Monticello falls to Hamburg
In this time of state and county fairs, Monticello has one request: Stop the roller coaster, the Billies would like to get off. Their up-and-down struggles continued Friday night with a 16-6 loss to Hamburg.
Halfway through the 2017 season, Monticello has gotten into an all-too-familiar pattern of following up pretty good outing with a not-so-masterful performance. So far, it’s been lose one, win one.
“This was a disappointing loss, for sure,” Monticello head coach Marty Davis said after watching his Billies go 1-2 in a three-game home stretch that, before the season, Davis said he was looking forward to.
“I thought we left the game feeling this is one we let get away,” he added. “This was a very tough game to take. This was a game we could have very easily won. I thought our kids played hard—as they always do—and they never gave in. I’m extremely proud of how our kids handled themselves in a very disappointing loss.”
The third such time he said he’s felt that way already this year left the Billies at 2-3 overall and gave them their first Class 4A, District 8 setback. Monticello sits still tied for fourth in the conference, though, with DeWitt—and the top five earn state playoff berths.
Hamburg, meanwhile, joined defending 4A state champion Warren and Dumas at 2-0 in 8-4A. Crossett, Dollarway and Star City have yet to taste victory in the league.
Around 8-4A Friday night, Dumas kept Crossett winless with a 38-6 win and DeWitt did the same to Dollarway, winning 36-26. Warren topped Star City 35-7 in the other league affair.
At Hyatt Field, Monticello spotted Hamburg all 16 of its points and simply ran out of time to mount a comeback. The first and fourth quarters happened to be the only periods either team could score. The Lions took a 9-0 lead into the halftime locker rooms after a touchdown, extra point and safety gave them a somewhat strange football advantage.
“A key point in the game for us was on our first drive,” Davis noted. “We had miscommunication on a fourth and short and did not get the first down. I thought that slowed what momentum we had at that time. But even after that we still had chances to get points.
“We did not move the ball as well as we did the week before. We had too many missed assignments on offense. Penetration hurt us on that side of the ball. Defensively, we had too many missed tackles.
“We were in position the make the play, but had trouble getting them on the ground. We gave up a couple of big plays on defense and did not make the plays we had chances of making on offense. That is something we will correct for our next game.
“Special teams were improved from last week. No big returns for them and we did not give up any big plays ourselves. Our punter did a good job with field position.”
After a scoreless second and third periods, Hamburg extended its lead on a 19-yard pass before senior Cain Preston was able to find the end zone for Monticello for the only time all night. Preston scored on a one-yard run put the Billies on the scoreboard; the two-point conversion attempt failed, however, leaving Hamburg two scores ahead.
Statistically, the contest wasn’t even close. Hamburg outgained Monticello 384-214 in total offense (263 of that coming on the ground) and in first downs, 22-14. Individually, senior quarterback Ryan Lambert was 8 of 14 through the air for 114 yards.
Junior Kevious Simpson was the Billies’ leading rusher with 68 yards on 10 carries, a respective 6.8 per carry average. Senior Jiehron Yarbrough caught just one pass, but it was good for a team-leading 43 yards. Junior Gabriel Martens was right there, hauling in four passes for 42 yards.
Defensively, senior Austin Patton was all over the field, totaling 16 tackles (10 solo), recording two tackles for loss and one sack. Classmate Zaydrian Goodwin followed with nine stops, two tackles for loss and one sack.
“The loss had better motivate us to win the next game,” Davis said of this weekend’s trip to winless Dollarway. “The conference season is still young and we still have a lot in front of us. We have got to be more consistent on both sides of the ball and identify what we do well.
“For sure we will have to tackle better on defense and be able to handle their skill people in space. Offensively, we have to execute better and be more consistent at what we do.
“Dollarway will always have guys that play tough and we will have to play tough to have a chance. They will have guys that are very athletic and they will be good at what they do. They are 0-2 in conference play and have a lot to play for. We are 1-1 in conference play and we are still in a good position to be a factor in this conference.”
Kickoff in Pine Bluff is set for 7 p.m.