Gridiron cubs ready to roar

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Above: Monett quarterback Carter Brink looks for a receiver during Pride Night activities on Saturday in Monett. Photo courtesy of MSL Photography, llc.

Monett football returns 15 starters for 2019 season

The 2018 football season for Monett can best be described as the tale of two halves.

The Cubs spent the first half of the season find out their identity, then spent the second half of the year playing their best ball, winning three of the four final games. Monett returns 15 starters and is expecting to pick up where it left off last season, then pushing forward.

Right: Monett’s Joey Semerad works on his dribbling during Fall Sports Pride Night on Saturday at Burl Fowler Stadium. Photo courtesy of MSL Photography, llc.

“Offensively we return eight starters,” said Derrek Uhl, Monett coach. “Our strength should be up front in the line with Wes Merriman, Chet Butterworth, Larry Gutierrez, Harrison Merriman and Blake Wright, who all started for us last season. Others up front include Ray Villalta, Parker Ticknor, Colbe Stephenson, Christian Selvey, Kris Dotson and Brandon Majors.”

The Cubs averaged 22 points, 222 yards rushing and 86 yards passing per game last season.

Monett returns two tight ends that started last year in Junior Villa and Tanner Wright. Also returning is three-year starter at quarterback Karter Brink, who is looking to have a big senior year.

The Cubs have talent and depth at the skill positions.

“We return Jamie Guinn at running back (800 yards rushing on 72 carries, 11-yard average, and 13 touchdowns),” Uhl said. “Ethan Umfleet, at running back, added four touchdowns. Gunner Bradley and Cye Bouchard both saw action in the backfield.”

Monett also returns Miles Laning, Junior Cavazos and Dylan Lynch at wide receiver from last season, with Arnold Cavazos and Dylan Smith pushing for time.

“This will be our second season running a new offense,” Uhl said. “I think the boys will be more comfortable from the start of the season.”

On defense, the Cubs surrendered 30 points, 208 yards rushing and 122 yards passing per contest last season.

“Defensively, we are returning numerous key parts and should have a lot of competition for starting spots,” Uhl said.

Returners include Wes Merrimen, who was second on the team with 5 sacks and racked up 87 tackles and 9 tackles for loss as a junior. Also back is Ray Villalta, who was responsible for 1.5 sacks, 6 tackles for loss and 78 total tackles.

“We expect these two to have great seasons and anchor down the defensive line,” Uhl said.

Competition continues for the other defensive line spots with senior tackle Larry Gutierrez who contributed with 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss and 32 total tackles.

Also in the mix are Chet Butterworth, who racked up 18 total tackles and 2 tackles for loss, and Harrison Merriman, who contributed with 27 total tackles and 2 tackles for loss.

At linebacker, Cole Davis had 83 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks; Junior Villa put up 21 tackles and 3 tackles for loss; and Gunnar Bradley, who was asked to switch positions from free safety to outside linebacker early in the season, contributed with 67 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and a sack in his junior season.

In the secondary, Umfleet is going to fill a big role. Umfleet racked up 53 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss and a sack in his freshman season. Cavasos led the team in interceptions as a junior and contributed with 30 total tackles at corner.

“Other players that we are looking to make a big impact and compete for starting positions on defense include Tanner Wright, Jamie Guinn, Cye Bouchard, Miles Lanning and Dylan Lynch,” Uhl said. “We are all excited about the 2019 season. We built a lot of confidence last season, and we all felt that we were playing our best football at the end. We have a big game right out the gate against a very talented Mt. Vernon team, which will let us see where we are as a team.”

Monett will also look to a large crop of returning lettermen to help fill in the final voids including: Ti Reh, Parker Ticknor, Dru Guinn, Dylan Lynch, Arnold Cavazos, Dylan Smith, Ryan McColloch, Cye Bouchard, Miles Laning, Corbin McCully, Aleks Salas, Mathew Bahl, Isaac Hilton, Christian Selvey, Colbe Stephenson, Kristopher Dodson, Blake Wright, Riley Bradien, Mathew Cooper, Ty McCully, Luke Johnson, David Fields and Zane McCrackin.

Uhl said that each one of these players had a big offseason.

Monett opens the season at home with Mt. Vernon on Aug. 30.

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