Prep Football

Hays development under center helps Monroe City's offense thrive

Monroe City's Blake Hays runs the ball against West Buchanan on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 21, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 22, 2017 10:34 am

MONROE CITY, Mo. -- There's a notion that quarterbacks in a Wing-T offense simply hand the football to the fullback or running back.

Monroe City's Blake Hays doesn't fit that stereotype.

The junior quarterback does have weapons in the backfield in fullback Cole Pennewell and running back Zach Osborn, who both have rushed for more than 1,400 yards and combined for 43 touchdowns. Hays also has the ability to move the offense with his arm and legs, too.

In fact, his favorite play in the Monroe City playbook is the naked bootleg because it gives him a chance to show off his speed.

"Everyone is flowing one way, and it usually tricks everyone," Hays said. "(The defense) follows the guards and you're going the other way."

When he gets that room to run, he shows why Monroe City's offense goes beyond just Pennewell and Osborn.

"I think the reason why we're so successful is we have that dual-threat offense," Hays said. "We have more than one weapon we can use. Adding the passing attack in there every once in awhile helps out a lot."

Hays, who started last year at quarterback as a sophomore, knew he needed to develop if Monroe City was going to reach another Class 1 state championship game.

Hays started by hitting the weight room and bulking up, and he admitted that was tough.

"I still don't weigh that much," he said with a grin. "I can't seem to gain any weight. But I have gotten stronger."

He's improved his decision making and became the leader of the top-ranked Panthers, who play in Saturday's Class 1 state title game against Ste. Genevieve Valle at 3 p.m. at Faurot Field in Columbia.

"I think a lot of it is trust," Hays said. "I think (Coach David Kirby) is trusting me more to make those decisions because games might be on the line."

Kirby sees Hays make more correct decisions as he matures. That increases Hays' confidence on the field.

"Last year he had a really good senior group around him so he didn't have to make the plays like he's had to make this year," Kirby said. "He could grow through that and as his confidence started to grow, you started to see his play go faster.

"That's the big thing this year is his speed of play is improved. He's able to get into more passing stuff and attack certain parts of the field that he didn't have the arm strength or the mechanics to do that as a sophomore. It's really neat to see him become a more complete football player."

It's making Monroe City a more complete football team.

Hays has throw for 853 yards this season while completing 43 of 67 pass attempts (64 percent). He's thrown 14 touchdowns and just one interception that game in the quarterfinal victory over Westran two weeks ago.

"That wasn't a very good decision by me," Hays said.

Hays, who also has 322 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground, has made very few poor decisions.

On Monroe City's final drive of the semifinal win over East Buchanan, the Panthers had a first down at midfield when Hays noticed the Bulldogs weren't lined up over center Jonothan Saxbury. Hays called an audible for himself and picked up 9 yards to help keep the drive going that ended with Pennewell's game-sealing 6-yard touchdown run.

"I'm over on the sideline with a grin," Kirby said. "I called him a stinker for calling his own number. But he's confident now."

It's been vital to getting the Panthers back to state.

"I know coach is going to call the right plays," Hays said. "It's worked out really well this year."

 

 

 

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