meeting before the game started just trying to get everybody's mindset right. We wanted to play disciplined and smart football."
Parkwood scored all three of its touchdowns with Monroe's defensive starters out of the game.
Tre Butler, who finished with 121 yards on 22 carries, crossed the goal line on a 19-yard scamper late in the third.
Junior Max Robinson scored on a 33-yard run in the fourth, and senior receiver Sam Mobley capped the scoring when he tipped a pass from Wyrick to himself and caught it one-handed before racing for a 74-yard TD with three minutes left.
Mobley finished with four receptions for 103 yards, marking his fourth 100-yard game of the season. He ends the year with 56 catches for 1,071 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Parkwood struggled offensively in the first half, when they had 64 yards and three turnovers.
"It started in practice and we had a great week," said Monroe coach Johnny Sowell. "We had a good idea of the things they were going to do."
Wynn admitted playing Parkwood earlier in the season was a big advantage. The Redhawks rolled to a 46-7 win over the Rebels on Oct. 25.
"It helped out a whole lot with Parkwood being a county team and on top of that, a conference team," said Wynn. "After playing them the first time we knew who their weapons were."
Monroe finished with 297 yards of offense, compared to 283 for the Rebels.
Wall completed just 3-of-9 passes, but all three went for at least 28 yards, including two that were caught for TDs.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder is now 10-0 as the starting QB.
"I go to practice every day trying to get better," said Wall. "You've got players like Jaylan and Chase in my ear all the time, and it just keeps my head up. They help me stay focused."
The Redhawks racked up 203 yards on the ground. Wynn had 56 yards on just five carries while Byrum added 48 yards.
Junior Donavan Black contributed 47 rushing yards — all in the second half.
"Defense wins championships and offense wins games, and they have," said Sowell. "Our offensive line is pretty big and the guys we have in the backfield are all playing well. All of those guys know they're going to get an opportunity to run the ball."
Monroe 48, Parkwood 20
Parkwood^0^0^6^14 - 20
Monroe^12^14^22^0 - 48
M - Chase Byrum 3 run (pass failed)
M - Isaiah Thomas 55 interception return (pass failed)
M - Byrum 7 run (Tre'Shun Wynn run)
M - Thomas 28 pass from Zephaniah Wall (run failed)
M - Julius Stradford 37 pass from Wall (Stradford from Wall)
M - Wynn 2 run (Wall run)
P - Tre Butler 19 run (kick failed)
M - Jaylan Barbour 80 kickoff return (run failed)
P - Max Robinson 33 run (Connor Casper kick)
P - Sam Mobley 74 pass from Wyrick (Casper kick)
Rushing: Parkwood - Butler 22-121, Robinson 3-36, Jacob McWhorter 6-17, Bryant Ferguson-Springs 4-16, Jorge Martinez 2-1, Justin Holbrook 1-(-5), Wyrick 1-(-10); Monroe - Wynn 5-56, Byrum 10-48, Donavan Black 7-47, Wall 2-26, Stradford 7-14, Keenan Rivens 2-10, Montez Rorie 1-3, Rahmaad Sturdivant 3-(-1).
Passing: Parkwood - Wyrick 5-12-2 107; Monroe - Wall 3-9-1 94.
Receiving: Parkwood - Mobley 4-103, McWhorter 1-4; Monroe - Stradford 1-37, Barbour 1-29, Thomas 1-28.