Playoff payback: Montrose returns favor by ending Durango’s season
MONTROSE — A year ago, Durango defeated Montrose to eliminate the Indians from playoff contention.
Montrose may have returned the favor Friday night.
The Indians (9-1, 3-1 Southwestern Conference) rolled to a 33-7 victory over Durango to assure them of a Class 4A first-round home playoff game. The Demons (4-6, 1-3 SWC) were 16th in the wildcard points entering the game and might not make the 16-team field.
The playoff pairings will be announced Sunday by the Colorado High School Activities Association.
“They could still get in, but it was nice for us,” Montrose coach Todd Casebier said. “We needed to beat Fruita or Durango to get in last year and we didn’t beat either one of them. This year we beat them both. More importantly, we get to host.”
Casebier said the 10 seniors made all the difference for the Indians to be in their position after failing to make the playoffs last fall for the first time in more than four years.
“We were picked to finish last in the league by all the experts,” Casebier said. “Here we are second in the league and 9-1 with our one loss to the No. 1 team in 5A. I’m very proud of our seniors.
“They played all season with a chip on their shoulder. We’re going to have to do that in the playoffs or we’ll be done.”
Montrose defeated Durango without one of its seniors and team captains, Dell Oliver.
The defensive end/linebacker broke his foot in the victory over Fruita Monument last week.
After the game, the team gave him the game ball.
“It meant a lot,” Oliver said. “I didn’t expect it at all. They talked about the game ball before the game, but I thought it would go to Cameron (Jones) or (Austin) Wells.”
Senior defensive lineman Cole Panter said the rest of the team captains made the decision the day after the victory over Fruita.
“After last game we really missed him, so we thought we’d give him the game ball,” Panter said. “Dell has great charisma. He’s a funny guy. Everybody loves him. You can’t not love him.”
Although Oliver was a key player, the defense played well without him.
The Indians limited Durango to 175 yards in total offense and 132 on the ground.
Montrose’s only defensive mistake that cost them came late in the first quarter when Durango receiver Lane Joseph caught a pass that ricocheted off Montrose safety Austin Willis on a fourth down play.
A Montrose personal foul after the play put Durango in scoring position and the Demons took advantage. Dakota Sutherlin scored on a 20-yard run with 58 seconds left in the first quarter.
The defense made possibly its biggest play on Durango’s next series.
The Demons took over on their own 39 after a Montrose fumble. They moved the ball into Montrose territory, but faced a fourth-and-3 at Montrose’s 25.
Durango opted to go for it, but sophomores Conner Huskey and Peter Shearer stuffed Sutherlin for a 4-yard loss.
“Conner is one of the guys playing for Dell,” Casebier said. “He’s going to step up. He’s another one of our sophomores in there.”
Montrose added another touchdown in the second quarter for a 27-7 halftime lead. The Indians added a touchdown in the third quarter and ran out the clock in the fourth.
Montrose relied on its size advantage over Durango and ran the ball effectively with 196 yards.
Angelo Youngren rushed 30 times for 176 yards and one touchdown. Cameron Jones rushed for 55 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Drew Casebier ran for one touchdown and threw for one to Blake Alexander.
Casebier completed 10 of 14 passes for 132 yards.