Panthers win playoff opener

Preston Ries of Monticello runs for a 22-yard touchdown in the first quarter of the Panthers’ playoff win over Union Oct. 16 in Monticello. (Photo by Pete Temple)

Tate Petersen (12) tries to break a tackle for Monticello after making a catch in the Union game.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     There were widespread contributions from players in all facets of the game as the Monticello High School football team broke away to a 56-18 win in a Class 2A first round state playoff game Friday, Oct. 16 at Dean Nelson Field.

     Freshman Preston Ries rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns, and also threw for one score. Luke Lambert passed for 248 yards. Tyler Luensman had four catches for 112 yards, and wound up with three touchdowns for the evening.

     Defensively, sophomore Tate Petersen had a fumble recovery and an interception. Placekicker Christian Castillo was a perfect 8-for-8 in extra point attempts.

     In all, the Panthers amassed 540 yards while giving up 244, and advanced to the second round, which is the round of 32 teams. Monticello (5-1) will play host to Crestwood (4-3) Friday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m., also at Dean Nelson Field.

     Union, despite coming into the game with an 0-7 record, played the Panthers close for two quarters, as Monti led 28-18 at the break. But the Panthers scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to push the outcome beyond doubt.

     “Making the playoffs last year really helped our guys,” Monticello coach Wes Wilson said. “We were calm and relaxed and ready to play. The amount of big games this group has played in has helped us.”

     The Panthers had a quick jolt of momentum on the opening kickoff, when Tate Petersen recovered a Union fumble on the return. Monticello couldn’t capitalize, however, but Union was held to a three-and-out on its possession.

     Monti did score on the second possession. Ries broke free for a 55-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, and two plays later Luke Lambert sneaked in from one-yard away.

     Union answered on its possession, on a 52-yard pass play, Grant Behrens to Jacob Carey. A mishandled snap resulted in a failed conversion, and the Panthers kept a 7-6 lead.

     Monticello had a response of its own, on a 22-yard scoring run by Ries and a 14-6 lead, which carried into the second quarter.

     “Getting the running game going early in the game really opened things up for us,” Wilson said. “Our offensive line did a tremendous job of opening up holes, and Preston Ries just gets better each week.”

     Each team scored twice in the second quarter, Union on a three-yard run by Brandon Tompkins, Monticello on a 15-yard run by Caleb Sauser and a two-yard run by Ries, and the Knights on a five-yard pass, Behrends to Gibson Purdy. That last score came with just 4.4 seconds left in the half, and kept the feisty Union team in the game, as the Panthers led 28-18 at the break.

     The Panthers broke it open in the third quarter, scoring on their first three possessions. Sauser took the second half kickoff and raced 50 yards to the Union 25. Three plays later, Tyler Luensman scored on an 18-yard run for a 35-18 lead.

     On the next Monticello series, Lambert hit Justin Recker with a pass at about the 25-yard line, and Recker broke a tackle and sped to the end zone.

     The Panthers scored a third time when Ries took a handoff, rolled right, and launched a throw that was caught by Tyler Luensman for a score and a 49-18 lead.

     “The biggest thing in the second half was that we didn’t turn the ball over and give Union great field position,” the coach said. “Coach (Jon) Kyte and coach (Nathan) Freeze did a great job of making adjustments at halftime. We were able to put a lot of pressure on their offense in the second half and play with a lot of confidence.”

     Monticello scored once more, on the second play of the fourth quarter, when Tyler Luensman went in on a two-yard run. That triggered the continuous clock with the 56-18 lead, and neither team scored again.

Crestwood Friday

     Crestwood comes into Friday’s matchup with a 4-3 record. The Cadets defeated North Fayette Valley twice this season, including a 19-6 win in the first round of the state playoffs.

     Quarterback Carter Henry has passed for 1,032 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception. It will be a balanced attack; Crestwood has passed for 1,043 yards and rushed for 1,026 through seven games.

     “Crestwood has a very strong football tradition,” Wilson said. “They are the typical northeast Iowa football team that has big, physical kids who will play hard. They have a very good quarterback and some good size at receiver.”


Oct. 16

Class 2A State Playoffs

(first round,

at Monticello)

Union    6   12    0   0   – 18

Monti   14   14  21   7   – 56



     Monti – Lambert 1 run (Castillo kick), 8:14 remaining.

     Union – Carey 52 pass from Behrens (run failed), 5:46.

     Monti – Ries 22 run (Castillo kick), 4:32.


     Union – Tompkins 3 run (run failed), 11:08.

     Monti – Sauser 15 run (Castillo kick), 8:08.

     Monti – Ries 2 run (Castillo kick), 4:07.

Union – Purdy 5 pass from Behrens (run failed), 0:04.4.


     Monti – T. Luensman 18 run (Castillo kick), 11:05.

     Monti – Recker 37 pass from Lambert (Castillo kick), 8:48.

     Monti – T. Luensman 40 pass from Ries (Castillo kick), 2:26.


     Monti – T. Luensman 4 run (Castillo kick), 11:27.



                                 Union     Monti   

First downs               11           13

Rushing yds.             80          252

Passing yds.            164          288

Comp.-att.-int.    10-28-2  16-23-2

Total yards               244         540

Fumbles lost              1             0

Penalties-yds.        5-50       11-90


     Rushing – Ries 15-166, T. Luensman 5-41, Lambert 6-18, Sauser 1-15, Roher 3-14, Cooper 2 (-2).

     Passing – Lambert 15-22-248-1-2, Ries 1-1-40-1-0.

     Receiving – T. Luensman 4-112, Recker 4-94, Petersen 4-38, Sauser 2-33, Ries 2-11.

     Interceptions – Petersen, Recker.

     Fumble recovery – Petersen.

     Sacks – K. Luensman 1, Cleeton 1.

     Tackles-for-loss – Cleeton 2, Ries 1.5, Tallman 1.5, K. Luensman 1, Lambert 1, Manternach 0.5, James 0.5, Kramer 0.5.

     Tackles – T. Luensman 5.5, Cleeton 5, K. Luensman 5, Ries 5, Petersen 4.5, Tallman 4.5, Kramer 4, Recker 3.5, Manternach 3.5, James 3, Lambert 2.5, Sauser 2.5, Jesenovec 1.5, Roher 1.5, Cooper 1, Guilford 1, Kiburz 1, Thomas 1.




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