Road-tested Tigers crush Mountain Vista

HIGHLANDS RANCH — The road frequently traveled.

That’s the fate of the Grand Junction High School football team during the nonconference portion of the 2013 season, and the Tigers relish the challenge. Witness the Tigers’ 49-13 manhandling of Mountain Vista on Saturday.

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids,” Tigers coach Robbie Owens said of his team’s second road trip to the Denver metro area in as many weeks. “That’s why we come over to this side of the mountain. We have to get better.”

It took a little bit to kick-start the engine, but a defensive stop on Mountain Vista’s second series seemed to turn the tide.

The Tigers took over on their own 36-yard line to start the second quarter and put together their first sustained drive. Theron Verna took the handoff from the H-back position and scored on a four-yard run to break the scoreless tie.

Then, the rout was on.

Jack Parsons intercepted a pass on the Golden Eagles’ next play from scrimmage, then immediately caught a 40-yard pass from Tyler Heinsma to set up Dion Martinez’s 12-yard pass reception for a score.

Before the half was over, Grand Junction added scores from Heinsma on a keeper and Austin Lewis on a 47-yard trap play to take a 28-0 lead into the locker room.

After Mountain Vista showed some diversity in moving on offense on its first series, the Tigers plugged the gaps defensively, holding the Golden Eagles to just 28 yards combined in their next five series, including one pass reception in nine attempts.

Mountain Vista went to the pass in the second half with some success, although Grand Junction matched the Golden Eagles score for score to maintain its dominance. That was highlighted by Martinez’s third touchdown of the night, a 54-yard interception return in which he weaved his way through the Mountain Vista offense for the score.

Martinez finished with only 15 yards rushing on three carries and two receptions for 18 yards, but when he touched the ball, something happened.

Despite a comfortable victory over Prairie View in Zero Week, “We felt we were not a physical team week one,” Martinez said. “If we can get rolling in the first quarter, we’re OK.”

Though that didn’t happen, the Tigers did eventually get the offense in gear. That’s due in large part to the number of skill players returning from last season.

“I realized last year that those guys have to get comfortable in our offense,” Owens said.

“Those guys worked so hard (in the offseason),” he said, citing Heinsma in particular. “Tyler had probably put the most work in.”

The result is obvious as the offense is far ahead of where it was at this point last season, rolling up 411 yards Saturday.

Next week, it’s another challenge: a trip to Fort Collins to play a Rocky Mountain team that opened its season Friday with an upset of Chaparral.

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids,” Owens said

“That’s going to give us more confidence when we play at home,” Martinez said of the experience of playing on the Front Range.

Another week, another road trip. It’s becoming old hat for the Tigers.


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