Defensive play leads Demons into title game
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — After giving up 465 yards in total offense in last week’s 50-39 Class 3A state quarterfinals victory over Berthoud, Saturday’s state semifinal football game against Mountain
View was up to the Glenwood Springs High School defense.
The Demons responded in a big way, holding the normally potent Mountain Lions’ power ground game to 140 yards and returning an interception for a touchdown as Glenwood overwhelmed Mountain View 47-14.
“Our coaches prepared us well,” Glenwood Springs senior linebacker Keenan Hartert said. “It starts with the defensive line — they do their part and it comes to us and to the defensive backs.
“It comes down to doing it the right way.”
Saturday’s victory means that Glenwood is playing in a state championship football game for the first time in 28 years. Glenwood was victorious in its two previous state title appearances, winning the championship in 1978 and 1980.
The Demons (13-0) face another undefeated team, Fort Morgan, at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Legacy Stadium at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora.
Glenwood was most concerned about Mountain View’s bigger offensive line and the ability to stop the running game. But the Demons answered the call.
Other than a 73-yard touchdown run off tackle by Steve Ryan in the second quarter, Glenwood held Mountain View to 18 yards rushing in the first half.
By that time, the Demons had already grabbed the momentum.
They did that on the game’s first play, when Kevin Screen returned the opening kickoff 37 yards to midfield. It took Glenwood only three minutes to score the game’s first touchdown, an 18-yard keeper by quarterback Dakota Stonehouse around right end.
Glenwood forced a fumble on Mountain View’s first offensive series as the defense set the tone.
The Demons frequently blitzed their linebackers, trying to counteract the Mountain Lions’ size advantage with quickness in filling the gaps.
“As much as stunting linebackers, it was a matter of players rising up, which they’ve done all year,” Glenwood Springs head coach Rocky Whitworth said.
After trailing 24-6 at half, Mountain View began the third quarter with its best offensive series of the game, scoring in 11 plays.
Glenwood answered with another touchdown. Then it was up to the defense again.
Nick Ciani intercepted a pass on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, returning it 23 yards for a
touchdown to put Glenwood ahead 38-14.
Even the special teams got into the act. The Demons scored on a safety when a punt snap went high over the head of the Mountain Lions’ Logan Hoffman, who kicked the bounding ball out of the end zone.
The Demons, missing the services of senior receiver Connor Riley, who broke his left foot late in the Berthoud game, still managed to move the ball effectively.
They gained 383 yards, including 187 yards through the air. Most of those passing yards went to Glenwood’s leading receiver, Screen, who caught five passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.
With Riley on the sidelines in a cast, Screen felt the pressure to play well.
“I definitely thought that,,” Screen said. “Without him, we’re missing a helluva player.”
Glenwood meets its fourth Tri-Valley Conference opponent in as many weeks Saturday when it faces Fort Morgan. The Mustangs won the conference.
Glenwood is taking the entire Thanksgiving week off from school. Everyone, that is, except the athletic teams — in particular, the football team.
“I guess we’ll have to practice eight hours a day,” Whitworth joked.
After going undefeated during the regular season and losing to Sterling in the first round of last year’s playoffs, this year’s Glenwood team is on a mission.
“Sterling taught us so many lessons,” Hartert said.
With a state title on the line, one of those lessons is that they’ll practice however hard they need to in order to be prepared to win a state title.