BARNESVILLE --Visiting Monroe Central flexed its muscles early against a young and outmanned Barnesville team, opening up a 31-0 halftime lead.
The Seminoles (5-3) tacked on two touchdowns in the second half in cruising to a 44-0 victory against a Shamrocks team that never quit, despite the disparity on the scoreboard.
Monroe coach Jay Circsota was looking for his team to get off to a quick start and not show any signs of complacency.
CENTRAL’S Curtis Nixon races into the end zone as Barnesville’s Kencaide Bunfill chases during Friday’s game in Barnesville. The Seminoles rolled to a 44-0 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
After forcing a 3-and-out, it took Monroe four plays to move 30 yards, with quarterback Curtis Nixon reversing his field right on an option keeper and racing in from 15 yards out for the early early advantage.
"We preached to our kids to come out and play aggressive from the start," Circosta noted. "When you're playing a team that's not had a lot of success record-wise, it's easy to come out flat.
"I feel for Barnesville and their staff. They've had to battle a lot of adversity this year and some injuries. But (Coach) Matt (Johnson) is doing things the right way."
So is the Seminoles' defense.
Led by senior Mikey Jones, who dispalys a keen knack for timing the snap and disrupting plays in the backfield, Monroe limited Barnesville to 23 yards on 37 plays.
At the half, Barnesville was still in the negative in total offense.
"We tried to change things up, but they were just getting too much pressure," Johnson said. "We were outmanned. I can't fault the kids' effort, but we got beat by a better team."
Monroe scored on its next posession when Nixon took a two-step drop and lofted a pass down the center of the field for tight end Gavin Morton.
Morton hauled in the catch and worked his way into the end zone from 43 yards out.
The next series saw Barnesville's Austin Hannahs scramble to field a punt snap that went over his head and get stopped in the end zone for a safety.
Nixon took over from there.
In less than three quarters of work, the Monroe senior amassed 234 yards on 10 carries, scoring on runs of 80 and 50 yards to go with his 15 yarder from earlier.
Backfield mate Levi Brown had 91 yards and a 4-yard touchdown on 7 carries. Brown's touchdown was set up by a brilliant 51-yard run of his a play earlier in the third quarter.
The final score came early in the fourth.
Monroe's second unit capped the offensive festivities when freshman Jarrett Hooper swept in from 17 yards out.
Nixon added to his offensive showing with 106 yards through the air on 5 of 9 passing, including two connections with Trey Duffy for 52 yards.
Daniel Brown led Barnesville with 38 yards rushing on 18 carries. The Rocks' sophomore had some success in spurts, but the Barnesville offensive line never managed to get a consistent push against Monroe's front wall.
The Seminoles', who were rated No. 8 in Ohio Division VI, Region 21 and received a little help from fellow Pioneer Valley Conference member Caldwell.
The Redkins knocked off Fort Frye, 20-19. The Cadets were the No. 7 team in Region 21. The No. 6 team, Oak Hill, beat Symmes Valley 26-7.
Monroe's attention now turns to PVC play as it closes out the season with league games against Frontier and Buckeye Trail. Two victories will guarantee Circosta's club sole possession of another PVC crown.
"We're not even thinking playoffs," Circosta said. "Our focus is on our final two games and winning the PVC."
Barnesville, meanwhile, returns home for its final home game of the season, hosting Conotton Valley (1-7).
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