Monticello’s young volleyball team has been hard at it already, with great results.
The Lady Bucks raced through the bracket and claimed the championship at the North Sevier Tournament in Salina on August 27. The Lady Bucks defeated 1A Tabiona 2-0, and 2A Millard 2-1, North Sevier 2-0, and Gunnison 2-0.
In the championship match, the Bucks defeated Millard again, 2-0. They dominated the tournament, dropping only one game along the way.
The Lady Bucks travel to Blanding on Thursday to take on the defending 2A state champions of San Juan. Should be a great game.
Head Coach Tony Esplin reports, “We had a pretty good weekend in St. George (on August 19-20). The varsity went 6 and 2 for the weekend. We beat Waterford 2-0, South Sevier 2-0, Kanab 2-0, Panguitch 2-0, Panguitch again 2-1 and Grand 2-1.
“The losses were to Enterprise 2-0, and Hurricane 2-0. Both our losses were really close games, but we still lost.
“I think that many will be surprised that we may be better this year than last year, even after losing four starters. The younger girls have really improved and have stepped right in. We are pretty excited about our possibilities this year.
“These girls are having fun and are fun to watch. We expect our toughest matches will be San Juan and Grand. They both have pretty solid teams. You never know, other teams in our region have improved and will be tough this year.”
Broncos are 2-0
It was Bronco against Bronco on August 26 in Blanding and the Broncos, of course, prevailed 45-7. The San Juan Broncos, that is, who have now taken seven straight from Kirtland, which last defeated the San Juan in 1987.
San Juan won last year too, 19-7, and claim a 14-9-1 series lead. (They didn’t meet from 1992 through 2008.)
The Kirtland NM Broncos played like it was their first game of the season, which it was as evidenced by their first offensive series: two penalties, a two-yard loss, a seven-yard sack and a fumble on fourth down, giving the ball to San Juan on their own 27.
The Broncos quickly scored in five plays, capped by a 17-yard, shook-several-tackles run by junior Logan Meyer. San Juan led 6-0 just five minutes into the game.
After sharing fumbles, the SJ Broncos scored again on a 65-yard drive in just two plays, a 40-yard pass play from QB Barkley Christensen to Bobby Bowring and a 24-yard TD pass to Meyer.
Early in the second quarter, Landon “Landmass” Palmer blocked a Kirtland punt with San Juan recovering on the 19 yard line.
After a couple of running plays, Cole Einerson scored on a nine-yard TD pass from Christensen and San Juan had a 20-0 halftime lead.
Christensen was radar-like in that first half, completing seven of nine passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
The Broncos from Blanding came out a little flat at halftime, making their first punt and allowing Kirtland some life with a touchdown pass to narrow the lead to 20-7.
Then San Juan took the life out of the NM horses the old fashioned way, a kickoff return that Meyer ran for 67 yards, which set up a one-play drive for TD, a 23-yard Christensen scamper.
Then San Juan recovered another Kirtland fumble on the Kirtland 19 yard line. Cole Einerson then was escorted into the end zone untouched and accompanied by the entire offensive line and, it seemed, seven or eight Broncos from the bench.
Ammon Mitchell and Trevor Buck added TD runs of 18 and two yards in the fourth quarter to account for the final score.
Christensen completed ten of 16 passes for the game for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Bobby Bowring had four catches for 78 yards. Eight Broncos rushed for 148 yards and four TDs on 19 carries, capped by Maverick Shumway’s 40 yarder.
Said San Juan Coach Monty Lee, “I was pleased with the first (two) games, even though we made far more mistakes than we would have liked. Grand and Kirtland have some really good kids. We really showed our youth in our lack of discipline.
“Kids can do great things with their athletic ability on sub-varsity competition; but when they play varsity it becomes as much mental as it does physical. That is where we saw many of our mistakes Friday and that is where these younger players are going to have to focus their progression.
“We have had the luxury of a gifted passing quarterback to run our offense the past couple of years. Now we have to alter our focus to running a bit more from that position.
“We will see what the season brings as we allow our quarterback the opportunity to run more and get outside the pocket to throw the ball.”
Next up for the Broncos, the Parowan Rams in Parowan.
The first thing Sportshorts noticed Friday night was Shane Shumway, watching the game by leaning on the brand new fence around Bronco Stadium with a BYU hat on. He was not on the sidelines as usual, assisting with Coach Lee.
Shumway isn’t the only one missing on the Bronco sideline.
Lee commented, “We lost Shane, Ryan Nielson, and Ryan Palmer as coaches this year and it really hurts. Shane and I came to the program together a hundred years or so ago and with him leaving, it leaves a huge void in the program, as well as with me.
“Shane brought a dimension to the program that no one else could. We have experienced the good, and bad, the joys, and some really sad times together and maybe with all his free time he can sit down and write a book about some of those times.
“I will really miss him. All three coaches played key roles in our success and they will be impossible to replace and no one can take away our memories.
“Great programs like ours are created on the backs of great assistant coaches and I have the best in the country so you don’t replace the Shane Shumway or the Ryans, you just try to adjust and move on. They all know if they ever decide to come back their spots will always be here.”