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1A football semifinal preview: Close contest earlier this year has Monticello believing in its chances vs. Milford

Milford (10-0) vs. Monticello (5-5)

1A state tournament semifinal

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. (at Payson High School)

  • Parry’s Power Guide: Milford by 19
  • All-time series: Monticello leads 14-3
  • Coach vs. coach: Milford’s Thayne Marshall leads Monticello’s Reed Anderson, 1-0
  • Last meeting: Oct. 12, 2018 – Milford 32, Monticello 26

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For the past two seasons before this one, the Milford Tigers and Monticello Buckaroos were two programs heading in different directions. The Tigers had a combined 18-5 record and a 2017 state championship to their names, while the Buckaroos went just 5-16 over that span.

But as the two teams get set to square off in the second 1A semifinal game on Saturday at Payson High School, there’s reason to think it could be a close matchup, and one only has to go back two-and-a-half weeks to find the biggest piece of evidence for that.

On Oct. 12 in Milford, only a fourth-quarter touchdown run from Tigers star quarterback Bryson Barnes separated the two sides, and Monticello’s last-minute drive for a response came up just short as Milford won 32-26.

The Tigers remain undefeated this season heading into Saturday’s rematch while the Buckaroos are 5-5 after winning their last two games following the close defeat (including a 41-0 drubbing of Rich in the first round), but first-year coach Reed Anderson feels his team enters the game with confidence.

“When we did that against Milford, they started to see, ‘Hey, it’s not just all the other teams that can do it. We can do it, too,’” Anderson said. “Even though it was a loss, everybody was really proud about it. Even around the community, they were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we can do this. This isn’t just some fluke thing. We can do things.’ I think it certainly propelled us.”

All of that being said, Milford is still undefeated and hasn’t lost since Sept. 22 of last year.

“It’s going to be tougher,” Anderson said. “When we played them the first time I think we had the element of surprise more than we do now. They won’t be as surprised at the beginning of the game as they were two or three weeks ago. We’ll have to play better than we did before, and we played really well against them...a lot of stuff went our way.”

Tops on Anderson’s list, as far as keys to the game, is trying to slow Barnes.

“He is the best player in 1A, and I would say you could even go in a couple classifications there,” Anderson said. “He’s a phenomenal player. Very quick, very accurate arm...as long as he has the ball there’s a chance they’re going to make plays.”

While the Tigers are undefeated, they had another close call in the first round of the playoffs against Layton Christian, as the game was knotted up with eight minutes to go before Milford scored two touchdowns to take the 41-27 win.

Tigers head coach Thane Marshall feels the keys for his side are to stop the run and limit dropped passes. Milford has allowed nearly 1,000 rushing yards over the last three weeks alone and had a number of dropped passes against Monticello earlier this month.

“I’m hoping our kids decide that they want to come make amends for that close game (against the Buckaroos),” Marshall said, “instead of being overconfident when they blew somebody out.”

……

Milford statistical breakdown

  • Scoring offense: 40.9 ppg (1st in 1A)
  • Scoring defense: 15.4 ppg (3rd in 1A)
  • Passing leader: Bryson Barnes (128-226, 56.6%, 2,413 yards, 36 TDs, 5 INTs)
  • Rushing leaders: Bryson Barnes (131 carries, 617 yards, 10 TDs), Bret Beebe (74 carries, 518 yards, 7 TDs)
  • Receiving leaders: Paxton Henrie (48 rec., 912 yards, 20 TDs), Karson Wunderlich (29 rec., 523 yards, 4 TDs)
  • Tackles leaders: Alec Williams (89 tackles), Gage Griffiths (73 tackles)
  • Sack leaders: Alec Williams (8 sacks), Russell Walker (8 sacks)
  • Interception leaders: Bret Beebe (3 INTs)

……

Monticello statistical breakdown

  • Scoring offense: 23.8 ppg (3rd in 1A)
  • Scoring defense: 19.8 ppg (4th in 1A)
  • Passing leader: Mark Beh (151-306, 49.3%, 1,820 yards, 10 TDs, 11 INTs)
  • Rushing leaders: Weston Nebeker (192 carries, 1,302 yards, 15 TDs)
  • Receiving leaders: Reed Hedglin (78 rec., 822 yards, 6 INTs)
  • Tackles leaders: Weston Nebeker (84 tackles), Wyatt Fullmer (81 tackles)
  • Sack leaders: Gage Wilcox (12 sacks), Wyatt Fullmer (7 sacks)
  • Interception leaders: Matt Beh (4 INTs)

……

Felt’s Facts for Milford High School

  • Head Coach: 2014-current — Thane Marshall (37-16)
  • All-time record: 244-393-11 (77 years)
  • Region championships: 5 (1990, 1991, 1999 co, 2017, 2018)
  • Playoff appearances: 33
  • Current playoff appearance streak: 10 (2009-2018)
  • All-time playoff record: 17-30
  • State championships: 2 (1993, 2017)
  • State championship record: 2-1

……

Felt’s Facts for Monticello High School

  • Head Coach: 2018 — Reed Anderson (5-5)
  • All-time record: 353-282-9 (66 years)
  • Region championships: 18 (1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 co, 1973, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 co, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2013 co)
  • Playoff appearances: 47
  • Current playoff appearance streak: 20 (1999-2018)
  • All-time playoff record: 35-42
  • State championships: 4 (1969, 1992, 2001, 2004)
  • State championship record: 4-4