by Scott Boyle
Tyler Bird and Eli Johnson led the Monticello Buckaroo boys cross country team to the Region 19 Cross Country Championships in Monticello last Wednesday. Bird and Johnson finished 1,2 for the Bucks to pace the Bucks in a tight victory over a game Whitehorse Raider squad.
Bird ran away from the rest of the field, winning in a time of 17:04, 26 seconds ahead of Johnson whose time was 18:22.
However, Raider runners, Rafael Begay and Joshua Dixon, gave notice that Whitehorse was in it to win it by coming in third and fourth.
Monticello’s Ryan Bird ran well in 19:06 to take fifth place. Then, Hank Lee and Sheldon Blackwater edged out Zac Musselman at the end to come in sixth and seventh.
Fortuitously, Musselman’s eighth place finish gave the Bucks the victory over the Raiders, 26-34.
Additional Buckaroo harriers, Lucas Hatch, Jared Crowley and Britton Brewer, finished things off for the Bucks with 10th, 12th, and 19th place finishes.
“The boys ran really well,” cheered Buckaroo head coach, Jeff Hunt, “and beat a tough Whitehorse team to retain the region title,” their 13th in a row.
Hunt is anticipating the state meet next week at Sugar House Park, where the Bucks will try for their fifth 1A state championship in a row.
“We are going in for the first time in five years as an underdog,” he warned. “Both Parawon and Panguitch have really good teams than didn’t loose anything from last year and both have been running really well.
“We have had a few injuries and a lot of youth this season, however I do like our chances as we are really facing these teams for the first time this season. It should be really close.”
The Lady Buckaroos finished second to Pinnacle, but failed to qualify as a team for the state meet as only two full teams competed, making only one team eligible for the state meet.
“The girls lost the region title for the first time as Pinnacle claimed their first region title in any sport,” bemoaned Hunt.
However, by virtue of their third and fourth place finishes, Kendall Harris and Aunika Hunter qualified as individual runners and will run in the meet today (Wednesday). Go Bucks!!
“Pressure up front, and containment on the ends.” Following head coach Art Adair’s instructions to the T, the Monticello Buckaroos forced the Milford Tigers and their 1A leading quarterback, Jordan Hardy, to a dead stop Thursday night in Monticello, winning the important South Division contest 27-14.
The Buck defense held Hardy-1A’s leader in rushing and touchdowns by averaging 165 yards and nearly three touchdowns per game–to 100 yards under his average and no touchdowns.
With Brayson Wilcox and Nolan Freestone getting “containment on the ends” and Parker Knudsen, Paul DeAnda, Thomas Anderson and a host of other Buckaroos putting tons of “pressure up front,” the Bucks stymied the Milford offense.
Hardy managed just 63 yards rushing on 22 carries and three completions. Unfortunately for the Buckaroos, two of those passes went for long touchdowns for Milford of 78 and 58 yards, but 19 other passes fell incomplete as the Tiger receivers had a hard time catching on this balmy fall evening in Monticello.
Milford managed just six first downs for the game, only two in a first half that featured a lot of punts by both teams but no scores until just four minutes remained in the half.
The Buckaroo offense, after a slow start, finally got uncranked and ended up with 411 yards on the night, 285 yards rushing and 126 yards passing.
After 96 yards rushing in the low scoring first half, the Bucks running train got rolling in the second half with 189 yards rushing. Sophomore running back, Thomas Anderson, got nearly half of those yards himself, with 147 yards rushing on 29 carries and one touchdown and two receptions for 37 yards.
It was Anderson’s 36-yard catch and run, a gutsy, “I will not be tackled”-Mike Adamsish- all-out leap of faith-fire up the whole town kind of play late in the first half that got the Bucks down to the 11 yard line and the offense rolling.
The next play, Wilcox hit wideout Nolan Freestone with an 11-yard touchdown pass with just 15 seconds left in the half.
When Talon Black added the extra point, the Bucks went to halftime tied at 7-7 and with all the momentum. Milford had taken a 7-0 lead just four minutes earlier when Hardy connected with running back, Ty Netto, for a 78-yard touchdown pass, but back the Bucks came.
In the second half, the Buckaroo defense stopped the Tiger offense after getting to the Buckaroo five yard line. A key holding call and a couple of dropped passes gave the Bucks the ball on their own 15 yard line.
Six plays later, after QB Brayson Wilcox sneaked for a first down on fourth and one at the 36 yard line, Alma Beh scampered 63 yards to paydirt and the Bucks led 14-7 after Black’s extra point kick.
The Buck defense held on the Tigers next possession, then Wilcox hit Andrew Torres with a pass that Torres turned into a 55-yard touchdown after shaking off a few tacklers. 21-7 after the Black extra point.
Milford managed another long TD pass, this one of 58 yards, and heading into the fourth quarter, the Bucks held a tenuous 21-14 lead.
After trading fumbles (Monticello) and dropped passes (Milford) for most of the fourth quarter, Wilcox led the Bucks to paydirt, using the clock expertly, with Anderson doing all the rushing work, carrying the ball three times to find the endzone with just 13 seconds left in the game.
Next up for the Bucks, the Kanab Cowboys in Kanab Friday night.
Not to be outdone, the Lady Bucks ran their record to 16-4 on the season with a sweep of the Lady Broncos in Monticello last week. The Bucks tripled up the Broncos 25-15, 25-18, 25-20 to sweep the season series, also.
The volleyball team finishes the regular season this week with a road match in Price at Pinnacle High on Tuesday and the season finale in Monticello on Thursday against the Green River Pirates.
Two wins this week gives the still number one ranked Lady Bucks the outright Region 19 championship.