No. 1 Falcon a tough foe for Palisade
There’s a reason the Falcon High School football team has been seeded first throughout the Class 3A state playoffs.
The Falcons didn’t get to be No. 1 by accident.
One of only six teams in Colorado (and the only 3A team) with unbeaten records heading into the next-to-last weekend of the season, Falcon has dominated every opponent this fall except for one.
The Falcons had only two close games all season, both against Conifer. Falcon won the season-opener 17-14 over the Lobos, then defeated them 17-13 in last week’s state quarterfinals.
In its other 10 games, Falcon has outscored its opponents 356-95. Other than the two games against Conifer, no opponent has come closer to Falcon than Rifle, which lost 37-21 in the first round of the playoffs.
The Falcons’ success can primarily be attributed to senior running back Keenan Ballage. At 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, the senior back has shown breakaway speed.
He’s rushed for 2,242 yards, second in Class 3A, and has scored 24 touchdowns. He averages a gaudy 8.83 yards per carry.
Ballage had his struggles in last week’s game against Conifer, rushing for only 21 yards. But the Falcons didn’t go away from their bread and butter, the ground game. Instead, they gave the ball to Zach Roscoe, a junior who picked up the slack by rushing for 114 yards.
The Falcon coaching staff was in full force at Saturday’s quarterfinal game at Fort Morgan (just as three of the Palisade assistant coaches scouted Falcon’s victory over Conifer last Friday). Although two-thirds of Falcon’s offense tends to come from its ground game, the Falcons may take a page from Fort Morgan’s book and try to air it out a little more than usual.
• This marks the 10th road trip in Palisade’s past 16 playoff games.On the plus side, if the Bulldogs win, they are guaranteed to host the Class 3A state championship game at Stocker Stadium next Saturday.
• According to research by Palisade assistant coach Joey Kowalczyk, the Palisade football program compiled a record of 71-14 from 1994-2000. From 2001 to the present (including last week), the Bulldogs are 71-17.
The Bulldogs are 5-1 in state championship games during that 14-year run.