MONTICELLO – Calling Monticello High School’s football attack last Friday a quick-strike offense may be an understatement.
After a relatively quiet start that saw the Sages (3-0) hold a 6-0 lead over Rantoul after the initial quarter, the home team erupted for 27 points in the second frame, with three of the drives taking less than a minute. A fourth touchdown was accomplished in a mere 1:51.
Leading the high-powered offense was quarterback Joey Sprinkle, who passed for 194 yard and five touchdowns.
“They were aggressive on defense and they had some success disrupting our offense, but we were able to take advantage of their style of play with some quick passes and screens that turned into big plays,” MHS coach Cully Welter said of the eventual 40-0 shutout of its area rival.
The adjustment was no more on display than in a second quarter call which saw Sprinkle roll to the right then turn and throw back across the field to fullback Kolton Knuffman, who ran relatively untouched down the left side for a 41-yard score.
“I’ve been really happy with (Sprinkle),” added Welter. “He’s had a lot of poise for a first-year (varsity) quarterback.
The junior signal caller connected with five different receivers for touchdowns: Hunter Williams, 2 yards; Chris Brown, 22 yards; Knuffman, 41 yards; Triston Foran, 39 yards; and Peyton Scott, 20 yards.
Sprinkle, who completed 12 of 22 attempts, also kicked four extra points.
Brown ran in from 20 yards out in the third quarter for his second score of the game and the final points for the Sages on a nifty option from backup quarterback Jason Brown.
The defense stepped up for the third straight game. The unit has limited opponents to 22 points total this season.
Against Rantoul, the Sages were repeatedly in the backfield of their opponents, with seven tackles for loss and a sack.
“Our defense was able to overcome their size through our ability to rally the ball,” Welter said.
Despite the strong start, the coach thinks his team has room for improvement before it welcomes Mattoon this Friday.
“I did not think we had a great week of practice, and I still feel like we are making too many assignment errors. We will need to get those fixed as we face a good Mattoon team on Saturday,” Welter said.
The Green Wave is 1-2 on the year, with a win over Taylorville sandwiched between losses to Mt. Zion and Effingham, both of whom are undefeated.