Size doesn’t matter to Central two-way starter Dylan Johnson

Central High School’s Dylan Johnson, right, maneuvers around a lineman Wednesday during a drill at practice. Johnson is a two-way starter for the Warriors despite being only 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, and playing positions usually reserved for bigger players.

Central High School’s Dylan Johnson calls a play Wednesday during a punt return drill at practice.


Central vs. Fruita Monument

Friday, 7 p.m., Stocker Stadium

RADIO: 1340-AM (KTMM), 95.1-FM (KKNN)

RECORDS: Central 1-3; Fruita Monument 0-4

LAST WEEK: Central defeated Hinkley 41-7; Fruita Monument lost to Regis 48-14.

GAME NOTES: Fruita Monument looks for its first victory on homecoming night. The Wildcats played a tough nonconference schedule with games against three top-10 ranked teams. Fruita’s opponents are a combined 13-3 so far this season.

“I learned we don’t give up and continue to battle,” Fruita coach Shawn Marsh said. “Our kids came out in the second half and did some good things. I hope halftime last week was a turning point for us.

“Our kids are champing at the bit. It’s homecoming.”

Central picked up its first win of the season last weekend despite turning the ball over four times, but Central coach Vern McGee is pleased with his defense like Marsh is with his.

“We played well defensively,” McGee said. “We have to do a better job with our special teams. I don’t think we have won a game in special teams. It set the tone the first game of the season. (Palisade) runs the opening kickoff back. We were in our end zone the whole first quarter.”

If both teams take care of the ball, the game could be decided by defensive play against offenses with explosive skill players.

Palisade at Moffat County

Friday, 7 p.m., Moffat County High School, Craig


RECORDS: Palisade 3-1, 0-1 Western Slope; Moffat County 2-2, 1-0 Western Slope

LAST WEEK: Palisade lost to Glenwood Springs 21-20; Moffat County defeated Delta 26-7.

GAME NOTES:  This game is for the people who love smashmouth football. Both teams have the ability to run the football, led by their sophomore quarterbacks. For Moffat County, quarterback Bubba Ivers wants to control the ball similar to the way the Bulldogs did last week against Delta. It is Moffat County’s homecoming game.

Moffat County ran 72 offense plays to only 15 for the Panthers.

Palisade coach John Arledge said he knows time of possession is going to be a key for both teams.

“Last week (against Glenwood Springs) our defense was out there for too long,” he said. “We have to use our athletic ability to control the ball and keep our offense out there more than our defense.”

Grand Junction at Fountain-Ft. Carson

Friday, 7 p.m., Guy Barickman Stadium, Fountain

RADIO: none

RECORDS: Grand Junction 3-1; Fountain-Ft. Carson 3-1

LAST WEEK: Grand Junction defeated Westminster 47-0. Fountain lost to Pine Creek 13-3.

GAME NOTES: Grand Junction played well in all facets of the game last weekend, with a shutout on defense, 39 points on offense and a special teams touchdown last week. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 128-13 in their past three games, but face their toughest test since a season-opening loss to Highlands Ranch in 10th-ranked Fountain-Fort Carson.

The Trojans feature a veer running attack led by Anthony Davis and Chris Davis, who have combined for more than 500 yards rushing. Pine Creek, though, shut down the Trojans’ offense, limiting it to a field goal last week.

Other Games to Watch

Rifle at Eagle Valley, 7 p.m. Friday: Both teams started conference play with a victory last week. The winner will take a step closer to a possible playoff spot.

Olathe at Cedaredge, 7 p.m. Friday: The Bruins will try to pull off another upset in the Class 2A Western Slope Conference.

Montrose at Ponderosa, 1 p.m. Saturday: Two teams with state playoff aspirations look to bounce back from tough losses last week.

Dylan Johnson thought it was kind of funny.

When the Central High School junior found out he was starting on the offensive line last week, he smiled.

“It’s crazy,” Johnson said. “It’s different because everyone is bigger than me. That doesn’t really bother me. It’s just funny because they probably think they’re going to kill me.”

It is odd, seeing a 5-foot-9, 190-pound offensive guard sandwiched between two linemen over 6 feet tall and weighing more than 250 pounds, not to mention going against players that big or bigger.

Johnson lets opposing players laugh, though; he loves the challenge.

“When I started lifting weights I was smaller than everyone,” Johnson said. “I started lifting with the linemen because they are bigger. I was challenged by the weight they were doing.”

It’s one thing to play offensive line at his size, but Johnson also starts at linebacker and plays on special teams for the Warriors.

He’s in his second year as a starting linebacker.

“I like it because you are free to roll to where the ball is going,” Johnson said. “You’re not stuck to one (spot).”

He likes being the hunter, chasing down the ball carrier and hitting him.

“Every time you hit someone it’s the greatest feeling ever,” Johnson said. “Like everyone just watched it.”

It’s the same playing on the punt return team.

“It’s fun because you get an ear hole,” Johnson said. “Pick out a head and (hit) him.”

Although starting and playing offensive line was a surprise to Johnson, Central coach Vern McGee and his coaching staff had him in mind in case of an injury.

“We did notice he blocks very well in our drills (last year),” McGee said. “Coach (Chuck) Yost saw that, too. We had him play a couple JV games as an offensive lineman. He’s got really good form and a good motor.

“We knew he might have to (play offensive line). During two-a-days he’s worked offensive line. I’d rather have him with me (on defense) all day and being a one-way guy, but last week it didn’t affect him going against the big kids at the 5A schools.”

Johnson started playing on the offensive line two weeks ago when Ryan Rosendale went down with a knee injury. Rosendale could be out a while, possibly the season.

“When Ryan Rosendale got hurt (two weeks ago), he had to step in and play,” McGee said. “Coach (Yost) graded him the highest of all the linemen last week and our offensive line played much better last week.”

Johnson started at left guard for the first time on varsity last week against Hinkley and seemed to do just fine.

“I faced a guy 290 (last week),” Johnson said. “I just cut him every play. He was on the ground the whole game.”

Johnson will start on both sides again this week as Central (1-3) begins Southwestern Conference play against Fruita Monument (0-4) at 7 p.m. on Friday at Stocker Stadium.

Johnson knows it’s a challenge playing both ways in a large classification, where players usually play only one position.

“You have to really be conditioned and work hard at that every day,” he said.

“Otherwise you’ll play not great on both sides of the ball. That’s why normally people want to play on one side. If you want to play both ways, you have to be really conditioned.”


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