But when the Buckaroos held off a second-half Gunnison rally for a 28-8 victory in front of a lively homecoming crowd at the MHS football field, they became the first Monticello squad since 2003 to accomplish that feat.
The 2003 Buckaroos won eleven straight games before suffering a heartbreaking 18-14 loss in the state finals to the Enterprise Wolves. In their 85-year history, Monticello has gone completely undefeated just one time – in the 2001 state championship season.
Monticello is indeed 4-0 for the first time since ’03. But they’re expecting much tougher competition for the remainder of the season, and according to head coach Reed Anderson, the team still has some work to accomplish to get where they need to be.
“It’s a good start for us,” he said. “It’s a good game for us to get our feet wet and prove to our kids that we can win at [the 2A] level.”
Anderson pointed out that the Buckaroos missed three opportunities to score in the first half when they had the ball in the red zone. “That always hurts you as a team, so we gotta figure that out,” he said.
Monticello did manage 21 first-half points on a couple short-yardage touchdown runs from Brevin Olson, one in the first quarter and one in the second, and a five-yard touchdown pass from Devin Hatch to Tate Ramsay midway through the second quarter.
The Buckaroos held the Bulldogs off the scoreboard and took a 21-0 lead into halftime. But Gunnison was the better team to start the second half.
With Monticello struggling offensively, the Bulldogs took advantage of an errant snap to force a safety for their first points of the game. Less than a minute later, a 74-yard Zach Stewart touchdown run made the score 21-8 and Gunnison was right back in the game.
For the remainder of the third quarter and most of the fourth, the teams traded punts and turnovers, but the Buckaroos ended a strong drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Hatch to Carson King to close out the scoring with 2:38 remaining in the game.
Coach Anderson said of the drive, “We did about everything right that we needed to do and one of the things we want to emphasize this week is, look, we can do this. Right here is an example of what I’m talking about.”
With the win over Gunnison, Monticello improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the 2A North region. Anderson said he saw improvement in some areas during the game.
The line was better though there is still work to be done. The Buckaroos sustained a little more pressure on offense. Olson carried the ball 23 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
Hatch was 14 of 27 for 175 yards passing with two touchdowns, but he also threw four interceptions. Anderson said, “He was a little more accurate. Other than a few times he wanted to scramble and throw the ball up for grabs, he was making good choices.”
Anderson said the MHS defense has carried the team for much of the first four games of the season. He took responsibility to get the offense to the same level that Defensive Coach Art Adair has his players. Anderson said if he can do that, the Buckaroos will be a force to be reckoned with.
“These next two weeks are going to be the hardest of the season in terms of [the opposition’s] talent,” he added. “They’re going to be a grind and they’re going to be away. Our goal is to go in and compete with those teams and hopefully steal some wins from people who don’t expect us to.”
Monticello gets their first true test of the season when they head west to Fillmore to take on the Millard Eagles in a non-region battle between undefeated teams this Friday, September 13.
Kickoff’s set for 7 p.m. and you can catch all the action live on 103.9 KAAJ-LP.