Rubalcaba, Tigers rack up awards in Southwestern Conference
It was a pretty easy decision when it came to voting for offensive and defensive players of the year in the Southwestern Conference.
The Grand Junction High School football team swept the player of the year voting after its 10-2 run into the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
Tigers quarterback Sean Rubalcaba was selected offensive player of the year and Tigers defensive end Casey Walker was voted as defensive player of the year.
Walker also earned a spot on the defensive first team in addition to being named player of the year. Walker had 13 sacks and 63 tackles, including a team-leading 39 solo tackles.
Rubalcaba, a junior, showcased his ability to make big plays in every game. Rubalcaba rushed for 1,314 yards and had 1,457 yards passing this season. Rubalcaba had 17 rushing touchdowns and 18 passing touchdowns.
Rubalcaba also was selected the first-team quarterback, and earned the respect of opposing coaches.
“Sean had an outstanding year,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “He was so tough running and throwing that I’d like to see him get some recognition in the all-state team.”
Other first-team offensive selections for the Tigers included offensive linemen Cody Cottrell and Dylan Reed, running back Jerreon Dennis and wide receiver Chandon Rose.
Rose, a junior, has been voted first-team all-conference two straight seasons after having 26 catches for 419 yards and four touchdowns.
Cottrell and Dennis were two of the three players to be voted on to the first team on both sides of the ball.
The other player selected to both the offensive and defensive first team was Montrose’s Bryce Gaber. He was selected as a running back and linebacker.
Cottrell, an offensive and defensive lineman, was part of an offensive line that helped Dennis, a running back and linebacker, rush for 1,503 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Defensively, Dennis had 68 total tackles and seven sacks. Cottrell was second on the team with seven sacks.
“The way were set up this season, we had impact players on both sides of the ball,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said. “They were one of a few guys that didn’t come off the field and they did a great job at their positions.”
Tyler Winder was the other Tiger selected to the defensive first-team. Winder, a defensive back, led the Tigers with six interceptions.
Offensive lineman James Wilkinson and wide receiver Cory DeRush were both selected honorable mention and Owens was named co-coach of the year with Durango’s Greg Wyatt.
Owens, in his third season, led the Tigers to a 4-0 record in the SWC, which included a 49-13 win over previous four-time defending champion Montrose.
Wyatt’s Demons finished 1-3 in the SWC with their lone win coming against Montrose, 30-27.
“It’s a team award,” Owens said. “Anything like coach of the year says a lot about what our guys were able to accomplish this year.”
Grand Junction defeated Durango 49-7 head-to-head on Oct. 29.
Fruita Monument had seven first-team selections, including Martin Zupan, who was voted onto the team as a kick returner.
Zupan averaged 34 yards per kickoff return and had two touchdowns.
Other Wildcat selections were offensive linemen John Marsh and Matt Merola, tight end Tyler Daniels, defensive end Tyler Church, linebacker Trey Thygerson and defensive back Keenan Coit.
Central had four first-team selections, beginning with offensive lineman Dylan Johnson. Johnson was the only player that played both ways for the Warriors.
Other selections included defensive back Trevor Ketchum-Marlow, linebacker Devon Wolff and wide receiver Kyle Rowe.
In total, there were 22 seniors selected and 13 juniors.
“Our league had quite a few strong juniors,” McGee said. “Next year looks really promising with all the kids that will be coming back.”