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Motivation still strong for Plainsmen heading into the playoffs

Plainsmen host speedy Palo Duro Friday night in first round of playoffs

Posted: November 15, 2012 - 4:40pm  |  Updated: November 16, 2012 - 1:10am
Monterey and Jacob Bartholomae open the playoffs tonight against Palo Duro.  Scott MacWatters/Avalanche-Journal
Scott MacWatters/Avalanche-Journal
Monterey and Jacob Bartholomae open the playoffs tonight against Palo Duro.
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After the emotions and adversity faced last week with the death of defensive coordinator Reese Fleming, perhaps the best thing the Monterey football program has done is get back to some semblance of normalcy.

Then again, with the playoffs starting, there is no such thing as normal the rest of the season — however long that lasts.

“They’ve done a great job of being very level with their performances,” head coach Todd Pearson said of his team. “They’ve been able to keep things in perspective and understand it’s a game of basics. You have to block you have to tackle and you have to go out there and do it every single play. Coming off the emotions of last week I think the kids will be OK. These kids are really resilient and will be ready to play a good game (Friday).”

One thing is for certain, however, and that is the Plainsmen (7-3) are going into today’s Class 4A Division I bi-district playoff against Palo Duro (6-4) playing some of their best football of the season, which has led directly to their best regular-season finish since 2006 (9-1).

“With coach Fleming’s death we’re still extremely motivated to keep that spirit up,” quarterback Jacob Bartholomae said. “Everything fell into place last week and we hope that we can do the same thing this week.”

And the Plainsmen are getting healthy again too. Junior running back Travon Benton, who has missed the last two games after taking a helmet to the side of the knee against San Angelo Lake View, has practiced this week and is expected to be back in the backfield.

His addition could be a huge boost for a Monterey offense that needs to maintain control of the football and score as many points as possible to negate the speed advantage possessed by the Dons.

Despite his absence, Benton finished as the second-leading rusher in District 4-4A with 1,166 yards and 10 touchdowns. Right behind him is Bartholomae, who rushed for 1,053 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Then, throw in recent junior varsity call-up Vincent Johnson, a sophomore who in three games has rushed for 285 yards and six touchdowns, and Monterey may have its most complete backfield since the first of the season.

“If we can’t stop the run, and I don’t think we’ll stop it but if we can’t slow it down sometimes, it’s going to be a long night,” Palo Duro coach Steve Parr said.

“We’d like to put 11 in the box and four in the secondary but I’m not sure anyone would stand for that. We just have to ask our guys to stand up to another level and try to go toe-to-toe with them and play.”

In complete contrasting style, the Dons will look to hit the Plainsmen with the big play in the passing game, utilizing its speed on the outside in receivers Montrel Meander and Charleston White.

Catching passes from junior quarterback Malik Sims, who has thrown for 1,593 yards and 15 touchdowns with nine interceptions, Meander and White have combined for 45 catches for 826 yards and nine touchdowns as the Dons have fully embraced the spread offense the past two years.

White torched Frenship earlier this year for 251 receiving yards and four touchdowns, mostly on deep balls. Two weeks later, Frenship shut down Monterey by 19 points, so the Plainsmen will have their work cut out for them.

“We’ve got to get them to the white marks on the sideline and run them out of bounds,” Pearson said. “We’ve got to make sure we run them side to side. We can’t let them get vertical because that’s the one thing that will get you beat. Most of their big plays are off the throwing game so it’s kind of a pick-your-poison deal and we have to try to get them bottled in and not let them do what they want to do.”

That has been part of the struggle the past two seasons as the Plainsmen have found themselves bounced from the playoffs in the bi-district round each time. Those early exits have been a source of inspiration since the last one occurred this time last season.

“We’re extremely motivated,” Bartholomae said. “We feel confident going into this game and we’re playing the kind of smashmouth football that seems to be very effective against this team so we have a lot of confidence in ourselves.”

 

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CLASS 4A DIVISION I
Bi-District Playoff
Palo Duro
at Monterey

7:30 p.m., Lowrey Field, Lubbock

Radio: KJTV 950 AM (Lubbock)

Records: Palo Duro 6-4; Monterey 7-3

Palo Duro vs. Monterey

lost to Canyon 27-21 Last week beat Lubbock High 49-14

373.1 Total offense 400.0

370.0 Total defense 360.5

30.0 Points scored 35.8

25.7 Points allowed 26.8

QB Malik Sims Player to watch RB Travon Benton

(1,593 passing yards, 15 TDs) (1,166 rushing yards, 10 TDs)

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