The Monticello Sages will need new players to step into roles left behind by an All-State quarterback and several experienced stars from an 8-3 2021 squad.
Coach Cully Welter feels confident in a first-year starting quarterback, senior Drew Sheppard to replace All-State quarterback Joey Sprinkle. Tylor Bundy, who played at receiver some in 2021 will shift to the primary ball carrier and players like Luke Teschke, Spencer Mitze, and Wade Carroll will look to take on bigger roles with the departure of Triston Foran and Peyton Scott.
Monticello is rarely noted for its size upfront but Coach Welter says like many teams of the past, this group will make up for it with toughness - across the board.
With six returners seeing significant time from last year's defense, Coach Welter likes this year's defensive unit. He points ou they are going to be starting three sophomores on the defensive line but he doesn't necessarily see that as a weakness.
While he doesn't the like cliche coaches throw out about their conference being the best and tough week in and week out but he believes the Illini Prairie will just that this season with Tolono Unity the likely front-runner as the favorite.
Monticello hosts St. Joseph-Ogden tonight in the season opener at 7 pm. Hear pregame coverage around 6:45 on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.
High school football week 1 matchups:
Bloomington Central Catholic at Pontiac
IVC at Paxton-Buckley-Loda
Tolono Unity at Prairie Central
Bloomington at Peoria Richwoods
Champaign Centennial at Proviso East
Champaign Central at Normal West
Peoria Notre Dame at Peoria Manual (Sat.)
Central State Eight
Decatur MacArthur at Springfield Southeast
Jacksonville at Chatham-Glenwood
Rochester at Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin
Springfield at Decatur Eisenhower
Springfield Lanphier at Normal U-High
Maroa-Forsyth at Pleasant Plains
New Berlin at Auburn
Olympia at Riverton
Williamsville at Petersburg-PORTA
Non-conference action tonight
Arcola at Tuscola
Argenta-Oreana at Warrensburg-Latham
Bridgeport-Red Hill at Cerro Gordo-Bement
Champaign St. Thomas More at Decatur LSA (Sat.)
Colfax-Ridgeview at Dee-Mack
Decatur St. Teresa at Effingham
Tri-Valley at Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond
Galesburg at Dunlap
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley at Fieldcrest
Heyworth at Oakland-Tri-County (Sat.)
Highland at Washington
LeRoy at Central A & M
Meridian at El Paso-Gridley
Metamora at Peoria
Morton at Mahomet-Seymour
Mt. Zion at Limestone
Newton at Sullivan-Okaw Valley
Sangamon Valley at Tremont
Normal Community at O'Fallon
Peotone at Rantoul
Streator at East Peoria
Taylorville at Mt. Vernon
Toledo-Cumberland at Shelbyville