Football is back

High school teams ready to kick off the 2013 season

Grand Junction’s Quinton Walton has slimmed down from 295 pounds to 275 pounds and Tigers coach Robbie Owens hopes Walton’s increased athleticism will help him be a force on the offensive and defensive lines.

Go ahead, Hank Williams Jr., ask me: Are you ready for ...?

... You’re dang right I’m ready for some football!

And make mine the high school variety.

After spending the past few weeks working on our annual football preview section, I can’t wait to see our area teams in action.

As loaded with information as our preview section is, though, there’s only so much we can shoehorn into a 24-page tabloid section. Some good stuff simply has to be left out. So, some of what I didn’t get to write is showing up here:

Keeps coming back for more

Fruita Monument coach Sean Mulvey speaks of the senior leadership on his team this year, and no one exemplifies it better than quarterback Jake Lynch, who comes off an impressive junior campaign with sights set on getting the Wildcats to the playoffs.

At 5-feet-10, 165 pounds, Lynch isn’t the biggest quarterback, but he bows to no one when it comes to toughness and desire.

Mulvey said defenses hit Lynch hard and often last season, but they couldn’t keep him down.

“The kid has a ton of guts,” Mulvey said. “Several times last year he was busted up, blood all over him, and you can’t get him out of the game.”

No higher praise

Wildcats senior tight end and linebacker Matt Story is an impressive all-around athlete, and Mulvey says he has brains and leadership to match, on the field and off.

“He’s just an amazing human being to be around,” Mulvey said.

A few words say it all

Shawn Marsh takes over as Central’s head coach, and he likes what he’s seen from his offensive and defensive linemen. There’s size. There’s athleticism. There’s speed. He hopes to instill in them a competitive fire that exceeds their physical attributes.

One of those strapping linemen is defensive end Skyler Hancock, who goes 6-3, 250, and in addition to calling him big, Marsh said, “Skyler Hancock is a man.”

When a football coach says that, it means he can ramble on and on about a player, but he can succinctly say it all with one short phrase.

Technique and tenacity

When checking with Central Athletic Director Randy Powell about the spelling of some of the Warriors’ names, talk turned to linebacker Justice Morrow.

I mentioned Marsh said he thinks Morrow is one of the best tacklers in the state. Powell agreed and added, “He’s one of those players who just does things right.”

Still big, just better

A big man who appears to be much better now that’s he’s not quite as big is Grand Junction’s Quinton Walton. He was listed at 295 pounds last year when he played on both lines for the Tigers.

This year, he’s down to 275 pounds and is quicker and more athletic, according to Tigers coach Robbie Owens.

“Quinton has transformed himself more in the last four-five months than any kid I’ve coached,” said Owens, who has been coaching football at various places and levels for 18 years.

Owens said Walton went out for wrestling last winter and worked on his agility, plus he has trained to improve his strength, speed and quickness.

Owens said Walton’s confidence has soared, too, giving the example of a recent school day when Walton wore a tight shirt, revealing the big man had toned his torso.

“He never would have done that last year,” Owens said.

Just waiting for directions

Owens heaped praise on many players, and another lineman who has impressed him is 6-1, 270-pound junior Austin Gray.

“He’s a weight-room guy, doesn’t say a word, gives you the blank stare,” Owens said. “You tell him what to do, and he will do it.”

A blocker either way

Joe Kobalt moved to Palisade this year, and new/old Bulldogs head coach Joe Ramunno plans to play him on both lines.

“He wanted to be a fullback,” Ramunno said, “but I told him in our offense a guard is the same thing as a fullback.”

Impressive bloodline

Ramunno thinks Palisade tight end and outside linebacker Jack Millard is ready for a good senior season. He called the son of former NFL All-Pro defensive tackle Keith Millard “one of the toughest guys we’ve got. ... He’s a good one.”

Defenses don’t want to hear it

Jack Nicholson as the Joker in the 1989 film “Batman” snarled, “Wait ‘til they get a load of me.”

Montrose tailback Angelo Youngren could say the same thing.

“He’s certainly one of the best backs in Colorado. His yards and production speak for itself,” Indians coach Todd Casebier said, referring to the 1,602 yards and 18 TDs Youngren ran for last year.

Youngren has improved his strength and speed, to which Casebier said, “He’s been very committed to being all of those things. He’s committed to football. He wants to play in college.”

Casebier said Youngren is being recruited by some Division I and Division II schools with most of them saying they want to see what he does as a senior.

“If his offseason is an indication, he’s going to have a great year,” said Casebier, who uttered nearly identical words for junior fullback Mike Rocha, who got taller and bulked up to 6-foot, 202 pounds.


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