MONROE CITY, Mo. -- Ed Talton leaned against the stage during practice for Monroe City's trip to Class 3 semifinals and quietly watched the Panthers run plays.
Talton has been a teacher at Monroe City High School and an assistant to Panthers head coach Brock Edris for five years.
At times, he would walk to the floor and offer observations to players, but mostly he stayed on the sidelines watching and evaluating.
"Coach Edris does such a wonderful job building relationships with the kids. He teaches character," Talton said.
Talton's Monroe City roots run deep. He could be the considered the current patriarch of Monroe City sports.
His children have excelled in Monroe City athletics. His daughter, Anaiah, 20, was a track standout, while his son, C.E., was an all-state player for two years.
Now, his younger sons, Josiah and Joshua, both sophomores, have been major impact players during the 2019-20 state semifinals run.
When approached by Edris about becoming an assistant coach, Talton agreed with one caveat – he would maintain distance from his son, C.E., and now Josiah and Joshua.
"I told him I would help coach the rest of the team, but my children were his to coach. I would take a step back," Talton said. "Sometimes I go a bit further."
When told of their father's comment after practice last week, Josiah and Joshua each smiled and rolled their eyes a bit.
"It is more than sometimes," Joshua said as Josiah nodded in agreement.
Ed Talton was a star player on the 1987 Monroe City team that finished third in the state. A banner hanging on the south end of the gymnasium celebrates that success. He also played football and ran track.
"That was a special team and a great time," Talton said of the 1987 basketball team.
After graduation, he attended junior college before transferring to Columbia College, where earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting. He then worked for seven years as an admissions counselor. He has also worked as a banker.
In 1999, he married his wife, Lisa, and felt the call to come back to Monroe City. He became an administrator for Promised Land Family Church. In 2011, Talton changed his career when he was hired as a business teacher at Monroe City High School, a position he still holds.
But ministry is still a part of Talton's makeup. Each morning, he shares an inspirational message for his nearly 2,200 Facebook friends.
On Thursday, just before departing with the Panthers for the state finals in Springfield, he posted a verse from Psalms 91:2: "I will say this of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God, in him, I will trust."
Faith is important to Talton and his family. His Facebook cover photo features his entire family with superimposed words that state: "Our Godly legacy family."
His children attended Promised Land's school before transferring into public schools.
When it came time for each child to make a choice on sports, Talton said he left the decision to them
"Not one of them did I make play sports. It was their choice," he said, adding that what he expected of them was to "play hard" and not accept mediocrity. "That's all I asked of them."
As he stopped for a photo with Josiah and Joshua, with the 1987 third-place banner in the background, Talton said that he wants his sons to enjoy the moment
The same as he did 33 years ago.