First loss since 2019 doesn’t deter Sages, who rely on culture and competition to fuel success

Sports

MONTICELLO (WCIA) — After its first loss in two years, Monticello football didn’t start practice Tuesday with drills or sprints. Instead, it was a game of Cops and Robbers.

“Throughout the year we just do a lot of different competitions,” Monticello head coach Cully Welter said. “Every Tuesday we start practice with a competition. I think a lot of teams do it, we might just take it to another level.”

It’s part of a program they call ‘Huddle.’ Eight seniors draft a team and they use games on the field and volunteering off the field to build their team chemistry.

“It’s able to connect the younger levels with the older levels,” Monticello senior quarterback Joey Sprinkle said. “You get that bonding between the levels of the team. It’s not just separated into varsity and freshman and everything.”

That bond will be something they will need to lean on heading into the toughest part of their schedule.
The Sages’ next two opponents, Prairie Central and Unity, are a combined 13-1.

“Hopefully as a team we learned a lot from that, but I do thing the chemistry is tight with this group and I think they’ll rally around each other,” said Welter.

“We just got to build off of each other at this point,” Monticello senior running back Jacob Tackett said. “It’s a clean slate. We have that chip on our shoulder now.”

The Sages, Hawks and Rockets make up the top three in the Illini Prairie Conference. As they fight for the IPC title, Monticello isn’t just glazing over why they lost either.

“I really think we needed it as a team because we were just kind of getting to where, ‘Oh we won another game. Whoop de do’ you know? It really just got us back in check,” Sprinkle added.

“Anytime you lose you’re hoping that’s sort of a reminder of the little things you have to do to get better,” said Welter. “Sometimes those things are masked when you win.”

There is no doubt the Sages will be refined and refocused for the Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week, and it has just as much to do with Cops and Robbers as tackling drills.

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