Indians’ offense doesn’t surprise Greeley West
MONTROSE — In Todd Casebier’s years as a head football coach, his teams have been known for having a power ground game.
In an attempt to throw a curveball to the Greeley West defense in Saturday’s Class 4A state quarterfinal playoff game, the Indians decided to rely more on the pass.
The Spartans were ready, however. Greeley West picked off four Montrose passes, converting three of them into touchdowns as the Spartans advanced to the state semifinals for the third time in five years with a 22-8 victory.
“We knew it was going to be an Ali-Frazier-type game,” Spartans head coach Mark Roggy said, using the boxing analogy to predict a knock-down, drag-out quarterfinal.
“Montrose is the kind of team where there’s not any secrets to what they do,” Roggy said, expecting the Indians to try to control both the tempo and the clock with their ground game.
Instead, the Indians tried to catch the Spartans off-guard in their second offensive series, but Nate Robertson’s first pass of the game was grabbed by Spartans defensive back Erick Ghent at the Montrose 25.
Six plays later, Greeley West quarterback Sean Blackmer connected with receiver Reed Miller in the left corner of the end zone from 13 yards out and the Spartans took a 6-0 lead.
“Coming here and getting that first touchdown was big,” Blackmer said of getting the early lead on the road.
The Indians went back to their ground game for their only scoring drive of the day, a patented 18-play drive covering 95 yards after a blocked field goal attempt in the second quarter.
Glayden Berry got the scoring honors from seven yards out as the Indians knotted the game at 6-6, but they were penalized for procedure on the point-after try; the second kick attempt was blocked and the two teams were into halftime tied.
“We felt if it was 6-6 at half and we hadn’t played our best football, we’d better come out and play in the second half,” Blackmer said.
They did, once again with some help from the defense.
Travis Belfiore intercepted a pass on Montrose’s opening drive of the second half, returning it to the Indians’ 41-yard- line. It took six plays for the Spartans to retake the lead. Max Morgan broke a tackle and bulling over from the 11 on his first carry of the day.
Interceptions weren’t Montrose’s only problem. The Indians lost a fumbled snap on their next series and the Spartans turned it into a 24-yard Brian Wright field goal to go ahead 15-6.
On Montrose’s next series, Greeley West picked off a deflected pass on fourth and 5.
Spartans running back Steffen Bunting, who had been held to 69 yards on 22 carries to that point, finally broke one off on the next play, going 63 yards around right end for the score.
Any hopes of a Montrose comeback were solidified when the Indians were stopped just short of the goal line on fourth and 1 late in the fourth quarter.
“We just couldn’t buy a break,” Casebier said.