Montrose well aware of South’s size, speed
Montrose High School football coach Todd Casebier’s contention that Denver South’s team is huge was greeted with a chuckle and a qualifier from Rebels coach Tony Lindsay.
“It’s not a big team,” he said. “We have some big players. We have them where they count.”
Namely, he said, South has three giant tackles: senior Mike Williams who is 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, junior Darian Mion, who is 6-3, 315, and sophomore Robert Rudolph, who is 6-3, 301. Williams and Mion start on both sides of the ball. Rudolph sees the field in different packages.
So, perhaps the Rebels aren’t all gargantuan, but Casebier said, when top-seeded Montrose (10-1) hosts South (9-2) in a Class 4A second-round playoff game at 1 p.m. Saturday, the Indians will be facing “one of the bigger, more athletic teams I’ve seen in 4A in years. ... They have some kids who are big and move well and look pretty good in a uniform.”
Lindsay acknowledged his tackles can move, and Williams is being recruited by NCAA Division I programs.
Behind that size is speed and skill, and Casebier called senior Zachary Lindsay South’s best player as a running back on offense and linebacker on defense.
Zachary Lindsay rushed for 144 yards in the Rebels’ 36-26 victory over Durango in the first round of the playoffs, which put him over the 1,700-yard mark for the season.
His strengths as a runner are his balance, strength and vision, said Tony Lindsay, who is Zachary’s father as well as coach. And Tony added, he doesn’t consider his son to be fast in a sprinter’s sense, rather, “He has good football speed. He can run sideways as fast as he runs forward.”
South operates out of an I-formation and does some spread formation, and Tony Lindsay said he has three good running backs. In addition to Zachary Lindsay, the Rebels feed the ball to Trevonte Tasco, who is hovering around 1,000 yards, and Shun Johnson, who has about 400 yards.
Tony Lindsay said Tasco is 5-8, 255 pounds “and he can run a 4.8 (-second 40-yard dash). When he runs downhill, it’s on.”
Casebier added, “Tasco is a big load. He’s a hoss.”
Johnson, meanwhile, is being recruited by Division I schools as a cornerback, and Lindsay said Johnson doesn’t get talked about much as a running back, but, “He’s a flat-out athlete.”
Casebier said South hangs its hat on running the ball, but Rebels quarterback Tyson Purifoy is a bootleg, sprint-out type with good speed and the ability to make big plays with his arm when needed.
On defense, the Rebels’ base has been a four-man front, but Casebier said no team plays a four-man front against Montrose, so he expects to see five or six down linemen. And those linemen will be large. In addition to the 300-pounders, South has other linemen weighing 250 to 280 pounds, Casebier said.
“They have some big hosses,” he said. “We’re gonna have to find a way to block that size.”
Montrose senior running back and defensive back Angelo Youngren said going against physically bigger teams is nothing new for the Indians.
“I’ve grown up with Montrose football always being the smallest team ... having to have technique, having to hit harder,” he said.
Youngren added the Indians will need to be more physical than South in order to win, and they’ll need to be more relentless in the fourth quarter.
Youngren’s return last week from an injury was a boon to the Montrose offense. After missing four games with a broken collarbone, he carried the ball 32 times for 184 yards. Youngren and fullback Mike Rocha, who scored three times in Montrose’s 31-25 first-round playoff victory over Montbello, make a potent 1-2 punch.
“They’re No. 1. They’re going to punch you in the face,” Lindsay said. “They’re aggressive. They come at you. They’re coached well.”
And while Montrose talks about the need to be fundamentally solid in technique and fire off the ball in order to counter South’s size and quickness, Lindsay said the Indians aren’t exactly little.
“What stands out to me,” Lindsay said, “is their defensive line, they all look the same. They all look like they’re 250 pounds and tough. They’re one of those teams, they look tough.”
Another thing the Rebels have going for them, Casebier said, is confidence. Montrose’s top ranking won’t faze South.
“They were in the state championship game last year, and they think they’re going back,” Casebier said.
Lindsay said his team had to prove itself, though, after losing 13 quality seniors from last year’s squad that bowed 17-14 to Monarch in the title game. The Rebels returned only five players who played last season. And South hasn’t been dominating opponents like it did a year ago.
“We’ve been behind a few times. We’ve had to come back. We’ve lost a couple,” Lindsay said.
But his squad is coming together down the stretch and knows what’s at stake.
“We tell the kids, ‘Leave all you have on the field. This is the time,’ ” Lindsay said.