INDIANS DRAW THE LINE
Returning a fullback who rushed for more than 1,500 yards and a quarterback who threw for more than 1,000 yards are a great start for any football team.
But it’s what is in front of them that will be leading the way as Montrose High School bids to return to the Class 4A state championship game.
Indians coach Todd Casebier thinks of his tight end as a lineman, so when you put 6-foot-1, 195-pound tight end Kolby Martinez in with linemen Matt Maestas (6-1, 255), Andrew Doney (5-9, 240) and Cayden James (6-2, 225), Montrose returns four starting blockers.
“Our offensive line was a strength last year and will be more of a strength this year,” Casebier said. “It’s as good a line as I’ve been around.”
Oh, what fun to be running back. Or in Mike Rocha’s case, a fullback.
At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, he also happens to be the fastest player on the team. He could play tailback, but Casebier said, “The thing about him is he’s just all fullback.”
That’s all Casebier needed to say, but he went on about his senior who comes off a season in which he led the Indians with 1,572 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns on 281 carries, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
“He’s a horse, and he’s going to be kind of the centerpiece of the offense,” Casebier said. “He was first-team all-state, and his summer has reflected that.”
Oh, what fun to be a running back beside Rocha in Montrose’s pro-style/veer offense?
Junior tailback Dalton Wright “can really run,” Casebier said. “He really has another gear. If teams key on Rocha ...
“He’s just fast. Straight-forward fast. Probably the fastest tailback I’ve had here, and that’s saying something.”
Oh, what fun to be a quarterback.
Kameron DeVincentis did an admirable job as a junior signal-caller, completing 56 of 104 passes for 1,054 yards and 14 touchdowns.
And Casebier said DeVincentis took to heart the leadership role he needs to assume as a senior.
“He gained strength in the weight room, and his arm strength has always been good, and he can make every throw,” Casebier said. “He’s really been our leader all summer and through minicamp. We’re excited about Kam and what he brings.”
Oh, what fun to be a kicker.
Lucas Ruiz Diaz got to attempt 63 extra-point kicks and made all but four of them. He also was perfect on six field goal attempts, and Montrose figures to have an offense that will keep him busy again.
The only question mark on offense is the receiving corps, which graduated its two leaders in receptions.
The defense also starts strong up front with Maestas and defensive end Donnie Adams back as starters, and the secondary has two returnees in cornerback Nick Foster, who also ran for nearly 500 yards as a backup running back, and free safety Mitch Freismuth.
The fifth returning starter on defense is James, a linebacker, and Casebier said of the quintet, “All five had great summers and are all-conference types.”
The question mark on defense is at linebacker, finding quality starters to complement James.
The players who must fill in on both sides of the ball will be the key to success this season, Casebier said.
“Our new guys have to make plays,” he said. “If we do that, I think we’re going to be pretty good.
“We’re bringing in some good players from our JV and freshman teams. It’s a matter of, do we get them ready sooner or later?”
After playing one of the toughest schedules in Class 4A last year, the Indians again will need to survive a challenging schedule. Their nonconference slate includes three 5A schools. Then, they take on the challenge of a new conference, the 4A Foothills, which centers around Colorado Springs and has “a lot more speed than we have on this side of the hill,” Casebier said.
Montrose opens with a home game against Grand Junction, the team the Indians perennially battled for the top spot in the Southwestern Conference, and they’ve kept former SWC rival Fruita Monument on the schedule. They also will play Delta, a team Casebier reveres as one of the top three in 3A this season, and Lakewood.
A challenging schedule doesn’t deter Montrose, though. Casebier said he has some players who have been in big games, and he needs them to lead the new players.
If that happens and the team stays healthy, Casebier said, “I really do think we can be a factor in 4A again.”