Few rivalries in Union County are as colorful as when Monroe and Forest Hills line up on a football field to battle. Unfortunately for fans of rivalries, this game has been one-sided over the last twenty years in favor of the Monroe Redhawks.
One felt this would be different on Friday night in Marshville, even leading up to the game. Monroe, a traditional football powerhouse, was coming in with an 8-1 record with their only loss to 4A Porter Ridge. Forest Hills, on the other hand, amid a successful rebuilding program, came in with an undefeated 9-0 season, setting the stage for a Rocky River Conference title game that few will forget anytime soon.
The Yellow Jacket home crowd was loud, and that electricity fueled the Jackets on the field. Forest Hills' defense played a solid first quarter, shutting down Monroe's running game and pressuring the Hawk's senior quarterback Khamoni Robinson. Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Jacket defense had kept the Hawks from crossing midfield.
A heads-up punt return from junior Christyan Washington electrified the home crowd and gave Forest Hills an early 6-0 lead to close out the 1st quarter. Then, late in the 2nd quarter, Forest Hills struck again. This time junior quarterback Brady Hibbard, under heavy pressure, delivered a pass to Dakota Potter, who leaped over the coverage for a 44-yard touchdown reception, 12-0 Forest Hills.
Things were looking good for Jacket nation, except Monroe has built itself a reputation for high-powered offenses that can overcome scoring deficits. Friday night was no different. After falling behind 12-0, Monroe's running attack led to the Hawk's first score when junior Nate Crosby's two-yard touchdown run cut the Yellow Jackets' lead going into halftime, 12-7.
Monroe wasted little time taking the lead and expanding it, scoring two third-quarter passing touchdowns within three and a half minutes to take a 21-12 lead. Monroe's visiting section was packed and now louder than ever.
Early in the fourth quarter, Hibbard hit sophomore Jerel Bolder in the corner of the endzone to pull the Jackets within two points of Monroe, 21-19. A key defensive series for Forest Hills put the Jackets in good field position around the nine-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Monroe's defense came up big, forcing a field goal attempt that fell short.
In 2012, both schools played a classic football game that ended in a Monroe victory by five points. No doubt this game, a two-point win for the Redhawks, will be long remembered for outstanding individual performances from both squads.