Class 3A Western Slope Conference is full of contenders
Four Class 3A Western Slope Conference teams made the playoffs last fall, and three advanced past the first round, with Rifle taking an undefeated record into the state title game before losing to Silver Creek.
The biggest mystery for 2013 in the WSC will be how Rifle and head coach Damon Wells adjust without the dominating play of Ryan Moeller, who rushed for 3,002 yards and scored 50 touchdowns last year.
Even though the Bears lost some key seniors, they had a lot of underclassmen get playing time in 2012, especially on defense, and they should still be one of the top teams.
Virtually every coach points to the traditionally tough Rifle and Palisade teams as the squads to watch in 2013. But most coaches also look at Glenwood Springs, Delta and Eagle Valley to be strong contenders.
Palisade welcomes back Joe Ramunno to the head coaching ranks after a year as an assistant. He’s bringing back the flexbone offense, which is similar to the system that helped Palisade to four straight state titles in the mid-1990s under Ramunno.
The Bulldogs will be tough, physical and athletic, and that means they will again be one of the top teams. They return 1,000-yard rusher Dalton Hannigan.
After missing the playoffs for the past two seasons, Glenwood Springs appears poised to contend this year. The Demons return some talented seniors, including Travis Lundin, a three-year starter at quarterback. Glenwood coach Rocky Whitworth’s shotgun spread offense puts a premium on decision-making by the quarterback, so to have Lundin back in the same system bodes well for the Demons.
Eagle Valley and Delta were surprise contenders in 2012 with both making the playoffs. Eagle Valley lost 17 seniors to graduation, and Delta lost valuable senior leadership, but both teams could still be in the mix late in the season.