Bulldogs face tough foe for homecoming

It’s homecoming week in Palisade. You know, homecoming, the week during which every high school football coach in America yells, “Oh, joy!” while doing cartwheels.

Or not.

Joe Ramunno is in his first year back at the helm of the Palisade High School football team, but he remembers well the pitfalls of homecoming week from his previous stint in charge of the Bulldogs. So, practices this week have included reminders to his players to focus on the game.

“There’s a lot going on, and that’s what I’ve been challenging them with every day,” he said. “Enjoy the activities, but you better lock in on the game.

“All of the activities, I tell them that’s for the alumni and the student body. They don’t get to play the game, so that’s their contribution.”

Had homecoming been last week, Ramunno wouldn’t have been as worried. Sheets on a clothesline would have offered more resistance than Battle Mountain’s linemen did in the Bulldogs’ 70-0 win.

Instead, Durango awaits at noon Saturday at Palisade High School, and the Demons appear to mean business this year under first-year coach David Vogt. Durango is 4-0, winning every game by at least 19 points and three of them by 32 or more, and Ramunno said the Demons look good on the game film.

Durango’s team speed got Ramunno’s attention, and he said the Demons have good-sized linemen who get off the ball and hit well.

Running back Tyler Worley is back after earning first-team All-Southwestern Conference last year, and he has help. Ramunno said the Demons have two good running backs, and quarterback Jeremy Szura is shining in Vogt’s offense, a mix of spread and zone read, the latter working well for their trap plays and the option.

“Their quarterback is talented. He can run, he’s very shifty, a very good athlete,” Ramunno said.

So, Palisade, ranked third in Class 3A by CHSAANow.com, will get challenged after having a fairly easy run to 4-0.

“I told the kids after the (Battle Mountain) game, our challenge is coming,” Ramunno said. “So, don’t think you’re really something, because you haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t been tested yet. We’re about to get tested every week.”

After Durango comes a trip to Rifle to play the undefeated Bears, who are ranked No. 2 in 3A coming off last season’s state runner-up finish.

10 years of run raising funds

Saturday marks the 11th Anna Banana Invitational cross country race hosted by Fruita Monument High School, but it will be the 10th anniversary of the citizens 5K run/walk that accompanies the high school competition.

The citizens event draws upwards of 200 participants, and the proceeds from the $25 entry fee go to the Anna Lee Foundation, which has awarded 61 scholarships to date, ranging from $500 to $1,000, in memory of former Fruita cross-country runner Anna Janowitz. Janowitz died in a car crash en route to cross-country practice in 2002.

Foundation board member Martelle Daniels, whose daughter, Prudence, was injured in the accident that claimed Janowitz’s life, said the foundation tries to make sure someone from each high school in the Grand Valley receives a scholarship every year.

Daniels added, “The race is to keep her sweet memory alive and to do something positive for the community in her honor.”

Daniels said she still gets choked up every time she hears Anna’s name and added Prudence will be coming to town from Jackson Hole, Wyo., to run in the this year’s race.

Fruita Monument coach Herb Huskey said this will be his final Anna Banana Invitational as the Wildcats coach because he will retire from coaching after this season, his 13th as head coach and 18th overall with the program. But he’ll keep coming to the race.

The Anna Banana Invitational was packed with emotion in its first few years, Huskey said, and now it’s an event where he and others look forward to seeing each other. He said the Janowitz family — parents Clint and Diana and daughters Deena, Brooke and Chelsea — come to the race each year. Chelsea sings the national anthem, and “Anna’s Poem” is read before the race.

Huskey said the poem is one Anna wrote about why she loved running.

The citizens race starts at
8 a.m., and participants still can register Saturday morning before the race from 7 to 7:45.

The high school varsity races, which will feature 19 schools, are at 11 a.m. for the boys and 11:30 a.m. for the girls at Connected Lakes State Park. The junior varsity races take place after that.

Missed out potato olés

Highlands Ranch football coach Darrell Gorham kept his sense of humor after his team’s 18-17 loss last weekend to Fruita Momument.

“The thing I’m mad about,” he said, “is they took the damn Taco John’s out.”

Gorham was familiar with the 12th Street Taco John’s location near Stocker Stadium from his days as Rifle’s football coach.

He didn’t know that location closed a couple of years ago, and he said he was telling all of his assistant coaches they had to eat there while they were in town.

The Daily Sentinel sports department feels your pain, Darrell. A few of us were regulars there.

Grand Junction still has a Taco John’s location in Mesa Mall.


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