by Scott Boyle
The second time around was much better, but not good enough for the Monticello Buckaroo football team. They succumbed to the Duchesne Eagles in the 1A semifinals, 22-12.
The Eagles seem to have the Buck’s number, winning for the fourth time in a row in a series Monticello dominated for years.
The Bucks were slammed 38-6 by these same Eagles last month, but they made a game of it this time. If not for 12 penalties and two late interceptions, Monticello might have pulled off the upset.
The Monticello defense played a strong game, stopping Duchesne drives a number of times with timely turnovers and hard-nosed line play.
The defense forced the Eagles into four turnovers, but the offense couldn’t quite get on the wave. Devin Wright scored both touchdowns for the Bucks, despite the fact that he left the field several times because he was sick.
The Eagles led 15-0 at the half. They stuffed the running game of the Bucks, allowing just 14 yards on 23 runs. This forced the Bucks to pass, where they were a little better, completing seven passes for 87 yards.
Early, Duchesne took advantage of good field position to back the Bucks to the goal line. On 4th and long, the snap on a Buckaroo punt attempt went through the endzone, giving Duchesne a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles scored two more times in the 2nd quarter to lead 15-0.
The Bucks took advantage of a 25-yard pass from Wright to Adam Martinez to move into the Eagle red-zone. A Wright pass on 4th down fell incomplete at the endzone as the half ended.
Wright returned the second half kickoff 77 yards to set up his first touchdown on a one-yard run. When Wright returned an interception 27 yards for a score on the next Duchesne possession, the Bucks had momentum. But that was as close as it got as the Eagles pulled away for the win.
Buckaroo coach Jake Downard is happy with the Bucks season, which saw Monticello in the semifinals for the first time since 2005 and brought a region championship with it.
Look for the Buckaroos to go further next year, as they lose only five seniors and bring back a cast of experienced players.
Coach Downard took some time to reflect on the season. He said, “Restoring tradition was a major goal coming into this season; to establish a chip on our shoulder and to play physical.
“I think we just established the mindset that these kids could win and that they could play real physical. We hit in practice, up until the last week we hit in practice. It was good for the kids to get a taste of what there can be.
“One thing we have to establish is a better dedication to the weight room. I think we lost a few games due to the fact that we just were not physically tough enough yet. Also, we need to develop the offense further, take a look at personnel and see what will work best for us.
“Highlights of this year was the fact that we got better every week. Comparing where we were on August 2 to this last weekend looked like two completely different teams.
“We won the 17th region title and I feel we re-established some of our tradition. The kids accepted me and believed in what we were doing. That for me was a highlight.
“Most important lesson for me? There were a lot of them, but the most important would have to be the hours of film study, some weeks I learned the hard way but getting into the rhythm of how to be prepared and put together a game plan that gave us the best chance to win.
“The most surprising thing that happened this year was one, we never played in wet weather and two, we did not suffer any season-ending injury.
“The only thing I hate about football are injuries and, for the most part, we were fortunate.”