Palisade WRs know their role is to help running game, not catch footballs
They are listed as wide receivers on the roster, but the Palisade High School wide-outs view themselves a little bit differently.
Lane Orman and Caden Woods know their roles blocking downfield come first, long before running a route and catching a pass.
“We’re pretty much skinny linemen,” Woods said. “But, I’d still choose to come here of any school any day of the week.”
The No. 7 Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1 Western Slope Conference) run the ball nearly four times more often than they throw it, but they’ve been that way since they won four consecutive state titles under Joe Ramunno in the 1990s.
“We think of our receivers as blockers first,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “If all we do is run inside, it would be easy to stop. They give us a chance to run along the perimeter.
“They’re great kids to coach. They work hard. We wouldn’t be able to throw the ball without them.”
The receivers spend so much time blocking, they go nearly as unnoticed as offensive linemen.
“Sometimes you feel like you’re not important here, but there’s always that block you can get that makes a difference between a 100-yard touchdown and a 50-yard run,” Orman said. “Every now and then they throw the football and give us a chance.”
Woods has 15 catches for 353 yards and four touchdowns. Orman has 10 receptions for 301 yards with three touchdowns.
“We definitely have to make the most of our opportunity (to catch a pass),” said JT Townsend, who is listed as running back, but is often used as a receiver.
Running the ball is so important, the Bulldogs don’t spend a lot of time on passing drills.
“We don’t practice catching the ball in practice,” Orman said. “We just practice blocking.”
Orman (6-foot, 165 pounds) and Woods (5-11, 160) love the feeling of making a big block that springs a long touchdown run as much, if not more, than making a catch.
“That’s probably the most rewarding thing, the comeback block,” Orman said.
Orman, Woods and the rest of the receivers might go virtually unnoticed Friday night in possibly the biggest game of the year for the Bulldogs. Palisade hosts No. 5 Rifle (8-0, 5-0 WSC) at 7 p.m. at Stocker Stadium.
That doesn’t mean they won’t be making a big play that could lead them to victory.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Woods said. “It comes down to who wants it more. We’re treating it like a playoff game.”