Palisade Bulldogs reman undefeated with win over Delta
Disregarding the opening drive, it took the Palisade High School football team one half to figure out the Delta defense.
The Bulldogs came out of the halftime locker room with a different game plan, one that worked very effectively as Palisade remained undefeated with a 35-7 victory over the scrappy Panthers at Stocker Stadium.
“They were just packing the box,” Palisade center Jacob Edmiston said of Delta’s defensive game plan. “That’s something we hadn’t seen (this season).”
Palisade (7-0, 5-0 Class 4A Western Slope Conference) began the game as it has with most of its victories this season — a typical power ground game that ate up yardage.
The Bulldogs scored on their first series, an eight-play drive covering 77 yards.
Delta, (2-4, 1-4) appeared ready to match Palisade, however. The Panthers put together a couple of sustained drives and looked as if they might tie the game late in the second quarter before their drive stalled at the Palisade 36.
The Bulldogs took advantage, running their two-minute offense to perfection, including a key third-down keeper by quarterback Jake Appling for 16 yards to the Panther 25.
That set up Appling’s 25-yard pass over the middle to tight end Matt Young, good for the score and a 14-0 Palisade cushion by halftime.
“We made some adjustments (at the break),” Edmiston said, not wanting to let the secret out as to what they were.
Most were line adjustments that proved quite effective as Palisade marched 76 yards in seven plays to open the third quarter.
Only two of those plays were passes, both to Young. The second one led to yet another touchdown from the tight end, this one from 29 yards out right down the middle.
“Most of his pass (receptions) are (on) play-action passes,” Appling said. “When we pass, he’s usually wide open.”
Young was open often enough to catch four passes for 73 yards.
But, true to form, it was Palisade’s bread and butter, the power ground game, that paid the biggest dividends.
The Bulldogs rushed for 324 yards, the yeoman’s share coming from tailback Travis Fehlman, who carried 21 times for 141 yards and finally got in the scoring column when he bolted over from three yards out with 7:18 remaining in the game.
Appling said having Fehlman and fullback Aaron Wagler in the backfield opens things up for him.
“They just all key on our backs,” said Appling, who ran for 46 yards and Palisade’s first touchdown, from 16 yards out.
“I’m free to run whenever I want.”
The Bulldogs make the Four Corners road trip next Friday to face an improved Montezuma-Cortez team. If Cortez packs the box defensively, Edmiston said the team will be ready.
“In the future we’ll make those adjustments (sooner),” he said.