Home romp: Panther defense stifles West Liberty in 42-0 rout

Caden Sternhagen makes a catch for a Panther touchdown in the Sept. 23 home win over West Liberty. (Photo by Pete Temple)

Panther running back Conner Jordan speeds upfield against West Liberty Friday.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

   A defense that yielded just 65 total yards, and an offense that racked up 548 yards and 35 first half points, added up to a romp for the Monticello football team Sept. 23 at Dean Nelson Field.

   The Panthers took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, and went on to overwhelm West Liberty 42-0.

   Monticello thus moved to 2-0 in Class 2A, District 5 play, and 3-2 overall. The Panthers have outscored opponents 146-21 in their three wins.

   “Coach (Jon) Kyte and coach (Nathan) Freeze have done a terrific job with our defense,” Monticello coach Wes Wilson said. “Our team speed is something that has really made a difference for us this year. We have 11 guys attacking the football on every play.”

   Friday’s game was similar to the previous week’s 61-14 triumph at Wilton in that it appeared to be decided early.

   A fumble on West Liberty’s opening kickoff return, recovered by Monticello’s Connor Sauser at the Comets’ 39-yard line, set the tone. The Panthers needed just three plays to score, with quarterback Preston Ries running in from 14 yards out.

   Christian Castillo, who was 6-for-6 on extra point kicks Friday, booted the first one through for a 7-0 lead, just 52 seconds into the game.

   “That was a huge play to start the game,” Wilson said of the fumble recovery. “We were able to pop the ball out and recover it, and then turn it into a touchdown.”

   There were many more touchdowns to come. After a 30-yard punt return by Tate Petersen, the Panthers had another short field to work with, this time from the West Liberty 36.

   On the third play, Dylan Roher (eight carries, 138 yards) scored the first of his two touchdowns, on a 17-yard run.

   The Comets went three-and-out in their next series, and the Panthers drove 77 yards in seven plays, scoring on a two-yard pass from Ries to Petersen. Monti led 21-0 before the first quarter was over.

   A pass interception by Sauser set up the next score, a four-yard run by Conner Jordan that capped a 13-play, 87-yard drive. Shortly before halftime, Roher broke several tackles near midfield and scored on a 58-yard run down the right sideline.

   The Panthers led 35-0 at the half.

   Then, just to make sure, the Panthers scored on their first possession of the second half as well, going 65 yard in six plays and scoring on a four-yard pass play, Ries to Caden Sternhagen.

   “We talked in the locker room about the West Liberty game last year,” coach Wilson said. “We were down 28-7 going into halftime, and were able to come back to within six with a chance to win it.

   “We knew getting a score to start the second half would be big for us to keep the momentum.”

   West Liberty threatened once in the second half, getting to the Panther 19 midway through the third quarter, but an interception in the end zone by Jordan ended that threat.

   Ries finished with 217 passing yards and 136 rushing yards. Petersen had 10 catches for 131 yards; Peyton Schilling had 62 receiving yards.

   Ries also led the team in tackles with 5.5; Sternhagen had five and Gavin Fuhrmeister had 4.5.

Homecoming game

   The Panthers will take on Camanche (1-1, 2-3) for Monticello’s homecoming game Friday.

   “There will be a lot of outside distractions this week,” Wilson said. “As coaches we have to keep them focused toward the bigger picture.

   “Camanche has a really nice running back (Ethan Schultz, with 600 yards through five games).

   “They have been able to run the ball pretty well this year, so it will be important for us to limit their run game.”


Sept. 23

(at Monticello)

W. Lib.   0   0    0   0  –    0

Monti   21 14  7   0   – 42



     Monti – Ries 14 run (Castillo kick), 11:08 remaining.

     Monti – Roher 17 run (Castillo kick), 4:40.

     Monti – Petersen 2 pass from Ries (Castillo kick), 0:51.5.


     Monti – Jordan 4 run (Castillo kick), 5:31.

     Monti – Roher 58 run (Castillo kick), 2:14.


     Monti – Sternhagen 4 pass from Ries (Castillo kick), 9:13.


     No scoring.


                                   WL    Monti

First downs             5         15

Rushing yds.          34      331

Passing yds.           31      217

Comp.-att.-int. 8-18-2  15-18-0

Total yards             65        548

Fumbles lost          0           1

Penalties-yds.       2-20   4-45


     Rushing – Roher 8-138, Ries 13-136, Jordan 4-33, Wright 4-14, J. Luensman 1-12, Petersen 1-8, Gogel 1 (-4).

     Passing – Ries 15-17-217-2-0, Gogel 0-1-0-0-0.

     Receiving – Petersen 10-131, Schilling 2-62, Sternhagen 2-22, Roher 1-2.

     Interceptions – Sauser, Jordan.

     Fumble recovery – Sauser.

     Tackles – Ries 5.5, Sternhagen 5, Fuhrmeister 4.5, Sauser 4, Roher 3.5, Prull 3, Etzel 2.5, Besler 2.5, Graves 2.5, Schilling 2, Petersen 2, Jordan 2, Husmann 2, Tallman 1.5, J. Luensman 1, Cox 1, Castillo 1, Cleeton 1, Brokaw 0.5.

     Sacks – Ries 1.

     Tackles-for-loss – Ries 2, Prull 1.5, Schilling 1, J. Luensman 1, Cleeton 1, Sternhagen 0.5, Roher 0.5, Fuhrmeister 0.5.




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