Home sweet home

Palisade homecoming game features 'hometown' feel

Central High School’s Michael Price, 12, is one of four first-year starters learning his way on the field. Price, Fruita Monument’s Jake Lynch and Grand Junction’s duo of Tyler Heinsma and John Wiman all are performing well so far despite their lack of experience. Price and Central face D’Evelyn on Saturday.



A throwback, homecoming football atmosphere will be at the Palisade High School football field at noon Saturday when the Bulldogs play Montezuma-Cortez.

It is the only home game of the season Palisade does not play at Stocker Stadium.

Palisade Athletic Director Mike Krueger said seating is limited, so fans are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs.

“It’s a real hometown atmosphere,” Krueger said. “That’s exactly why we do it.”

Palisade (2-0) is ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, having moved up one spot from last week.

Senior quarterback Luke McLean has completed 16 of 19 passes — an 84 percent completion percentage — for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

Rifle (2-0) once again is No. 1.

Top 10 Class 5A teams face off: Grand Junction (3-0), which moved up two spots to No. 6 in 5A, plays at No. 9 Ralston Valley (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Tigers are looking to extend their 20-game regular-season winning streak.

Ralston Valley features 6-foot-10, 295-pound offensive tackle Dan Skipper, who has signed to play for the University of Tennessee.

Ralston Valley, which had been ranked fifth, lost 29-25 last week to No. 8 ThunderRidge.

“It’s too bad they lost,” Owens said. “They would have been No. 1 this week.”

Austin Lewis has 50 carries for 400 yards and four touchdowns for the Tigers.

First-year quarterbacks grind through trials: Central, Grand Junction and Fruita Monument all have first-year starters at quarterback.

For the No. 6 Tigers, John Wiman and Tyler Heinsma have been rotating, although it will be Heinsma who will start at No. 9 Ralston Valley at 7 p.m. Friday as Wiman expects to sit with a sprained ankle.

“They learned a lot under Sean (Rubalcaba),” Tigers coach Robbie Owens said, “and we haven’t given them much credit for picking up as much as they have the last couple years.”

Heinsma has completed 12 of 25 passes with one touchdown and one interception and has rushed for 175 yards on 24 carries and four touchdowns.

Wiman has completed 10 of 19 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He has 184 yards rushing and one touchdown.

Owens said Heinsma is the front-runner to be a full-time starter.

Central quarterback Michael Price, also a baseball pitcher, threw three interceptions in a 28-21 loss to Longmont — ranked No. 9 in Class 4A — on Saturday and has thrown two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

But Central coach Vern McGee said Price has improved each week.

“For quarterbacks it’s just adjusting to the speed of the game,” McGee said. “(Michael) is very competitive, and he understands the game.”

Fruita Monument’s Jake Lynch also is in is first season, and is leading the 1-2 Wildcats into their 7 p.m. Friday matchup against Eaglecrest at Stocker Stadium.

Lynch has completed 22 of 41 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns. He has thrown two interceptions.

The senior also has rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns.

Once again, Fruita looks forward to playing a Front Range school.

“It’s like the Front Range schools are just being thought of as better always than on the Western Slope, that they’re bigger and have more kids,” Lynch said. “We’d just like to go and prove something.”

Injury updates: Grand Junction starting fullback and defensive end Theron Verna suffered a fractured fibula in the Tigers’ win over Rocky Mountain last Friday and will miss at least two weeks, Owens said.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Verna said a Rocky Mountain player fell on his leg during the first half.

“I’m a fast healer,” Verna said. “I should be back to play against Montrose (Oct. 19).”

Senior linebacker/tight end Matt King will replace Verna at fullback; Austin Berk and Kyler Rose will alternate taking Verna’s spot on the defensive line, Owens said.

McGee said starting wide receiver Ed Becoat, who suffered a dislocated hip two weeks ago against Palisade, could be ready to play soon.

“He’s been getting some therapy,” McGee said.


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