Montevideo off to strong start

MONTEVIDEO -- For a program that had only eight wins in four years, starting the 2007 football season 3-0 ventures into new territory for Montevideo football.

MONTEVIDEO -- For a program that had only eight wins in four years, starting the 2007 football season 3-0 ventures into new territory for Montevideo football.

During the first four seasons of Dave Schimming's tenure as head football coach, the Thunder Hawks struggled to an 8-28 record.

But after Friday's 34-14 win over Morris Area, the Thunder Hawks are undefeated after three contests for the first time since 1995.

"It feels great after going through a couple of years of struggling," said senior quarterback Tyler Grey. "It's been absolutely outstanding."

Montevideo started the season with two close victories, beating St. Cloud Cathedral 20-14 in the season-opener and then edging Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 21-20 the next week.


"It's a good feeling, but we're not satisfied," Schimming said about the hot start. "We don't want to have a letdown."

The key to the Thunder Hawks' success so far has been the experience of enduring many lopsided losses in the past. Montevideo has 11 starters returning from last year's 3-6 season and five of those are on the first team for the third year.

"We're a pretty tight-knit group of guys. The big thing is experience. We understand what it takes to win a football game," said Grey, a three-year starter. "When it gets down to crunch time, we understand things can go wrong, but this year we've gotten better at overcoming that adversity."

The win over ACGC proves that point. Trailing 20-7 late in the fourth quarter, Grey connected on an eight-yard touchdown pass with Tyler Ray. Montevideo pulled off an onside kick, then scored 19 seconds later on Brock Ackerman's 24-yard run to give the Thunder Hawks the lead.

The old Montevideo team most likely would have let the Falcons take the ensuing possession and score to thwart the comeback win. But this year's Thunder Hawks held firm, stopping ACGC 10 yards from the end zone.

"It was pretty incredible," Grey said of the win. "After the game, you just sit down and say, "I can't believe we did that."

Versatility in the offense also keeps Montevideo on the winning track. Falling behind will put any team in a pass, pass, pass mode, but the Thunder Hawks have shown a penchant for mixing the ground and air games fairly evenly.

"We've got a number of good athletes on the team and we're trying to spread the ball around this year," Schimming said. "We don't feel like anyone can focus on one or two players."


Senior Tramel Barnes is one focal point of any opposing defense. A 6-foot-1 wide receiver with great speed, Barnes has been a favorite target of Grey's for the last two seasons. He caught 34 passes for 569 yards and six touchdowns in 2006. But emerging as valuable targets are 6-1 senior receiver Tyler Ray and running backs Tyler Blomme, a 5-8 senior; Todd Bergeson, a 6-2 senior; and Shane Black, a 5-8 junior.

All of those weapons will be needed the rest of the way if the Thunder Hawks want to continue this success. Next up on the schedule is Yellow Medicine East Friday at Granite Falls. Montevideo closes the regular season with two tough road games, facing up-and-comer Paynesville and BOLD. Section 3AAA is probably one the toughest in the state, with defending state champion Glencoe-Silver Lake and state semifinalist Litchfield on the list.

But only the Sting are on the minds of the coaches and players.

"A big thing for our team is staying relaxed and having fun," Grey said. "Take it one step at a time. Just play the game."

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