Panthers edge Crestwood, reach round of 16

Bringing down Crestwood quarterback Carter Henry (10) are Monticello’s Owen Thomas (70) and Ethan Tallman in the Panthers’ playoff win Oct. 23 at Dean Nelson Field. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Tyler Luensman of the Panthers (2) works to get away from a Crestwood tackler.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     It came down to a last-ditch pass from Crestwood quarterback Carter Henry to the Monticello end zone, knocked down by the Panthers’ Justin Recker, before Monticello could claim a 28-27 state football second round victory.

     There were many factors that decided this nail-biter of a game, played Friday, Oct. 23 at Dean Nelson Field. Two of them might get the nod for making the biggest difference:

     • Caleb Sauser, returning a kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, after Crestwood had nearly erased a 21-6 deficit and made it 21-19.

     • Kicker Christian Castillo, who successfully converted all four extra point attempts. Each team scored four touchdowns, but  Crestwood was only 1-for-2 on PAT kicks and 1-for-2 on two-point tries.

     However it’s viewed, the win advanced Monticello (6-1) into the round of 16 in the state playoffs. The Panthers will travel to Waukon (also 6-1) Friday, Oct. 23 for a 7 p.m. game.

     “Any win in the postseason is a big win,” Monticello coach Wes Wilson said, “especially against a very good football team. I like how our guys responded when things weren’t going our way. They stayed relaxed and came up with some big plays to get the win.”

     Monticello had the game’s first big play, a 26-yard touchdown run by Preston Ries in which he broke at least two tackles. The play capped a nine-play, 69-yard drive and gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead with 4:13 left in the first quarter.

     Crestwood got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter with a seven-yard scoring run by Henry. The Panthers were ruled offside on the extra point try, so the Cadets elected to go for a two-point conversion from a yard and a half away, but were stopped short, and the Panthers led 7-6.

     The Panthers then drove 73 yards in nine plays and scored on a one-yard plunge by quarterback Luke Lambert. The key play in the drive was a screen pass from Lambert to Ries that went for 52 yards to the Crestwood 4-yard line.

     A 29-yard punt return by Tyler Luensman gave Monticello a short field on its next possession, starting from the Crestwood 34. Six plays later, the Panthers had a two-score lead, as Lambert and Recker connected on their signature play, a high throw into the left side of the end zone that Recker jumped for and snared. Monticello led 21-6 into halftime.

     “We took care of the football and executed extremely well in the first half,” Wilson said. “Our defense played really well all night long, but especially in the first half.”

     The coach said Ethan Tallman and Bo Kramer each had their best game of the year.

     “They were flying around and making plays all over the field,” Wilson said. “Those guys, along with our other front seven, did a great job against the run.”

     Crestwood controlled the third quarter. The Cadets drove to the Panther 7 but were stopped on downs. After a Monticello three-and-out, the Cadets took over at the Monticello 41, and wound up scoring on a two-yard run by Henry. An extra point kick shortened Monticello’s lead to 21-13.

     On the Cadets’ next possession, Henry, who passed for 357 yards in the game, went to work. He connected with Kade Munkel on a 73-yard pass play, down the right sideline, on the final play of the quarter. The Cadets tried an extra point kick, which failed, and the Panthers still led 21-19.

     “We had some miscues in our secondary in the second half, and they took advantage of that,” the coach said. “They hit two or three big plays that really hurt us.”

     Then came Sauser’s 73-yard kickoff return. Castillo kicked a key extra point that made it a two-score game again, 28-19.

     “That was a huge play in the game,” coach Wilson said. “Our kick return team has been very good this year, and came up with big returns in two close games. That really gave us some momentum that we needed.”

     Crestwood had its next drive halted by Tyler Luensman’s interception. But the Cadets intercepted right back, and took over at the Panther 40 with 9:10 to play. On the second play from scrimmage, Henry again hit Dunkel, this time on a 39-yard scoring play. Henry then found Treyton Burnikel for a two-point conversion pass, and the Panther lead was down to one, 28-27.

     The Panthers were forced to punt on their next two posssessions, so Crestwood got the ball twice more. The Cadets were stopped on downs at the Monticello 19 with 3:59 to play, then had one more possession from their 42.

     A 29-yard pass from Henry to Austin Johnson moved the ball to the Monticello 44 as time ticked away. The Cadets spiked the ball, giving them one more chance with three seconds left. Henry launched the ball into a end zone filled with receivers and defenders, and Recker leaped to knock the ball down, ending the game.

Waukon next

     The trip to Waukon Friday is one the Panthers have seen before.

     “Waukon is a very good football team,” Wilson said. “They are athletic and physical. We have played them the last four years, and are very familiar with what they do.”

     Though both teams have 6-1 record, Waukon gets the home game because the Indians won their district championship.


Oct. 23

Class 2A State Playoffs

(second round,

at Monticello)

C’wood   0     6  13  8  – 27

Monti       7  14    0   7  – 28



     Monti – Ries 26 run (Castillo kick), 4:13 remaining.


     Crest – Henry 7 run (run failed), 10:30.

     Monti – Lambert 1 run (Castillo kick), 7:37).

     Monti – Recker 14 pass from Lambert (Castillo kick), 3:52.


     Crest – Henry 2 run (Bigalk kick), 3:10.

     Crest – Munkel 73 pass from Henry (kick failed), 0:00.


     Monti – Sauser 73 kickoff return (Castillo kick), 11:47.

     Crest – Munkel 39 pass from Henry (Burnikel pass from Henry), 8:32.


                                  Crest     Monti    

First downs               16           13

Rushing yds.           115          145

Passing yds.            357          212

Comp.-att.-int.    17-34-1  16-23-2

Total yards               472         357

Fumbles lost              0             1

Penalties-yds.        5-25        5-28


     Rushing – Ries 11-91, Lambert 14-43, T. Luensman 5-11.

     Passing – Lambert 16-22-212-1-1, Recker 0-1-0-0-1.

     Receiving – T. Luensman 8-102, Ries 1-52, Recker 2-28, Petersen 2-26, Sauser 1-4.

     Interception – T. Luensman.

     Sacks – Tallman 3.

     Tackles-for-loss – Tallman 3, Ries 1.5, Kramer 1.5, James 1.5, T. Luensman 1, K. Luensman 1, Cleeton 0.5, Thomas 0.5.

     Tackles – Tallman 9, K. Luensman 9, T. Luensman 8, Ries 6.5, Kramer 5.5, Cleeton 3, James 3, Recker 2.5, Thomas 2.5, Sauser 2, Manternach 2, Petersen 1.5, Jesenovec 1.5, Gillmore 1.5.




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