Palisade, Central, GJ use extra week of practice to get ready

According to the Colorado High School Activities Association, the first date for an interscholastic contest in football is Sept. 2.

So how do Fruita Monument, Montrose and Olathe all have games tonight?

Since the late 1990s, CHSAA has had a bylaw called zero week. The zero week allows a school that’s unable to schedule a game on or after the first allowable date for competition to schedule a game the week before.

The game has to be approved by CHSAA, and the school must show that a reasonable opponent is available for a contest.

Fruita Monument plays Broomfield tonight in its zero week game. Grand Junction, Central and Palisade all begin next week.

In week one, Palisade and Central square off against each other on Sept. 3, at Stocker Stadium.

For Palisade, this is the first time since 2005 that the Bulldogs haven’t played in zero week. Teams that play zero week are given a bye week later in the season, and Palisade coach John Arledge said that was always a motivating factor for playing in zero week.

“If you play zero week, you get a rest week and I really like that,” Arledge said. “We’ve played in it many years, I’d say in the last 10 years we’ve probably started with more zero week games than week one games.” Arledge said the Bulldogs wanted to play zero week again this season against Roaring Fork, but were denied by CHSAA.

Whereas most coaches would welcome more time to prepare for the first game, according to Arledge, the Bulldogs are ready to go.

“At this point we are healthy, our kids came in phenomenal shape, and we are actually ready to play a game,” Arledge said. “Practices at this point are like pouring concrete every day, it’s hot and nasty and no one’s happy.

“Once we get through this week and have a game to prepare for, we’ll be good.”

Palisade’s first opponent, Central, is taking advantage of the extra time. The Warriors’ first week of practice was significantly more physical than in years past in an attempt to become a better defensive team.

“One of our goals is to be a better tackling team, we really didn’t tackle well as a team last year,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “It’s nice because we have a few guys hurt so we can hold them out to get ready for week one, but if it was zero week we’d have no choice.”

The teams that aren’t playing in zero week have the option of participating in a scrimmage. Grand Junction has yet to play in zero week during coach Robbie Owens three years at the helm. Last season, the Tigers went to a scrimmage in Hotchkiss, but lost quarterback Sean Rubalcaba to a broken leg, which cost him half the season.

This season, the Tigers are focusing on nothing but their week one game against Highlands Ranch.

“We are going to take care of ourselves and really concentrate on Highlands Ranch,” Owens said. “Since we’ve come to school, it’s been nothing but Highlands Ranch. We want our kids to concentrate on them, and treat this kind of like a bye week.”


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