Bucks claim big win over big opponent

by Walter & Becky Bird
Football – Monticello v. Kirtland Central HS
On a blustery, rainy Friday night, the Buckaroos took to the field against what looked, record wise, to be a formidable foe from New Mexico.
By the end of the night, the Kirtland Central Broncos were glad to get off the field and onto a windless, dry bus having been whipped by the Bucks 26-8.
However, the game started on a sour note for the Bucks, and I’m sure many fans were mumbling “here we go again” after a Monticello fumble lead to a quick Kirtland score and two-point conversion with 9:36 to go in the quarter.
That is when Monticello woke up, going three for three on fourth down conversions while marching down the field. This solid play lead to a four-yard Thomas Anderson TD as he plowed forward and stretched across the goal line. The two-point conversion failed and Monticello trailed 6-8 after one quarter.
Quarter two found Monticello able to move the ball and Kirtland struggling with numerous penalties and a failure to protect its QB. Two sacks in the quarter by Gage Wilcox and Steven Robinson caused havoc for the Broncos.
After some nice gains, a beautiful 39-yard pass from QB Brayson Wilcox to Max Hedglin set up Wilcox’s own 31-yard scamper up the middle untouched for a 12-8 lead with 5:52 to go in the half. Another two-point conversion failed, and the half ended with the Bucks up 12-8.
The third quarter was lackluster, as both teams traded penalties and punts. However, The Bucks harassed Kirtland’s QB relentlessly in the quarter and the Bronco line gave up three sacks in the quarter – one apiece to Brayson Wilcox and Justin Cecil and another to Weston Nebeker. Despite being up by only one score, the Buckaroos seemed to be the hungrier team and in control of the game.
The final quarter was a good one for the Bucks as Thomas Anderson and Brayson Wilcox each added another touchdown to stretch the game score to 26-8.
The defense also finished strong, forcing a punt, four penalties, and another sack by Gage Wilcox to shut Kirtland out in the quarter.
Offensively, Monticello was solid. QB Brayson Wilcox, subbing for injured starter Spencer Knudsen, connected on seven of 12 passes for 140 yards and no interceptions. Wilcox’s favorite targets were Max Hedglin, Keaton Young, and Weston Nebeker – all catching two balls apiece for 68, 53, and ten yards respectively.
RB Thomas Anderson was a beast carrying the ball, toting it 24 times for 104 yards. Wilcox also had 48 yards rushing on eight carries.
Defensively, the Bucks played extremely well against a team with a very capable quarterback that has scored at will many times this season. Top tacklers in the game were Weston Nebeker and Thomas Anderson with seven solo and assisted tackles each.
Reed Hedglin, Tyler Draper, and Paxton Lewis also contributed five solo and assisted tackles. Keaton Young and Gage Wilcox added four tackles apiece to the game total of 53.
This week, Monticello (2-4) will head back out on the road Friday, September 29 to take on the 1A North Division Layton Christian Eagles (3-3). Last week, LCA was a 7-0 surprise winner over Kanab. It should be an exciting game.
XC – Emery Splash & Dash and Pagosa Springs XC Challenge
It’s crunch time in the cross country season. With the state meet less than a month away, the routine becomes early morning and afternoon runs, and running in multiple meets each week.
On Tuesday, September 29, the Monticello HS cross country teams traveled to Emery for a four-team meet. The boys finished second as a team, and the girls ran short handed and didn’t have enough members to score as a team. No times were available at press time.
Saturday, September 23 found all the Buckaroo cross country teams on a rain soaked Reservoir Hill for the Pagosa Springs XC Challenge. Fortunately for the runners and spectators, the heavy rain held off until the awards ceremony.
In the first race of the day, the Monticello junior high girls finished in a respectable third place. Adri Bird came out on top first overall, running the hilly, single track course in 11:53.
Lily Long continued her string of top-ten finishes coming in sixth with a time of 13:33. Millie Morrison ran well with a time of 14:25. Shannon Morrison wasn’t too far behind with a time of 14:58. Jacy Montague and Raylee Kelley finished in 15:37 and 17:11.
The junior high boys took to the course next and placed fourth as a team. Bailey Walker ran a solid race, finishing tenth overall in 13:06.
Curtis Bunker crossed the finish line next for the Bucks in 16th place with a time of 13:39. Jalen Bradford came in after Bunker in 18th place (13:46). Jessie Pettit (14:43) and Jacob Johnson (16:11) were the last Bucks to finish on the slick course.
The Buckaroo high school girls ran very much short-handed. Makayla Sheeran represented Monticello and ran a 29:37 in difficult conditions.
On the longest, hilliest course of the year, the Buckaroo high school boys showed why they are very much a contender for another 1A state title, finishing first as a team and edging a solid Mancos team 50-66.
Adam Bunker paced the Bucks, taking second overall with a time of 19:28.0. Other Buckaroo with top-ten finishes included Lucas Hatch in eighth place, Hyrum Johnson in ninth, and Alan Pettit in eleventh with times of 20:31, 20:34, and 20:37.
Dylan Bird crossed the line in 21:24. Justus Robison (22:15), Parker Walker (23:24), and Zac Musselman (23:26) finished next for the Bucks. Bowden Hunter (23:26), Joseph Morrison (23:55), Dawson Atwood (27:25), and Robert Musselman (31:08) closed out the finishers.
The Monticello cross country teams run again Wednesday, September 27 in Blanding for the annual John Thornton Invitational.
Saturday, September 30 will find the teams in Mancos, CO for the always entertaining Chicken Creek Challenge.
Friday and Saturday, September 21-22 found the Buckaroo varsity girls in Kayenta, AZ at the Kayenta Township Monument Valley Mustang Volleyball Tournament taking on some really good teams from Arizona and New Mexico.
In Friday’s seeding matches, the girls lost two close games to Ganado. They then dropped games to Page and Snowflake and a close game to Monument Valley (Kayenta).
The girls finished the day with an easy win over Hopi followed by a split with Navajo Prep. That play placed the Bucks in the silver bracket for Saturday’s single elimination tournament.
Saturday, Monticello beat Pinion and Navajo Prep, but dropped the championship game to Shiprock in three, ending the weekend with a 3-5 record and moving to 9-11 overall.
Coach Esplin said of his team’s weekend play, “[W]e played really well at times. We just need to work on our mental toughness and consistency of play. We are making good improvement, but we do have some nagging injuries that are hampering us some.”
Thursday, September 28, the girls will take on the Whitehorse Raiders on the road in Montezuma Creek.

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