Pride of Palisade: Bulldogs win homecoming game in rout
The 5-foot-3 running back who had just scored four touchdowns now faced The Gauntlet.
Dalton Hannigan already was tired — four touchdowns and 132 yards rushing can do that. But after Palisade’s 63-7 victory over Montezuma-Cortez during its homecoming game at Palisade High School, where fans brought blankets and lawn chairs and mingled in small-town style, the players kept lining up before Hannigan.
“More people started showing up,” Hannigan said. “I wanted it to be over as soon as possible.”
Hannigan, as though he were again shooting low in wrestling, bear-crawled through 32 teammates’ legs. With teammates slapping him from behind, the 140-pound junior reached the end and crashed.
“I didn’t think it was going to be as long as it was,” Hannigan said. “I started getting tired.”
The junior helped No. 2-ranked Palisade (3-0) go up 42-0 with 9:30 remaining in the second quarter with a 33-yard touchdown run.
Hannigan also had touchdowns on a 46-yard run, 91-yard kickoff return and 23-yard interception return.
“We come to practice every day and we’re wanting to score every play; every time we touch the ball we’re looking to score,” Hannigan said. “We tell the linemen, ‘You guys make the blocks, and we’ll do the rest.’ “
Because the Bulldogs were up by more than 40 points, a running clock was enacted for nearly three quarters.
More time for mingling. In its only home game at the high school this season, Palisade whipped Cortez as Bulldogs quarterback Luke McLean completed all seven of his passes for 106 yards. The senior has completed 23 of 26 passes this season.
Plenty for the locals to chat about.
“I wish every game were here,” said Michelle Townsend, mother of JT Townsend, who played football last season for Palisade and has joined the Marines.
“Plus you’re closer to the action,” she said.
“I love it here,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “I love playing at Palisade High School. This is the way it should be.”
Caden Woods, a fullback and linebacker who helped open holes for Hannigan and limit Cortez (1-3) to 16 yards rushing and 91 yards of total offense, thought back.
“It’s just thinking about the past and all the players that have shed blood and sweat on that field,” Woods said, “and how back in the day when they used to play here it was always Saturdays back when they had their championship runs.”
Hannigan, on the lush green field tucked in by the Bookcliffs and Grand Mesa, defined what Palisade looks for in a football player, Arledge said.
“He’s a tough kid, a physical kid; he’s way, way bigger than 5-3,” Arledge said. “Way bigger than 5-3. He’s exactly what Palisade football is about.”
“It’s the soul,” Arledge said. “Soul and size are different. It’s made a little different.”
For example, size was The Gauntlet. Hannigan passing it was the soul.
“It’s been a pretty good birthday,” said Hannigan, who turned 17 Saturday.