Led by Youngren, strong line, Montrose ready to shine
Angelo Youngren ran wild for much of 2012, churning his powerful legs to rush for 1,602 yards and 18 touchdowns and powering Montrose to a Class 4A/5A Southwestern Conference title.
The bad news for the rest of the SWC: He’s back for his senior season.
Worse news: He committed himself to getting bigger, stronger and faster, intent on playing football in college.
Even worse news: He will run behind four returning starters on the offensive line, including first-team all-conference tackle Allen Tieme, who is 6-foot-1, 250 pounds.
And perhaps worst of all for the Indians’ foes: As dangerous a weapon as Youngren is, he has help.
“We’re not a one-man team,” Indians coach Todd Casebier said. “We have four offensive linemen back and a fullback back.”
The fullback is 6-foot, 202-pound Mike Rocha, who got much bigger and stronger and comes off a sophomore season that yielded 606 yards rushing and 10 TDs. Defenses that key on Youngren might find a steady diet of Rocha isn’t any more appetizing.
Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens and Fruita Monument coach Sean Mulvey saw Montrose in the summer and came away impressed.
Rocha got so much bigger and looked so good, Mulvey thought the Indians had a new fullback move to Montrose in the offseason. His thoughts on the fullback were: “He looked bigger than Angelo and almost as fast.”
And of Youngren, Mulvey added, “He looks faster, bigger, stronger than he was.”
Quarterback Cam Devincentis, a 5-8, 150-pound junior, impressed Mulvey with his mobility, and Casebier said Devincentis is quick, savvy and had a good summer. But his size is a concern, and Casebier worries about his ability to withstand a full game of getting hit, so he plans to use 6-2, 185-pound sophomore J.D. Tenappel for about one-third of the team’s snaps.
“We’re going to need them both,” Casebier said.
The duo has the unenviable task of replacing the leadership of Drew Casebier, a three-year starter at quarterback. Where Todd Casebier hopes Devincentis and Tenappel can emulate his son is in the ball-protection department.
“The biggest thing about quarterback play the last couple of years is we didn’t have turnovers from that position,” Todd Casebier said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball, control the clock and play good defense, and you’re going to be in games.
“For us it’s pretty simple.”
The defense has eight starters back, including three players who will be in their third year as starters: Ira Wooten at defensive end, Pete Shearer at linebacker and Youngren at free safety. Another leader at linebacker will be second-year starter Conner Lawson.
“Pete’s always had a nose for the ball. He’s probably our biggest hitter,” Casebier said. “And Conner’s just a good, solid leader for us. I expect him to be one of the best players in the league.”
The question mark on defense is the secondary, where three starters will be new. If those defensive backs emerge as solid players, and Montrose gets the quarterbacking it needs, Casebier expects the Indians to contend for the SWC title.
They’ll certainly be battle-tested by the time the conference games arrive.
“The No. 1 thing that has me concerned is our schedule is as tough as it gets,” Casebier said, adding nonconference opponents Monarch and Pueblo West probably will be ranked in the top four in Class 4A, and Vista Ridge will be somewhere in the top 10. Montrose opens at home against Vista Ridge.
“We’ll find out right off the bat how good we are,” Casebier said.