Monett coach Chad Depee said you don't have to look very far for reasons his Cubs football team is rolling in the postseason.
"We've kind of gone in every week, it seems like, as the underdog," Depee said. "We are very fortunate that we play good competition week in and week out in the Big 8 (Conference). We are kind of prepared for those challenges."
The Cubs (10-3) showed off a little conference pride Saturday afternoon, dispatching Eldon 49-6 in a Class 3 quarterfinal at Burl Fowler Stadium. Monett last reached the quarterfinals during a state title run in 1977.
Monett will host top-ranked John Burroughs (13-0) -- a 24-0 winner over Park Hills -- on Saturday for a berth in the title game at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Two of Monett's losses came in conference. One to Cassville -- a state power that the Cubs ousted Monday -- and one to Class 2 Lamar, which earned a semifinal berth with a 55-13 win over Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty on Saturday.
"Right now we have to focus," senior tailback Aaron Hall said. "We want to go a lot farther and to do that, we'll have to play our best ball. Our conference prepares us to that on a nightly basis."
If they've got better than they showed Saturday, look out. The "Purple Haze" defense, as they like to call themselves, dominated an Eldon team that racked up 40 points twice in winning its district. The Mustangs were held to just 47 total yards -- before the second string came in with a running clock in the third quarter -- and had none of the rushing success it had shown in the postseason.
"That's the best defense we've played against all year and we've played some pretty good teams," Eldon coach Shannon Jolley said. "What an outstanding group of kids. It's a great football team, but what a tough group of kids on the field when (the defense) gets out there."
Kurran Blamey spurred an already-excited crowd with a 55-yard touchdown run on Monett's third play for a quick 7-0 lead. A 38-yard touchdown run by Hall quickly followed, then a 50-yard touchdown strike to Blamey from Kyle Woods and Monett led 21-0 before the end of the opening quarter.
Hall showed why he's been able to break the 1,000-yard barrier three straight seasons by dominating the rest of the half. He racked up 187 yards, 166 in the first two quarters, on 21 carries.
"He's been doing this since he was a sophomore for us," Depee said. "One of the keys that I love about the kid is he's a hard-nosed kid and he's resilient and durable.
"He's definitely the guy that makes us tick."
Hall added a 20-yard touchdown run and Woods a 1-yard score on a quarterback sneak for a 36-6 halftime lead. The defense set the tone, however, not allowing a first down until Eldon's final drive of the half, which set up the Mustangs' only score, on a 13-yard pass from Wyatt Greenwalt to Logan Shinn.
Monett defensive end Reese Bounous was a disruptive force, causing problems in the backfield for the Mustangs (8-5). Eldon leading rusher Sheyne Stafford was held to just 6 yards on nine carries.
"We shut down their run and made them pass," Bounous said. "We don't really have leaders on the defense. We trust each other to do their job and we all take pride in doing our jobs on defense.
"There's no heroes out here."