Bulldogs prep for playoffs with win over Delta
DELTA — The Palisade High School football team entered Friday’s 49-14 win at Delta in a unique situation.
Ranked 10th in the Class 3A wildcard standings, the Bulldogs (8-2, 5-2 Western Slope Conference) were in a position where a loss wouldn’t drop them out of the playoffs, but a win likely wouldn’t bump them into the top eight to host a first-round game.
So, in the final game of the regular season, the Bulldogs opted to focus on using the game against the Panthers (4-6, 2-5) to fine-tune things before the playoffs.
“I think the big aim for us, on both sides of the ball, was just the little things,” Palisade assistant coach Matt Borgmann said. “Fixing little things on both sides of the ball, doing our technique defensively, (moving) our feet on the O-line. Really, the aim was just fixing our little things so we could get better tonight.”
On Delta’s senior night, those little things added up to big results.
Palisade’s defense allowed only 15 yards in the first half, 233 total, and the offense had 566 yards of its own.
Other than a small hiccup in the second half, the game was never in doubt.
Although the offense stalled on the game’s first two drives, the Bulldogs got behind a ground game based on running back Ronald Kuntz and fullback Quinn Zamora. Timely passes from Luke McLean to Caden Woods in the third drive helped the ‘Dogs drive 55 yards.
They scored on a 1-yard run by Zamora with 1:04 left and a kick by Spencer Jackson made it 7-0.
Jackson finished 7-7 on point-after kicks.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs kept the momentum with 14 points in 91-second span.
Palisade received a punt at its own 41-yard line to start the quarter. On the seventh play of the drive, Kuntz ran 7 yards for a touchdown with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Jackson’s kick made it 14-0.
On the ensuing kickoff return, Palisade forced a fumble and recovered it at Delta’s 22. On the fifth play of the drive, Kuntz ran it again for a 1-yard touchdown with 8:29 left on the clock.
JT Townsend scored on a 2-yard run with 43.5 seconds left and Jackson’s kick made it 28-0 going into halftime.
The only hiccup the defense had in the game came after halftime.
Delta got the ball at its own 33 and drove it 67 yards on seven plays. The Panthers scored their first touchdown on a 27-yard run up the middle by Alex Standish.
Saul Sanchez’s kick made it 28-7 with 10:22 left in the quarter.
Delta forced Palisade to go three-and-out on its next series and started again with the ball on its own 30.
On the first play of the drive, Mitchel Whiteside hit Colin Fraser with a pass near midfield. Fraser was nearly tackled, but kept his balance and ran the rest of the 70 yards for a touchdown with 8:40 left in the quarter.
Another kick by Sanchez made it 28-14.
“Our kids struggle sometimes coming out of the gate just getting after it and being aggressive,” Borgmann said. “They needed a kick in the pants and they got it with 14 points (allowed).”
The Bulldogs, though, responded with scored 21 unanswered points, with Zamora scoring one touchdown and Kuntz, who finished with four touchdowns, scoring two.