Montrose plus playoffs equals anything can happen

Traditionally, first-round playoff games involving the Montrose High School football team haven’t been easy for the faint of heart.

For the past four seasons, the Indians’ opening-round games have been decided by a total of 12 points. That includes everything from their biggest margin of victory — last year against Niwot, 21-14 — to a two-point loss to Fountain-Fort Carson in 2007.

“Historically, there’s been nothing easy in the playoffs,” Montrose coach Todd Casebier said. “We know we have to be ready for anything.”

Although the games have been close, Montrose has won three of its four first-round games since Casebier took over. The Indians look to add to that number Saturday at 1 p.m. when they take on Standley Lake in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

“They look like a typical playoff team,” Casebier said. “They run the ball, play good defense and are sound.”

The initial advantage goes to Montrose because they’ve been to the playoffs the past four seasons; Standley Lake is making the first football playoff appearance in the school’s 21-year history.

Since the postseason has become familiar territory, Casebier said the Indians seem to have a renewed energy once the playoffs begin.

“I think our guys having been (in the playoffs) their whole careers, they know there’s a different speed for the game,” Casebier said. “Our guys have played in or watched all these playoff games, and they know they have to get a little more spring in their step.”

The extra spring could help stop a Standley Lake team that’s on a five-game winning streak. The Gators are led by quarterback Koltin Fatzinger, who’s more of a game manager for Standley Lake than a playmaker.

Fatzinger, a senior, has passed for nearly 900 yards, with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Gators’ rushing attack is led by running backs Brandon Lechuga and Jay Sawicki, both of whom average about five yards per carry.

“They do things right,” Casebier said. “They are a little bigger than us, but that’s nothing new to us.”

The key for Montrose will be not making critical mistakes. Last season, the Indians were bounced from the playoffs when they committed five turnovers and lost 22-8 in the quarterfinals to Greeley West.

“Everything is magnified this time of year, good and bad,” Casebier said. “Every turnover, every forced turnover, every three-and-out, and every penalty, it’s all more important because it could very well be the difference.”

The Indians will attack Standley Lake with the same run-first approach they’ve used all year. This year the featured running back has been senior Jordan Passehl, who’s rushed for 1,238 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Not far behind is Glayden Berry, who has racked up the majority of his more than 800 yards and 11 touchdowns running right up the middle.

“We are going to have to make sure to care of the football on offense,” Casebier said. “That’s something we are really stressing.”


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