MONTICELLO – In a game that featured a number of big plays – such as a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown and a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown for the Monticello Sages, Head Coach Cully Welter couldn’t pick out his favorite.
“There were a lot of them,” he said following the Sages 39-6 victory over Milwaukee Academy of Science on Friday night. “We had them on special teams, offense and defense.”
The Sages improved to 2-1 on the year with the win over the Novas, one of three independent teams in the state of Wisconsin.
The Novas were a difficult team to prepare for, Welter said. They had played three previous games, but still they were very much an “unknown.”
“We saw them on films but the teams they played didn’t do the stuff that we do,” Welter said. “They came out with an entirely different defense than what they have shown and that made it difficult for us. I am really proud of our kids for how they handled it.”
With 4:29 left in the first quarter and no score, MAS dropped back to punt. The snap was bad and the Sages smothered the punt attempt and were up 6-0 when senior Garrett Clark recovered and returned it for a touchdown.
With 5:38 left in the second quarter, senior tailback Tyler Bundy took a handoff from quarterback Drew Sheppard, found a hole on the right side of the line, and sprinted to the end zone to give the Sages a 12-0 lead.
The Sages increased the lead to 18-0 when junior flanker Troy Welter scored on a 54-yard reception from Sheppard with only 12 seconds left in the first half.
Then, with the Novas trying to get on the board before the half, Spencer Mitze picked off a pass and sprinted down the visitor’s sideline untouched to give the Sages a 24-0 lead at the break.
“In looking at the film, we knew that they were capable of making a lot of penalties and a lot of mistakes and we knew we had to take advantage of those opportunities,” the coach said.
The lead grew to 32-0 with 8:35 in the third quarter when junior Luke Teschke hauled in a 54-yard pass from Shephard and scored on the two-point conversion attempt.
The Novas got on the board with 10:40 left in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 32-6, but the Sages answered with Teschke’s 95-yard interception return for a touchdown with 4:08 left.
“I never felt like I could get into a rhythm of calling offensive plays because Milwaukee is so talented and big and fast,” Welter said. “They made it tough on us, but our kids made some plays when they needed to. Our defense came up huge with two defensive touchdowns and we had the special teams touchdown, too.”
Sheppard was 12 of 22 for 167 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 127 yards on eight carries.
“I would like to see our offense do better, but that is partially on me and because there were so many big plays, including on offense,” he added.
“I can’t say enough about how our defense played relentlessly and stayed together against a team that has a lot of talent.”
The Sages will play at Bloomington Central Catholic in a key Illini Prairie Conference matchup on Friday.