Here are five extra points from last week’s 21-7 victory over Big Lake and more information about Friday’s homecoming showdown with Rogers.
• Friday night Birk Olson made his impact felt on both sides of the ball. But after the game, he made it clear that he’s fine with playing under the radar on offense when asked to. “There are some nights where one guy is going to have a big game and other nights another guy is going to have a big game,” said Olson. “It’s okay if I don’t get a lot of carries … I’m playing defense a lot. That’s where I want to play the best. [Sometimes] I’m on offense just to do the little things.”
• With Big Lake coming off a couple of blowout losses, and Rogers looming in the distance, Monticello may have been looking ahead just a bit.
“We watched a lot of film, we watched when they played Rogers,” said Olson. “We thought they were a weaker team than they obviously were. It was easy to look past this game. But I think the first half told us, like coach said, it’s high school football, and every team you gotta play. We came out and we responded well [in the second half].”
• According to players after the game, and by unofficial count, Monticello ran just thirteen offensive plays in the first half. According to the West Sherburne Tribune, Big Lake ran that many plays on their first drive of the game.
• With all of their impressive running back options, the Magic tend to refrain from turning their quarterback into another runner. But Friday night Matt Bonk showed he has the capability to get upfield if needed. With the pocket collapsing around him, Bonk got into the open field where he made multiple tacklers miss as he cut all the way across the field on a run that would have resulted in a 14-yard gain if it hadn’t been called back due to a penalty.
• The win at Big Lake, combined with Roger’s 28-14 loss to STMA moved Monticello up to No. 8 in Class AAAAA. Rogers, STMA and Cambridge are all receiving votes in the AP poll; meaning the Mississippi 8 currently has four teams in the top 15 of Class AAAAA.
As was written in this week’s Monticello Times, Friday’s showdown with Rogers could represent the biggest regular season game in nearly a quarter of a century for Monticello football. Section placement, homecoming pride, and a shot at the conference championship are all on the line as the 4-0 Magic square off with the 3-1 Royals.
Stylistically, Rogers is the same team that has found so much success in recent years, including a second place finish in state two years ago. They will bring a wing-t formation on offense that leads to plenty of belly runs, sweep runs, jet runs, traps, etc, to go with flood passes and bootlegs through the air.
The Royals have plenty of other offensive weapons to use in their scheme. Nate Weber leads a balanced attack on the ground for Rogers, as evidenced by his 148-yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries two weeks ago in a 38-36 win against Buffalo.
That offense has been averaging 28.5 points per game this year. On the other side of the ball, the Royals defense has proven slightly more vulnerable than in years past. The Royals are giving up 22.75 points per game this year, after yielding 20 or more points just once during the 2011 regular season (21 points to STMA in week 3).
Meanwhile, Monticello has continued to roll on both sides of the ball. Led by a rushing attack that’s averaging 266 yards per game and a whopping 7 yards per carry, the Magic are scoring 31.5 points per game. However, that total has dropped to 20.5 against tougher opponents the past two weeks.
Defensively, they’ve continued to be stout. Monticello enters homecoming giving up an average of 10.75 points per game. Thus far, opponents have struggled to find a consistent weak spot against the Magic defense. Through the air, Monticello is giving up just over 100 yards per game. On the ground they’ve been even better, allowing just 84.25 yards per game – perhaps aided by the fact that they held leads for nearly the entirety of their first two games, and over half of their fourth game.
While statistics might weigh in Monticello’s favor, the home team will have a whole different challenge to deal with once they step on the field Friday against the reigning conference champions – the aura of Rogers.
“I want our kids to get over this Rogers invincibility factor,” said Coach Jason Telecky. “We need to come in to this one thinking we’re the better team.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night at the Monticello Middle School.