by Walter & Becky Bird
As second ranked Monticello headed north to Orem to play in the 1A Utah State Volleyball Championships, the goal was certainly to play well and get to the title game to play the top-ranked Panguitch Bobcats in the final with a shot at claiming a state championship.
The ladies accomplished both of these goals, but unfortunately fell short in the title game.
The journey to the title game commenced on Friday, October 26 when the ladies took to the court against the Escalante Moquis. The Lady Bucks took little time dispatching Escalante, winning in straight sets – 25-7, 25-10, and 25-11.
The Valley Buffaloes were the next opponent for Monticello on Friday. Again, the Lady Bucks rolled – taking the match in straight sets 25-20, 25-23, and 26-24. With the win, Monticello locked in a trip to the Saturday semi-finals to take on the Rich Rebels.
It was a weekend where the Rich Rebels probably saw more orange and black than they would have liked. However, Saturday’s semifinal match between Monticello and Rich started well for the Rebels, as Monticello dropped the first set 15-25.
That was the highlight of the match for Rich though as Monticello ripped off three straight sets – 25-22, 25-15 and 25-13 – to win the match 3-1 and earn the right to take on the Panguitch Bobcats for the state championship later that day.
It could not have been scripted better. The top-ranked team in 1A would face the second-ranked team for the title.
Coming in, Panguitch sported a gawdy 25-1 record – with its only loss of the season coming at the hands of North Sanpete on Oct. 6. Since that loss, the Bobcats had won nine straight matches.
Monticello, entered the match with a 20-11 record and hoped they could give Panguitch their second blemish of the season in, obviously, the biggest game of the season for both teams.
Monticello came out in the first set a little shaky but kept the match close early. However, the Bobcats got a mid-set flurry of points to roll to a 25-15 first set win.
In the second set, Monticello came out and led early to mid-set. However, the Lady Bucks unfortunately hit a dry spell, relinquished the lead, and ultimately dropped the set 25-14.
The third set saw Monticello desperately trying to hold on, but Panguitch was too good, and the Bobcats closed out the match and the title with a 25-16 third set win.
The win gives Panguitch four 1A titles in the past five years.
However, what a great season for Coach Esplin and his girls. It’s always disappointing to come up just short of a goal, but this team has nothing to be ashamed of and represented the school well down to the final serve.
Congrats ladies on an impressive second place state finish and a nice addition to the school’s trophy case.
It is a long bus ride north to Rich High School in Randolph, UT. It’s so long that Monticello decided to break the trip up into two days to take on the Rich Rebels in the state 1A football play-offs on Friday, Oct. 26.
The relaxed travel schedule seemed to pay off because Monticello came out tough and played well for the third straight week.
After the kickoff, Monticello got on the board first with 8:51 to go in the first quarter Weston Nebeker punched it in from 13-yards out and added a two-point conversion run to give Monticello the 8-0 lead.
The Bucks added to the lead when, again, Nebeker would run it in the end zone – this time from eight yards out to put Monticello up 15-0 after the successful Cedar English PAT.
The second quarter proceeded much like the first – with Monticello pounding the ball on the ground. With 5:58 remaining in the half, Weston Nebeker extended the Bucks’ lead to 21-0 when he took the ball in from the five-yard line. The PAT failed.
Not content to go into the half up three scores, Monticello added another TD when Mark Beh hit Reed Hedglin on a five-yard pass with only seven seconds to go in the half. After the failed PAT, Monticello went into the half up 27-0.
In the third quarter, it didn’t take Monticello long to score when, once again, Weston Nebeker found the end zone, taking it in from the 21-yard line to give the Bucks a 34-0 lead after the successful English PAT.
Shortly, thereafter Mark Beh threw his second TD pass of the day when he hit Colton Lewis on a 30-yard strike. Cedar English hit the PAT to give the Bucks the final score lead of 41-0. A running clock prevented both teams from getting on the board in the fourth quarter.
It was another great effort for Monticello offensively. The Buckaroos racked up 481 total yards, showing great balance with 236 yards on the ground and 245 yards through the air.
Quarterback Mark Beh had a great game, connecting on 25-37 passes for 237 yards, two TDs, and very importantly, no interceptions. His back-up, Devin Hatch also got in the game, hitting two of three passes for eight yards.
Reed Hedglin caught nine balls for 58 yards and a score. Steven Robinson had six catches for 88 yards. Carson King caught five balls thrown his way for 30 yards. Colton Lewis was the yards-per-catch leader of the game with one catch for 30 yards and a TD.
Once again, Weston Nebeker led a powerful rush attack that netted him 204-yards on 20 carries and four touchdowns. Brevin Olsen also had a solid ground game, grinding out 32-yards on six carries.
Defensively, what can you say? It’s hard at any level to shut a team out, and that’s exactly what the Bucks did with great tenacity. And it was a team effort. Sixteen different Bucks had solo or assisted tackles. Not too shabby for a team that only has 26 kids!
Wyatt Fullmer was the top tackler for the game, as he had five solo and nine assisted tackles – two of those being sacks and another a tackle for loss.
Weston Nebeker had nine total solo and assisted tackles with one being a sack. Brevin Olsen had three solo tackles and four assisted tackles, but led the team with three sacks.
Others recording sacks were Gage Wilcox and Grant Nebeker.
With the win, the Monticello Buckaroos (5-5) will play in the 1A semifinals against the top-ranked Milford Tigers (10-0). The two teams are very familiar with each other. They met on October 12 in Milford where the Tigers narrowly secured a 32-26 win over Monticello.
The game is Saturday, Nov. 3 at 1:30 p.m. at Payson High School.
If you can’t make the trip, you can hear the live broadcast on 103.9 KAAJ-LP.
We want to apologize for the omission of the late Sanford Randall in the cross country championship article. Sanford was a 1A state cross country champion in 1979 and later coached on several state championship teams.
Also, of importance, the Monticello boys cross country team dedicated their 2018 season to Sanford, who recently died of cancer and often wore their orange tie-dye team t-shirts with pride.