We’ve got a lot of good kids, a lot of good talent, a lot of kids that are gonna step up this year that just haven’t had that opportunity, but I think once they do they’ll shine —Monticello coach Art Adair

Note: Monticello finished with a 4-7 overall record in 2013 and tied for first in 1A South with a 3-1 record. It lost to Rich 26-17 in the 1A quarterfinals.

New Monticello head coach Art Adair doesn’t like to think of the 2014 campaign as a rebuilding year for his squad. Rather, “going forward” is the phrase he uses to describe the outlook he has for his first season as a high school football coach.

Whatever the words, a number of things will be new for the Buckaroos this season. Gone is the wing-T on offense, and in its place Adair will employ a combination of a few different schemes.

Furthermore, Monticello will be young. Just four regular offensive starters from 2013 will be back, and just three defensive starters return from what was a senior-heavy squad. The team will have just five seniors total on the roster in 2014.

“We’ve got a lot of good kids, a lot of good talent, a lot of kids that are gonna step up this year that just haven’t had that opportunity, but I think once they do they’ll shine,” Adair said.

One player Adair is especially anticipating good things from is running back Cole Eldredge. The three-time state wrestling champion was Monticello’s third-leading rusher a year ago, racking up 417 yards on the ground. He was playing behind studs such as Austin Maloy, however, and will now be counted on to lead the attack.

“He’s an exceptional athlete,” Adair said of Eldredge. “If teams will let us run against them, we’ll run his butt off.”

The Buckaroos’ ability to run the ball may end up being as much a function of their offensive line’s ability to open up holes for Eldredge as it will be an opponent’s ability to stop them. Dustin Christenson and Tobin Esplin will be back to lead the offensive line, but beyond them, that unit is rather unproven with a bunch of underclassmen Adair is counting on to make an impact.

“We’re gonna put them out there and make them do their job, but they’re gonna be young,” Adair said. “I think we’re capable of stepping up. It’s just gotta be if those kids are willing to do it and put everything out there.”

The ability of the Monticello offensive line may also wind up affecting the quarterback play. Senior MaKade Maloy is back after a junior year in which he struggled while sharing reps with others, but Adair feels that not only has he gotten better, he’s gotten more confident with his role as well.

“I don’t want to have a rotating quarterback,” Adair said. “He’s gonna be there to get comfortable in the position. He might run the ball a little bit from that position, but he’s gonna be the quarterback. We won’t alternate here and there for passing and running. He’ll be the man and it’ll be his job, his responsibility to get it done there in the quarterback position.”

One area Adair is particularly excited about is his receiving corps. Parker Lewis, Andrew Torres and Chance Weakee didn’t produce a whole lot in 2013 while Brian Tanner and Alma Beh are brand new, but from what Adair has seen of them thus far, he feels they’ll be quality targets for Maloy to throw to.

“I think that’s gonna play a key in our run game because defenses are gonna have to look at our passing game and know that we have receivers who are gonna go after the ball, that are gonna sacrifice for it, and they can’t just leave them out there alone,” Adair said. “They’re gonna have to do some coverage.”

Defensively, the linebacking corps is where Adair feels his team will be strongest, with Eldredge joining Brandon Musselman to cause havoc. Eldredge led the Buckaroos in tackles in 2013 with 60, while Musselman was fourth on the team with 35.

As on offense, the trenches are the area of biggest concern to Adair on defense.

Even so, Adair is excited to see if his team can improve upon the 4-7 record it produced in 2013.

“I think we’ll be young,” he said, “but we’ll be ready to go.”

Monticello Buckaroos at a glance

Coach: 2014 will mark Art Adair’s first year as a high school head football coach.

Offense

(4 returning starters; Multiple-formation offense)

Running back Cole Eldredge will lead the way for the Buckaroos on offense after rushing for 417 yards and three touchdowns in 2013. Senior MaKade Maloy will be the man at quarterback and will be looking to improve upon a junior campaign that saw him struggle. Adair feels Maloy has improved, and the signal-caller’s play could prove to be an X-factor in 2014. Dustin Christenson will be back to lead the offensive line, but other than him, that unit is thin.

Defense

(3 returning starters)

Statistically speaking, Eldredge made more of an impact on defense than he did on offense last season, and he’ll be returning at linebacker to lead a young unit. He and Brandon Musselman should be a stout duo at linebacker to help compensate for a defensive line that, other than Christenson, will be thin in numbers, size and experience.

Coaches preseason Region 1A South straw poll: Second

Deseret News Region 1A South prediction: Second

Bottom line: After going 4-7 with a senior-heavy team last year, Monticello will feature many unknown players in 2014. Eldredge and Maloy will need to have big years if the Buckaroos are going to be competitive, and their offensive line is going to need to play well enough to give that duo a chance to shine.

….

Monticello coaching history

2014 — Art Adair (0-0)

2010-2013 — Lee Chadwick (24-22)

2009 — Jake Downard (4-5)

2005-08 — J.C. Hall (20-25)

2004 — Seth Giddings (11-1)

1997-2003 — Mike Bowring (46-30)

1994-96 — Matt Torrens (13-16)

1991-93 — Bill Manzanares (25-6)

1989-90 — Joe Davis (11-11)

1979-88 — John Dowell (63-37)

1976-78 — Joe Davis (23-12)

1972-75 — Nyle McFarlane (26-13-1)

1971 — Harold George (8-3)

1966-70 — Ray Odette (30-13-3)

1961-65 — Tom Burr (15-26-1)

1955-60 — Dale Maughan (12-25-4)

1934-35 — Unknown (0-3)

.....

Deseret News MVPs the past 10 years

2004 — Scott Toomey, WR

Deseret News First Team All-Staters the past 10 years

2013 — Austin Maloy, RB/LB

2013 — Austin Wilcox, TE/LB

2013 — Jake Giles, OL/DL

2012 — PJ Leiataua, TE/FS

2012 — Gunner Hollingsworth, OL/DL

2011 — Adam Black, OL/DL

2010 — Kendal Maughan, RB/LB

2010 — Devin Wright, RB/FS

2009 — Kendal Maugham, RB/LB

2009 — Devin Wright, QB/S

2008 — Chase Randall, RB/LB

2006 — Kedric Curtis, RB/LB

2005 — Wes Hawkins, RB/DB

2005 — Wade Eldredge, RB/DB

2005 — Justin Keyes, QB/DL

2004 — Reed Anderson, QB

2004 — Wade Eldredge, LB

2004 — Lelo Garcia, LB

2004 — Antonio Mustache, DB

To view second team and honorable mention All-Staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.

Ryan McDonald is a former intern at LDS Church News. He is studying communication at the University of Utah, where he works as the sports editor of the campus newspaper, The Daily Utah Chronicle. He can be reached via email at mcdonald.ryanw@gmail.co