MURRAY — Despite already owning an 87-44 victory over Colo-Nesco this season, the 10-0 Murray football team knows it will be in for a challenge when the two teams meet again here Monday in the second round of the Eight-Man football playoffs.
Colo-Nesco, 7-3, started the season with back-to-back losses — to Melcher-Dallas and Adair-Casey — before reeling off five straight wins. Then, came the home loss to Murray, before the Royals finished the regular season with a win, and then avenged their loss to Melcher-Dallas in the opening round on Friday, 58-42.
"They're a senior-dominated group," Murray head coach Keith Shields said. "I think they start seven out of eight guys on offense are seniors. They're a team that has just dropped down to Eight-Man. They've kind of figured out what their identity was, and they've done a good job of playing to their strengths since then."
One of the challenges the Royals present is with their size, with linemen weighing in at 250, 290 and 250 pounds.
"They're the biggest team we've faced up front," Shields said. "That's probably one of the biggest challenges, is they're big and strong. They're big guys up front that move really well."
That size strengthens the Royal running game, paving the way for the backs.
Colo-Nesco features two players with more than 1,000 yards rushing — quarterback Brandyn Neimeyer and running back Adam Lytle.
Neimeyer leads the team with 1,966 rushing yards, while Lytle has added 1,028 yards. Combined, the two runners have scored 53 touchdowns on the ground.
"They run more of a wildcat look," Shields said. "Their quarterback, Neimeyer, truly is more of a running back. He started the year at running back. They don't throw the ball a lot, but he reminds me of (Murray quarterback) Austin Halls as far as his shiftiness and elusiveness. He broke away three or four times against us."
But, Neimeyer and Lytle as a pair provide a thunder and lightning combination, with Neimeyer being more of a speed runner and Lytle being the stronger, more physical runner.
Neimeyer ran for 241 yards against Murray in the first meeting.
Shields said the Royals like to run traps and pull the guards up front.
There is good news for the Mustangs on the injury front, however, as Shields said he expects to have senior tight end Cody Scroggie back in the lineup for Monday's game.
"I think we'll have Cody next Monday," Shields said. "We are planning on him being ready to go Monday night. That will be a big boost to our offense, and he's one of our leading tacklers on the team. He's a good all-around player. He'll help our passing game click a little more than it has the past couple of weeks."
For the season, Scroggie has 27 catches for 555 yards and seven touchdowns — all team highs. He is also tied for second on the team in tackles with 58.
In the first meeting between the two teams, Scroggie caught two passes for 61 yards and one touchdown.
Scroggie racked up 13 tackles and scored on an interception return in that game, as well.
And defense might be where Murray has to win this game.
"It was a tight back-and-forth ballgame until late in the second quarter," Shields said about the first meeting. "We got a couple scores late. We fumbled twice running the option and gave them two fairly quick scores. At times in the first half, we struggled stopping their offense."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in Murray.