Hard work helps FB Zamora taste success in college

Palisade graduate Quinn Zamora went from a walk-on to a three-time All-Big Sky Conference fullback for Northern Colorado during his college career.



Quinn Zamora knows what it means to be a Western Slope athlete.

Playing football at Palisade High School, he wasn’t afforded the recruiting opportunities of athletes in more populous areas. He was the Class 3A Western Slope League player of the year after his senior season with the Bulldogs, but when he went to play at the University of Northern Colorado, he did so as a walk-on — and with a huge chip on his shoulder.

Five years later, Zamora departed the school as a three-time All-Big Sky fullback. After redshirting in 2012, he played in nearly every game he could for the Bears. Sometimes, he started at fullback. As the Bears shifted to a more balanced offense, Zamora played at tight end, running back and on special teams.

In a sea of UNC players from the Front Range, Texas, California and Florida, Zamora had to find a way to make his mark. He was never the biggest, strongest, or fastest, but he was one of the hardest workers.

“You come in as a walk-on and you’re looked down on a little bit,” Zamora said. “You always have to put in a little extra work because all you can do is climb up.”

By his redshirt sophomore season in 2014, Zamora had gone from walk-on to a captain on a full-ride scholarship. During the first season Zamora saw the field, the Bears finished 1-11. During his final season in 2016, they finished 6-5 with a victory over the University of Montana.

“It’s been awesome seeing us go from really being the doormat of the Big Sky to beating a national championship contender in Montana,” Zamora said. “You see the growth in how we’ve played each season and you can see the direction the program is going.”

Even though the collective career statistics for Zamora aren’t flashy, coaches spoke highly of his blocking ability and work ethic. Zamora’s name popped up on a handful of scouting sites prior to the 2017 NFL Draft and he spent time working out with 22 other prospects in Colorado, including Christian McCaffrey.

Out of those 22 players, four were drafted, and Zamora’s name wasn’t among them. Still, he has a realistic outlook on his chances. He’d take an opportunity to play professionally if it ever came around, but for now, he’s focused on landing a job with his college degree.

He’s still out on the field, though.

“I’m still working out on the field and lifting,” Zamora said. “I honestly don’t know what I’d do without the exercise aspect of it. I’m just staying in shape in case I get one more shot and if nothing does happen, then I ended my football career on a happy note by beating Montana during my senior season.”

n Matthew King, a Grand Junction High School graduate, was an honorable mention All-RMAC selection for Colorado Mines as a defensive end. He had eight tackles for loss and five sacks, including 3.5 against Colorado Mesa. He was selected to the 2017 preseason All-RMAC team.

Soccer

Palisade graduate Spencer Jackson transferred from Colorado Mesa to UNLV, where he scored a clutch goal for the Rebels in the Western Athletic Conference tournament semifinals. Jackson worked on a give-and-go with a teammate and moved the ball into the box. The teammate slipped while trying to back pass at the top of the box, but Jackson stepped up and buried a shot into the left side of the net to lift UNLV past No. 23 Utah Valley University. It was the Rebels’ first victory over a nationally ranked opponent since 2014.

Fruita’s Baseley McClaskey scored a goal and appeared in all 22 games for the United States Naval Academy’s women’s soccer team. Her goal was a game-winner against Howard.

Grand Junction’s Taylor Chaffetz transferred from the University of Kansas to Colorado State and appeared in 13 matches for the Rams in 2016. She was one of a school-record 90 Rams to receive Mountain West Scholar-Athlete honors, meaning she carried at least a 3.5 grade-point average.

Softball

Central graduate Brooklyn Botts made 34 starts for Dodge City Community College (Kansas), hitting .268 with two home runs and 16 RBI. She’s one of eight sophomores on the roster for the Conquistadors, which finished 25-19 last season.

Volleyball

Jordan Eatwell could end her career at Western State as one of its all-time kill leaders as she heads into her senior season with 854 kills in her career. The Fruita Monument graduate was third-team All-RMAC as a junior and also has a piece of the school’s ace record, notching six in a match. She had 10 or more kills in 18 matches for the Mountaineers.

Her high school teammate, Joelle LeFevre, is about to start her senior year at Colorado Christian University. Last season, she finished with 232 digs, fourth on the team, in 34 matches for the Cougars.

Women’s Basketball

Central’s Cassidy Bryant made the Dean’s List at Bethany College (Kansas) as a member of the Swedes’ basketball team. Bethany finished 7-21.


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