High School Sports

Monroe’s speed leads to first NCHSAA football title

Monroe High School finally got its state football championship Saturday night at N.C. State.

The Redhawks played in their third N.C. High School Athletic Association state title against Bunn High, and won decisively 38-19. After losing 16-0 to Clayton in 1989 and 18-14 to High Point Andrews in 2013, Monroe polished off a 16-0 season with a dominant win on its third try at glory.

Longtime Monroe coach Johnny Sowell played on the 1980 Monroe state basketball championship team before he graduated in 1981. Sowell was also twice named Union County football player of the year as a high school athlete. Now, he has a coaching state title to add to an already stuffed resume.

Sowell’s current Monroe team (16-0) led 35-0 in the third quarter Saturday and just overwhelmed Bunn with its team speed. Tailback Braxton Knotts rushed 12 times for 111 yards. Knotts had 209 all purpose yards. Mckinley Nelson ran eight times for 85 yards. QB Zephaniah Wall threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns, and Jadarious McManus caught seven passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

Monroe had 507 yards of offense and despite a late flurry of points in the fourth quarter, when the game was long decided, Bunn managed 281 yards of offense. Bunn tailback Tevin Perry ran 28 times for 158 yards and a score. Bunn, however, completed one pass.

Monroe’s defense had three sacks and eight tackles for a loss and controlled the of scrimmage. Izaiah Thomas had 14 tackles and Desmen Robinson had nine. Robinson also had four catches for 42 yards and a score, and he punted one.

RECORDS: Monroe 16-0; Bunn 13-3

WORTH MENTIONING: Monroe kicker Brayan Diaz had a 47-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, breaking the old mark of 46, set by Hobbton’s Tadarius Darden in 1993...Monroe had one punt.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer