MONTICELLO — Josh Burton didn’t even notice the fireworks going off as he weaved his way around defenders and headed for the end zone. The senior was too busy creating his own on his final homecoming.
With halftime festivities running long, Burton took the opening kickoff of the second half 85 yards for the score while the intermission pyrotechnics lighted up the sky in front of him. The touchdown gave Monticello a 21-0 lead, and the Sages held on to win 27-14 against Sullivan/Okaw Valley and secure a playoff spot by starting the season 6-0.
“I was focused on the game. I didn’t hear the fireworks,” Burton said. “I was hoping that touchdown would give us a spark, but we just couldn’t take care of business in the second half (Friday night).”
The Sages’ offense was slow getting started, primarily because it didn’t step onto the field until the first quarter was halfway over.
The Redskins chewed up more than six minutes on their opening drive but failed to score.
Monticello’s Andrew Bailey finally reached the end zone at the start of the second quarter on a 29-yard run up the middle.
Neither offense found any rhythm until the Sages figured it out for a 95-yard drive to end the half, capped by a 23-yard swing pass Dylan Knisley took to the house from Sam Parrish.
Monticello gained six first downs on the drive. Meanwhile, the Redskins struggled moving the ball, finishing with 58 total yards on offense in the half, most coming on the game’s opening drive.
After the Burton kick return, Sullivan found the end zone — twice. Joe Jeffers and Ty Molzen each caught TD passes from Nick Frerichs.
“He’s a great quarterback,” Burton said of Frerichs. “He ran the ball well, and he passed the ball very well. We’re not mad about it, but we can definitely improve upon it.”
Jacob Burton led Monticello in tackles with 14, including a sack. Clay Becker had nine and Ben Wilson had eight with two pass breakups at the line of scrimmage.
Bailey led the Sages in rushing with 107 yards on 10 carries.
Next up for Monticello is a trip to Tolono to face Okaw Valley Black rival Unity. Coach Cully Welter is glad homecoming is over and the Sages can focus on their next business trip.
“They know what they’re doing, and we’re going to have to play our best game to beat them,” Welter said.
“We know that if we come out and play our game, we have a pretty good chance to beat them for the first time since Coach Welter has been here,” Jacob Burton said. “I know he’s looking forward to the game, and we all are.”
Okaw Valley Black
TEAM CONF. OVERALL
Monticello 2 0 6 0
St. Teresa 2 0 4 2
Unity 1 1 4 2
Shelbyville 1 1 2 4
Sullivan/Okaw Valley 0 2 2 4
Clinton 0 2 1 5
NEXT FRIDAY’S GAMES
Clinton at Shelbyville
St. Teresa at Unity
Sullivan-Okaw Valley at Monticello