The Monticello football program has undergone an impressive transition in recent years, turning from an also-ran to a conference champion in the Mississippi 8 in just a few years’ time. Last year, they reached the conference mountain top, sharing the title with Rogers. But they aren’t about to get complacent.
The Magic were out in force last week for their four-day summer camp, capped by a Thursday night scrimmage, showing many positives for the season ahead, as well as a few issues that Coach Jason Telecky is prepared to address.
The four-day camp used to be held later in the summer, but the Magic have moved it up in order to teach the players drills, as well as show them what they need to improve on, while a large chunk of the offseason still lies ahead.
“[We’re] giving a carpenter a toolbox,” said Telecky. “This is giving them their toolbox, and we said build something over the summer.”
It was clear at the Red-White scrimmage at the high school practice fields, which pitted the top offense vs. the top defense in front of a smattering of parents and fans, that many Monticello players already hold a lot of tools.
The raw athleticism on the field was shown on a couple of touchdown-breaking runs, as well as touchdown saving tackles from high-speed defenders. The explosion of a few hits showed there shouldn’t be a power outage on either side of the ball, despite the loss of numerous high-caliber athletes to graduation.
“I’m very excited about the speed and the power,” said Telecky. “[Offensive] Coach Larson said the offense is a little behind, but it’s probably about as crisp as I’ve seen an offense look early on.”
“It’s the first week of June, and it looked like we could probably line up and play.”
The offensive line is young, and a little on the smaller side, but they’re skilled. They also have some talented position players working behind them. Jake Berthiaume is the current favorite to take over at quarterback for the Magic, and the incoming senior looked sharp on some passes at the scrimmage Thursday night.
But it’s likely that running the ball will continue to be the strength for the Magic, with incoming senior Jake Olson shouldering the bulk of the load. Olson was explosive Thursday, breaking one long touchdown run, as well as breaking a handful of tackles.
“If he can stay healthy, he’s unbelivable,” said Telecky. “He’s just a load.”
Lowell Laudert will also be counted on to contribute from the backfield, and he showed strong potential with a long touchdown run of his own at the scrimmage.
Defensively, Monticello has a lot to prove.
“We’ve got a lot to replace,” said Telecky. “Birk Olson took care of a half a side of the field.”
But Thursday showed the Magic might have even more tools in the toolbox then they previously thought.
“We had a lot of kids show us speed we didn’t necessarily think they had,” said Telecky.
That speed will complement a defensive line that could be the biggest and strongest Telecky has had in his five years here. Linebackers return skill and some experience, and the secondary will be held down by Sam Johnson, a returning stud at safety that is the definition of the speed and explosiveness Telecky is looking for from his defense.
Some of that explosiveness, and the high intensity that comes with this team’s drive to be successful, boiled over toward the end of the scrimmage Thursday night, as a couple minor after-the-whistle skirmishes led to the scrimmage being stopped a couple of minutes early so Telecky could lecture the team on the concept of being a good teammate.
The coach liked the intensity, but knows the kids have to be able to keep it between the confines of legal play.
“There is a fine line there,” said Telecky. “We want to keep the speed and the tempo.”
“But these guys have to understand what it really means to be a teammate.”
Still, Telecky, and any other coach would rather have to reign the kids in than motivate them to work hard.
“Every college coach I talk to has always said it’s way better say “whoa” than “go”.
For years, “go” was the operative word around Magic football. But it has been evident in recent years, and was evident on Thursday night, that “woah” is becoming the future of Magic football.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]