One game in, and one win

Tyler Luensman returns the opening kickoff for Monticello to get the 2020 football season underway, Aug. 28 against Cascade. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Monticello’s Caleb Sauser (9) closely covers a Cascade receiver on an incomplete pass during Friday’s game at Dean Nelson Field.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     They got one in. And it was a pretty good one.

     Luke Lambert passed for 243 yards, Tyler Luensman caught nine passes for 155 yards, and the Monticello High School football team pulled out a 28-27 season-opening win over rival Cascade Aug. 28 at Dean Nelson Field.

     The Panthers also benefitted from the kicking of sophomore Christian Castillo, who was 4-for-4 on extra point tries.

     That proved to be the difference, as a snap mishap after Cascade’s final touchdown prevented the Cougars from getting the tying point-after with 3:50 to play, the Monticello was able to run out the clock.

     “Both teams made some key mistakes in this game,” Monticello coach Wes Wilson said. “We had chances to make it a two-score game and we didn’t execute. We were ready to take the field with our offense and score to win the game, but with their mishap we were abel to run the clock out to end the game.”

     Playing the game proved to be a relief for all concerned in a couple of ways. The obvious one is the COVID-19 pandemic, which might affect high school teams across Iowa in a number of ways this season. And secondly, the area was under a thunderstorm watch before and throughout the game, and in fact a quick but intense storm did sweep through Monticello prior to the 5 p.m. junior varsity game.

     But there were no weather incidents in either game.

     In the varsity contest, neither team scored in the first quarter, although Monticello had two red zone chances, getting to the 5-yard line once before missing a field goal, and getting to the Cascade 3-yard line the second time before being stopped on downs at the 4.

     Both teams broke through in the second quarter. Cascade sophomore Jack Menster (20 carries, 157 yards, three touchdowns) broke through the middle of the line for a 98-yard touchdown run to put the Cougars ahead 7-0.

     Just 26 seconds later, following a 60-yard kickoff return by Caleb Sauser, Lambert hit Tyler Luensman with a pass at about the 15-yard line, and Luensman broke a tackle before scoring to complete a 32-yard play. The game was tied 7-7 with 10:13 left in the first half.

     “Luke has done a great job of leading the offense,” Wilson said. “He was very comfortable and threw the ball extremely well. Tyler picked up right where he left off last year. He is a great player and makes big plays when we need it.

     “Our offensive line just continues to get better, and we are very deep at receiver.”

     Each team scored once more in the half. The Panthers drove 73 yard in 13 plays and scored on an eight-yard pass from Lambert to Justin Recker in the left side of the end zone. Cascade answered with 39.1 seconds left in the half, on a seven-yard run by Jackson McAleer, and the teams went into halftime tied 14-14.

     Another long Panther drive, 77 yards in 10 plays, was set up by a Recker interception, and gave Monticello a 21-14 lead. Lambert pitched right to Preston Ries on and option play, and Ries fired to Tyler Luensman in the end zone for a 26-yard score.

     Cascade tied it 21-21 early in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run by Menster.

     “The defense played pretty well,” coach Wilson said. “I think we did some really good things. We gave up a long run on alignment, and game them a short field on a turnover. Other than that they were solid, and we know we can play better on that side of the ball.”

     What proved to be the winning touchdown came on a pass play in which the Cascade defender appeared to suffer a leg cramp and went down, leaving Tate Petersen alone to catch Lambert’s throw and run in for a 51-yard score. Castillo’s point-after made it 28-21 with 8:44 to play.

     “Christian’s kicks were big,” the coach said. “He’s done a great job on PATs this year. It is really nice to have a guy you can rely on.”

     The Cougars then drove 60 yards in 10 plays, scoring on a one-yard run by Menster. But on the conversion try, the snap hit the ground and squirted free, eventually picked up by Monticello, ending the play and keeping the Panthers’ 28-27 lead intact with 3:50 to play.

     Cascade had used all of its time-outs earlier in the half, so the Panthers needed just one first down to run out the clock, and got it when Lambert ran seven yards on a third-and-3 from the Monticello 46. Two plays and a kneel-down later, the Panthers had their victory.

     Monticello finished with 422 total yards to Cascade’s 349. Lambert completed 15 of 24 passes for 243 yards and three scores, and also rushed for 78 yards.

     Recker finished with two interceptions, including one on a deflection in the second quarter when he was on his back. Riley Manternach recovered a Cascade fumble.

     The Panthers are scheduled to play at Bellevue Sept. 4.


Aug. 28

Cas.      0   14   0  13 – 27

Monti  0   14   7    7  – 28



     No scoring.


     Cas – Menster 98 run (Nava kick), 10:39 remaining.

     Monti – T. Luensman 32 pass from Lambert (Castillo kick), 10:13.

     Monti – Recker 8 pass from Lambert (Castillo kick), 4:21.

     Cas – McAleer 7 run (Nava kick), 0:39.1.


     Monti – T. Luensman 26 pass from Ries (Castillo kick), 3:32.


     Cas – Menster 2 run (Nava kick), 11:46.

     Monti – Petersen 51 pass from Lambert (Castillo kick), 8:44.

     Cas – Menster 1 run (run failed), 3:50.


                                   Cas            Monti

First downs           10                 17

Rushing yds.       222               153

Passing yds.        127               269

Comp.-att.-int.  6-16-2        16-25-1

Total yds.              349              422

Fumbles lost          1                    1

Penalties              4-25             4-22


     Rushing – Lambert 14-78, Kramer 13-46, Roher 4-24, Ries 3-11, T. Luensman 1-(-2).

     Passing – Lambert 15-24-243-3-1, Ries 1-1-26-1-0.

     Receiving – T. Luensman 9-155, Petersen 2-60, Recker 2-30, Kramer 2-19, Sauser 1-5.

     Interceptions – Recker 2.

     Fumble recovery – Manternach.

     Sacks – Schneiter 0.5, Cleeton 0.5.

     Tackles-for-loss – Cleeton 2.5, Manternach 1, Ries 0.5, Schneiter 0.5, Kramer 0.5.

     Tackles – Ries 6.5, Cleeton 6, K. Luensman 5.5, T. Luensman 5, Kramer 4, Schneiter 3.5, Recker 3, Sauser 2.5, Cooper 2.5, Manternach 2.5, Tallman 2, Roher 1.5, Thomas 1, Petersen 0.5, Kiburz 0.5.



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