Craving for order main reason for meticulousness of GJ’s Owens

Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens has vowed not to cut his hair until the Tigers lose a game this season. The 9-0 Tigers open the playoffs Friday against Chatfield at Stocker Stadium.

Robbie Owens was born into superstition.

In 1973, Owens’ mother, Pam Williams, found out if her son was born on her due date of Sept. 13, he would turn 1 year old on a Friday the 13th.

“She didn’t want that,” the Grand Junction High School football coach said.

Yet, it happened.

Owens turned 1 on a day after which the American horror film franchise “Friday the 13th” was named.

Still, Owens soon chose No. 13 as his lucky number, which is manifested in his personal hygiene, a tattoo near his ankle and the number of plays he has scripted for second-seeded Grand Junction’s Class 5A first-round state playoff game at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 31 Chatfield (3-6), at Stocker Stadium.

But don’t call Owens superstitious.

He prefers the term “anal.”

Whether it’s a number, group or pattern, Owens craves order.

And as long as the Tigers are manhandling opponents, Owens wants little changed.

That includes his hair. After a player’s suggestion this summer that Owens not cut his hair unless the Tigers lose, Owens has scrapped the bald look in favor of waves.

In a month, if the Tigers blast to the championship of a 32-team bracket that includes No. 6 Mullen and No. 1 Columbine, Owens’ thick, brown locks could be dancing freestyle as he calls out plays.

“This is the longest my hair’s ever been,” Owens said.

Owens used to shave his hair close to the scalp. He doesn’t like messing with his hair, but his closet is neatly arranged. Owens hangs his clothes together by type (dri-fits, long sleeves, T-shirts, etc.), wears custom-ordered Tigers orange-gray-and-black Nikes for games (his wife Kelly’s idea) and, of course, there’s the No. 13.

That was his football jersey number at Idaho’s Shoshone High, the tattoo teammates stabbed into his ankle to the point of swelling, and when the teenager first pondered how much deodorant to use, well, 13 strokes it was and still is.

“No one ever told me how much to use,” he said.

Yet Owens’ attention to detail and a work ethic that has him calling assistant coaches during the early morning hours are perhaps reasons Grand Junction is considered one of the state’s elite.

Wide receivers coach Bill Godsill said before the Tigers’ 28-14 win Oct. 1 over Fountain-Fort Carson, Owens penciled 850 drawings, depicting some of Grand Junction’s offensive plays against the Trojans’ various fronts. Owens is a preparation fanatic, a stickler for sticking to what works, and certainly a dreamer.

“He’ll get a dream about football, which is strange, in my opinion,” said Tigers assistant head coach Chris Wehner, “and he’ll come in and draw a defensive blitz. Or like before Montrose this year, he dreamed Brett LaBonte would have two interceptions. He got one, not two.”

Added Wehner: “Rumor is, his pistol offense came to him in a dream.”

Grand Junction’s practices are organized to the second, coaches said, and Owens’ preparation that pushes the point of superstition seems to be OK with the players.

“It’s not really rabbits feet and four-leaf clovers,” Grand Junction quarterback Sean Rubalcaba said. “It’s more about routine and not getting out of our comfort zone.”

Maybe play No. 13 will be the game-breaker Friday for the Tigers.

Owens said along with the first play, it’s certainly the hardest to choose. Regardless, No. 13 took roots in Owens’ life before his conception, and likely will linger on the neck of his son, Zack, a student at West Middle School.

“I still have a No. 13 necklace from when I was younger,” Owens said. “I told my youngest son I’d give it to him when he turns 13. That will be in July.”


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