Tiger tales: GJ routs Westminster in homecoming game
Jerreon Dennis spent last spring running.
It’s paying dividends this fall.
The Grand Junction High School junior has the ability to turn corners and break away for long runs.
Dennis ran for 211 yards and three touchdowns Friday night to lead the Tigers’ football team to a 47-0 homecoming victory over Westminster at Stocker Stadium.
“He runs the ball so hard,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said. “We saw it last year in JV where guys couldn’t tackle him. Now, we’re seeing it at this level. He’s such a powerful runner, guys struggle to bring him down.
“Coach (Darrell) Simonton did such a great job with him in track last year. He really wanted to work on his speed and that really helped him. You can see it on the long runs. He’s had some huge runs.”
Dennis took over at running back after Andy Willett was sidelined by a knee injury two weeks ago. Since then, Dennis has compiled 442 yards in two games.
“Andy is a good player,” Dennis said. “He’s one of the leaders on the team, so we want him back on the field. When he went down, we had to play harder because that was a good player we lost.”
Dennis, though, was ready to fill the void.
“It meant I had to try and be a leader on the field,” Dennis said. “I was ready. It feels good to come out and do what he would be doing if he was on the field.”
Willett has started to rehabilitate his knee and is expected to return later this season.
Dennis gave the Tigers (3-1) a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 1-yard run.
The touchdown was set up by Grand Junction’s defense, which forced a fumble. It was recovered by Zach Lebsock at the Westminster 27-yard line.
Dennis led Grand Junction into scoring territory on the next possession, and Tyler Winder, Grand Junction’s homecoming king, scored on a 3-yard run for a 13-0 lead.
Grand Junction quarterback Sean Rubalcaba completed 5 of 9 passes on the Tigers’ next series, when they threw on every down.
He threw a 26-yard pass to Chandon Rose for a touchdown and a 19-0 lead. Rubalcaba completed 6 of 11 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Rose made a big play two minutes later, returning a punt 85 yards for a touchdown with 1:41 left in the first half. It was his first punt return for a touchdown in high school.
“The right things happened,” Rose said. “I got good blocks and I just broke one.”
He returned another punt for a touchdown early in the third quarter for 82 yards, but it was called back on a holding penalty.
“Chandon’s been really good all year in the return game,” Owens said. “Today he had a couple drops offensively. I basically told him he owed me on the return and he ran back two of them, but we had a penalty (on one). Punt returns is something we have to work on and make sure we give him a chance so we’re not bringing them back on a penalty.”
Cody DeRush caught a 32-yard pass from Rubalcaba for a touchdown in the third quarter and Dennis scored on runs of 40 and 18 yards in the second half.
Grand Junction’s defense limited Westminster (1-3) to 151 yards in total offense, 117 on the ground.
“The biggest thing is, defensively we played well all four games,” Owens said. “Offensively, we’re starting to feel our own a little bit. The first game it was turnovers. These last three weeks we’ve really got it rolling and the up-front guys have really done a great job.”