Back to the basics
Fruita's ground game helps Casebier avoid first 0-3 start
Until last week, Todd Casebier had never started a season 0-2.
After Fruita Monument’s 38-14 win over Grand Junction on Friday night at Stocker Stadium, Casebier has never started 0-3.
“We got back to the basics,” senior Daniel Van Hoose said. “We were a lot more intense because we didn’t want to go 0-3.”
It was Van Hoose, a slotback, and the trademark Casebier counter play that re-established the Wildcats’ momentum in the third quarter.
After the Tigers cut the lead to 17-14, the Wildcats needed a big play and the counter was the perfect call.
Van Hoose took the handoff and darted left as the Grand Junction defense flowed to the right. Then it was off to the end zone down the left sideline for Van Hoose, virtually untouched, for a 61-yard TD run to make the score 24-14.
“I have to give it my line, they did the job for me,” he said.
The senior said losing the first two games of the season created a feeling of desperation for the team.
Wide receiver Kyle Fineran agreed.
“We kind of went back to our basic roots,” the senior said. “We started out slow going 0-2 and we needed to just figure out what was going on, and we did and we fixed things.
“The practice intensity went way up for this game. It was a little more intense, a little more tight.”
With Braeden Graham and Logan Triplett — both rushing for more than 100 yards — doing most of the work running between the tackles, Van Hoose and Fineran got the occasional run to the outside. They both averaged more than 10 yards a carry with Van Hoose running for 84 yards on six carries and Fineran 47 yards on four carries.
Casebier grinned when he talked about the counter play.
“Palisade wrote the book on that play,” he said. And he should know since he was an assistant coach under Joe Ramunno for the Bulldogs and was the head coach at Palisade when the team won the state title in 2003.
Casebier said it’s all about setting up the counter throughout the game.
“What we’re trying to do is get those kids established on outside runs, Van Hoose and Fineran, where they’re outstanding,” he said. “Anybody who tries to get outside, they’re going to run a counter off that. It worked for us and Daniel is a big play waiting to happen, him and Kyle both.”
Casebier said he wanted to get back to the basics but the biggest key was avoiding turnovers.
“We wanted to run the ball and play great defense. Our defense has played well for two weeks and really we’ve run the ball well, we just have to take care of the ball,” he said.
The basics of playing great defense and running the ball worked perfectly. The Wildcats gained 386 yards on the ground and limited the Tigers to 221 in total offense.
Casebier downplayed avoiding the 0-3 start.
“If you’re in this business long enough, it’s bound to happen,” he said about going 0-2. “But this win wasn’t about me. We wanted to get this win for (assistant coach) Clarence Ross and the 1966 state title team.”
Ross was a player on the ‘66 Fruita state title team that celebrated its 50th anniversary before the game.