Columbine familiar foe for Fruita
Fruita Monument is in and that is all that really counts to the Wildcats.
Fruita (4-5, 2-2 Southwestern Conference) qualified for the Class 5A state playoffs and play 8-1 Columbine at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Jeffco Stadium.
The Rebels are a familiar foe for the Wildcats, who played Columbine four times in a two- year span between 2004-2005. Columbine won all those match-ups, including both in 2004 by a combined two points.
“This is the fifth time we have played them, so we have to be prepared,” Fruita coach Bill Moore said.
The current Wildcats are also familiar with the Rebels after playing them this past summer during camps.
“We played Columbine all summer so we know what we are up against,” Moore said. “They have a lot of speed at receiver and they are big but they have lost some linemen on both sides.”
Heading into the game the Wildcats will have to take advantage of its strength, which is the option running game. By controlling the football, Fruita will attempt to keep a Columbine offense off the field that averaged more than 30 points per game.
But for Fruita, the game will also be about bouncing back after a 37-yard rushing performance in the final regular season game against Poudre.
“We have to do what we do,” Moore said. “We are going to go where we have to go and play our game.”
The Warriors knew this year could be special. Central finished 5-4 and defeated both Fruita Monument and Grand Junction. That was enough to help earn Central (5-4, 3-1 SWC) the No. 23 seed in the playoff pitting the Warriors against Chaparral (7-2).
After a four-year absence, making it back into the postseason completed a preseason goal.
“We were down the last two years, but with this team, we expected to be in the playoffs,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “But now our goal is to get a playoff win. We have to focus that our season is not done.”
Central plays at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Douglas County Stadium. The Warriors don’t have a lot of traveling experience this season, with only three true road games. In two of those games, Central had bad losses, (41-0 Grandview in week 1 and 45-13 in week 7 at Montrose), but the Warriors did earn a big win at Gateway 38-6 in week 3.
“Usually we travel pretty well,” McGee said. “So I don’t know where we will be for Saturday’s game. We will stay overnight (Friday) and that will be the first time we have done that all season.”
Grand Junction not only needed to beat Montrose last Friday but also needed help from the teams that were above it in the wild-card points. The Tigers (2-7, 1-3 SWC) got neither.
Grand Junction allowed big second and third quarters that gave Montrose the 35-0 win and its third straight Southwestern Conference title.
Regardless, the good news for Grand Junction is that the season isn’t over just yet. The Tigers host Palmer in a non-qualifier game at 5 p.m. on Thursday at Stocker Stadium.
“This is another opportunity for our young guys to play and hopefully a chance to get this senior class a win against a 5A team,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said. “We will be going against someone more our caliber, so it is important to go out and compete.”
Palmer finished last in the Southern Conference, with its only win coming in the first game of the year in a 2-0 win over Sierra.
The best therapy for Palisade’s 29-22 loss to Glennwood Springs two weeks ago was to take its pain out on Rifle in the form of a 48-6 win.
The Bulldogs didn’t waste anytime, as they jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead over the Bears. Travis Fehlman had a big game, rushing for 164 yards on only seven carries.
With the win, it moves Palisade improved to 9-1 in the regular season and gives the Bulldogs a week off before most likely hosting a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
And while the argument could be made of Palisade wanting to ride its solid regular-season momentum into the playoffs and not having a week off, the week off will give Palisade the opportunity to reflect on the regular season, rest up and begin its real season.
“The first 10 games are preseason,” Palisade coach John Arledge said before the season. “If there is a bump in the road, the first 10 games, it isn’t necessarily bad, it is one of those things where you can learn from it.”
The Bulldogs are currently fourth in 3A wild-card points.