Monticello Buckaroos drop football opener, cross country and golf off to successful starts

The 2020 Monticello High School football season got off to a rough start on August 14 when the team traveled across the state to take on the Kanab Cowboys.

This was an intriguing opening matchup for Monticello since the Cowboys ended the Bucks’ season last year in shocking fashion, 74-0.

However, when the dust settled this past Friday night, not much had changed. Kanab thoroughly dominated the game 70-0. 

The Cowboys raced to a 36-0 first quarter lead and followed that up with a 20-0 whitewashing of the visitors in the second quarter to take a commanding 56-0 halftime lead. Kanab added a touchdown in each of the final two quarters, cruising to the non-region win. 

Fortunately, Monticello will have a couple of weeks to tweak some things and prepare for their next game. They’ll travel again to take on the rival San Juan Broncos on August 28.

The Broncos beat the Delta Rabbits 26-19 in Blanding on August 14 to kick off their season.

Cross country
On August 15, the Buckaroo cross country teams had a nice showing at the Premiere Cross Country Invitational held at the Larry H. Miller Softball Complex in Millcreek, UT.

The boys team began the season running in the smaller school race which consisted of all 3A schools except for 2A Monticello. Senior Cory Bunker led the boys with a solid fourth-place finish, crossing the line on the hilly, muggy, two-mile course in 16:38.

Teammate and fellow senior Alan Pettit came home sixth, logging a time of 17:17. Another Buck senior, Eric Montague ran an 18:34 to capture 21st place.

Freshman Curtis Bunker finished his first varsity race in 20:26, good enough for 40th place. Sophomore Jalen Bradford and junior Bailey Walker came in at 21:19 and 21:24 to claim 47th and 48th place, respectively.

The final Buckaroo across the line is freshman Jesse Pettit, finishing his first varsity race in 51st place with a time of 21:25.

MHS finished a respectable fifth place as a team, scoring 118 points behind Emery (54), Morgan (67), Judge Memorial (77), and Carbon (85). The Bucks beat Grantsville (148), Juab (159), and Beaver (119).

All in all, it was a great meet for several reasons. First, the team ran well on a hard course. Secondly, it was just good for the kids to be able to run!

Sophomore Adri Bird was the lone representative for Lady Buckaroo cross country at the meet, but she didn’t let that affect her.

Bird claimed second place in the 1A-3A race with a time of 19:22, losing to a two-time state champ move-in from Maryland now running for 3A Morgan.

This same girl ran the second fastest three-mile time in Maryland last season.

Time-wise, Bird placed fourth overall at the meet in the four races held between 1A-3A, 4A, 5A, and 6A schools that fielded 155 total racers. 

The teams will have some time off from racing to train before they travel to Altamont on August 26 for a Region 16 meet.

Boys golf
Teeing off at the friendly confines of their home course, the Monticello boys golf team started the season off on Wednesday, August 12 with a nice second-place team finish, losing only to North Sevier by two shots.

Junior Bailey Walker led the way with a team-low 91. Fellow junior Boston Freestone navigated the Hideout in 94 shots, and sophomore Brecken Hoggard scored in double digits with a round of 97.

Rounding out Monticello’s scoring is senior Cory Bunker, who carded a 120 for the day.

After the first match, North Sevier leads the team scoring for Region 16 with 400 shots followed by Monticello (402), Altamont (411), Gunnison (423), and North Summit (439).

Monticello’s fine showing at home has the team very much in the hunt for a region title.

The boys traveled to Roosevelt on August 18 to play the Roosevelt Golf Course in another Region 16 match.

Buckaroo Head Coach Nathan Chamberlain was generous enough to field a few questions from some pesky reporters regarding the new fall golf season:

Q: Monticello finished in seventh place in the 2019 state 2A meet, and you had a young team. What did the boys learn from last season that they can apply to this season?

A: Every time you play competitive golf, you get better. All the players on this year’s team have played in many matches, and I think you will see that experience show in what they do this year.

Q: Who do expect to be the key contributors on this team?

A: With the way high school golf is structured, every player has the opportunity to contribute.

In every event, all of the golfers from number one to number six can shoot a good score and help the team.

There is always the possibility that a golfer we expect to play well has an off day. If that happens, each of the other team members get to step up and contribute. Ironically, high school golf really becomes a team game rather than an individual sport.

Q: What effect will COVID-19 have on the season, and what precautions are being taken to keep athletes and coaches safe?

A: Maintaining safe and healthy practices is actually much easier for golf than other sports. Every course will already have COVID precautions in place, and we ask our players to abide by them.

Q: What 2A teams do you expect to be strong? How do you think the team will fare in Region 16?

A: Beaver High School is the team to beat again this year. With all six of their players returning, they will be looking for their fourth title in a row. Gunnison has also been at the top of the state ranks, so we look forward to playing with them in our region every week.

Q: After last season playing fall golf, what are the benefits of the Monticello boys playing in the fall? Is there a downside?

A: The benefits of fall golf over spring golf are huge in Monticello. No snow, freezing conditions, closed courses, or courses still under winter conditions.

In the fall we get to play on the courses when they are at their best, we get to practice (hopefully) all summer, and we get to golf in beautiful conditions.

The biggest challenge is that our team members have to start practicing and competing before school starts, so they often are still in summer mode. But once we get past that, fall golf is really the best.

Volleyball
Coach Tony Esplin’s volleyball girls are set to have a successful season after a 2019 campaign that saw the Lady Bucks end the season with an 8-9 record, including a 7-3, second-place Region 16 finish.

The ladies had a nice run in the 2A state championship tournament, winning their second-round game against Layton Christian only to fall to Waterford in the quarterfinals.

Here is Coach Esplin’s take on the upcoming season:

Q: Last year you got your first taste of 2A competition and made it to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

What are the goals of the 2020 team going into the season and what do you need to do to meet those goals?

A: We are in an unprecedented time. We are happy to just be playing volleyball. Colorado has put the season off until spring and Arizona has done something similar, so we are happy to start the season.

We haven’t really set goals at this point, but we would love to improve on our season last year. We really want to stay healthy and finish the season on a good note.

Q: Who do you expect to be the key contributors on this team?

A: To be honest we are still putting the pieces of the puzzle together. We will rely heavily on those returning players from last year. We may move a few positions around because we lost some key positions last year.

We expect to be led by returning seniors Whitney Knudsen, Elli Nielson, and Saydee Adams. We will look for some juniors and sophomores to improve and fill out the team and make big contributions.

Q: What do you hope to see from the team as the season progresses?

A: As we settle into positions, we look to see some great progress in teamwork, communication, and improved skill levels. With no camps this summer due to the pandemic, we have a lot of ground to make up.

Q: What effect will COVID-19 have on the season and what precautions are being taken to keep athletes and coaches safe?

A: I hope there won’t be any effect more than what has already happened, but you never know. We are following the approved guidelines with temperature checks, not sharing water bottles, and trying to social distance when possible.

Wearing face masks in practice is optional due to the physical nature of the sport. We will continue to follow the approved guidelines as best as we can.

Q: Every team is different. What does this team have that could lead to success? How have your past teams influenced how you approach each team and season?

A: I believe this team has a hunger for the game that is different from other teams due to the unknown of what may lie ahead that is out of our control.

“Don’t put off until tomorrow that which can be done today because tomorrow may never come.”

This saying takes on a whole new meaning for these girls during the current pandemic. As with all our past teams, we expect to focus on the fundamental skills, then push our play as far as our skills will take us.

We’ll focus heavily on serving and passing skills to form a foundation on which to build.

The Lady Bucks begin the 2020 season on August 20 in Blanding against San Juan, with C-team, JV, and varsity games at 4 p.m., 5:15 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. respectively.

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