SPRINGDALE - For the second time in two weeks, future University of Arkansas football signee and walk-on hoopster Marcus Monk played his last high school football game for East Poinsett County.
Shiloh Christian put an end to the Warriors' season with a 59-26 rout Friday night that was actually a close Class AAA state playoff ballgame midway through the third quarter before getting out of hand.
"We ran into a great team tonight," noted Monk, whose team finishes the year 6-6.
Monk, a 6-6, 210-pound wideout and basketball star for the school, thought his gridiron season had ended two weeks earlier when EPC lost to Piggott 12-8.
But Osceola's expulsion from the playoffs resulted in new life for EPC and a second chance that resulted in a 24-13 upset over heavily favored Pocahontas in the first round of the playoffs - a revenge game since the Redskins ousted the Warriors in the first round of the 2002 playoffs.
"It was great to get to spend two more weeks out on the football field and it was great to go to Pocahontas and win when so many people doubted us," Monk said. "But tonight this team was just a little too strong for us and we didn't make as many plays as we usually do so it got out of hand there late."
Against Pocahontas last week, Monk hauled in 11 passes for 139 yards, intercepted a pass inside the Warriors' 10-yard line and returned the opening kickoff of the second half 80 yards for a touchdown.
Monk, who will sign a football scholarship with the Razorbacks and also walk on in basketball, certainly tried to give his team a fighting chance on this night against Shiloh.
He caught 8 passes for 85 yards, including a spectacular grab over a defensive back in the end zone in the opening quarter that resulted in a 23-yard touchdown.
Monk also rushed 3 times for 14 yards and lined up at quarterback on several plays and finished 4-of-5 passing for 66 yards and another score.
He also played safety on defense, punted and kicked off during the contest with his perfect second-half onside kick giving the visitors a chance to cut into a 28-12 halftime deficit.
He returned one kickoff and would have returned a punt, but Shiloh never got around to doing that in the contest.
"He just does so many things for us and is a young man who is just going to be a great college football player for Arkansas," EPC head football coach Mark Courtney said. "He's a great athlete, has great hands and just needs to get some strength in his upper body to be ready to play and make an impact in the SEC."
Rated as one of the nation's top 125 basketball players, Monk thought about just playing hoops in college, but knows that recruiting analysts think he has more potential in football and has a better chance of getting to the NFL than the NBA.
"When I hear people say stuff like that I am very honored," Monk said. "I love the game of football, actually love both sports. But I know that at the next level in college that if I work hard and put my mind to it, I can make a contribution.
"The fact that I can also play basketball makes it even better," Monk added, "but I know down the line it is football that is my sport."
Monk caught 52 passes for 1,104 yards and 19 touchdowns last season and despite having a team not as strong offensively this season as last wound up with just over 60 catches for 1,000-plus yards this season.
Despite Shiloh winning handily - behind four touchdowns running, two passing and a pair of interceptions from senior quarterback Nathan Emert - Monk earned some new fans in the Saints.
"I can see now why people are so high on him," Emert said. "He's got great size and is fast and can just do so many things. We really focused on trying to slow him down."
One clear example of that was on EPC's third touchdown of the game that cut it to 35-18.
Monk ran a slant and five Shiloh defenders converged on him, which left EPC's P.J. Lacy wide open in the corner of the end zone.
"This season they were a lot of people who put a lot of attention on him defensively and that opened up some things for us," Courtney said. "He's such a great kid and loved when his teammates got the glory instead of him."
Monk, who sports a 3.9 grade point average, scored over 1,130 on his SAT and is on course to be his school's first minority valedictorian, now will hit the basketball court.
After a season where he averaged 25.8 points, 15.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 5.2 steals per game and led his team to the state semifinals, he is expecting another great campaign.
"We lost a couple of starters, but had a couple of guys move in and got three really good sophomores so we are expecting big things," Monk said. "I've been getting in the gym and working on my game so I am now ready to make the switch."
EPC basketball coach Kevin Kyzer notes EPC will play in tournaments in Mountain Home (Dec. 4-6), Kansas City (Dec. 11-13) and the NEA Tournament in Jonesboro all in December.
"As you can see he is a great football player who is only going to get better once he gets up here and everybody knows how much he gets done on the court," Kyzer said. "Both of the Arkansas teams are getting a kid that can help them and he's excited about being a Razorback as well he should be."
Marcus Monk runs with the ball against Shiloh Christian.
Photos by Tom Ewart
Monk's grid season over
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