Indians second to none
Strong 2nd quarter lifts Montrose to easy win
MONTROSE — It wasn’t the start Montrose football team was looking for, but by halftime the game was well in hand.
The Indians scored 28 second-quarter points to overcome an ugly first quarter in a dominating 49-6 win over Hinkley in a nonconference game Friday night.
In the first quarter, Montrose threw an interception in the end zone and penalties nullified a long touchdown run and a fumble recovery of a bad snap by Hinkley. To compound matters, Hinkley quarterback Austin Ruiz completed his first four passes of the game.
It was like the Indians hit the snooze button to start the game, but once they woke up, they trampled the Thunderbirds (2-2).
A couple of fourth-down plays set the tone for the Indians. Senior Pablo Paredes stopped Ruiz about two inches short of a first down on a fourth-and-two play on Hinkley’s first drive. Then, Mike Rocha broke loose for a 34-yard run on fourth-and-two for the Indians to set up a 1-yard run by Pete Shearer and a 14-0 lead.
Rocha, who got the scoring started with a 14-yard run, finished with 97 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
The second quarter was total domination for Montrose (5-0), the third-ranked team in Class 4A.
After seeing the Hinkley passing game find early success, Montrose turned up the heat on the pass rush.
Defensively, Conner Huskey, Gavin Brown, Cayden James and Irah Wooten led a punishing effort that limited the Thunderbirds to only one first down in the second quarter.
“I think we learned in the first quarter that we needed to step it up a little,” Brown said. “Our defensive line started pushing their line off the ball, and our linebackers filled in the gaps.”
With Rocha dominating the inside run game, Shearer and Nick Foster found running lanes to the outside.
Senior running back Angelo Youngren, who broke his left hand in the second game of the season, got into the action, albeit briefly. The shifty runner broke off a run of 20 yards and scored on the next play — a slashing 15-yard run to give the Indians a 21-0 lead.
Rocha had scoring runs of 7 and 2 yards to give the Indians a 35-0 lead with two minutes remaining in the first half.
Montrose coach Todd Casebier said the slow start didn’t concern him much.
“We knew they were good on offense, and we threw an interception that cost us some points, but once we got going we were fine,” Casebier said.
Montrose did little wrong in the second quarter, but their one big blunder cost them a shutout.
Lucus Ruiz-Diaz had done a good job of booting most of his kickoffs into the end zone. But his final kickoff of the half came up 1 yard short of the goal line, and Hinkley’s Bryson Compton broke free and went down the right sideline for a 99-yard kickoff return.
To start the third quarter, Montrose picked right up on the domination front.
Nick Foster had a 61-yard kickoff return, then scored two plays later on an 11-yard run around right end for a 42-6 lead.
Huskey had two big plays in the third, sniffing out a screen pass and forcing an incompletion. Then, after the Thunderbirds recovered a fumble, the senior broke through for a fourth-down sack to halt a Thunderbird threat.
Next week, Montrose travels to the Front Range to play the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A: Monarch.
‘There’s no bigger test than that,” Casebier said. “The defending state champs on the road … We will find out how we stack up against the best team in 4A.”