MONTICELLO The good news coming out of Monticello High's football team this season is experience. The offense returns 10 starters and the defense eight more.
"This will be the most talented team I have had since becoming the head coach," said Monticello coach J.C. Hall.
The offensive line has put a lot of time working in the weight room, and Hall is expecting it will pay big dividends. He thinks this team will go deep into the state playoffs.
At quarterback, Hall has a veteran in Daniel Torres. Last year, Torres posted 597 yards passing and rushed for four TDs. And that was in just half a season before he went down with a broken ankle. Torres tried to return for the postseason but, as a stalwart on the basketball team, he prepared himself for a solid season in roundball.
Torres runs the spread offense for the Buckaroos and, as a two-year starter, he is familiar not only with the system but with all his skill people who are returning.
Chase Randall led the team in rushing last season and he hauled in a few passes as well. But where Randall really excels is on defense. He was the second-leading tackler on the team last year with 76 from his outside linebacker position. This year, he moves into the middle, where Hall thinks we will break the school record for tackles.
"He reads very well, and he reacts better than anyone I have ever seen," said Hall.
The offensive line returns all but one starter and will look for Jesse Barton to fill the middle. Hall says he is proficient at taking on double teams, and defensively last year he recorded 45 tackles, five sacks and two fumble recoveries.
In addition, Barton took home the second-place trophy at the state wrestling tournament.
"He is really quick on his feet," said Hall.
COACH: J.C. Hall is beginning his fourth year as head coach. His record is 17-17. He spent three years as an assistant at Monticello before taking over the head coaching job.
KEY PLAYERS: Daniel Torres is a veteran quarterback who understands the system, but did miss half of last season with an injury. Jesse Barton anchors both the offensive and defensive lines.
QUESTION MARKS: The very positive Hall did not want to talk about weaknesses, but in small schools like Monticello it has to be size and depth. In the past two years, injuries have decimated the Buckaroos, and they'll need to stay healthy to have a chance again this year.
LAST YEAR: 5-6, lost to Enterprise in quarterfinals.
PREDICTED 1A NORTH FINISH: Third.
POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: If things go well for the experienced Buckaroos, there's no reason to think they won't advance to at least the semifinals.
Aug. 22 at Parowan, 7 p.m.
Aug. 29 GRAND, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at San Juan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 MANCOS, COLO., 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Enterprise, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Layton Christian, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 DUCHESNE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 PAROWAN, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Altamont, 6 p.m.Oct. 24 RICH, 7 p.m.