Knisley, Sages pass test
SHELBYVILLE — Brandon Wildman got his first career varsity start and the sophomore quarterback made the most of it.
Wildman threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns, including a feathery 44-yard toss to Josh Burton in Monticello’s 38-6 win at Shelbyville.
Aaron Bailey put the Sages ahead on their first play from scrimmage with an 80-yard run by the 5-foot-11, 205 pound fullback. Dylan Knisley scored three times as well on the ground for touchdowns of 29, 4 and 13 yards.
But it was Wildman’s accurate arm that brought a more balanced attack coach Cully Welter has been dreaming about during his five years at Monticello.
“The (offensive) line really got me going, bought me some time and the receivers made the plays,” Wildman said. “The coaches had the confidence in me to play well tonight and I wanted to prove them right.”
Wildman started in place of senior quarterback Sam Parrish (ankle injury). Welter said the plan was to play both Wildman and Parrish if he was healthy, but decided to play it safe and give Parrish another week to heal.
“He played pretty well for his first full game,” Welter said. “I thought he made some key throws. He struggled a little bit with the option game, and that’s an area where he’s been pretty strong at the JV level. Hopefully we can get him more comfortable in that area.”
One area the Sages are very comfortable with is their defense. The Monticello defensive unit didn’t allow a single point Friday as Shelbyville’s lone score came on Jared Finley’s punt return for a TD as time expired.
Senior Matt Justus led the way for Monticello with eight solo tackles, including two sacks and three forced fumbles. Ben Wilson totaled eight tackles with three for a loss. Jacob Burton had nine tackles and one interception.
Freshman Matt Baker came in late and earned three sacks.
“I just had the instinct going. I fed off the energy of my team,” Justus said. “Getting that first touchdown on the very first play got me inspired. We saw on film that (Shelbyville quarterback Lucas Duckett) likes to stay in the pocket a long time. I like that. I’m a blitzer so when I see him standing back there, I just get hungry and want to get him.”
Monticello is 3-1 in the Okaw Valley Conference Black Division. Unity stands at 3-1 and St. Teresa comes to Monticello next week at 4-0. If the Sages win, the three teams split the conference title.
“We know it’s for a conference championship. It’s the first time in a while we’ve been in position in Week 9 to perhaps win a conference championship,” Welter said. “Not only that, but probably a guaranteed home playoff game as well. There’s a lot on the line.”
Okaw Valley Black standings
TEAM CONF. OVERALL
St. Teresa 4 0 6 2
Monticello 3 1 7 1
Unity 3 1 6 2
Shelbyville 2 2 3 5
Sullivan/Okaw Valley 0 4 2 6
Clinton 0 4 1 7
NEXT FRIDAY’S GAMES
Clinton at Sullivan/Okaw Valley
St. Teresa at Monticello
Shelbyville at Unity