Big-play Adam: Swanson’s two INTs play key role in Gladiators’ win

esse Kirstatter, 1, dives for the end zone Saturday as he tries to score in the first quarter of the Grand Junction Gladiators’ 28-19 victory over the Broomfield Dawgs. Kirstatter didn’t score on the play, but had a combined 120 yards rushing and receiving in the win.

Adam Swanson never had the opportunity to play college football.

Nearly four years after graduating from Palisade High School, Swanson is getting to play football again.

“I just love playing,” Swanson said. “I love the team we have, a lot of great players we have.”

He picked off two passes, returning one 58 yards for a touchdown, to lead the Grand Junction Gladiators independent football team to a 28-19 season-opening victory over the Broomfield Dawgs in the Grand Junction Charity Bowl on Saturday afternoon at Stocker Stadium. The 31⁄2-hour game was timed by the three officials on the field because the game clock was not functional.

“I don’t even know what was going through my head,” Swanson said of his return for a touchdown. “I saw the ball in the air and reacted on it. My team helped me out. I had a lot of blockers.”

The touchdown gave the Gladiators a 21-13 halftime lead. It was the final play from scrimmage in the first half and it came one play after Broomfield intercepted Grand Junction quarterback Mike Christensen.

“That was a big play,” Gladiators coach Will Jones said. “They say defense wins championships. Sometimes it proves it.”

An automotive technician during the week, Swanson picked off Broomfield with less than one minute left in the game, sealing the victory.

“They are both pretty important,” Swanson said. “It’s all about the team anyway. That’s what I’m out here for. We want to get the W in the end, that’s all that matters.”

He and his brother, Alex, are two of several former Palisade High standouts playing for the Gladiators this season.

Another former Palisade standout, Jesse Kirstatter, led the offense with 55 rushing yards and 65 receiving yards, including a 13-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put the Gladiators up 28-13.

Christensen completed 13 of 21 passes for 175 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Grand Junction had 268 yards in total offense but turned the ball over four times.

The defense, though, stood tall, limiting Broomfield to 285 yards of total offense, including 41 on the ground. The Gladiators forced three turnovers.

“The defense played really well today,” Jones said. “We’re good at running stopping. They didn’t really run the ball well on us. We missed a couple passes, but with the corners we have, it makes it easier to cover the ball.”

Grand Junction (1-0) hosts the Salt Lake City Crush at 3 p.m. on May 7 at Canyon View Park.


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