MONTICELLO — The topic of the week in Monticello: the Williamsville defense. Questions were many between Sages players and fans about the team from the Sangamo Conference that no one knew much about.
Could the Bullets’ defensive unit really be that good? How are they putting up those ridiculous numbers (seven shutouts, 22 points allowed all season)? Will senior running back Ryan Donohue find any running room? Will the Sages’ offense move the ball at all?
Williamsville and its vaunted defense answered all those questions in front of a large Saturday crowd, most of whom had kicked off the playoff party hours before kickoff.
The Bullets pitched their eighth shutout, blanking Monticello 14-0 in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs and ending the Sages’ season at the same point as a year ago.
“I said we’re going to have to make them sustain long drives,” Bullets coach Aaron Kunz said, “and we were able to keep them out of the end zone. They got close a couple times, but it was a great, hard-hitting football game, and I’m proud of our guys.”
The two teams were mirror images of one another, both in appearance and style of play. Williamsville, whose colors are purple and gold like the Sages’, emerged from the locker room in their usual gold helmets to cheers from its fans and a few Monticello loyalists who mistook the Bullets for their hometown team.
But it was the teams’ identities that showed how similar these two football squads were. Both boast strong, fast defenses while relying on a steady running game and a 6-foot-2 quarterback (senior Parker Trice for Monticello and junior Josh Lindsey for Williamsville) who is asked to keep the defense honest with his arm.
With teams so close in talent and coaching, it’s often just a handful of plays that decide the game. The Bullets made them.
Williamsville junior Jacob Lounsberry capped a seven-play, three-minute drive on a 13-yard run to put the visitors up 7-0 with 5:53 left in the first quarter. Neither team would find the end zone again until Lindsey found senior Clinton Fletcher for an 18-yard TD pass to seal the Bullets’ victory with 1:23 left.
“I got to breathe a little bit with that touchdown,” Kunz said.
Both defenses came to play as neither offense could move the ball consistently. Monticello (8-3) managed 126 yards of total offense, while Williamsville (11-0) gained 241.
Sages tailback Donohue finished with a season-low 48 yards on 14 carries, and quarterback Trice never found a rhythm, completing 5 of 19 passes for 47 yards and an interception.
“Their defense is tremendous,” Donohue said. “They’ve allowed 22 points against everyone they’ve played. There’s not a better defense in the state, I don’t think.”