MONTICELLO – For the second straight Friday, Monticello High School’s football team used a strong defensive play to help it turn the corner.
The Sages led 20-7 in the third quarter, but Illinois Valley Central had some momentum after stopping MHS from scoring in the red zone by halting a fourth-down conversion.
Senior defensive end Kaleb Reid stole that momentum right back, tackling the Grey Ghost quarterback in the Sages end zone for a safety. The two points and resulting field position helped Monticello, which then drove 45 yards and scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Joey Sprinkle to Triston Foran.
That resulted in the final score of 29-6, enabling the Sages (2-0), 2-0 in the Illini Prairie Conference) to overcome a slow start and a mistake-filled contest where it was flagged for 11 penalties, two of which were declined, resulting in 80 yards in losses.
“We didn’t have a great week of practice,” coach Cully Welter said. “We were a little complacent this week, and that starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready, and we as a coaching staff have to do a better ob of getting them ready.”
IVC’s line stopped the MHS run effectively, but had no answer for Sprinkle, who threw for 267 yards and four touchdowns, completing 16 of 22 passes in the squad’s home opener.
Foran caught two of those TD passes, the first from 14 yards in addition to the 11-yarder.
Also scoring on Sprinkle strikes were Drew Sheppard on a 28-yard pass play, and Peyton Scott on a nifty 62-yard play.
Welter gave credit to IVC (0-2, 0-2), one of a string of good teams Monticello will play as part of the Illini Prairie Conference.
“We’ve just got to understand that all the teams in this conference are even, and every week its going to be tough. We cant miss an opportunity to get better in practice,” said the coach.
The Sages defense was stout for a second straight week, giving up just one score on a third quarter rush. The team has given up just two scores total in its first two contests.
Sprinkle also led the team on the ground with 66 yards on 13 rushes.
Foran hauled in a team-high eighth catches for 129 yards.
The squad also wore camouflage jerseys – provided by the National Guard – as part of a Military Appreciation Night.
Olympia is next
The Sages now hit the road to battle another conference foe this Friday in Olympia. It will be another test for the defense, as the Spartans are known to prefer the rush, said Welter.
“They’re going to run a triple option. They’re going to throw every once in a while, but they’re going to try to establish the run and keep the ball out of our hands.”
Olympia is 1-1 after a 38-8 Friday night loss to PBL.