The horn sounded Friday night and signaled the end to the football game. For East Newton it marked the ninth time this season the Patriots had been handed a defeat. The latest, a 48-0 defeat to Monett in the first round of the Class 3 District 4 playoffs.

The Red, White and Blue lined up, shook the Cubs hands and then jogged back to their locker room and prepare for next year.

The game wasn’t competitive with Monett scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions and added another score off of an interception to build a 42-0 lead at by halftime.

The Patriots offense never got off the ground and managed just seven first half yards and zero first downs.

The problems with East Newton’s team were easy to spot. Low player turnout left just 23 jerseys occupied with bodies. Injuries thinned that numbers, which meant several players never came off the field.

Yet East Newton head coach Seth Johnson refused to use that as an excuse.

“We have high expectations for all of our players and our program,” he said. “We won’t use low number turnout to explain a loss. We can control our effort, attitude and energy and tonight it wasn’t there.”

Johnson tried to spice up the play calling and channeled his former mentor and Cubs head coach Larry Bunn by calling two fake punts and an onside kick.

As he addressed his team Johnson reminded them that next season started Friday night.
“Juniors, you are, for all intents and purposes, now senior players,” Johnson said. “It is your turn to lead. Next season’s outcome is determined by the effort and leadership you put forth.”

One obstacle will be player turnout. Johnson said the coaches have tried all sorts of things to get their numbers up, but at the end of the day the team has to improve in every phase of the game.