But it didn’t last long.
Playing a Saturday afternoon game with a 5 p.m. kickoff time — in a matchup with Portsmouth Notre Dame that had been scheduled six days earlier — the Monroeville football team was in a different atmosphere.
But once the ball was kicked off, the feeling was no different for a program that had won 15 of its last 20 home games.
The Eagles piled up a 239-3 advantage in total net yards of offense in the first half, and were never threatened in a 41-0 win over the visiting Titans (0-2). Monroeville ran for 389 yards and all six touchdowns in the win.
After looking for an opponent for five-plus weeks, the game finally came together on Sunday afternoon — giving each team just six days to prepare fore each other.
Monroeville was supposed to play St. Mary Central Catholic on Friday, but the SMCC program announced on July 21 it was canceling and shifting to eight-man football instead.
But no matter the opponent, Monroeville head coach Scott Stecher needed to see his team compete more than it did in last week’s 31-7 loss to Tiffin Calvert.
“And to come up to our expectations,” Stecher said. “Last week we got down early and didn’t respond to that very well. But it’s a young team. Coming out and responding so quickly today — I think it helped us a lot.
“Down the road hopefully that will serve us,” he added. “This game was good in a lot of ways. For our community to have this game today and it got experience for our players. All around, it helped the kids out.”
Monroeville scored three times in the game’s first eight-plus minutes and never looked back.
On their first possession, the Eagles went 70 yards in nine plays with little resistance. Ricky Ringer scored on a 5-yard run, though the conversion pass failed, it was a 6-0 lead at the 9:13 mark of the first quarter.
Anthony Dublo intercepted a Titans pass on their third offensive play and returned it 23 yards to the Portsmouth 17-yard line. Ringer ran for eight yards, then Aidan Schafer went right up the middle for a 9-yard TD run at the 7:05 mark.
Quarterback Isaac Roeder then connected with Trevor Schafer for the 2-point pass and a 14-0 lead.
After the Eagle defense was off the field in three plays on the ensuing possession, Monroeville took over at the Notre Dame 35.
It took just four more plays, with Roeder scrambling up the left side and past two defenders on a 14-yard scoring run. Gunner Howell’s extra point put the Eagles ahead 21-0, and 3:21 still remained in the first quarter.
“We have notoriously been a slow-starting team the last couple of years,” Stecher said. “We wanted to work on that. Our offensive line really paved the way today.”
Trevor Schafer intercepted a Titans pass on the first play of the second quarter, which gave the Eagles the ball at the Notre Dame 40.
Ringer ran 20 yards on a third-and-9, then Ott covered 21 yards for another touchdown with 9:24 left in the first half. Howell’s kick made it a 28-0 lead for the Eagles.
Midway through the second quarter, a Titans fumble was recovered by the Monroeville defense at the Notre Dame 29. The very next play, Ringer followed his right side blockers and was untouched on the 29-yard TD run.
The kick was off, but the Eagles had a 34-0 lead they took into halftime.
Monroeville’s starters got one last possession in the third quarter and capitalized to close out the scoring.
It was a 10-play, 71-yard drive that took 5:43 off the running clock as Ott pushed across from a yard out with three minutes left in the quarter. Roeder had 43 yards on three rushes, and Ringer carried three times for 22 yards on the drive.
Ringer finished the game with 13 attempts for 129 yards, while Ott added 13 carries for 67 yards. Roeder ran six times for 95 yards, and was 3-of-5 passing for 27 yards with two interceptions.
Trevor Schafer caught two passes for 14 yards and Anthony Dublo had a 13-yard catch. On the final drive of the game, Monroeville’s Brayden Schuller ran nine times for 60 yards.
Defensively, the Eagles allowed just 13 net yards to the Titans. Notre Dame’s longest play was a 12-yard run in the second quarter, and it had just xx first downs.
It was also the first shutout win for the Eagles since a 35-0 win vs. South Central on Sept. 30, 2016 — a span of 27 games.
“That really helps us out,” Stecher said. “We’re young and not big in numbers, but it’s our goal to get better every quarter moving forward, and I thought we did that today.”
Stecher talked about the unique set of circumstances with Saturday’s game, and the lack of Friday or Saturday night lights to play under.
“I told the kids it’s like practice,” he said. “We’re typically practicing at 5 p.m. with the daylight, but it was a game. It was good to see fans from both sides come out today, especially the people from Portsmouth who made such a long trip up.
“I was impressed with some of their players, but our kids responded,” he added. “So again, credit to our defense and us getting back to our style of football. We competed, ran the ball and got down and dirty.”
Monroeville will make the trip to Castalia on Friday and face a Margaretta team that is 0-2 after losses to Seneca East (35-6) and Western Reserve (29-12).
“Margaretta presents a lot of matchup problems and they do a lot of things really well,” Stecher said. “They are very good at what they do. We have to go back to work, because they have a lot of athletes to defend.
“I’m shocked they’re 0-2, but that being said, I think they’re going to come out and give us everything they’ve got,” he added. “We have to be ultra ready to go, because they will come out swinging.”
Notre Dame 0 0 0 0 — 0
Monroeville 21 13 7 0 — 41
M — Ricky Ringer 5 run (pass failed)
M — Aidan Schafer 9 run (Trevor Schafer pass from Isaac Roeder)
M — Roeder 14 run (Gunner Howell kick)
M — Eli Ott 21 run (Howell kick)
M — Ringer 29 run (kick failed)
M — Ott 1 run (Howell kick)