Lots of upside despite a tough loss

Posted September 12, 2013 at 10:38 am

SEPT. 11 HOME STRETCH COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR

The bright side, for Monticello football fans, is that Friday night’s heartbreaking loss to Maquoketa Valley doesn’t count in the district standings, and thus will have no bearing on whether or not the Panthers can reach the post-season.

The district quest will begin this coming Friday at Cascade.

The good news for fans of both Monticello and Maquoketa Valley is that they got to see the kind of game that gives high school football its appeal.

You can’t write them much more exciting than this one. The Panthers faced a fourth-and-14 at the Maquoketa Valley 19-yard line with 2:41 to play, trailing 20-13.

My immediate thought was, they have to go for it. The Panthers needed a touchdown to tie it, and giving up the ball after kicking a field goal, with MV’s Ryan Parmely having already rushed for more than 200 yards, seemed like giving up their last, best chance.

The Panthers kicked the field goal anyway. Then they executed the kind of onside kick that is written about in football textbooks (or, these days, in Nooks and Kindles). Paddock’s kick hit the ground on a couple of low bounces, then bounded up in the air, exactly the way it’s supposed to, and Jarrett Easton was there to haul it in.

It was eerily like last year’s Monti-MV game up in Delhi, when the Panthers converted another onside kick and had a chance to win until a last-second interception ended the game.

This time, it was a fourth-down sack and fumble that ended it. And while MV’s fans enjoyed a raucous celebration – deservedly so – the Panthers have plenty of bright sides.

For one thing, as I mentioned, the game didn’t count in the district standings. The Panthers also got the chance to experience a game that came down to the wire, against an opponent that won a district championship (in Class 1A) a year ago and is one of the favorites to do so again. Having been in such a tight game could prove valuable later on.

They also saw perhaps the best running back they will face all season, as junior Ryan Parmely rushed for 218 yards after putting up 271 the previous week against Starmont.

It was a difficult loss for the locals, but one with a lot of upside.

Is this team…faster?

The most startling statistic of last week in Monticello athletics, however, came from the Panther boys cross country team.

Certainly, Monticello continued the dominance that characterized the 2012 state championship season. The Panthers had the top three runners in the Bob Brown Invitational Sept. 5 in Iowa City. They had six of the top nine.

But those weren’t the most amazing numbers. This was: the total team time for this year’s Panthers in Iowa City was BETTER than the time accumulated by last year’s team.

Scary.

Pinning down a spot

Sorry about the bad pun, but it was the best I could do on deadline morning.

Anyway, congratulations to the factions who worked so hard to make sure wrestling would remain an Olympic sport, a decision that came down yesterday.

What stunned me more than anything was that wrestling came this close to being eliminated in the first place, particularly when it was up against … squash.

Bla