by Scott Boyle
The Buckaroos of Monticello High School are still happily reminiscing about their two state championships this winter, the school’s ninth in wrestling and second in boys basketball.
The basketball title was the 50th state team title in school history, a record that began accumulating in 1965 with a state championship in golf.
Coached by Roy Thacker and led by recently retired Hideout Superintendent Chriss Leavitt, the boys took the state golf championship three years in a row.
Eleven years later, the Bucks won two more golf championships, coached by Terry Eardley. More on Eardley later.
The Buckaroos grabbed the basketball title last week in dramatic fashion, beating upstart Diamond Ranch in the first game, 77-63, while making 19 of 21 free-throws, then besting Piute in a thriller in the quarterfinals, 45-42, on an electrifying three point buzzer beater by Dillon Maughan.
The Bucks then bested the Duchesne Eagles, 61-47, in a decisive victory built on the backs of 15 straight made free-throws in the fourth quarter.
Finally, they were crowned champions after defeating Panguitch in a defensive contest, 34-31, when MVP Sheldon Black calmly made four free throws in the last minute.
The basketball championship is the Bucks second, and the first since 1994, when Mark Hugentobler was the coach.
Sportshorts was there for that occasion, in 1994, played out at the Centrum at Southern Utah University.
Much like this year, the Buckaroos of 1994 were given little chance of winning, though they were ranked number four in their first year in 2A, coming in with a 15-5 record.
But after beating Millard in the first game, 70-65 the Bucks upset highly favored and title favorite Manti in overtime, 59-58.
Four Buckaroos scored in double figures, Chad Tracy had 14, brothers Curtis and Mike Black scored 13 and 11, and Brad Bunker had 12 points.
Then, with Bunker scoring 18 points in the first half, the Bucks raced to a 38-26 halftime lead on their way to a 68-51 blowout over Morgan and their first state boys basketball title.
The boys have played in the title game two other times. Sportshorts was there both times.
The first came in 1970, when the Bucks lost to South Sevier in two overtimes in Cedar City. Steve Young, Scott Pehrson, and Blen Freestone were some of the stalwarts of that team.
The very next year, with a completely new team after the Bucks graduated their entire starting five, the Bucks reached the final again, this time at the Fieldhouse at BYU, falling in the last seconds, to “North” Sevier this time.
Back to the Eardleys. As was mentioned, Terry Eardley was the coach of two of the early MHS golf state championships in 1978 and ’79. The Eardleys may just be the most team state championship-winning family in Monticello High School history.
Eardley is the proud father and grandfather of two starters on the state championship just won by the basketball team, Tanner Eardley and tourney MVP Sheldon Black. Both Tanner and Sheldon have been members of the last three state cross country championship teams, as well.
Furthermore, granddaughter Shaylynn Black, Sheldon’s sister, was a stalwart on the two state volleyball titles won by the Lady Buckaroos in 2011 and ’12.
Daughter Joylynn was a member of the 1993 MHS girls state cross country championship team and another daughter, Suzanne, was a member of the only MHS team to win a girls softball state championship in 1996.
Count ‘em, that’s 10 state championship team titles for the Eardley family.
Right there with the Eardleys, though, is the Ron Nielson family in team state championships won. Nielson’s son, Easton, was an integral part of this year’s state basketball team and the past three boys state cross country championships, too.
Additionally, Nielson coached the MHS girls cross country team to five state titles in the 1990s, giving the Nielson family nine MHS state titles.
But prior to coaching those five cross country team titles, Nielson (RT) was a member of two state championship winning cross country teams in high school while running for the San Juan Broncos.
That gives the Nielson family 11 titles, but nine at MHS, making the case for the Nielsons as the MHS team state championship-ish family.
If you add in the Nielson family individual championships, the Nielson family definitely is at the top of the state championship totem.
Easton won an individual state cross country championship in 2013, while sister Macee won two girls individual cross country titles, in 2007 and 2010 as well as nine individual state titles in track from 2007-10.
If you’re counting, that’s 12. And if you’re also counting, it ties the Nielson family with the Randy Butler family for the most individual state championships.
The Butlers, starting with Randy in 1972, also won 12 individual titles, with sons Nathan and Chad winning one, Andy winning two, Shane, three and Aaron, four.