High school football: Monticello Buckaroos 2014 preview

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14 2014 2:10 p.m. MDT

Note: Monticello finished with a 4-7 overall record in 2013 and tied for first in 1A South with a 3-1 record. It lost to Rich 26-17 in the 1A quarterfinals.

New Monticello head coach Art Adair doesn’t like to think of the 2014 campaign as a rebuilding year for his squad. Rather, “going forward” is the phrase he uses to describe the outlook he has for his first season as a high school football coach.

Whatever the words, a number of things will be new for the Buckaroos this season. Gone is the wing-T on offense, and in its place Adair will employ a combination of a few different schemes.

Furthermore, Monticello will be young. Just four regular offensive starters from 2013 will be back, and just three defensive starters return from what was a senior-heavy squad. The team will have just five seniors total on the roster in 2014.

“We’ve got a lot of good kids, a lot of good talent, a lot of kids that are gonna step up this year that just haven’t had that opportunity, but I think once they do they’ll shine,” Adair said.

One player Adair is especially anticipating good things from is running back Cole Eldredge. The three-time state wrestling champion was Monticello’s third-leading rusher a year ago, racking up 417 yards on the ground. He was playing behind studs such as Austin Maloy, however, and will now be counted on to lead the attack.

“He’s an exceptional athlete,” Adair said of Eldredge. “If teams will let us run against them, we’ll run his butt off.”

The Buckaroos’ ability to run the ball may end up being as much a function of their offensive line’s ability to open up holes for Eldredge as it will be an opponent’s ability to stop them. Dustin Christenson and Tobin Esplin will be back to lead the offensive line, but beyond them, that unit is rather unproven with a bunch of underclassmen Adair is counting on to make an impact.

“We’re gonna put them out there and make them do their job, but they’re gonna be young,” Adair said. “I think we’re capable of stepping up. It’s just gotta be if those kids are willing to do it and put everything out there.”

The ability of the Monticello offensive line may also wind up affecting the quarterback play. Senior MaKade Maloy is back after a junior year in which he struggled while sharing reps with others, but Adair feels that not only has he gotten better, he’s gotten more confident with his role as well.

“I don’t want to have a rotating quarterback,” Adair said. “He’s gonna be there to get comfortable in the position. He might run the ball a little bit from that position, but he’s gonna be the quarterback. We won’t alternate here and there for passing and running. He’ll be the man and it’ll be his job, his responsibility to get it done there in the quarterback position.”

One area Adair is particularly excited about is his receiving corps. Parker Lewis, Andrew Torres and Chance Weakee didn’t produce a whole lot in 2013 while Brian Tanner and Alma Beh are brand new, but from what Adair has seen of them thus far, he feels they’ll be quality targets for Maloy to throw to.

“I think that’s gonna play a key in our run game because defenses are gonna have to look at our passing game and know that we have receivers who are gonna go after the ball, that are gonna sacrifice for it, and they can’t just leave them out there alone,” Adair said. “They’re gonna have to do some coverage.”

Defensively, the linebacking corps is where Adair feels his team will be strongest, with Eldredge joining Brandon Musselman to cause havoc. Eldredge led the Buckaroos in tackles in 2013 with 60, while Musselman was fourth on the team with 35.

As on offense, the trenches are the area of biggest concern to Adair on defense.

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