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John Marshall Looks to Stay Hot Against Morgantown

The John Marshall defensive line and the rest of the Monarchs are looking to build off of last week’s big win over Brooke when they take the field this week against Morgantown. Photo by Cody Tomer

MOUNDSVILLE – First-year John Marshall Head Coach Justin Kropka learned a lot about his youthful Monarchs’ football team in last week’s big victory over Brooke, now he hopes to find out even more when a talented Morgantown team pays a visit to Monarch Stadium Friday.

Kropka’s group improved to 5-2 with a 41-6 triumph over the Bruins while Coach Sean Riser’s 3-4 record Mohigans, who are getting healthier by the week, picked up a big 21-14 victory over Parkersburg South that same night. The Monarchs have won two games in a row since a tough-to-swallow 28-25 setback at South.

“I felt like out kids really stepped up last week,” Kropka said. “They played their best when we needed them to and honestly, I was a little bit surprised. We are a young team and when the bright lights come on it’s easy to try and do too much and make mistakes. I think having a week off before Brooke really helped and we were fortunate have the schedule fell.

“But these are still young kids and we are trying to bring them back down to earth a little after week, which is a difficult job. That was a great win last week, but we have to come out and do that same thing week-to-week-to week. Asking that out of young kids can be a tall order. We normally have 18-22 kids on the field that are playing their first year of varsity anything.”

Junior quarterback Jacob Coffield had a pair of one-yard touchdowns runs against Brooke and also tossed a 46-yard scoring strike to Jared Kerekes. Freshman running back Klypsan Wallace also scored twice, both on three-yard bursts, and finished with 75 yards on 16 carries.

Koda Moore also had a 62-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as John Marshall had an outstanding night on special teams.

“They are a quality football team that is very well coached,” Riser admitted. “There are some nice skill players, and their offensive line does a nice job and is very hard-nosed and physical. They are aggressive and come after you on defense and we know we have a heck of a challenge in front of us.

“We played well enough to win last week, but we have to continue to work and we are no where near where we need to be. With kids out we have had to move people around all season and it has been a very slow process.

“Mentality is something we have talked to the kids about and told them to worry about what is going on right in front of them and not to look back or ahead. Every week is going to be a one-week challenge. We dug ourselves into an early hold that we are still trying to dig out of and we need to do that to get to the second season.

“We just need to take care of our business and focus on what is in front of us.”

Morgantown, which has won three of its last five outings, but has only scored 27 points total in its last two contests, received a pair of four-yard scoring runs from Peyton Johnson against the Patriots and a 15-yard touchdown burst from Caleb Nutter.

“They lost some kids to Covid early in the season which is why their record looks like it does,” Kropka said. “But they are a good football team and are getting better with everyone they are getting back. They are bigger, stronger and faster than us and it is going to take our best game with a couple of breaks going our way to be successful.

“This is a team that we have only beaten once in the last 15 years, and these are games that we need to start winning to take the next step. This is a next level team, no matter their record. They are elite and they are going to be a tough out come week 12.

“They have been through a lot, but they are one of three teams on our schedule coming into the season that we felt there was a big talent gap between us and them. Morgantown, University and Wheeling Park are the three best teams on our schedule.

“We need to come out, shorten the game and not make any mistakes.”

Morgantown has won the previous two meetings, including a 54-41 shootout in 2019 with John Marshall gaining a 21-10 victory in 2017.

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