Buckaroos defeat Altamont, advance to 8-Player champ game
by David Boyle
The Monticello High School football team earned a trip to the 8-player state championship game for the second straight season with a 43-8 win over Altamont in the semifinals November 3 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.
Monticello executed their game plan throughout the dominating win, with several Buckaroos calling their shots.
Monticello received the opening kick and began their possession at the 25 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage Tavon Black took a hand-off and found space up the side-line for a 75-yard score.
Monticello Head Coach Reed Anderson said Black was determined to set the tone for the game. “Tavon comes out and says whether we receive this or whether we get one offensive play I’m going to score and he was true to his word.
“From there on out it was just one thing after another – everyone doing their job and trusting each other to do their job and things just started falling our way.”
Following the opening score the Longhorns picked up a few first downs but the Buckaroo defense held strong on their own 40, breaking up a fourth-down pass to regain possession near midfield. The Bucks were unable to move the chains however, and gave Altamont the ball back at their own 14.
On second down the Longhorns set up a screen pass that was well covered by Monticello’s Zac Thayn and Thomas Fullmer. The pass sailed over the receiver’s head and was intercepted by Fullmer who returned it 20 yards for the second TD of the game.
Once again Coach Anderson said after the game the play was another Buckaroo calling their shot. “He has been telling us for weeks that he’s going to get a pick-six and then he had one called back against Whitehorse.
“So he was really wanting to get one and he did it. He saw them running a screen. He stepped right in there and just executed like he had all practice.”
Anderson added that Fullmer is a great student of the game. After the game, Fullmer said the quarterback pressure by Camren Carpenter, Chandler Henderson, and Mason Atwood all helped set up the score.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates honestly because I was just in the right spot and I saw the screen and it fell right in my hands and I just hoped to get into the end zone.”
McDonald added the point-after kick to make the score 14-0 with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Buckaroo defense forced a three-and-out and a short punt gave Monticello the ball at the 30 yard line.
The Bucks took just four plays to strike again, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run by Robert Morrison. Coach Anderson praised his senior back who had two touchdowns in the game.
“Robert Morrison was all over the place. You think he’s going to get tackled and he just cuts that corner pretty hard with no problem whatsoever.”
McDonald added another kick to make the score 21-0 with under six minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Monticello’s defense once again held Altamont to just one first down and took the ball at the Buckaroo 40 to start their next possession.
The Buckaroos drove the ball down to the Altamont 20 entirely on running plays. Among the ballcarriers for the Buckaroos was Fullmer. He had praise for his teammates going up against a larger Altamont front.
“Our offensive line isn’t that big. They’re kind of littler guys when you compare them to everyone else but they have a lot of fight in them and they know how to move to create some pretty good holes for us and I wouldn’t pick another o-line for sure.”
“Our offensive line was great up front,” stated Anderson. “Altamont tried to change fronts on us a bunch to confuse us. The offensive line just picked it up really easily and was just moving downhill.”
The Buckaroos capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass from McDonald to Morrison on the first play of the second quarter. McDonald’s extra point kick made the score 28-0.
Another three-and-out by the Buckaroo defense gave Monticello the ball at their own 46 and they took just five plays to add their next score. McDonald hit a wide open Carter Rogers with a 36-yard pass at the 15 and he walked into the end zone.
Reflecting after the game McDonald said that play was an adjustment he called in-game. “That was not planned at all. I went to line up and I was reading the defense. I looked over and Carter’s not covered at all so I signaled him to go deep and then it was just step back and throw and it was right on the money.”
The play marked the growth that Monticello fans have seen from their quarterback since he first played varsity minutes following an injury to the starting quarterback his sophomore year.
“At the start I was just going through the motions, just going into the game not thinking about anything. Now I’m thinking about what the defense is doing, what they’re going to do, what they’ve given us, and I go out there. My confidence has been built up over time.”
Coach Anderson also praised his quarterback for his play. “Jay Mack was in sync. He was making sure he remained a passer and making the right reads. Things were just clicking the right way today.”
Following the touchdown McDonald added the kick to make the score 35-0 with under ten minutes remaining in the first half.
The teams traded punts then traded failed fourth-down conversions. Altamont picked up a first down on their next possession before a pass was intercepted by McDonald and returned to the Altamont 30.
The play was an exclamation point on a great first half by the senior. “Ever since I was six I’ve loved football,” he said. “It’s been my favorite sport and I’m sad to see it go.”
With Monticello leading 35-0 at halftime the second half began under running-clock rules.The goose egg was earned with sound fundamentals on defense for MHS. Fullmer said playing on the defensive side of the ball was fun.
“I’ll give it to #25, he sure hit real hard and it hurt a couple of times. But I think our defense knew how to flow tackle and we got to them real nice.”
Each team scored once in the shortened second half. Monticello struck in the third quarter on a one-yard run by McDonald, increasing their lead to 43-0.
Altamont finally got on the board with the Buckaroo JV defense on the field in the fourth quarter. They punched the ball into the end zone on a four-yard run then added a two-point conversion.
Monticello finished the game with 133 yards passing and 150 yards rushing. Black led the Bucks with 80 yards on three carries and one touchdown.
Fullmer finished with 43 yards on seven carries, Morrison had 43 yards on six carries and a touchdown. McDonald also had 19 yards on six carries and a TD, while Landon Shumway had 14 yards on nine carries.
McDonald threw for 97 yards, completing 5 of 8 passes for two touchdowns. Sophomore Jackson Keyes also passed for 36 yards, completing 2 of his 9 attempts.
Monticello’s seven completions were to seven different players. Carter Rogers’s catch was a 36-yard touchdown and Morrison had a catch for a 19-yard touchdown.
William Rogers recorded a 19-yard catch, Black had an 18-yard catch, Zac Thayn and Skyler Peterson each had 17-yard catches, and Fullmer had a seven-yard catch.
Monticello held Altamont to 131 yards rushing and 53 yards passing, to go with two interceptions.
With the win the Buckaroos return to the 8-player state championship for the second year in a row. Last year Monticello lost to the Gunnison Bulldogs in the championship game.
Fullmer said he’s anxious to play in the championship once again. “We were there last year and we fell a little bit short and I was never more heartbroken in my life.
“Now that I’m a senior it’ll be my last game. I’m pretty positive that I want to take it and get a ring and bring it back to Monticello.”
Monticello will face the Rich Rebels in the title game. Rich beat Monticello in the second week of the season by a final score of 15-6.
Coach Anderson said they’re looking forward to the game. “It’s been a long time. We’re a lot different team than we were in week two, so we’re going to throw some new things at them. The defense is looking really good. Hopefully it’s not just a defensive battle like it was last time.”
McDonald is also looking forward to the rematch. “I’m just looking forward to playing in the championship again, just feel that feeling and hopefully come out strong and see what we can do.”
Fullmer added his thanks to the supporters who made the trip for the semifinal game. “Thanks to everyone from Monticello coming up to support us and I appreciate the community behind us.”
Monticello plays the Rich Rebels at the Eccles Coliseum at SUU in Cedar City this Saturday, November 11 at 10 a.m. If you can’t make the game you can listen to the broadcast on Redrock 92 Radio or redrock92.com.