Emotional Cardinals fall short
PARACHUTE — Signs, shirts and chants were all reminders to Grand Valley High School’s football team about everything that’s happened with the Cardinals in the past week.
A slow and methodical, but effective, Middle Park offense showed Grand Valley a proverbial exit sign out of the Class 2A state playoffs.
Henry Southway had 160 rushing yards on 27 carries, including the go-ahead five-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes, 7 seconds remaining. That helped the Panthers to a 21-14 first-round victory at Toby LeBorgne Stadium, bringing an end to Grand Valley’s season.
“These guys had a lot of adversity to deal with this week,” Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson said. “They fought back really well, but it just wasn’t our day.”
Grand Valley’s adversity began Wednesday when senior running back Jake White was hospitalized after an accident in auto shop class.
Cynthia Hurst, whose son, Wyatt Hurst, is one of White’s best friends, said White was knocked into a machine that severed nerves and arteries in his left leg after a truck in the shop, which was started while in gear, shifted forward.
White underwent his third surgery Friday and is in intensive care in St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. Hurst said White was moving his toes, and he is expected to regain feeling in his leg in three to six months.
Emblems of the community’s support for White, known by his teammates as “Cobo,” were evident. Each of Grand Valley’s football players wore White’s No. 33 on the back of their football cleats. Parents sold out of the 300 shirts reading “We Love You Cobo!” All proceeds from the shirts, which sold for $6 each, will go to the family to help pay medical expenses.
“One of our brothers nearly lost his life,” said senior running back Tanner Zimmerman, who rushed for 96 yards on 18 carries for the Cardinals. “We tried to come out and play for him. There were a lot of emotions here. I can’t wait to see my friend again and see that he’s OK.”
It was the first playoff appearance since 2008 for Grand Valley (8-2), which rallied to tie the game at 14-14 in the second quarter after falling behind by two touchdowns early. But Middle Park (8-2), which will host Florence in the second round this week, used a clock-eating drive in the fourth quarter to go ahead for good.
The Panthers recovered a Grand Valley fumble on the Cardinals’ first play from scrimmage and went up 7-0 five plays later on a two-yard TD run by Moses Agular and Johnny Stensvad’s point-after kick. Panthers capped a 10-play, 84-yard drive with Southway’s five-yard jaunt.
The Cardinals pulled within 14-6 on a 74-yard TD pass from Tyler Scott to Trent Reidle. Then they put together a 17-play, 84-yard drive to tie it at 14-14 on Scott’s TD pass to Stephan Padilla and Padilla’s two-point-conversion catch.
“If a play here or there goes differently, we’re feeling a whole lot different about this game,” Johnson said. “To go through what we went through is hard on any teenage boy, and especially a group of teenage boys. I thought we handled it with class.”