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Monticello coach Cully Welter led the Sages to a 9-2 record and first-round playoff win, and their stifling defense all season helped Welter earn Area Coach of the Year honors.

It seems throughout high school, college and the NFL, there hasn’t been a time where offenses have undergone such a rapid and overwhelming change more than now. From spread offenses, the read-option with mobile quarterbacks and combination or packaged plays, it can be enough to frustrate any defense.

So when a defense can thrive in what has seemingly become a heavily offense-favored environment, it’s hard not to take notice.

Cully Welter, known for his offensive prowess at Aledo in the late ’90s and early 2000s, transformed this year’s Monticello team into a defensive juggernaut — so much so that even Welter called them best he’s had at Monticello in the middle of the season. The Sages never allowed more than 16 points in the regular season and allowed a little more than eight points per game. And the offense, minus two-time all-state running back Ryan Donohue, put together nearly 30 points per game as well.

Welter led Monticello to 9-2 record, including a playoff win against Champaign St. Thomas More, to become the H&R Area Coach of the Year.

Finding the right combination for a defensive gameplan can take some time. For Welter, it’s a balancing act for combating the number of offenses that a team can see during a given season and pushing defenses toward having more versatility.

“You see all sorts of things nowadays,” Welter said. “You have to be too careful not to be too crazy about anything. It does put some extra pressure on the defense.

“I do think we had an aggressive mentality on defense, and I think it’s how we were able to play the way we did.”

Finding the right mix permeates through the rest of Welter’s persona. Those who know the coach usually see the same demeanor – win or lose. It’s not because losses don’t hurt, because “the losses do hurt,” but Welter said he tries to rationalize what happened during the game, good or bad.

“I don’t know if my players would say I try to keep perspective,” Welter said with a laugh. “You have to try to maintain composure when the game’s over.

“I think I internalize it a little bit. I’m somewhat pragmatic in discussing the results of the outcome. It doesn’t do really any good to dwell on it – I feel like a hypocrite saying that though, because I do dwell a little bit afterwards. But I do realize to not win is not the end of the world.”

It’s hard not to get worked up after a game in today’s world. With more offseason training, 7-on-7’s and game film, there’s more preparation than ever before. Welter, who started as a head coach at Colfax Ridgeview in 1994, has seen high school football transform tremendously during his 20 years of head coaching.

“I do think there’s much more of a time expectation, from a coaching standpoint, and technology has made such a difference,” Welter said. “You look at something like Hudl (a video-sharing website for coaches) that has changed the game tremendously. It’s so easy to upload film and share film, but it also adds more time to how you prepare.

“There’s nothing to hide from any of your opponents. That’s all there.”

With the rise in accessibility at the high school level, it’s easier than ever to see how teams are using the latest trends. Welter said he does see coaches trying to adapt those new styles, but stressed knowing your personnel is more important than running a specific scheme.

Figuring out how to use those weapons, especially on the defensive side at Monticello, is what stands out for Welter.

“The only thing I’ll say about me, I used to be I used to be much more balanced,” he said. “I think there is that temptation, but you have to acknowledge where your strengths are and emphasize those.”

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adow@herald-review.com|(217) 421-6978

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