Nothing like a break out football game to cure your ills for the Monticello Buckaroo football team.
First year coach Jake Downward’s Tiger Woods-ish fist pump, not once, but twice at the conclusion of an inspired 21-12 palindromic victory over the senior laden Altamont Longhorns, goes along ways in indicating the importance of the victory.
The Bucks, employing almost exclusively a running attack to be admired, handed the Longhorns, who are led by two state champion wrestlers still aching from last years’ Buckaroo state wrestling championship, a defeat worth savoring.
The young Bucks rushed the ball 45 times, racking up 229 yards and 13 first downs. It was ball control at its best, which was made all the more poignant by the Longhorn’s nearly identical game plan.
The Bucks took the opening kickoff, and running every play, ripped off an 11-play 80 yard drive that consumed 6:15 off the clock, before Devin Wright finished it off with a 13-yard touchdown scamper.
The Longhorns, not to be outdone, marched 63 yards in eight running plays to even the score at 6-6 and the game was on.
In another impressive drive of 13 plays, 67 yards, and 6:30 off the clock, the Bucks took the lead for good, 14-6, signaling a smash-mouth football game for the ages.
Then the Bucks came up with the play of the game, a goal line stand that saw the Longhorns, hurt by bad time management and an errant referee toss in resetting the ball, let the halftime clock run out on the Buck’s three yard line with that 14-6 lead intact.
The Buck’s final score came minutes into the second half, after Altamont fumbled the snap on a punt attempt. The turnover was followed by another Devin Wright 27-yard touchdown dash.
Then the Buckaroo defense kept the Longhorns out of the endzone time after time, including another goal line stand, to get the confidence-building victory over a solid Longhorn team.
Kendall Maughan did much of the work, rushing for 103 yards on 14 carries and one enigmatic touchdown in the first half. Wright rushed for 97 yards and those two touchdowns on 21 carries, while Adam Martinez added 34 yards on eight carries. Corey Young caught the lone Buckaroo pass for nine yards.
For their part, the Longhorns rushed for 170 yards,, but only 55 in the second half as the Buck defense put the clamps on.
MJ Wagstafff was a demon in the middle with 16 tackles, while Maughan (11) and Wright (9) did their defensive work too, along with CJ Cordasco and Taz Robinson, who both had eight tackles.
Coach Downard was thrilled at the effort by the young Buckaroos. “You are right, it was quite a game, a game needed for our team,” Downard commented.
“Our defense showed some real courage many times throughout the game. I feel the goal line stand right before the end of the half proved to be the real key of the game for us, especially with them getting the ball to start the second half. That was a real pivotal point emotionally in the game for us.
“The fist pump is just more excitement for the kids than anything, I was excited to see them succeed when they had their backs against the wall.
“It was a big win for us, I was curious how we would respond in a dog fight. The kids showed every ounce of courage in the victory, so I was excited for them.
“Altamont is tough and there is a good chance we will see them again. I still like our chances, we match up with them really well and we will be throwing a lot more to take advantage of their defensive scheme against us.”
Next up for the Bucks is Whitehorse in Montezuma Creek.
The San Juan Broncos continued their winning ways with an impressive 25-7 victory over the Grand County Red Devils in their 63rd meeting. Using the run and pass equally with devastating effect, the Broncos, who now lead in the series 35-28, raced to a 25-0 lead before allowing a meaningless touchdown late in the game to the Red Devils.
The Bronco defense dominated the line of scrimmage, giving the Broncos their third straight win in region play and leaving them at 6-1 on the season and with a number one state ranking.
Some state rankings have the Broncos second behind the upstart South Sevier Rams and their former Monticello assistant, head coach Travis McAllister. The Rams are 7-0 for the first time ever and flying high at number one.
Jace Holliday had his customary 80-yard TD scamper, Peyton Black got his usual up the middle TD blast and Cameron Shumway threw for one and ran for one, just like always.
Different for the Broncos, but exciting and ominous nonetheless, was the 44-yard touchdown pass caught by senior Jimmy Tate, seeing his first significant action of the season. Tate is sure to add to the already impressive Bronco offensive attack.
The Broncos head north the next two weeks of football action, at North Summit and North Sevier.
The Buckaroos continue their fine season with a straight set victory over the Broncos from Blanding.
The win keeps the Bucks ranked number two in 1A behind Panquitch and drops the Broncos out of the 2A rankings for the first time in anyone’s memory.
Says longtime Bronco Coach Cassy Moon, “We are working on basic, basic things… small stuff will make a difference in the skills we are performing wrong.”
The regular season winds down for the Bucks with two matches against region rival Green River and for the Broncos with two matches against South Sevier.
Jeff Hunt, Buckaroo coach reports, “Just a quick note to let you know of some Cross Country results for the weekend.
“The team went to Mancos for the Chicken Creek Challenge and proved themselves quite well.
“The girls were led by Macee Nielson (3rd overall) and Loren Randall (14th) and ran to a fourth place finish at the 12 team invitational. More significant is the fact that there are several 4A schools from Colorado in attendance, including Pedra Vista and Durango.
The boys were led by Sean Getter and Nash Freestone and they finished eighth.
A special mention should go to the Jr. High boys team who turned away all comers to take home the team title.
The Jr. High boys team consists of Easton Nielson, Jens Brewer, Everett Hatch and Tanner Eardley, with a little help from Jed McArthur and Tyler Bird.
Only one more chance to see the Buckaroo harriers in the regular season. The John Thornton Invitational is Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the College of Eastern Utah-San Juan Campus in Blanding.”