By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
Some things have been shaken up as the Monticello High School football team begins the season under new head coach Jon Kyte.
There is a new coaching staff, which includes two relatives of Jon: his father Jim Kyte and his uncle Chuck Kyte. They are joined by Greg Williams, Deron Hakert and Dustin Chapman.
The Panthers also changed the way they traditionally started the season. Gone was the Gatorade scrimmage, replaced by a scrimmage against another opponent. The Panthers went to Clayton Ridge Aug. 23 and played several situational series.
The biggest change Monticello would like to make, of course, is ending the Panthers’ drought of no post-season appearances since 1991.
“I really feel that if we continue to work the way we are, we have a corps of guys that can get there,” Jon Kyte said.
That group includes 24 juniors and seniors, along with 29 freshmen and sophomores. The Panthers have a number of outstanding athletes returning, including six all-district players – four of whom are linemen – from last year’s team.
Running back/linebacker Tanner Felton and lineman Daniel Pike head that list. Felton was third in Class 2A, District 4 rushing last season, with 157 carries for 767 yards and nine touchdowns.
Making the second team last year, and also returning, are linebacker T.J. Decker and lineman Trae Fuhrmeister. Linemen Isaac Holtz and Jayson Blunt received honorable mention. All are seniors except Blunt, a junior.
The quarterback job will likely go to either senior Cody Jamison or junior Jarrett Easton.
“Cody’s been taking the majority of reps at the varsity level, but Jarrett’s been working there too,” Kyte said. “I’ve been very pleased with both of them.”
Junior Peyton Paddock will be doing the place-kicking and the punting.
Kyte describes the Panther offense as “a run first, pass second, triple option team. We’ll be looking to expose defenses with the schemes we have.
“We’ll still huddle,” he added, “but we could do a little check-tempo too. If they’re giving us something we like, we’ll expose it and possibly change it up at the line of scrimmage.”
Monticello will run a 4-2-5 defense, with four down linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs.
“The majority of the time, we’ll probably look more like a 4-4, trying to get eight guys in the box to try to stop the run first, and the pass second.”
Among the teams the Panthers will need to stop in Class 2A, District 4 are Dyersville Beckman, the defending district champion and a state semifinalist last season; and Mount Vernon.
“The two strongest teams I see are Beckman, just because of tradition,” Kyte said, “and Mount Vernon, which returns a lot. We’ll probably be the second biggest offensive and defensive line in the district, but they’ll have the biggest guys up front.”
The Panthers were 2-4 in the district last season, and 3-6 overall under head coach Shane Blake, who resigned after 10 seasons at the helm.
Monticello will open this season Friday, Aug. 30 at Anamosa, then come home to play Maquoketa Valley Sept. 6. Both are non-district games.
Monticello opens district play Sept. 13 at Cascade.
“The tone of the season will be set by how we play those first three games,” Kyte said.