Damron builds on football knowledge every day



Adams State (3-5, 3-3 RMAC) at Mesa State (5-3, 5-1 RMAC) 1 p.m. Saturday, Stocker Stadium Radio: 1230-AM (KEXO), pre-game at 12:30 p.m.

Series: Mesa leads 20-14, but the Grizzlies defeated Mesa State in four of the past five meetings, including 30-27 last season.

Mesa State

Coach: Joe Ramunno, 12th year, 73-60

Last year: 6-5 (6-3 RMAC)

Last week: Defeated Western State 16-14 in Gunnison.

Noteworthy: Mesa’s rush defense is seventh in the nation, allowing 69.75 yards per game. Quarterback Michael Mankoff (ankle) practiced this week and is expected to play. The Mavericks, who are fifth in the nation in sacks (30), face an Adams State team that has given up 27 sacks this season. Mesa has outscored its opponents 124-57 in the second half this season.

Adams State

Coach: Marty Heaton, 2nd year, 8-11

Last year: 5-6 (5-4 RMAC)

Last week: Lost to Colorado School of Mines 37-14 in Alamosa.

Noteworthy: The Grizzlies committed seven turnovers last week. Senior linebacker Levi Gallas is the son of former Grand Junction High School coach Dan Gallas. Adams has one win at Mesa State since the schools moved up to Division II in 1992-93. The Grizzlies throw for 231 yards a game, but also allow the most passing yards in the RMAC (261).

— Allen Gemaehlich

Seth Damron was involved in football before he could play. Now he’s planning a career in the game.

The Mesa State College senior tight end was a ballboy for his hometown Bakersfield (Calif.) College, a junior college coached by his grandfather and father, and he eventually played there.

“The atmosphere at Bakersfield College was something that was more than life to me,” Damron said. “There were no egos. Everybody got along. We won a ton of games. It felt so close to God to me. Everything was based off their relationship with Jesus. They had a great FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) going. That inspired me to keep FCAs going wherever I’ve gone.”

The Renegades were ranked No. 1 in the state for nine weeks, but lost in the semifinals Damron’s sophomore year.

It was a fairly easy decision where he would continue his education and football career when his dad, Brent, told him about Mesa State co-defensive coordinator Bill Stafford. Seth’s dad and Stafford played on the offensive line together at Colorado State University in the early 1980s.

“From what my dad says, they were in workout groups together and were always screwing around,” the younger Damron said. “Having that huge connection and knowing Stafford ... I was getting some (interest) from some RMAC schools and a couple other D2 schools. My dad said, ‘I have a buddy at Mesa, we should send some film to him.’ We made contact and the rest is history.”

“I have the greatest head coach (Joe Ramunno) I could ask for. The guys here are a real team. The fly fishing isn’t bad. We have a great FCA here.Damron did check out a couple of schools before deciding to come to Mesa.

Stafford had hoped to hear from his friend.

“I’ve stayed in contact with Seth’s dad, so I’ve known about Seth since the get-go, when he was a little guy,” Stafford said. “When he was looking for a home, this was one of the first calls I think he made. We talked and got him out here.

“What a great kid. He’s hard-working, conscientious and responsible. He’s everything you want in a guy. He’s a great leader and team guy.”

Damron transferred to Mesa in the spring of 2008 to get familiar with the team and learn the pro-style offense installed last fall.

“I heard in ‘07, people’s heads were spinning,” he said. “I came in ‘08 when people were starting to grasp concepts,” he said.

“From last year to this year, not only the starters understand more, but it’s the depth that everybody knows it. The second- and third-team guys all have the concepts. There are so many options you can do out of it.”

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound tight end caught 10 passes for 129 yards last season backing up Maurice Manley. This year, Damron has started all eight games and has 13 catches for 162 yards and one touchdown.

He is also the team’s long snapper on field goal attempts and punts, something he learned from his dad.

“I’ve been deep snapping since the 7th grade,” Damron said. “I couldn’t get the ball back to the punter until my sophomore year of high school. It’s something I love to do and makes you feel even more a part of everything going on.”

His biggest role, though, may be as a leader.

“He’s been instrumental keeping everyone in line with what we’ve got to do and (getting) the young guys to understand,” Ramunno said. “When we lost Jonny Maxfield (who was killed in a car accident), Seth was one of our leaders in getting guys to the services and reminding guys about Jonny. That’s the kind of kid he is. He’s a special one.”

Damron, who witnessed leadership from his father and grandfather, has grasped the role and is learning what it takes to coach at the college level as he plays.

“We’re in a good situation,” said Damron, who is studying kinesiology and plans to get his master’s degree to join what has become the family business as a junior college or Division II coach.

“We’ve stumbled a little bit in some games, but figured out a way to win. If we can get on track with a big win, hopefully we can start clicking down the stretch.”


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