Scout’s honor: Scout team an important part of Palisade’s preparation

DJ Gardner and the Palisade scout team are an invaluable tool that helps the Bulldogs’ defense prepare for an upcoming opponent.



QUICKREAD

PALISADE (8-2) at EVERGREEN (9-1)

Class 3A State Playoffs

Saturday, 11 a.m., Trailblazer Stadium, Lakewood

Quarterback Luke McLean leads the Bulldogs with 1,092 yards passing and 746 rushing. He has 13 passing and rushing touchdowns combined. Ronald Kuntz also has 946 yards rushing.

Wide receiver Caden Woods has 451 yards receiving and four TDs.

Evergreen, averaging 200 yards rushing per game, is led by running back Quinn O’Neill and quarterback Noah Ansley.

The Cougars’ only loss is a 13-12 setback to Summit in September

“They run the ball well and we’ll have to get after their quarterback,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “They’re going to be bigger than us. Everybody is bigger than us.”



They are marked for mayhem by their yellow mesh jerseys.

“See those two little guys?” Palisade High School football coach John Arledge says. “They’re gonna gets their tails kicked today.”

Meet Palisade’s scout team, a group of underclassmen who are undersized on an already lightweight squad. For this practice, they represent No. 7-seeded Evergreen, whom the No. 10 Bulldogs play at 11 a.m. Saturday in a Class 3A first-round playoff game at Trailblazer Stadium in Lakewood.

Alex Wilmore is the 126-pounder with a mesh jersey that hangs to the side like a sash. He has one carry for five yards on varsity. He’s attempting to emulate Evergreen standout running back Quinn O’Neill.

Guys like Wilmore, these scout-teamers who get plowed throughout practice and stand for seconds, have Arledge’s utmost respect.

And what a better scout team to prepare Palisade? The Bulldogs’ junior varsity team went 9-0.

This afternoon, Wilmore is repeatedly run over and swept aside like a used napkin. He is knocked into double axles and triple salchows. Assistant coach Dan Green holds up a play diagram that shows the defense what’s coming. Wilmore to the 6-hole. Defense, help yourselves.

Meanwhile, Arledge is in the middle of the action, yelling and jabbing motivational coaching jargon at a team that he admits is, as usual, smaller than the competition.

“It’s like building the Taj Mahal with two pounds of concrete and dang it, we’ve got to get it done,” Arledge said.

Two pounds of concrete. Or in Wilmore’s case, 126 pounds of man-power preparing his defense for a state title run. Palisade has done this before as state champions in 1994, ‘95, ‘96, ‘97 and 2003. No doubt, scout-teamers contributed to their success. Guys just like Wilmore, willing to be pounded on until it’s their turn to be the varsity first-teamers.

“You get used to it,” Wilmore said. “So finally, it’s like, ‘OK.’ “

Parental discretion is advised. If you’re looking for Nemo, he won’t be in a fish bowl or a drain pipe and definitely not on the Palisade practice field.

“If your approach is like safe and happy … this isn’t Disney,” Arledge said. “Practice should be tougher than the game.”

Only those within the white lines of a high school football practice, those who run until the scoreboard is about the only light remaining, know the value of a quality scout team.

They are the last line of preparation before a season-determining game. The 126-pounder must become, against all laws of physics, an all-state running back. Or an All-American crash dummy.

“Everybody’s been on a scout team,” Arledge said. “They get more beat up than anyone. And when I’m old, they’ll be men in the real world, working and successful.”


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