After losing to Jackson in the season-opener at Everett Memorial Stadium, Monroe hoped that its surprise run through the Wesco North would propel it to different results against the Timberwolves in the Wesco 4A championship game. Instead it was Jackson that steamrolled the Bearcats on the way to a 40-0 destruction.
It was hard to fathom this result after Jackson won 41-26 in the opener.
"We just grew more as a team," running back Larry Baker-Bruce said of the difference.
The question becomes is Jackson that good or was Monroe's miracle regular season a mirage? Thankfully both teams are still alive and get a chance to make their case next week in the quad-district playoffs.
Jackson (8-1) will be the Wesco 4A No. 1 seed and Monroe (4-5) the No. 2.
For T-Wolves head coach Joel Vincent this is his fifth Wesco Championship.
"They are all a little different," Vincent said. "We've had some great players over the years, but we have some good players on this team as well."
Friday night many of those played on the Jackson defense, which was impenetrable, preventing Monroe from crossing the midfield stripe. Monroe got to the 49 at the end of the first half, but wouldn't really get close in the second.
Bearcat single-game rushing record holder Gabe Moore had just 24 yards in the first half and was held well below the century mark on the night despite nearly 20 carries. The Timberwolves defense hit hard, fast and often and there was nowhere for Monroe to go. Monroe junior quarterback Hunter Bingham was chased from the game in the second quarter after throwing a crucial interception. He was 2-for-9 for 23 yards in less than a half of action. His replacement sophomore Andrew Zimmerman wasn't able to muster any better results.
Life outside the Wesco North has proved pretty difficult for Monroe (4-5 overall), which dropped to 1-4 outside of league play. While Jackson has picked up steam as the season has gone on, turning early-season narrow escapes into late-season runaways.
The Timberwolves used big plays in the first half to get going, which Vincent thought was crucial.
"In a game of this magnitude you always want to get off to a quick start," Vincent said.
On fourth-and-4 from the 31-yard line Connor Plaisance found Trey Robinson in the front corner of the end zone for the Timberwolves' first score. A missed extra point left the score at 6-0 early in the first quarter.
The Timberwolves' second score came when Plaisance and Robinson hooked up again for a 40-yard pass and catch. A two-point run made it 14-0.
Robinson had a hand in the third score as well. Bingham's pass was intercepted by Robinson and returned 50 yards to the Monroe 24-yard line. Three plays later, Baker-Bruce skated in the end zone on a 4-yard run that was one of his two scores on the night and Jackson led 21-0 at the half.
In the first half, every time Monroe seemed to make a play a yellow flag came out to negate it, including two kick returns into Jackson territory. The Bearcats defense also committed an offsides penalty on a fourth-and-4 that set up the Timberwolves' second score.
Robinson was, "a little banged up" according to Vincent and sat out much of the second half, but Vincent didn't want to risk putting him back out on the field based on the score and the playoffs looming in a week.
It was a cold, dreary night for Monroe, which won its first league title since 1991, but the season isn't over. They will still be the No. 2 seed to the quad-district playoffs that begin next week. Jackson will host the No. 4 team from the SPSL, Tahoma, Saturday night.
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Monroe 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Jackson 6 15 12 7 -- 40
J--Trey Robinson 31 pass from Connor Plaisance (kick failed)
J--Robinson 40 pass from Plaisance (Larry Baker-Bruce run)
J--Baker-Bruce 4 run (Zeng kick)
J--Baker-Bruce 2 run (Zeng kick)
J--Zeng 35 Field Goal
J--Keynan Foster 23 run (Zeng kick)
Records: Monroe 4-5 Overall, Jackson 8-1
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