MONETT, Mo. — If you look up the definition of “trial by fire” you’ll probably find a picture of the Monett opening schedule.
The Cubs opened against District Champion Mount Vernon and fell by a single point, 22-21.
Then they hit the road for a win at Marshfield, followed by a nail biting defeat against a tough Cassville side, 21-14.
“We understood that the beginning of our schedule was pretty tough,” Monett Football Head Coach Derek Uhl said. “We’d hoped to be 3-0, but we’re not. We know that we played three tough opponents.”
And it doesn’t get any easier this Friday as the Cubs welcome Lamar to Fowler Stadium.
But Uhl said this Monett team has done a great job taking the positives from negative results.
“They understood that we’re right there,” Coach Uhl said. “We’re close.”
But this Friday the Cubs will be playing for more than just a win as they take the field in memory of the man who helped build the very program they play for today.
“He would do things that we would always agree that we want our coaches to do,” Monett Times Sports Reporter Jared Lankford said.
Lankford recommended the field name designation after researching how Richardson had helped shape Monett football in the past.
Kenley Richardson was a Monett mutli-sport athlete in the 20’s, then returned as a teacher, coach to four different teams including football and later one of the first High School Athletic Director’s in southwest Missouri.
Lankford: “He just did the extra step without ever expecting anything in return. He did it for the kids.”
But more than just Monett, Richardson helped shape the future of high school football.
He was one of the first to push for facemasks, to establish a middle school team and – my personal favorite – to play music before games.
But as a quiet man, he never asked for buildings, stadiums or street signs with his name on them.
As such, the name of Richardson has faded a bit from memory in the town, until Friday when Monett officially designates its sacred turf as Kenley Richardson Field.
Lankford: “I thought that he needed to be brought back to the forefront. As you dug into his history, if there was anyone deserving of having something named after them it was Kenley Richardson.”
Naming a high school field is a rare honor.
On Friday, Monett became just the second Big Eight school to do so, Seneca being the first.
The Cubs held a ceremony for the new field name at 6:30 Friday night before their kickoff with visiting Lamar.