TUSCOLA -- Rick Reinhart took care of business during the day Friday: He got his school email account set up and functional.
Once the Warriors' 7 p.m. game against Monticello started, it was his team that took care of business. Tuscola scored on three of its first four possessions and went on to post a 42-14 triumph over the Sages.
Five of the six ball carriers used by the Warriors had at least one double-digit gain: Caleb Little had a 19-yard run, Auste Shelmadine also had a 19-yard run, Josh Scribner had a 16-yard run, Shane Albert a 14-yard run and John Ervin a 12-yard run.
Monticello, meanwhile, spent the first quarter going in the opposite direction. The Sages' nine first-period running plays resulted in losses of 19 yards. For the game, Monticello gained 23 yards rushing on 30 attempts.
Tuscola received some big plays from its defense. Shane Albert intercepted a pass and returned it 29 yards for a TD. Brent Harris also picked off a pass.
Jerrod Baird had a team-high 12 tackles. Little and Albert each scored two TDs. Scribner and Gunnar Edwards reached the end zone once apiece.
Monticello played the entire first half without a penalty and, in fact, had only a 10-yard holding penalty for the entire game. The Sages looked particularly sharp on their kickoff returns. Drew Davis had runs of 21 and 26 on his first two before ripping off an 80-yard scoring run on his third kickoff return
The Sages pulled off what is the single most impressive play I've seen this year and -- for that matter -- in decades.
The situation was a fourth-and-17 for Monticello from its own 43-yard line. Punter Rob Huddleston received the center snap, but made no effort to kick the ball. Instead, with an underhand (almost submarine) motion, he lofted the ball high downfield and tight end Jordan Wimer settled under it, making a catch and gaining 25 yards.
It was one of those plays you'd like to see again and again on the highlight reel. It couldn't have been drawn up any better, not could it have been executed any better.
Huddleston, incidentally, was a consistent punter when he did boot the ball. He averaged 34 yards on three first-half punts and 34 yards on two second-half tries.
Monticello started three freshmen, and two of them were manning positions along the offensive line.
For the fourth straight week, the prep game I covered had its hash marks clearly marked for each yard. It makes the field look so much nicer when schools go to the extra effort to do this.
In the preseason, I reported that the nicest field I'd seen from my nine or 10 stops was at Schlarman. It was well-manicured and a lush green.
Tuscola's field needs to get added to the list, too. It's in the same league as Schlarman's and should be a source of pride for those who work on it.
Tuscola is 3-1 and faces what Reinhart calls, "a war every week," in its quest to make the postseason. "You don't get a break in this conference, but our goal is five wins and to get into the playoffs."
It was a fitting tribute that squad members signed a game ball after the contest for members of the Bill Butkovich family. A former coach, teacher and administrator who lived within walking distance of the high school, Butkovich died earlier this month. Reinhart considered Butkovich one of his strongest mentors and someone who encouraged him during the time he was a walkon football player at the Unioversity of Illinois.