Monticello Buckaroos battle in the 8-player state championship game, but come up short 35-20 against the Rich Rebels
by David Boyle
The Monticello Buckaroo football team wrapped up the inaugural Utah 8-player season playing for a state title against Rich High School in Cedar City at Southern Utah University on November 11.
Monticello fell behind the Rich Rebels in the first half, while the Buckaroos cut the lead to one score, the Rebels were able to extend their lead in the second half to earn the 35-20 victory.
For the Buckaroos it was their second appearance in the second ever Utah 8-player state football title game. Monticello finished this season with a record of 7-5.
The Buckaroos started the title game receiving the opening kick at the 20-yard line and went on a sustained 16-play drive, picking up five first downs taking the ball to the 11 yard-line where the Buckaroos drive stalled on a 4th down conversion attempt. The conversion attempt was an omen for the rest of the game as Monticello converted one 4th down on five attempts while the Rebels converted five conversions on six attempts.
The Rebels immediately took advantage when on the second play of their drive quarterback Carter Hoffman threw a long ball to Jaden Desch who battled to pull down the ball and scored on a 78-yard touchdown reception. The Rebels added a two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter.
The Buckaroo’s next possession was another nine-play drive but ended with a turnover at the 40-yard line. The Rebels once again took little time to score with the drive concluding with another touchdown catch for Desch from 26-yards out on 4th down and five. The failed two-point conversion made the score 14-0.
Monticello once again went on a sustained drive capped off with a 10-yard touchdown run for Robert Morrison; a failed two-point conversion made the score 14-6.
On the next possession, the Rebels went on a sustained drive with Hoffman adding a six-yard touchdown run to give the Rebels a 21-6 lead with 3:21 remaining in the first half.
The Buckaroos went on another good drive but it stalled out at the 13-yard line with a failed fourth-down conversion attempt.
The Rebels ran just one play to end the first half with a 21-6 halftime lead.
The Rebels started the second half with the ball driving from the 19 to the Buckaroo 43-yard line. Monticello took the ball on another sustained drive going 58-yard capped off with a 15-yard touchdown run by Morrison, the two-point conversion was successful when JD McDonald passed to Carter Rogers making the score 21-14 with 3:26 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Buckaroo defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out to give the Monticello offense a chance to tie the game.
Unfortunately for the Buckaroos the lone turnover of the game occurred on that drive. Monticello picked up one first down but a lost fumble at the 33 yard-line gave Rich excellent field position. The Rebels responded with a six-play drive concluded with a 11-yard touchdown run for Hoffman to make the score 28-14 with nine minutes remaining in the game.
The Buckaroos offense was unable to pick up a first down on their next drive and the Rebels responded on their next drive with a touchdown pass from Hoffman to Weston to make the score 35-14 with 4:30 remaining in the game.
Monticello did add a late score on an 80-yard drive with Thomas Fullmer catching a six-yard pass from McDonald to give the final score of the game 35-20.
The Buckaroos finished the game with 271 rush yards and 78 passing yards. The Rebels earned 154 rushing yards and 179 passing yards.
Monticello was led in rushing by McDonald who had 102 yards rushing on 17 carries. Morrison finished with 75 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Fullmer rushed for 58 yards on 15 carries, Tavon Black had 27 yards on five carries with Landon Shumway carrying the ball once for three yards.
McDonald completed eight of 17 attempts in the passing game including the six-yard touchdown pass to Fullmer.
Morrison led the Buckaroos with 41 receiving yards on four catches. Rogers caught two passes for 19 yards. Fullmer had one catch for six yards and a touchdown while Zac Thayn had one catch for 12 yards.
In unofficial defensive statistics, Thayn led the way with 13 tackles for the Buckaroos. Fullmer and Mason Atwood each recorded 10 tackles, while Chandler Henderson and Rogers had five apiece. McDonald recorded four, Morrison with three Camron Carpenter with two and senior Caleb Coleman had one sack
Speaking post-game Monticello head coach Reed Anderson said he would miss the senior group.
“It’s always hard to see the end, whether it’s in the state championship or at the end of the year. But man they left it out there, they were hurting, they were sore they were tired and they refused to come out, they refused to quit. That’s the kind of thing you want them to leave as a legacy for that younger group to see that happen.”
Coach Anderson added his thanks for the support from the community.
It’s been great. We’ve got a bunch of little kids out there playing football yet everybody is out there supporting, cheering. You can’t ask for something better in a community.”
The Buckaroos finished with a 2nd place trophy for the second consecutive year with a final record of 7-5.
The Buckaroos say goodbye to a host of impactful seniors including three-year starting quarterback JD McDonald, who led the team and was always a threat for a big play with his arm or legs. Also saying goodbye are a group of lineman including senior center/defensive lineman Chandler Henderson who made the move to the line as a senior and held down the Buckaroo front. Two-year starter Mason Atwood also says goodbye, the two-way lineman was a terror defensively over the past two-years. Thomas Fullmer and Robert Morrison were relentless linebackers for the Buckaroos as well as runners on offense with Fullmer providing power running for the Bucks and Morrison with incredible speed and quickness. Senior Zac Thayn was a virtual swiss-army knife for the Buckaroos. Providing lead blocking on one-play and catching deep passes from McDonald on the next. Thayn was also relentless on a defense that was sound in its tackling all year long. Team favorite Quinn Nebeker stepped up as a solid anchor for the Buckaroo offensive line. Newcomers Kaden Chief and Caleb Coleman improved throughout the season making an impact for the Buckaroos alongside Dominic Padilla.
A special thanks goes to coaches, parents, and sponsors of broadcasts for a successful season.