Monticello High School football and cross country teams will begin the new 2020 season this week amidst ongoing COVID-19 uncertainty

Buckaroo football Head Coach Reed Anderson heads into the 2020 season with a team that finished 2019 with a solid 6-4 overall record and third-place finish in the 2A North region with a 3-2 record.

Despite a 74-0 loss to Kanab in the playoffs, there is much to be optimistic about for 2020. The Bird Scoop asked Coach Anderson a few questions about the upcoming season.

Q: After a solid 2019 regular season, Monticello gained a first-round home playoff game against Kanab but struggled mightily. What can the 2020 team learn from that game and do this season to move forward? 

A: Keep doing the little things. Things we had done all season we stopped doing in that game. Kanab was a good team with lots of experience and older players, and our inexperience showed.

We need to take those reps our younger players earned last year and keep focusing on what matters and keep doing the little things. They make a big difference.

Q: What effect will COVID-19 have on the season, and what precautions are being taken to keep the athletes and coaches safe? 

A: Games are already being cancelled, so the schedule will have to be pretty fluid. We lost our first three games due to teams still in the red phase and one team moving to spring football.

We have lots of guidelines we follow to help. Players provide their own water, sidelines have been extended, practice equipment is sanitized, etc.

Q: In the competitive 2A North region, what teams will be strong, and what are the goals for the Bucks this season? 

A: Duchesne is always the team to beat. They are very consistent year after year. They have had strong leadership for many years, and it shows.

With Duchesne adding some Altamont players when the Longhorns didn’t field a team, it makes the Eagles even stronger.

North Summit, with their numbers and a few years with consistent coaching, should be good as well.

The other teams in the region are much like us – relatively new coaches trying to establish culture. We want to be competitive and place first or second in the region and be competitive in each game.

We had a few games last year where we let our inexperience show a bit too much, and we want to take that out of the equation.

Q: Monticello returns some key positional players, especially on offense. What players need to lead the team to have success on offense, defense, and special teams?

A: Our line will be the key on both offense and defense. When you have a good line, you can hide inexperience and deficiencies in other areas.

Our line has experience, and we need them to be the leaders to allow our other players to find success. Tuff Adair, Joe Boyle, Grant Nebeker, Carson Wells, and Tyler Thayn will be those key people for us.

On special teams we need to find players that want to play the game. It is a key area of the game, and we hope to find a few players there that really believe in it.

Q: No doubt this is going to be an interesting season. What are the coaches doing to keep players motivated and focused with the possibility of continuing changes all season long?

A: We all want to play, no matter who our opponent is. We have been preparing like we have a game tomorrow because we very well may have one.

With the spring season cancelled this year, the players are more anxious and motivated than ever to just play. We have been stressing to be ready for different scenarios in practice.

If we change opponents the day before a game, we won’t have much time to prepare for them. So we practice against different defenses, offenses, etc., just in case.

Devin Hatch, Brevin Olson, Grant Nebeker, and Tuff Adair were selected as 2020 team captains last week.

The Buckaroo football team will start the season this Friday, August 14 on the road when they travel to Kanab to take on the Cowboys. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

boys Cross country

After competing in 2A for the 2019 season, the Monticello High School cross country teams are looking to improve on the boys third-place finish at state and the girls fourth-place result. Boys Coach Jeff Hunt responded to some questions about the upcoming season.

Q: After a solid third-place team state finish last year in 2A, what is the mindset of this team going into the 2020 season and its goals?

A: The team mindset is pretty good. The boys have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder from their close loss at the region meet to Duchesne last year.

They also believe that since most everyone is back and some great newcomers have arrived, we will be a better team this year. We didn’t lose a single senior.

Q: Who do expect to be the key contributors to this team?

A: We have become a very veteran group, and there are now five seniors who could make it to the state meet. We will once again be led by seniors Cory Bunker, Alan Pettit, and Eric Montague. They give us a solid 1-2-3 punch.

A lot will be asked of a large group competing for varsity spots. Seniors Taw Robinson and Dawson Atwood; junior Bailey Walker; and sophomores Jalen Bradford, Jacob Johnson, and Josh Wheeler should compete hard along with incoming freshmen Curtis Bunker and Jesse Pettit. And there are more newcomers that could give us a solid JV team.

Q: What do you hope to see from this team as the season progresses?

A: We are in the toughest region for cross country in 2A and winning a region title is goal number one. Number two is giving Roland Hall and Millard a run at the state meet as both teams will again be pretty good.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected the season, and what precautions are being taken to keep the athletes and coaches safe?

A: The main thing with COVID will be flexibility. We over-scheduled a little knowing that some meets could shut down with short notice. The largest factor is that several meets have gone to varsity only, so competition for varsity spots will be key to getting races in.

My hope is that the boys work hard enough that the varsity team keeps rotating as kids keep pushing each other to put their whole effort in getting a varsity spot to help the team succeed. We know we will need to be vigilant to keep everyone safe.

Many races have limited the number of athletes, but even then we need open communication with athletes to know if they are not feeling well.

Kids will need to have their own water bottles and maintain distance even though we are outdoors, as well as the usual precautions when indoors such as masks, hand washing, and distance.

Also, due to COVID-19, the state 1A, 2A, and 3A cross country meets will not be at Sugarhouse Park for the first time in history. They will be held in Cedar City at a currently unknown course.

Q: Every team is different. What makes this team unique and how will that uniqueness help the team succeed?

A: What makes this team unique is that they have been together a very long time now. They are willing to work and push themselves harder than they once believed they could. They hang out together quite often, and everyone on the team considers themselves friends.

Girls Cross country

Girls coach Kasey Harris returns most of the team she guided to a fourth-place finish at the 2019 2A state meet. She gave us her thoughts on the 2020 team and season.

It’s always exciting to start a new season. We have six returning runners: seniors Kennedy Brewer and Serra St. Clair, juniors Lily Long and Halle Morrison, and sophomores Adri Bird and Hailey Gillette.

Long and Bird were our top runners last season, and they both have the potential to achieve that again this year.  

A couple freshmen are joining us in 2020: Shannon Morrison and Millie Morrison. They are both unique and bring spunk to the team.

Sadly, I’m sure COVID-19 will play a big part in this season of cross country for us and all the teams we run against. Because of that, it is hard to know what to expect.

I want our season to be as routine as possible to give the girls some normalcy. As their coach, I hope they all grow as runners and young adults.

The Monticello High School cross country teams begin the 2020 season this Saturday, August 15 at the Premiere Invitational at the Cottonwood Softball Complex in Salt Lake City. The event is a varsity-only race. 

Next week, we’ll report the cross country and football results and serve up season previews of the volleyball and boys golf teams.

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