Road weary? Not GJ
Heinsma leads Tigers to third rout
FORT COLLINS — If the Grand Junction High School football team is this effective on the road, how formidable are the Tigers going to be when they finally play at home?
Grand Junction will get an answer to that next weekend. Meanwhile, the Tigers took their third impressive road victory of the season Friday, manhandling Rocky Mountain 42-17.
“We will have traveled 1,562 miles (in three weeks),” Tigers coach Robbie Owens said.
The Tigers got off to what has become a traditional slow start, trailing 3-0 before finally mounting a drive on their third series.
It started what became Austin Lewis Day at French Field as the 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior running back scored the first of his three straight touchdowns in the first half. He finished with 122 yards on 17 carries before intermission.
“It takes our line a couple of series to figure out what (the opposing defense) is doing,” Lewis said.
Once it does, the Tigers have been nearly impossible to stop.
They added a score with one second remaining in the half when Tyler Heinsma hit Kaleb Johnson in the right corner of the end zone to build a 25-point lead at the break.
Lewis was effective on either side of the field.
“Left side, right side, back side, I just hit those holes,” he said.
And they were plentiful.
It makes it easier for Heinsma, who has the leeway to call audibles at the line depending on what the defense is showing. He has a lot of options.
“A lot of it is definitely what the defense is giving us,” he said of his play calling.
In addition to Lewis, Theron Verna and Dion Martinez line up in the backfield at times and give Heinsma other options for handoffs.
When the Tigers want to open it up, Heinsma has a stable of capable receivers, although the Tigers didn’t have to resort to the pass much against the Lobos.
Many of Grand Junction’s skill players cut their teeth on the varsity as sophomores and juniors last season. The Tigers had a learning curve early last year, but that has flattened with time together and an offseason spent practicing pass patterns.
“It’s a huge difference coming out here knowing how we can all click,” Heinsma said of feeling in sync with his teammates.
“This is a very business-like senior class,” Owens said, Heinsma being part of that.
On the other side of the ball, the Tigers held the Lobos to 180 total yards.
“Everybody was kind of wary of our defense after the first week,” Owens said. “I wasn’t.”
Based on his team’s performance in the past two games, he shouldn’t be.
But now it gets tougher. The Tigers open their home season next Saturday against Ralston Valley, a team Owens believes could be the Tigers’ toughest opponent until the playoffs.
“Right now until Saturday, we’re focusing on taking care of Ralston Valley,” Heinsma said, thus emphasizing that business-like approach Owens alluded to.
And they’ll only have to take a short bus ride from the school to Stocker Stadium to play that one.