Ending career with a win a goal for Palmer

TYLER PALMER PLAYS HIS FINAL high school football game tonight when Grand Junction High School plays Palmer in a Class 5A non-qualifier game at Stocker Stadium.

Tyler Palmer has tried to approach every football game for Grand Junction High School the same.

The senior defensive back and kick returner has provided the same intensity, game in and game out, no matter the situation.

Tonight, as he stands on the Stocker Stadium artificial turf and on the west sidelines for the last time in his high school career, his mood may be different.

“There’s a little more emotion out there,” Palmer said.

The Tigers (2-7) wrap up their season at home in a nonqualifier game against, ironically for Palmer, a school with the same name as his.

In the state’s other six football classifications, only the state champion gets to end its season with a victory. In Class 5A, six non-32-team state qualifiers get the opportunity to close out their season on a winning note.

That includes Grand Junction, which plays Palmer at 5 p.m. at Stocker Stadium.

Unless Central or Fruita Monument can rise from their lower-half seeding and win their next four games, or unless Montrose goes through the 4A playoff bracket unscathed, “We’re the one team in our conference who could win their last football game,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said.

“It’s good it ends this way,” Palmer said. “It’s awesome we get a home game. To go out with a win, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

That’s the way Owens is approaching the game as well.

“I think the biggest thing is, it’s life,” Owens said of the lesson the Tigers can learn from this game.

Even though there’s not another carrot at the end of a stick after this game, the lesson learned is to play hard, no matter the circumstances.

“This game quits you before you quit it,” Owens said.

The Tigers’ two victories have come against 4A teams. Owens wants his squad to end with a ‘W’ against a 5A opponent.

“This is a building block for our team,” he said.

Owens expected a few no-shows at Monday’s weight and stretching session, but the turnout was 100 percent.

“It’s been good,” he said of his team’s attitude during practice this week.

As a younger player, Palmer took his cue from such upperclassmen as Kris Means, Mark Novotny and Isaiah Quigley, who all went on to sign with college teams.

“I wanted to be like those guys,” Palmer said.

If there’s one thing he picked up from the older players, it was their work ethic.

“The thing I pass along is effort,” he said. “I tried to work at it.”

That’s the legacy he and his 14 senior teammates will try to leave the underclassmen.

“Just knowing I get to go out there with these guys I’ve spent four years with, it’s awesome,” Palmer said.

That’s what Owens is hoping his young team will learn from the season finale.

“We have a unique opportunity to grow from this,” he said.


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