by Walter & Becky Bird
Volleyball – 1A Utah State Championships
Anticipation was high for the Buckaroo volleyball team, ranked No. 3 in the Deseret News 1A poll, as they traveled north to the UVU campus in Orem, UT to contend for a title at the 1A Utah State Volleyball Championships.
Play commenced on Friday morning, as the Lady Bucks took on the Water Canyon Wildcats from Hildale. The Bucks looked good as they eased to a 25-12, 25-8, 25-10 first game win in three sets.
Later that day, Monticello took to the court against the Tabiona Tigers. The Bucks started well, jumping out to a 25-19 first set win.
In the second set, the Bucks trailed most of the set but managed to come back and win the set 25-23. The third set was all Monticello, as the Lady Bucks put the Tigers away 25-22.
With that win, Monticello set up a semi-final match with the No. 1 ranked Panguitch Bobcats on Saturday morning.
Coming into its semi-final match, the 19-12 Buckaroos hoped to find a way to slow down the 25-2 Bobcats, whose only losses on the season came to a pair of 4A schools in a tournament in early October.
The semi-final match started slowly for the Bucks as they fell behind several times by five points in the first set, only to rally to down one on several occasions. However, a late surge by Panguitch put the set away as the Bucks fell 25-15.
Monticello played hard, but Panguitch seemed to always have an answer and Monticello dropped the next two sets 25-21 and 25-23, ending the Buckaroos state championship hopes.
Coach Esplin felt his team came out “too timid” against the Bobcats and said the team was disappointed that they failed to meet their year-long goal of a state championship.
However, at state volleyball, one loss does not end your season, and the Lady Bucks still had a chance to go out on a positive note and place third in the state tournament.
That they did as they rolled past Milford 25-20, 25-16 and 25-9 to take home third place, ending the season with a 20-13 mark.
Coach Esplin is proud his girls saved their best play for last and is very pleased with how they ended the season – which sets a great tone for next season!
The team says good-bye to seniors Abi Nielson, Erin Rogers, Ashley Adair, and Alieghya Delafuente, but returns many key players, making Coach Esplin’s team a top returning 1A squad heading into 2018.
Panguitch won the 1A title with a 3-1 win over Rich, avenging a loss to the Rebels in last year’s championship match.
Monticello v. Duchesne – 1A Utah State Football Playoffs
On Friday, the Buckaroos headed north to Duchesne to take on the Eagles in the first round of the 1A Utah State Football Playoffs.
Coming in, Duchesne, the defending 1A state champs, was 8-1 and undefeated in the 1A North Division with a 3-0 mark.
The Eagles lone loss of the season came in a 27-7 setback at 3A Richfield in early September.
The Bucks were coming into the playoffs with a 2-8 record having gone 0-3 in the 1A South Division. Monticello’s brightest point in the season was a 26-8 home game thumping of Kirtland, NM on September 22.
After kickoff, the Bucks quickly fell behind the Eagles as they gave up a touchdown only 90 seconds into the game. Monticello couldn’t answer and gave up another score to Duchesne to go down 14-0 after one quarter.
The second quarter wasn’t much better, as Monticello gave up two more touchdowns in the quarter. Duchesne failed to covert both PATs, and the Buckaroos limped into halftime down 26-0.
Fortunately, the Bucks defense stiffened in the third quarter, only giving up one score, but still trailed 33-0 after the quarter ended.
Monticello won the fourth quarter battle, outscoring Duchesne by 8-0.
Mark Beh hit Max Hedglin for a 50-yard TD pass. After missing the PAT, Monticello trailed 33-6. Monticello added a late safety to make the final 33-8.
Offensively, the Bucks again struggled to move the ball – especially on the ground as the team ended up with only 25 yards on 24 carries for a paltry 1.04 yards per carry.
Thomas Anderson ran the best, carrying it twelve times for 34 yards with his longest going for ten yards. Max Hedglin carried it three times for six total yards.
Obviously, the rest of the rushes went for minus yardage.
Mark Beh made the start at quarterback and connected on eleven of 30 pass attempts and one TD pass of 50 yards to Max Hedglin. However, he also gave up three interceptions.
Beh’s favorite target was Max Hedglin – he caught six balls for 107 yards and the above-mentioned 50 yard TD strike. Thomas Anderson caught one pass for 21 yards. Keaton Young caught two passes that went for 12 positive yards.
On defense, the Bucks tried to contain the Eagles, but Duchesne was determined to run the ball, and that they, did rumbling for 326 yards on 43 carries and four scores.
Duchesne threw the ball much more sparingly – only tossing it seven times for two completions. However, those two passes went for 43 yards and one TD.
Monticello’s bright spot on defense was that it caused three Duchesne turnovers.
Tyler Draper and Steven Robinson each recovered a fumble, and the Bucks also had one takeaway by interception.
With the loss, Monticello ends the season at 2-9, but looks forward to next season and the chance to get better over the off-season and improve its standing in 1A football.
It was the last high school football game for seniors Keaton Young, Tyler Draper, Thomas Anderson, Max Hedglin, Brayson Wilcox, and Justin Cecil.