Montrose falls to Mesa Ridge in playoffs
MONTROSE — The coach grasped his son, their muffled words and sobs standing out from those around.
Todd Casebier had coached his son Drew Casebier in football since fifth grade, and now they met on the football field likely for one final time. It was a goodbye to the memories and the years of running the pro-style/split back veer offense together.
Seventh-seeded Montrose had just lost 35-14 to No. 10 Mesa Ridge in a Class 4A state football playoff first-round game. But before the post-game hugs — there were many among the red-and-black Montrose men in football jerseys — Casebier and son helped put together a final blast of offense.
Mesa Ridge (8-3), which will play Ponderosa in next week’s quarterfinals, had used the first-quarter momentum of causing Montrose to turn the ball over on downs twice inside the Grizzlies’ 20-yard line. Mesa Ridge took a 28-0 lead early in the fourth quarter, even though quarterback Cody Groff, who had set the school’s records in passing yardage and touchdowns, could not pass as effectively in gusting winds. But the Grizzlies ran, showing off speed and strength, led by Nick Foster’s 126 yards rushing.
“We got outplayed, outcoached,” Montrose head coach Todd Casebier said. “They did a way better job than we did. I did not have the team ready to play, and I cannot tell you why.”
And so Montrose (7-4) went to work down four touchdowns. First, Drew Casebier found Pete Shearer for a 61-yard pass that set up Mike Rocha’s five-yard touchdown run.
Montrose recovered an onside kick, and although snow began sprinkling the field, Angelo Youngren, Montrose’s prolific running back who was playing just a couple of weeks removed from a high ankle sprain, broke off runs of 13 and eight yards and later caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Casebier.
Shearer ran in a two-point conversion and Montrose trailed 28-14.
Youngren, also the Indians’ starting safety, did not play defense on Friday. Anthony Crow started at safety in place of Youngren. In the first quarter, Crow dislocated a shoulder, but returned the next quarter.
“We didn’t run the ball like we’d done all year,” Todd Casebier said. “And after that they did a better job than us.
“They ran the ball up and down the field on our defense the second half. It was a total team loss. We didn’t do one thing well tonight, I didn’t think.”
The rash of injuries Montrose has battled all season continued. In the third quarter on a third-and-long play, wide receiver Brennan Woodruff took a reverse and was dragged down. He stayed down on the ground for about 10 minutes before being taken off on a stretcher.
An announcer said Woodruff had suffered a neck injury, but he was moving his extremities, and the stretcher was used as a precaution.
But the loss of Woodruff left Montrose without Drew Casebier’s biggest deep threat this season.
And Montrose, down 28-14, couldn’t get the ball back. Mesa Ridge recovered an onside kick, and that’s when Groff began showing why he has set school records.
“We’re notably a running school,” Mesa Ridge coach Rob Braaten-Head said. “This year we have the ability, because we have four great senior receivers, to be well-balanced.”
The Grizzlies converted two third downs on pass completions, and Groff later hit Devon Miller for an eight-yard touchdown to put Mesa Ridge ahead 35-14 with 4:40 remaining.
“Early on they did a better job,” Braaten-Head said. “We got those two goal-line stands that helped motivate us. That helped get our kids going there. You get two fourth-down stands there, and that gets our guys motivated.
“And my offense benefited from my defense’s success.”