by Walter & Becky Bird
The Monticello High School football team hit the road for the first time this season to take on the Whitehorse Raiders in Montezuma Creek on Friday, August 23.
The Raiders gave the Buckaroos all they could handle in an exciting matchup between San Juan County rivals.
Behind a stout Whitehorse offensive line consisting of freshmen and sophomores, Raider quarterback Hugh Pelt had lots of time to hit his favorite targets – Deondre Benn, Dominique Lansing, and James Vasku Jr. – and WHS moved the ball well early in the game.
They used the passing game to draw first blood when the senior quarterback hit Dominique Lansing on a 45-yard pass. Following a missed PAT the Raiders led 6-0.
A mere 26 seconds later, Monticello hit the equalizer when running back Brevin Olson took a bobbled pass from Devin Hatch 59 yards for a score. The Bucks’ two-point try failed, and the game was knotted at six after one quarter.
Monticello seized control of the game when Olson plowed into the endzone from three yards out at the start of the second quarter for a 12-6 lead.
Whitehorse continued to move the ball effectively, especially through the air. But it was in the second quarter that mistakes in the red-zone took their toll. The Raiders drove deep into Buckaroo territory and were poised to tie the game when Pelt threw the ball into the waiting arms of MHS defender Carson King. King returned the ball an impressive 93 yards to give MHS a two-touchdown lead.
That was followed by another pick-six – a 50-yarder by Cedar English that swelled the Buck lead to 25-6 at the half.
The Bucks came out aggressively in the third quarter and hit paydirt when Devin Hatch hit Cedar English with a 21-yard pass. After a successful KC Benge PAT, the Bucks led 32-6.
Whitehorse was far from dead, however. They battled back to score on another beautiful 48-yard pass from Pelt to James Vasku, making the score 32-12 with 5:44 to go in the third.
The Bucks struggled to maintain control of the game in the fourth quarter. Whitehorse seized the momentum, scoring with five minutes to play on a seven-yard running back pass from Lanedon Bob to Dominique Lansing.
A successful two-point conversion made the score 32-20, and from that point the Bucks found a way to run the time out and hang on for the win.
Were it not for the two defensive touchdowns in the second quarter, the game could have had a much different outcome.
Whitehorse Coach Elliot Benn reflected, “We lost the game by making small mistakes that we need to fix. Overall, that was a huge game for us and a great stepping stone to see where we’re at for the rest of the season.”
Monticello struggled offensively, with only 142 total yards. Quarterback Devin Hatch connected on just eight of 23 attempts for 76 yards, one touchdown, and an interception.
Carson King made three catches for 26 yards. Brevin Olson carried the ball 22 times for 94 yards.
Defensively, Brevin Olson had 13 tackles. Zach Cecil and Robert Musselman got 10 and eight respectively. Atticus Sheeran and Tate Ramsay had six apiece.
Four Bucks recovered fumbles: Cecil, Ramsay, Camden Lewis, and Olson. King got two interceptions, one for a TD. And English grabbed a pick-six.
This week the Buckaroos (2-0) host the Dolores, CO Bears on Friday, August 30 at 7 p.m. and Whitehorse (0-1) travels south to play Greyhills Academy in Tuba City, AZ.
Girls cross country
“I’m excited for a new season of cross country!” said Monticello High School girls cross country coach Kasey Harris when asked about the 2019 season that begins this Friday in Monticello.
“The change from 1A to 2A will require longer travel times but will give the girls a chance to compete on different courses and run against new competition,” she added.
“I have several new girls: Macy Badger, Lily Badger, and Adri Bird, and several returning this year: Kaity Morrison, Serra St. Clair, Kennedy Brewer, Lily Long, and Halle Morrison.
“It will be fun to see how they grow and change in running and as young adults.
“I hope to continue building up the team and pushing them to do their individual best. Running is a hard sport, and anyone who finishes a season is a winner to me.”
Boys cross country
Boys coach Jeff Hunt is entering his 16th season with MHS. He said of the upcoming season, “The positive of moving up [to 2A] is that there will be better competition. We dominated 1A last year; this year we will have to be at our best just to make it to state.
“Cory Bunker, Alan Pettit, and Eric Montague give us a great one-two- three punch. Bailey Walker, Taw Robinson, and Jaxon Wells are returning and should contribute.
“It will be the development of the freshmen that will determine how far we go this year – Jalen Bradford, Josh Wheeler, and Jacob Johnson.
“We are going into the strongest region in 2A, so just getting through it will be tough, but a region title would be a great accomplishment for this group.
“I have always said that if a team is just better than us, I can take them beating us, but no one should outwork us. And I believe that is still what it will take – outworking everyone else.”
The 2019 cross country season begins for Monticello High school when the teams host the Loyds Lake Classic this Friday, August 30.
They’ll follow that up with a Region 16 race on September 4 in Gunnison.
We asked Monticello High School volleyball coach Tony Esplin five questions about the upcoming 2019 season. Here are those questions and his responses:
Monticello has enjoyed great success in 1A volleyball in the past; what does this team need to do to continue that success in 2A?
We have to continue doing what got us where we are – fundamentals, improve personal and team skills, and just hard work and dedication.
How do you see the roster filling out this season?
This year our team consists of 11 freshmen, and 12 sophomores, juniors, and seniors combined. We return four players from last year that have varsity experience, so overall we are kind of an inexperienced team.
Utah high school volleyball will use a rating percentage index (RPI) this season. What is the purpose of the RPI and what effect will it have on your program?
The intent of the RPI is to have a better-matched state tournament. It is based on win/loss record. It doesn’t matter if the games were close or not, only if you win.
Playing San Juan and Moab, both of which are very good teams, could hurt us in the RPI if we don’t win but will help us gain quality experience.
Having played San Juan once already, and they beat us, it is kind of bittersweet in that RPI-wise we are still at zero, but we gained valuable experience.
All the teams will have a final RPI score and then the first round games will be the highest-scored team against the low-scored team, with the winning teams moving on to the state tournament the first weekend in November and the losing teams going home.
So you want to be in the higher half of the teams, so we could host that first round game here in Monticello. All in all it will be a wait-and-see-how-it-all-turns-out this season.
Did the change in classification affect how you schedule matches outside of Region 16 play?
It only changed our region schedule. Our preseason and tournaments all stayed the same.
What do you see as this team’s strengths, and what does this team need to improve on to have a successful season?
It is a little early to say just what our strengths and weaknesses are, but like every year, we need to focus on ball control and defensive positioning on the court. We really need to improve in all areas every year because it is a different team pretty much every year.
We only have two players who are in the same position as last year. We are still looking to be very competitive and have lots of fun this year.
As stated above by Coach Esplin, on Thursday, August 19, the Lady Bucks traveled south to San Juan to take on the Broncos in Monticello’s first match of the season and dropped the game in straight sets 25-10, 25-13, 25-17.
The Lady Bucks play their next match on Wednesday, August 28 at home against the Grand Red Devils.
The Monticello High School boys golf team was back on the course on Tuesday, August 20, when they traveled to Sterling to play the Palisades State Park Golf Course. It was another Region 16 match versus Altamont, Duchesne, Gunnison, North Sevier, and North Summit.
The Bucks once again put together a nice match, placing third for the second week in a row after shooting a team score of 421 and earning another four region points.
North Summit was the low team, firing a 398. Gunnison placed second, carding a team score of 390. The Bucks placed third followed by Altamont, who shot a team score of 430. North Sevier and Duchesne scored 437 and 529 respectively.
After two weeks of region play, Gunnison leads Region 16 with 12 points. North Summit has 10 points, Monticello eight, Altamont six, North Sevier four, and Duchesne one.
For the match, the Bucks recorded scoring cards of 95 from Boston Freestone, 103 from Bailey Walker, 104 from Breckyn Hoggard, 119 from Corey Bunker, and 122 from Easton Young. Other Bucks participating in the match were Garrett Larsen, who shot a 130, and Collin Harrod and Kyle Leavitt, who each shot 132.
The team hopes to keep the success rolling when they host the rest of the region on Wednesday, August 28, at the Hideout in Monticello.