District champions! Panthers ride quick start to victory, open postseason at home Friday

The Class 2A, District 5 champion Monticello football team, first row from left: managers Wyatt Wilson, Gavin Gogel, Hayden Hackney and Harris Hackney. Second row: Dillon McDonald, Ty Tallman, Rylan Cooper, Cael Sampson, Davin Wickman, Connor Sauser, Preston Ries, Caleb Sauser, Zach Yates, Gabe Goodyear and Gavin Fuhrmeister. Standing: assistant coaches Nathan Freeze and Jon Kyte, Adrian Graves, Tate Petersen, Carson Lambert, Brayden Kuper, Bryce Cleeton, Gage Guilford, Peyton Schilling, Easton Prull, Elias Etzel, Eian Weber, Owen Thomas, Kyler Husmann, Lucas Bartachek, Deacon Besler, Christian Castillo, Dekwon Smith, A.J. Phelps, Caden Sternhagen, Dylan Roher, head coach Wes Wilson, Conner Jordan and assistant coach Jarret Easton. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Lucas Bartachek of Monticello (62) chases Northeast quarterback Gavin Kramer during the Panthers’ big win Friday in Goose Lake.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     It didn’t take long, Friday night, for the Monticello Panthers to establish that the Class 2A, District 5 championship belonged to them.

     Monticello scored on the very first play from scrimmage, a swing pass from Preston Ries to Caleb Sauser who, after breaking a couple of tackles, zipped away for a 51-yard touchdown, just 14 seconds into the game.

     The Panthers went on to score 28 unanswered points in the first half, and although Northeast made a run at them in the second half, Monticello was able to draw off to a 34-14 win Oct. 15 in Goose Lake.

     It gave Monticello the district championship. The Panthers finished district play in a tie with Camanche, both at 5-1, but because the Panthers beat Camanche two weeks earlier, they earned the title.

     “This group of seniors won one game in middle school,” Monticello coach Wes Wilson said. “These seven have believed in what we are building here at Monticello, and have improved tremendously in four years.

     “We don’t have any selfish players. We have our goals, and we do what it takes to reach them.”

     It was the first district title since Monticello finished in a three-way tie with Solon and Dyersville Beckman in 2006, but wound up third and out of the playoffs thanks to a tie-breaker rule.

     There will be no such postseason absence for the 6-2 Panthers this year; as a district champion, they will get the opportunity to host a first round playoff game in the round of 32, and a second one as well if they win the first.

     The postseason will begin Friday, Oct. 22 at Dean Nelson Field, with Monticello facing Union of La Porte City (3-5).

     This past Friday, the Panthers pulled away to a four-score lead by halftime. After the Ries-to-Sauser touchdown, Northeast had to punt on its first possession. Monticello then drove 62 yards in 12 plays, with Ries scoring on a four-yard run. While the Panthers had missed the extra point on the previous touchdown, they made up for it with a two-point pass, Ries to Caleb Sauser, that gave Monticello a 14-0 lead with 6:15 left in the first quarter.

     “Our guys were ready to go,” Wilson said.” The defense was playing extremely well, and gave our offense the ball a lot in the first half.”

     The Rebels threatened to score early in the second quarter, driving to the Monticello 20, but Tate Petersen intercepted a Northeast pass in the end zone to end that drive.

     Monticello then drove 80 yards in nine plays. Another Ries-to-Caleb Sauser connection, this one for 31 yards, gave the Panthers a 21-0 lead.

     The Panther defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense struck again. Ries hit Peyton Schilling on a double reverse flea flicker pass, gaining 43 yards to the Northeast 22. Three plays later, Ries hit Petersen, who made a cutback and scored on a 19-yard play with 1:51 left in the half.

     Monticello led 28-0 at the break.

     Northeast made things interesting for a while in the second half. Following an interception by Curtis Eberhart, the Rebels went 72 yards in eight plays, and scored on a seven-yard run by Caleb Gruhn. Freshman quarterback Gavin Kramer completed five passes for 61 yards in the drive.

     Then, the Rebels attempted an onside kick, and recovered the ball at the Monticello 47. They went in to score again, on a six-yard run by Kramer, and suddenly it was a two-score game at 28-14 with 10:44 to play.

     “We turned the ball over in the third quarter that led to their points, and they controlled the clock and kept our offense off the field,” Wilson said.

     Northeast tried another onside kick, but this time the ball bounced out of bounds, giving Monticello possession at its 48.

     The teams traded possessions, but Monticello then sealed the win with a seven-yard touchdown run by Caleb Sauser. The point-after try failed, but with 3:16 to play, Monticello led 34-14.

     Northeast’s final possession was stopped on downs at the Monticello 49, and the Panthers then ran out the clock.

     As he has done all season, sophomore quarterback Ries put up big numbers Friday, He passed for 222 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 190 and another score. Caleb Sauser scored three touchdowns, two by air, and finished with four catches for 111 yards.

     Monticello’s defense made three interceptions, by Caleb Sauser, Petersen, and Connor Sauser. Owen Thomas had two sacks.

Home playoff game Friday

     Union of La Porte City (3-5) will visit Dean Nelson Field Friday for a state playoff game in the round of 32.

     “Union likes to throw,” Wilson said. “They run a lot of formations and give teams different looks.”

     Kickoff is at 7 p.m.


Oct. 15

Monti     14   14   0    6  –  34   

N’east     0     0    7    7  –  14



     Monti – Ca. Sauser 51 pass from Ries (kick failed), 11:46.

     Monti – Ries 4 run (Ca. Sauser pass from Ries), 6:15.


     Monti – Ca. Sauser 31 pass from Ries (Castillo kick), 4:33.

     Monti – Petersen 19 pass from Ries (Castillo kick), 1:51.


     NE – C. Gruhn 7 run (Blanco kick), 1:39.


     NE – Kramer 6 run (Blanco kick), 10:44.

     Monti – Ca. Sauser 7 run (kick failed), 3:16.


                              Monti         NE

First downs             12           20

Rushing yds.         220         162

Passing yds.         222         206

Comp.-att.-int.    9-14-1   20-36-3

Total yards             442         368

Fumbles lost             1             0

Penalties-yds.        4-45      7-60


     Rushing – Ries 21-190, Cooper 5-19, Ca. Sauser 3-14, Thomas 1-(-1).

     Passing – Ries 9-14-222-3-1.

     Receiving – Ca. Sauser 4-111, Petersen 4-64, Schilling 1-47.

     Tackles – Ca. Sauser 8, Cooper 7.5, Petersen 7, Ries 7, Thomas 4.5, Guilford 3.5, Phelps 3.5, Bartachek 3, Sternhagen 2.5, Co. Sauser 1.5, Schilling 1, A. Graves 0.5.

     Interceptions – Ca. Sauser, Petersen, Co. Sauser.

     Sacks – Thomas 2, Cooper 1.5, Ries 1, Guilford 0.5.

     Tackles-for-loss – Ries 2, Thomas 2, Guilford 1.5, Cooper 1, Sternhagen 0.5.



Subscriber Login