Shelbyville football, on paper, should not win their Senior Night game on Friday against Monticello. However, the game will not be played on paper, but on the Rams home field. The key will be the Ram defense.
If Shelbyville does not give up the big plays that have hurt them this season, they can be close in the 2nd half and in a game of inches with a odd-shaped pigskin that can take some funny bounces, anything is possible.
Monticello’s offense has not been as dominant the last few weeks, compared to the beginning of the season. Tolono beat Monty last week, 7-0. SOV played Monticello to a 27-14 loss two weeks ago. Shelbyville beat SOV, 14-12, but could have easily made it 22-12, if they hadn’t taken a knee at the end of the game.
Monticello beat Clinton, 54-13. The Rams beat Clinton, 40-8. Monticello beat Central A&M, 36-0, as A&M began its free fall, after nudging Shelbyville out of a game the Rams could have won.
The Ram defense is capable of making this a game, but the offense and special teams will have to step up. Wyatt Fox’ 1000 yards punting will come into play and better kick coverage will be essential. The Rams have no kick returns for a touchdown this season. Friday would be the time for it.
Monticello is a two touchdown favorite, but again that’s on paper. The Ram offense will have to be more effective to get on the board. After scoring big against Clinton, the Ram offense was just good enough to win last week and depended on other phases of the game to get them through.
Lucas Duckett has thrown for 844 yards on 49% passing. If the Ram blockers can open some holes and the ball carriers can make good open field cuts, they can sustain drives. If Tice Robinson can come close to his 5.2 yard per carry average, they can establish an inside run game.
The Rams might retain possession long enough to have some drives into the red zone. It also might keep Monticello from pinning their ears back and blitzing. Finding Luke McConnell at tight end in the passing game is key and executing a screen pass would be nice.
If against Clinton the Rams cashed in, against Monticello they must execute. Against Clinton, they showed improvements on offense. Last week, they took a step back. Monticello has seen film on the Rams and the Rams aren’t going to surprise anyone. Execution and maybe a minor adjustment here and there will be important.