Happy to be here: Several players choose to play for Bulldogs

Ronald Kuntz, left, and Quinn Zamora, right, are two of the many football players who choose to attend Palisade so they can play for the Bulldogs. “Ever since we lived here, I wanted to play here because of their toughness,” Kuntz said.


Eagle Valley vs. No. 8 Palisade

Thursday, 7 p.m., Stocker Stadium

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

RECORDS: Eagle Valley 1-4 (1-2 WSC); Palisade 5-1 (2-1 WSC)

LAST WEEK: Eagle Valley lost to Delta 27-3; Palisade lost to Battle Mountain 49-28

GAME NOTES: For a stretch of about eight plays, Battle Mountain took advantage of a couple of Palisade turnovers and pulled away for the victory. “We struggled through the adversity and it didn’t go our way,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “We had five turnovers and they had none. That’s no excuse. They made plays and we didn’t. We have to go back to work, play hard and learn from our mistakes. When you lose like that, it makes you realize who you are.” Palisade QB Luke McLean rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. ... Led by Cole Nielson, Eagle Valley runs a similar offense as Battle Mountain. The Devils rushed for more than 300 yards in their victory over Steamboat Springs. Eagle Valley is allowing 26 points a game. ... Palisade defeated Eagle Valley 47-12 last season in Gypsum.

NO. 6 Montrose vs. No. 1 Grand Junction

Friday, 7 p.m., Stocker Stadium

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

RECORDS: Montrose 6-0 (0-0 SWC); Grand Junction 6-0 (1-0 SWC)

LAST WEEK: Montrose did not play; Grand Junction defeated Central 47-0

GAME NOTES: Grand Junction and Montrose have won the past six Southwestern Conference titles. The Indians won four in a row from 2006-2009. “If we’re an upper-echelon 5A team like we think we are and they come in here and beat an upper-echelon 5A team, that shows they can compete for a state title in 4A,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said. “I think it’s a good measuring stick for them and vice-versa for us to go up against someone that knows us well and is fired up to play us. As an upper-echelon 5A team, we should beat a 4A team, but we’ve got to go out there and prove it.” ... Montrose is beating its opponents by an average of 38.2-10.5. The Indians have defeated three Class 4A opponents by a margin of 29 points. Four of their six opponents were ranked at one point this season. Grand Junction is the first Class 5A opponent on Montrose’s schedule this season. Montrose is averaging 274 yards rushing per game, led by sophomore Angelo Youngren with 779 yards (129.8 per game) and 15 touchdowns. “The Youngren kid has given them an added weapon. I think he has done a great job of fitting in their scheme,” Owens said. “Their offensive line comes off the ball probably better than anyone we’ve faced this year.” Grand Junction defeated Montrose 49-13 last season.

Central vs. Durango

Friday, 7 p.m., Durango H.S.

RADIO: none

RECORDS: Central 1-5 (0-2 SWC); Durango 2-4 (0-1 SWC)

LAST WEEK: Central lost to Grand Junction 47-0; Durango lost to Fruita Monument 43-0

GAME NOTES: The Warriors took a big hit, losing quarterback Taylor Sanchez to a possible concussion in their loss to Grand Junction last week. Durango was limited to 223 yards in total offense in a loss to Fruita Monument. ... This is the Demons’ third home game of the season and first since they defeated Piedra Vista (N.M.) 35-14 on Sept. 16. Durango quarterback Joe Keresey has completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,056 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. ... Central defeated Durango 24-21 last season.

Fruita Monument vs. Loveland

Saturday, 1 p.m., Loveland H.S.

RADIO: none

RECORDS: Fruita Monument 3-3; Loveland 2-4

LAST WEEK: Fruita defeated Durango 43-0; Loveland defeated Thompson Valley 26-6

GAME NOTES: Fruita Monument is in contention for a Class 5A state playoff berth, but will likely need at least two more wins to clinch a berth. “We’re at the bottom of the 3-3 teams,” Fruita coach Sean Mulvey said. “It’s not where you want to be. It tells us we have to do more work. (Playing 4A teams) could come back and hurt us. That’s what you get playing in this conference. Our focus is winning games.” ... Loveland has rushed for more than 200 yards and won its past two games after starting the season 0-4. The Indians ran for 279 yards in its victory over Thompson Valley last week. Willie Dunkleman had 18 carries for 131 yards. “They did get off to a slow start, but they have big, athletic kids,” Mulvey said. “They want to line up and punch you in the mouth. They want to blitz you, run the ball at you. If you’re not ready for that, you’re in for a long day.” ... Fruita Monument defeated Loveland 10-7 last season.

Games to Watch

Rifle (6-0) at Delta (4-2), 7 p.m., Friday: The Bears are in control of their own destiny, but had to overcome some turnovers for a 14-10 victory last season.

Olathe (3-3) at Coal Ridge (3-3), 7 p.m, Friday: The Titans remember last year when Olathe ran over them in a 43-0 victory.

When Quinn Zamora was told his family was moving to the Grand Valley, he knew where he wanted to go to school.

Zamora grew up in Gunnison and moved to Palisade with his family prior to his sophomore year of high school.

“My dad heard about the football here,” Zamora said. “It was either Junction or Palisade and I chose Palisade, pretty much for football because of the tradition they had and the character of the team.”

The senior fullback is one of a handful of football players at Palisade by choice.

Palisade draws students from other schools for its International Baccalaureate program in addition to school-of-choice students, since only one middle school, Mt. Garfield, feeds into Palisade.

“It makes a good fit for those who don’t come from the same middle school,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “We have move-in kids, school-of-choice kids and kids that drive here. We have a land of misfit toys.

“They have to get to know each other and I like that. Ronald Kuntz is a perfect example.”

Kuntz, a senior tailback, lives in Coll-bran, but attends Palisade.

“We used to live here in Palisade and I would watch the football games,” Kuntz said. “Ever since we lived here, I wanted to play here because of their toughness.”

Zane Stewart didn’t have much choice after his family moved to De Beque from Elizabeth a year ago.

The junior lineman could have played on the state champion Elizabeth team last fall if his family hadn’t moved, but he doesn’t regret relocating.

“I’m glad to be here,” Stewart said. “I definitely miss my friends, but I’m glad to be at Palisade.

“Ever since I can remember, when my older brother played, you always heard about Palisade. They’re always consistent and tough. I wanted to be a part of that.”

All three have played a significant role in another year of Palisade football tradition.

Kuntz has rushed for 493 yards and six touchdowns to lead the No. 8 Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1 Western Slope Conference). Palisade hosts Eagle Valley at 7 tonight at Stocker Stadium.

“Palisade is tough all the time,” Kuntz said. “They never quit. It doesn’t matter if they’re down, they’re still going to play with heart.”

Zamora has rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns and leads the team with four sacks from his defensive end position.

“I like the smaller schools,” Zamora said. “My graduating class at Gunnison would’ve been 70. Palisade has more of a small-school appeal to me.”

“Quinn is exactly what Palisade loves in a fullback,” Arledge said. “He’s physical and tougher than hell.

“He’s the best defensive lineman we have. He’s probably the most dominant senior I’ve seen in the league at this point.”

Zamora hopes to play college football.

“I can’t see me not playing football,” Zamora said. “I love playing football that much.”


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