Fast ‘Cat: Zupan uses his speed well for Fruita

Martin Zupan has been timed in the 100-meter dash in 11.18 seconds and the Fruita Monument senior uses that speed to great effectiveness for the Wildcats. Zupan is being used in multiple ways for Fruita Monument.



QUICKREAD

Glenwood Springs vs. Palisade

Thursday, 6 p.m., Stocker Stadium

RADIO: 1340-AM (KTMM): 95.1-FM (KKNN)

RECORDS: Palisade 3-0, 0-0 Western Slope Conference; Glenwood Springs 2-1, 0-0 WSC.

LAST WEEK: Palisade defeated Roaring Fork 53-13; Glenwood Springs defeated Fruita Monument 36-28

GAME NOTES: After strong starts, both Palisade and Glenwood Springs have made a case as the top team in the Western Slope Conference.

The two teams have contrasting styles.  Palisade has a run-first attack led by quarterback Luke McLean and running backs Caden Woods, Ronald Kuntz and Quinn Zamora. The Bulldogs are averaging 256 yards per game on the ground.

Glenwood Springs will be going to the air with quarterback Luke Jacob targeting receivers Cam Avery, Grant Fegan and 6-foot-4 Willy Pelland.

“The intensity is up because Glenwood is a good team.,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “Defensively, they are one of the top in the state.

“They know their system well, and are tough, physical kids.”

CENTRAL VS. HINKLEY

FRIDAY, 6 P.M., AURORA PUBLIC SCHOOL STADIUM

RECORDS: CENTRAL 0-3, 0-0 SOUTHWESTERN CONFERENCE; HINKLEY 0-3, 0-0 EAST METRO CONFERENCE

LAST WEEK: CENTRAL LOST TO FORT COLLINS 41-7; HINKLEY LOST AURORA CENTRAL 9-7.

GAME NOTES:  WARRIORS STARTING QUARTERBACK TAYLOR SANCHEZ WAS FORCED TO LEAVE LAST WEEK’S GAME AGAINST FORT COLLINS WITH A HEAD INJURY. CENTRAL COACH VERN MCGEE SAID THE WARRIORS HAVE TAKEN NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS TO ENSURE SANCHEZ IS HEALTHY ENOUGH TO PLAY. IF SANCHEZ CANNOT PLAY, THE WARRIORS WILL START EITHER NOAH SANCHEZ OR CURRENT STARTING TAILBACK AARON WALLWAY AT QUARTERBACK.

REGARDLESS OF WHO PLAYS, THE WARRIORS HAVE TO MAKE BALL CONTROL AN EMPHASIS. LAST WEEK, CENTRAL HAD FOUR TURNOVERS INSIDE ITS OWN 20-YARD LINE.

HINKLEY HAS STRUGGLED THIS SEASON, BEING OUTSCORED 79-14 IN ITS FIRST THREE GAMES.

“WE NEED TO WIN THIS WEEK,” MCGEE SAID. “WE’VE HAD THE GOAL OF WANTING TO GET BETTER EVERY WEEK, BUT WE NEED TO WIN THIS ONE.”

WESTMINSTER AT GRAND JUNCTION

FRIDAY, 7 P.M., STOCKER STADIUM

RADIO: 1340-AM (KTMM), 95.1-FM (KKNN)

RECORDS: GRAND JUNCTION 2-1, 0-0 SOUTHWESTERN CONFERENCE; WESTMINSTER 1-2, 1-1 EAST METRO CONFERENCE

LAST WEEK: GRAND JUNCTION DEFEATED STANDLEY LAKE 42-6. WESTMINSTER LOST TO NORTHGLENN 33-14.

GAME NOTES: GRAND JUNCTION HAS SCORED A COMBINED 81 POINTS THE PAST TWO WEEKS AFTER SCORING ONLY 10 AGAINST HIGHLANDS RANCH.

“THE BIGGEST THING IS CUTTING DOWN TURNOVERS,” GRAND JUNCTION COACH ROBBIE OWENS SAID. “WE HAVEN’T TURNED OVER THE BALL AND THE DEFENSE CONTINUES TO PLAY WITH A LOT OF CONFIDENCE.”

JERREON DAVIS FILLED IN FOR INJURED SENIOR RUNNING BACK ANDY WILLETT LAST WEEK AND RAN FOR 231 YARDS AGAINST STANDLEY LAKE, INCLUDING A LONG OF 79 YARDS.

THE WOLVES HAVE BEEN OUTSCORED 75-14 IN THEIR PAST TWO GAMES UNDER A NEW COACH TRYING TO BUILD A PROGRAM THAT’S STRUGGLED RECENTLY.

GRAND JUNCTION SHOULD FIND PLENTY OF MOTIVATION WITH ITS HOMECOMING FESTIVITIES, INCLUDING THE ANNUAL HALFTIME CHARIOT RACE.

FRUITA MONUMENT AT REGIS

FRIDAY, 7 P.M., LOU KELLOGG FIELD, DENVER

RECORDS: FRUITA MONUMENT 0-3, 0-0 SOUTHWESTERN CONFERENCE; REGIS 3-0, 0-0 CONTINENTAL CONFERENCE

LAST WEEK: FRUITA MONUMENT LOST 36-28 TO GLENWOOD SPRINGS. REGIS DEFEATED POMONA 42-7.

GAME NOTES: FRUITA MONUMENT COACH SHAWN MARSH CONTINUES TO TINKER WITH HIS LINEUP TO FIND THE RIGHT POSITIONS FOR HIS PLAYERS TO SUCCEED.

Vince Grasso had the most carries at running back last week with 11 for 47 yards, but Marsh used Martin Zupan in several formations. Zupan produced 82 yards in total offense.

“We’re still trying to improve a lot of the stuff we do,” Marsh said. “We’re working on timing and getting kids in the right spots. The kids are working hard. They are doing everything asked of them. We’re getting better. We’ve got to get better every week.”

The fourth-ranked Raiders run the ball in a double tight end set, but utilize play action. Running back Jordan Jurgens is averaging 107 yards per game and has scored five touchdowns.

“They are a great team,” Marsh said. “They are an entire team of athletes that get after it. We’ve got to be ready for a battle. They’ve got depth.

“I think it’s great we get to play one of the best teams in state. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH

PUEBLO WEST AT MONTROSE, FRIDAY, 7 P.M.: WITH INDIANS QUARTERBACK NATHAN ROBERTSON OFFICIALLY DONE FOR THE SEASON, MONTROSE MOVES FORWARD AGAINST A CYCLONES TEAM COMING OFF TWO STRAIGHT WINS.

MOFFAT COUNTY AT DELTA, FRIDAY, 7 P.M.: DELTA LOST 51-7 LAST WEEK IN A LATE-SCHEDULED GAME AGAINST TOP-TIER NEW MEXICO SCHOOL BELEN. THE PANTHERS ENTER THE WSC SCHEDULE, WHERE THEY SHOULD FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE.

OLATHE AT BASALT, FRIDAY, 7 P.M.: THIS IS A MUST-WIN FOR THE PIRATES, WHO HAVE LOST THEIR PAST TWO GAMES. BASALT IS COMING OFF TWO LOPSIDED WINS OVER CLASS 1A COMPETITION.



Growing up outside of the United States, Martin Zupan always wanted a chance to play football.

Zupan was born in Texas, but his father’s job in the oil business took him around the world.

The Fruita Monument High School senior spent 11 years playing a variety of sports — mostly soccer — in places like Quito, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; and Muscat, Oman.

When Zupan arrived in Fruita before his freshman year, he finally had a chance to play American football.

“I always thought if we came back to the States, I would try football,” Zupan said. “My dad played high school football, so it always interested me.”

Zupan’s athletic skill set is perfectly set up for football. At 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, Zupan is one of the fastest players in the Southwestern League.

Need proof? Zupan ran the 100-meter dash in 11.18 seconds during last year’s track season.

“I was watching track and saw Martin run,” first-year Fruita Monument football coach Shawn Marsh said. “I didn’t know any of the kids, but I saw he could run really well.

“When a kid has an Accutrack 100 time, that’s a really good way to check speed.”

In the Wildcats’ spread offense, Zupan plays the H wide receiver, a position in which a player needs to be versatile. Zupan is used in running plays to get to the edge, as well as catching quick passes.

Marsh said Zupan is a perfect fit for his offense.

“When you have athletic kids, you need to get them the ball, and get it to them in space,” Marsh said. “When there is a kid like Martin, I need to make sure I have a game plan where I have a lot of good ways to get Martin the ball.”

So far Zupan has been heavily involved, with 88 yards on 17 catches and 10 rushes for 65 yards. Zupan is also serving as the Wildcats’ return man on kickoffs.

“Speed has always been a big part of my game,” Zupan said. “I rely on it a lot just to move around and get into open spaces quickly. It’s always helped me a lot in any sport I’ve done.”

His speed was a benefit on the soccer field, a place Zupan missed last year. After two years of football, Zupan spent last fall on the soccer pitch.

“I was missing it and I felt like I wanted to play one more year,” Zupan said. “But then we lost our coaching staff in soccer and we gained new coaches in football, so I figured I’d go back and play football.”

Fruita Monument quarterback Zach Thorpe said he was excited Zupan returned to the gridiron for his senior season.

“Martin is a dual-threat player,” Thorpe said. “He’s got speed, he’s got hands, he’s got shifty moves, so it’s always exciting once he gets the ball.”

Zupan and the Wildcats have a big challenge this week by taking on No. 4 Regis. Despite the 0-3 start, Zupan said the Wildcats are making strides.

“We are on the right track,” Zupan said. “We’ve been working hard at practice every day and every day we’ve improved.”


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