Monticello’s clash with No. 2-seeded Magna Vista played out like a microcosm of the Mustangs’ season — flashes of dynamic playmaking hamstrung by mistakes that made life tough on Monticello in a 41-24 loss to the Warriors.
“All the while we shot ourselves in the foot — the effort was 110 percent,” said Monticello coach Jeff Woody. “We shot ourselves in the foot today by getting down here in that red zone in the second half and not answering. We score 21 points instead of three points and the scores 42-41 and that’s my fault. We’ve got to find a way.”
Those red zone struggles were enough to sink the Mustangs in a game where they may have needed a perfect performance anyway to beat the Warriors. Magna Vista seemed to have an answer every time the Mustangs built a little momentum and MVHS held on for a the victory despite scoring just seven points in the second half.
Magna Vista’s defense simply didn’t break in the second half with their heels on their own goal line, including a full tilt goal line stand with just under eight minutes to play that snuffed out any hope of a Monticello rally.
“You’ve got to give a tremendous salute to Magna Vista’s defensive line,” said Monticello senior Kyree Koonce. “Their front (countered) everything that we did and stayed at home and they were well-coached.”
Koonce provided a lot of the explosive plays for the Mustangs as he has throughout the year, including a 65-yard punt return, a 53-yard interception return and a 47-yard touchdown sprint that highlighted a 158-yard night by the senior.
On the flip side though, every time Magna Vista needed a big play in the first half they came up with one, largely on the strength of Tre Redd’s legs or arm as the quarterback extended play after play. He sparked a series of third down conversions in the first half and also provided a dagger on a third and long in the second half when he hit George Ramey, Jr. for a 50-yard touchdown pass on a streak down the sideline that put Magna Vista up 41-24.
“That’s something we’ve been doing all year, we’ve got very good wide receivers who can create some mismatch problems and Tre Redd did an excellent job getting the ball to those guys on third down,” said Magna Vista coach Joe Favero.
Monticello counteract Magna Vista’s athleticism by putting Koonce at free safety and playing wideouts Daniel Hummel and Syreal Breckenridge among others on defense for the first time this year.
“We knew we had to put our best athletes on the field against a very good Magna Vista team,” Woody said. “They’re very athletic, as you saw.”
The Warriors also got big plays from Rodarius Gravley on a 40-yard touchdown catch and run and a 95-yard kick return by Tre Clark in the first half. Those explosive plays staked the Warriors to a 21-14 lead that turned into a 34-21 lead at the break. Redd finished with 84 rushing yards and went 9-for-19 for 235 yards passing including two touchdowns.
“That’s his athletic ability and his want to be succesful,” Favero said. “He just did a great job doing what he does and making plays.”
Magna Vista running back Jacqez Hairston rushed for 113 yards on 24 carries, living up to his reputation as a big-time tailback.
“We knew Monticello was going to come in (ready) they’re a very well-coached team and the kids played hard,” Favero said. “I think our kids battled through it.”
It was a frustrating finish for Monticello, and it ended the run of a group that got a chance to really plug into Woody’s approach. Now in his second year, he’s had a chance to connect with the seniors who’ve been instrumental in powering the Mustangs to two straight successful years.
“It’s sad to see the likes of Brooks, Cory Prentiss and Griffin (Davis), that whole offensive line and obviously No.2 (Koonce),” Woody said. “Rarely do you have an opportunity to coach quality kids like that. This is sad every year whether you win the last one or lose the last one, it’s tough to see them go.”
Magna Vista will take on No. 3-seeded Northside in the state quarterfinals next week.