Matt Kerr diving catch

Monticello senior Matt Kerr (11) dives for a catch in the Sages’ 44-6 win at Rantoul on Sept. 20.

Monticello quarterback Nic Tackels ran for four touchdowns and threw for another in the Sages win at Rantoul.

Tackels had his most complete game as the starting signal caller for the Sages, finishing 7 for 11 passing for 149 yards and rushing for another 80 on 14 carries.

“We had a really good week of practice,” Tackels said. “We’re getting a lot of timing stuff down. The line did really good (Friday). They did really good this week in practice, too.

“We’re just coming together really well. It’s exciting to see what our potential could be.”

He didn’t get in the end zone this week, but Sages running back Chris Brown rushed for 137 yards on 13 touches as the Eagles struggled to slow Monticello’s rushing attack while falling behind 44-0.

“It’s amazing to me, for his size, how strong his legs are and how many tackles he breaks,” Monticello coach Cully Welter said of Brown.

At one point in the first half, Welter encouraged Brown to get downfield on stop “dancing” on his runs.

“(Chris) didn’t practice all week. He had a sprained knee. And I really didn’t want him dancing tonight with a sprained knee,” Welter said. “If anything I want him going full force forward. Sometimes he just doesn’t trust his speed enough and he thinks he has to cut. He’s stinking fast so he needs to go. And he’s tough to bring down.”

Kerr was another offensive standout – recording four catches for 82 yards and a touchdown – before he was injured diving for the end zone in the third quarter. Kerr flipped and landed on his head, and was taken off the field on a stretcher.

“He had feeling. That’s the most important thing,” Welter said after the game. “It could be a stinger, it could be a micro fracture of the vertebrae. He had pain in his neck. Just hoping it’s a stinger. I feel terrible for him.”

Rantoul’s Robert Buford got the home team on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter with a 53-yard TD run, but the Eagles’ offense struggled to move the ball.

Keddrick Terhune led Rantoul with 57 yards rushing on 12 carries and the Eagles managed only 14 yards passing in the game.

“Our main focus this week was reading our keys,” Tackels said. “All of our linemen, linebackers, (defensive backs), we all knew what our keys were and made sure to focus primarily on that and that helped a lot this week.”

“(Rantoul’s) size concerned us,” Welter added. “Obviously, they have some really good speed as well so you’re always worried about the big play. But I thought we were stout. I thought we read our keys for the most part. We had a couple breakdowns but you’re going to once in a while. When we did, we came back and held them out of the end zone until the end. Pleased with the defense.”

Monticello returns home in Week 5 for a contest against Bloomington Central Catholic. It will be the Sages’ homecoming for the 2019 season.

“Homecoming is always an exciting week,” Tackels said. “BCC will be a good game. I’m excited to see how that goes.”

“The new coach has them pretty disciplined and they’re making strides,” Welter said of the Saints. “They had a rough year last year, but they still had, I’d say, five or six really solid players coming back. Every game is tough for us this year.”