Gladiators continue dominance at Stocker
It’s been three years since the Grand Junction Gladiators have lost a home game.
If Saturday’s game at Stocker Stadium is any indication, that streak won’t end any time soon.
Coming off an American Developmental Football League championship and a 2-0 start in the 2013 season, the Gladiators aired it out for a 55-0 win over the Colorado Cougars.
Grand Junction quarterback Dustin Benton doubled his total passes this season, completing 9 of 16 attempts for 123 yards and three touchdowns.
“I loved it, getting to air it out,” Benton said. “We’ve probably only have thrown 15 passes this year, so to come out and throw like this is great.”
The former Central High School and Colorado Mesa University football player watched from the sideline as the second team took snaps after halftime.
Jarrod Frazier and Mike Christensen led the Gladiators with three receptions and a touchdown apiece.
Former Grand Junction High School and CMU running back Kris Means notched two touchdowns on five carries for 59 yards.
Means said a large group of returning players from last year’s championship run has added to offensive cohesion.
More importantly, he added, is the shared love for football.
“It’s a fun group of guys who are out to play football,” Means said. “We’re out here because we love the game. We’re not out here to make money. We’re not out here for anything else besides the love for this game. It’s a group of guys who are here for one reason, and it just brings us together and makes it a lot of fun.”
Matt Surad made the jump from offensive coordinator to head coach this year. He said players coming back for the camaraderie, year after year, has led to the three-year home win streak.
“We have a lot of guys coming back, and that really helps the continuity of the team and getting everything rolling,” Surad said. “These guys just flat out love football. They have work, a lot of these guys have kids, and they just come out here ready to give it their all.”
The Gladiators held the Aurora-based squad below 100 yards of total offense and only 17 rushing yards.
Grand Junction laid vicious hits that left some Cougars slow to get it up. Having more than 30 players on the roster, and enough players that only a handful play both ways, has allowed Grand Junction to remain undefeated this season, and the depth is particularly useful on defense.
“We’ve been able to fill gaps better, and our defensive secondary has improved dramatically since the beginning of the season,” Surad said. “It helps that we can travel to the other side of the mountain with 34 guys.”
The Gladiators will have a rematch with the Cougars before returning to host the Mile High Hurricanes on July 6 at Stocker Stadium.