The Grand County High School football team opened its season with a convincing 39-6 win at home over the Monticello Buckaroos on Friday, Aug. 18.
The Red Devils racked up an impressive 377 yards rushing on 41 attempts during the contest and were never in a position to punt during the game.
“I’d say it’s pretty dang good to go a whole game without punting,” said GCHS senior Brayden Schultz, who didn’t see any action as punter but led the team in rushing with 194 yards on 14 carries. He also caught one pass for 20 yards.
Senior Josh Jones started the game at quarterback and scored Grand’s first two touchdowns on short runs during the first period. In between those two scores, fellow senior Jared Smith sacked Monticello’s quarterback in the end zone for a safety, giving the Red Devils another two points. Jones’ second TD came just as time expired at the end of the first period. Freshman Dante Wells kicked the extra point to give the Red Devils a 16-0 lead after one quarter.
Grand got the ball back early in the second period when Monticello fumbled and senior Nick Downard recovered for the Red Devils. Grand then drove quickly toward the end zone, culminating in a 1-yard TD run by Schultz. Later in the second quarter, junior Trent Elmore broke through for a 3-yard TD run, giving the Red Devils a commanding 30-0 halftime lead.
Schultz scored again during the third quarter on a 31-yard TD run up the left sideline. After a bobbled snap on the extra-point attempt, Wells tried to run it into the end zone but came up short, so the Red Devils’ lead stayed at 36-0. Later, midway through the fourth quarter, Wells booted a 38-yard field goal to increase Grand’s lead to 39-0.
Determined to avoid a shutout, the Buckaroos mounted a last-minute drive against Grand’s reserve players, eventually scoring on a 4-yard pass from Spencer Knudsen to Max Hedglin with two seconds left. The extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving the final score at 39-6.
“I owe all my yards to the guys blocking who never get the recognition,” Schultz said after the game. “Our offensive line did an outstanding job blocking for all us running backs. Our defense as a whole did an amazing job as well.”
Wells went 4-for-4 in PAT attempts and 1-for-1 in FG attempts in his first-ever high school game.
Defensively, junior Chris Thompson led the team with 11 tackles, including one sack. Grand’s defense also made three pass interceptions: one each by Jones, Bryant Troutt and Bruin Meador.
The game began on a pensive note, as fans on both sides of the field paid tribute to Utah National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Aaron R. Butler, 27, of Monticello, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on Wednesday, Aug. 16. Butler, a 2008 Monticello High graduate, was a former sports standout for the Buckaroos, including winning four wrestling state titles. A Green Beret, Butler was attached to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group.
Numerous fans wore yellow ribbons and waved U.S. flags in Butler’s honor, and a moment of silence was observed just before the game’s opening kickoff. His funeral has been tentatively set for Saturday, Aug. 26 in Monticello.
Grand’s next varsity football contest will be a non-conference game in Colorado against the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers in Cortez on Friday, Aug. 25.