HANNIBAL - It's back to the drawing board for Monroe Central and River this week as both teams continue their efforts to earn their first victory of the 2013 season.
Both are coming off losses at the hands of clubs expected to do great things this fall. The Seminoles fell at home to undefeated Shadyside, while the Pilots traveled to Marshall County and endured a forgetful night against 2-0 Bishop Donahue.
For River, Friday night's home game will be the first at Flannery Field since 2011. Construction at the school last fall forced the school to play its home contests across the river at Magnolia's Alumni Field.
River coach Mike Flannery hopes the return home provides a jolt for his players.
"We're looking forward to that," he said. "There's a lot of excitement surrounding that. We're going to play a lot better, I can promise you that."
Last Saturday night's 59-21 loss to Bishop Donahue at Monarch Stadium wasn't a memorable one for the Pilots. And that's somewhat the approach Flannery is taking.
"Things just snowballed so quick," he said. "We just have to find a way to rebound."
The Bishops jumped out to a 53-0 lead behind a barrage of scores from all fronts.
"They did it a little bit of every way, from offense to defense to special teams," Flannery said. "Punt returns and kicks returns. So, we need to work on everything."
Flannery said there was no finger pointing after the game and all of the players felt some way accountable for the loss. Still, Flannery took the defeat harder than anyone.
"As a coach, you hold yourself more responsible than anyone," he said. "It hurt me. I didn't have a good day Sunday or Monday. It was a loss I hope never happens to another River team."
Despite the fact the Pilots are 0-2, veteran Monroe Central coach Jay Circosta sees plenty of talent on Flannery's roster.
"They have a back as good as anyone I've seen in (Jordan) Sapp," he said. "He runs hard and quick and doesn't go down easy.
"Then, you have the Cross brothers - Brok and Bryce.''
Circosta has also been impressed with River's young quarterback, Joe Flannery.
"I also felt going in they had some nice linemen," he said. "They're not overly big, but I thought they moved really well.
"I don't think (River's) record indicates how good they really are."
Flannery feels the same way about Monroe Central, which started the season with a home loss to Union Local.
"I think they have a really athletic quarterback in Curtis Nixon," he said. "Then, they have (Zach) Jorris as a receiver, and then there's Levi Brown, who I think is, pound for pound, one of the best running backs around."
Nixon came in at quarterback last week, with Jorris moving to receiver.
"I thought he responded pretty well," Circosta said. "Hopefully, he'll get a little more comfortable this week."
Still, Circosta is seeking better balance from his offense.
"We have to be able to run the football," he said. "That's something we have to focus on."
Defense is also a priority.
"We're still giving up way too many yards," Circosta noted. "We gave up something like 400 yards of total offense and that's not typical of our team.
"The kids are pretty resilient, though. We just have to continue to build on what we did right and correct things and just try to get better."