‘Cats claw past Central to put loss to Regis in past
There was a lot on the line for the Fruita Monument High School football team Friday night and the Wildcats responded.
The Wildcats were coming off an embarrassing loss and playing in their homecoming game against rival Central, which was playing with confidence after its first victory of the season.
“This game was huge for us,” junior Zach Griggs said. “Homecoming and coming off the loss to Regis. We had a lot of intensity during practice and we were ready for it.”
Fruita Monument defeated Central 35-13 at Stocker Stadium.
The win was especially important for the Wildcats’ defense, which wasn’t happy with allowing 41 points in a loss to Regis Jesuit last week.
“That’s not what our defense stands for,” senior linebacker Trey Thygerson said. “The coaches challenged us.”
The Wildcats (2-3, 1-0 Southwestern Conference) kept Central quarterback Taylor Sanchez in check, putting the talented senior into passing situations and not allowing a single reception until the second half. Although Sanchez finished with 193 yards rushing, he completed only 2 of 15 passes for 41 yards and one interception.
“(Sanchez) is a great player,” Fruita coach Sean Mulvey said. “You’ve got to take your hat off to Coach (Andrew) Decker, Coach (Jeff) Miller and Coach (Tom) Goff. They put in a great game plan to key on him and they executed it.
“We knew if we could make him one-dimensional, we had a chance.”
The Warriors (1-4, 0-1 SWC) had 248 yards in total offense.
“We know teams are going to try to stop Taylor,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “I have to give them credit, we had to throw the ball a little high and it stayed high to get it over their linebackers.
“We were close to making big plays, but close doesn’t work.”
Fruita Monument did make some big plays.
Griggs bobbled the opening kickoff of the second half on the 1-yard line, but recovered quickly and raced down the sideline for a 99-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 28-0 lead.
“I muffed it at first, then I picked it up, looked and there was only one guy coming toward me,” Griggs said. “All I had to do was make the one guy miss.”
Braden Bair came up with a big block near midfield to spring Griggs for his first kickoff return for a score.
Sanchez, though, kept the Warriors in the game with a 1-yard touchdown run and a 70-yard scamper for a score to get Central within two touchdowns at 28-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Central had a chance to get within one touchdown when Ashton Wryn recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but Fruita’s defense answered. Bair sacked Sanchez, forcing the Warriors to pass, but Sanchez didn’t have time. Fruita took over on downs.
“We tried to pooch it and get a good roll and got a great roll,” McGee said. “We almost busted through, but they made a nice tackle and got a sack.
“That was big momentum right there. If we score, there’s no telling what happens.”
Fruita drove the ball to the Central 1, burning five minutes off the clock before fumbling.
The Wildcats added another touchdown with 2:11 left on a Vince Grasso 5-yard run.
Grasso rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns. The Wildcats had 342 yards in total offense.
“They have a great runner in that Grasso kid,” McGee said. “He made some nice plays. A couple times we had him stopped and he pops out.”
Central lost running back Chance Sidebottom to an apparent back injury early in the second quarter on the kickoff return when he lost some feeling after a hit.