Sages football ready for more

It has been a steady climb for the Monticello football program under head coach Cully Welter.

Since going 5-5 in his second season at the helm, Welter has guided the Sages to progressively more wins in five of the last six years. Monticello reached nine wins in 2013 (for the first time since 1997) and 10 wins in 2015.

That improvement reached an apex last season when the Sages won their first 12 games before being halted by the eventual state champion Elmhurst IC Catholic in the Class 3A semifinals.

Or was it an apex?

Monticello is hoping not, and is looking to push just a little bit further to secure that state title game berth – and championship.

Gone are quarterback Caleb Hanson and playmakers Isiah Florey and Nathan Graham. But returning are nine starters on defense, veteran leaders on both lines, and new athletes ready to step into the role left behind by those departed standout seniors.

“We lose our three biggest playmakers from last season, but we have a good stable of skill athletes at receiver and we return our leading rusher as well as three to four starting offensive lineman,” Welter said.

The ninth-year Monticello coach certainly has proven he can keep the Sages’ offense humming despite turnover at key positions, and he’ll have athletes like Johnny Dawson, Alek Bundy and Asher Bradd on the outside to help give new quarterback Braden Snyder options.

Running back Lucas Lieb returns after making great strides in his junior season, and he’ll run behind a line led by Benton Freeseman, Noah Zimmerman and Colton Stumpf which showed last year they could open enough holes and protect the quarterback despite their inexperience then.

“Braden Snyder has had a good summer at QB but there will be some growing pains,” Welter said.

The defense will be led by new defensive coordinator and former University of Illinois linebacker Brit Miller.

Miller takes over for another former Illini Matt Sinclair, who coached with the Sages for two seasons.

“We return nine starters on defense, many of whom are two-year starters,” Welter said. “We still lack much size but we run well.”

Nathan Harman returns to lead the unit from his linebacker spot.

The three-year starter and area star is poised for an impactful season as Monticello looks to be one of the area’s best defensive teams.

“We have a lot of experience, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Welter said.

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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