Hard work has led Demons into title game
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The numbers were thin for the 1997 football season. The school had a decision to make.
Making players’ safety its primary concern, Glenwood Springs High School made the difficult decision to suspend its varsity football season for a year, try to build interest and develop a program from the ground up.
The program has been building for 11 years. The end result of that construction project has the school and the community in a red frenzy.
Saturday, for the first time since 1980, Glenwood Springs is playing for a state football title.
It’s been a process. This year’s seniors were mere second-graders when the varsity program was re-established in 1998.
It didn’t take long for them to gain an interest in the sport. As far back as fourth grade, when they were playing in the Three Rivers Youth Football Program, they dreamed about playing for a winning program, playing for a state title.
Their dreams will be realized at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon when they take on Fort Morgan, like Glenwood unbeaten on the season, at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora.
For the first time, the Class 3A state title game will be played at a neutral site. It is the second of a two-game state title extravaganza at Legacy Stadium. Another Western Slope team,
Olathe, plays for the 2A state title at 11 a.m.
Back during their youth football days, it was two Glenwood Springs teams playing for the league title eight years ago. The teams played to a 12-12 tie in regulation.
“From there on, once we got into middle school and high school, we knew it’d be a good trip,” Demons quarterback Dakota Stonehouse said.
“I think that day we played each other, we knew we’d be together (in high school),” senior wide receiver Kevin Screen said.
It didn’t just come about by dreaming, however. Back before they entered high school, the players began lifting weights, going to summer camps and doing off-season drills, all with the goal of being where they are now at during their senior seasons.
“We just all worked hard in the offseason,” Screen said.
Although he saw the potential when they were young, Demons head coach Rocky Whitworth said the players still needed to learn the proper work ethic.
“Everybody needed to be taught how to train,” Whitworth said.
His players took it to heart, though it took a couple of year.
“As sophomores and juniors, that’s when it stuck,” Whitworth said of the offseason work.
“This day is finally here,” said Screen, who is Stonehouse’s favorite target with 45 catches for more than 850 yards and eight touchdowns.
Most every team the Demons have played this fall has been bigger and taller. Glenwood has tried to counteract that size deficit by emphasizing speed and athleticism.
“I think everyone on this team has heart,” Screen said.
While Glenwood has staked its claim on its offense, Fort Morgan has thrived with its defense this season.
“Playing smart and playing hard are two big things,” Whitworth said of what it will take for his team to prevail.
Screen looked out across Stubler Memorial Field at the high school this week, realizing it would be his last few days of practice at Glenwood Springs.
“It’s kind of sad in a way,” he said. “I’ll miss walking out on that field with my best friends.”