Power from peaches: Hardworking McLean brothers apply home work ethic to football

Luke McLean, left, and Zach McLean have made a big impact this season for the Palisade High School football team. Luke, a 6-foot, 175-pound sophomore quarterback, is nicknamed “Fat” McLean. His Brother Zach, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior linebacker, is known as “Skinny” McLean.


Delta at Palisade

Friday, 7 p.m., Stocker Stadium


RECORDS: Delta 5-4, 3-3 Western Slope Conference; Palisade 8-1, 5-1 WSC

LAST WEEK: Palisade defeated Rifle 38-20; Delta lost to Glenwood Springs 24-7.

GAME NOTES: Both teams have a lot to play for in this one. Palisade is all but guaranteed a playoff berth, but can assure itself of a first-round home game with a victory. Delta needs a win and possibly some help to make a return to the playoffs against this year.

“It’s good for us,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “They’re definitely the best team we’ll play since Glenwood. Rifle played us tough, but Delta posses real problems for us. They are big, bigger than we are, really strong and physical and really well coached. Rifle is too, but (the Bears) are young.”

Palisade quarterback Luke McLean rushed for 163 of the Bulldogs’ 356 yards last week. The Bears limited Delta to 175 yards in total offense in Rifle’s 14-10 win three weeks ago.

“We’ve got to play well,” Arledge said. “If we turn the ball over we can definitely lose to these guys. Yeah, they haven’t done well in a couple games, but I’ve seen what they can do. If we come out flat or don’t play to our ability level, it can be a tough night. It will be good for us to prepare for a playoff game. If we can win this game, it will really set us up for a home game and a decent seed. I’ve been 10-0 and lost the first game and I’ve been 7-3 and won the first game, so we’ll see.”

Central at Thornton

Friday, 7 p.m., 5 Star Stadium, Thornton

RADIO: none

RECORDS: Central 2-7; Thornton 3-6

LAST WEEK: Central lost to Lakewood 35-14; Thornton lost to Rangeview 68-0.

GAME NOTES: Central quarterback Taylor Sanchez, Thomas Holman and Marshall Grimsley return this week after missing last week for various reasons. Fullback Joe Smith (knee) is out. With Sanchez, Holman and Grimsley back in the lineup, the Warriors will have experienced players in key positions.

“We’ll take 40 players and try to get all 40 in the game,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “It’s a winnable game for us and we want to go out on a good note.”

The Trojans have lost their past five games after starting the season 3-1. They are allowing 38.9 points per game this season.

“They lost a couple QBs and are down to their No. 3,” McGee said. “They play a lot of younger kids, but I’m sure they want to go out on a winning note, too.”

Thornton runs a power, isolation offense and will use the shotgun, McGee said.

Other Games to Watch

Montrose at Durango, 7 p.m., Friday: The Indians need a win to assure itself of a 4A playoff berth for a sixth consecutive year. Durango could sneak into the playoffs with a victory.

Rifle at Glenwood Springs, 7 p.m., Friday: The Demons can clinch a 3A first-round home playoff game with a win. Rifle needs to upset its rival to get a possible playoff berth.

Coal Ridge at Grand Valley, 7 p.m., Friday: The Titans could qualify for the playoffs for the first time in school history with a victory against a Garfield County rival.

Their teammates and coaches like to tease brothers Zach and Luke McLean.

Even Palisade High School football coach John Arledge takes playful shots at them.

Zach, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior linebacker, is known as “Skinny” McLean. Luke, a 6-foot, 175-pound sophomore quarterback, is nicknamed “Fat” McLean.

“(Luke) got his because he’s like a fullback playing quarterback,” Zach said.

“(Zach) is one of our skinnier big guys,” Luke said. “He’s a lot stronger than pretty much everyone on the team, one of the strongest. That helps a lot because he doesn’t have that big size.”

Despite the good-natured ribbing, the boys are respected and admired for their leadership in yet another successful season for the Bulldogs (8-1).

“They are wonderful brothers,” Arledge said. “They are typical farm kids from Palisade. They are quiet. Their dad is a great guy. Their mom is a wonderful lady. They always work hard. They have a good life, but they were taught responsibility. They are great students.”

The McLean brothers developed their hard-working, responsible work ethic growing up helping in the family’s peach orchards.

“It definitely teaches you some toughness,” Zach McLean said. “Having to work in the sun when it’s 110 degrees out, you’ve got to do it either way, if it’s hot or it’s not.”

“It teaches you to do stuff even if you don’t want to,” Luke said. “It teaches you a good work ethic that you’ve got to finish things. If you start something you should finish it. You do it right the first time so you don’t have to go back and do it again.”

They have taken those lessons and applied them to football, and are enjoying their last season playing football together.

“It’s a pretty neat thing,” Zach said. “I’m lucky I get to play with him. Not everybody gets a chance to play with their brother.”

Zach has made 34 tackles and recorded two sacks this season. Luke has rushed for 803 yards and 14 touchdowns (89.22 per game) and completed 42 of 77 passes for 764 yards and seven touchdowns.

Zach gives his younger brother a little bit of grief for playing quarterback, but not too much.

“It doesn’t get in his head too much, but people definitely like him,” Zach said. “He’s definitely a good kid and everyone likes being around him.

“He gets a hard time (for playing QB), but he gets his share of yelling at, too. We all do.”

The rest of their brothers and coaches on the football field take care of that.

“I think our linemen are actually faster than the quarterback,” Arledge said. “If we were built on speed, Luke would not be the quarterback.

“We ask him why it takes him so long to throw the ball. He says he’s built for cold weather.”

Zach isn’t exactly built to play on the defensive front, but has the mentality for the position.

“I’ve gone against some big kids,” Zach said. “We work hard in the weight room. It’s just being stronger than your opponent and staying lower.”

“We have Zach at linebacker, but he plays D-line too,” Arledge said. “He’s tough, real physical. He has good feet. He plays a lot bigger than what he is. He’s a typical high school kid, but he’s physical for his size.”


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