Not going wild

Fruita getting no love in Class 5A wildcard points

Despite beating Grand Junction in a battle of crosstown rivals, Jacob Lynch and the Fruita Monument Wildcats are ranked 39 in wildcard points, the system used to determine state qualifiers. Playing two winless teams and three 4A teams may keep Fruita out of the playoffs, with the top 32 qualifying.

Fruita Monument High School coach Sean Mulvey said it would take the “perfect storm” for the Wildcats to crack the 32-team Class 5A state playoff bracket.

The Wildcats (4-5) are ranked No. 39 in the wildcard point system that, in part, awards more points for wins over higher-classification teams and deducts points for losses to lower-classification teams, 

Grand Junction, which on Sept. 28 lost to Fruita, 20-14, is No. 19. Although the Tigers likely can clinch a state playoff spot with a win over Central at 7 p.m. today at Stocker Stadium, it is not likely they’ll host a first-round game.

Fruita, on the other hand, trails seven teams, and of its three wins over 5A opponents, two are over Adams City and Central, which were winless as of Thursday. That means few points.

“It’s gonna be difficult, no doubt about that,” Mulvey said.

In Class 5A, 2A, 1A, A-8 and A-6, playoffs begin Nov. 3. In Class 4A and 3A, playoffs begin Nov. 10.

If Fruita does not make the playoffs, it still established an identity of a team that nearly pulled off several fourth-quarter comebacks, and even when the Wildcats led big during their 42-0 win over Durango last week, they never stopped playing hard.

“We still had starters who said, ‘I want to keep playing,’ ” Mulvey said. “It’s just a great foundation to build from.”

Montrose (5-3) needs one more win to clinch the Southwestern Conference title. Fruita can win the conference if the Indians lose at Durango today and then at home against Central on Nov. 2.

Hindering SWC teams in their efforts to qualify for state is the fact the SWC is the only conference in the state where 5A teams (Grand Junction and Fruita Monument) play three mandatory 4A opponents (Montrose, Central and Durango).

“That hurts,” Mulvey said.

Montrose has defeated Grand Junction and Fruita and is No. 10 in the Class 4A wildcard point standings.

In Class A through 4A, there is a 16-team state playoff bracket.

In serious contention for the 3A state playoffs are: Rifle, which is 8-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state poll but No. 2 in wildcard points; Palisade (6-2), which is No. 10 in wildcard points, and No. 13 Delta (6-2).

Rifle is at Delta at 7 p.m. today before hosting Eagle Valley (7-1) on Nov. 2.

For Delta coach Ben Johnson, the wildcard system is a bit nutty.

“It’s a little crazy to me,” he said. “Because look at us: We get 70 points for losing to Montrose, but Eagle Valley (Class 3A) gets 88 points for beating Cedaredge (Class A).”

In Class 2A, Grand Valley (7-1) is in good position at No. 8, while Coal Ridge (4-4) is No. 17, one spot outside of qualifying.

In Class A, each conference receives two automatic qualifiers, and the remaining are selected by a seeding committee.

The six conference champions will be guaranteed a first-round home game. Cedaredge can clinch the 1A Western Slope Conference title and a first-round home game with a win over Paonia, 7 p.m. today at Cedaredge.

If Hotchkiss loses at Meeker today, Paonia can be the conference champion with a win over Cedaredge, which has won seven in a row.

The best Hotchkiss can hope for in league is a win over Meeker and a Paonia win over Cedaredge, a scenario that would create a three-way tie for first — all would be 4-1 in the conference, and the head-to-head criteria would by voided.

Delta coach Honored

After Delta’s 26-21 upset win over Palisade last week, Johnson was selected the Denver Broncos’ High School Coach of the Week.

Johnson said he’s never received such an honor previously. In 1997, he said, he was the Class A coach of the year at Indian Springs High in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Broncos’ award honors 10 coaches during the regular season. The NFL Youth Fund will present a $1,000 check to the school’s program, and each honoree will be in the running for the coach of the year award, which will be announced at the Broncos’ Dec. 30 home game against Kansas City.

Fruita Monument coach Sean Mulvey received the award the week after the Wildcats defeated Grand Junction.

Diaz on All-Colorado team

Arrianna Diaz, a shortstop who batted .478 with seven home runs and 30 RBI for the Tigers, was selected to the All-Colorado Softball team. Diaz also pitched and went 6-0 with 25 strikeouts.

“I’ve gotten better every year, but did I expect to get all-state? No,” Diaz said. “It’s just the cherry on top. It’s awesome.”

Diaz said she will attend the University of Colorado at Boulder but will not play softball.

“It’s just a better career option for me,” Diaz said. “CU has a great medical program, and it’s always been my dream school.”

More All-colorado Honors

Grand Junction senior Spencer Weinberg was selected to the All-Colorado Tennis team after finishing runner-up at No. 1 singles in the Class 5A state meet. Weinberg was a state champion at No. 1 singles as a sophomore and runner-up as a junior.

Weinberg will graduate high school early, in December, then spend his spring semester at Colorado Mesa University, where he’ll play tennis.

“I can see if I want to play college tennis or not,” he said

He said he’d still be an incoming freshman if he decides to transfer to another school, such as the University of Arizona. On Thursday, Weinberg was driving to Phoenix to check out the Arizona campus.

Also, Grand Junction sophomore Donny Kinnaman was an honorable mention selection to the All-Colorado boys golf team after placing fourth in the Class 5A state championship.


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