Sports: Prep Football Notebook October 07, 2008
Defense gives Central opportunities
Central has a stingy defense.
Excluding the opening week 41-0 loss to Grandview, Central (3-3, 1-0 Southwestern Conference) has not allowed more than 10 points in the second half all season.
Because of the tight second half defense, the Warriors have had chances late in games. Last week
against Eaglecrest, the Warriors defense posted a shutout in the second half with the Raptors’ four points coming off two safeties. And besides an opening drive that went 70 yards, Central’s defense played well, containing highly touted running back Terrel Thompson.
Thompson entered the game averaging more than eight yards per carry and the Warriors cut that in half as Thompson only rushed for 72 yards on 16 carries.
“Their size was a factor as we got a little high on that opening drive,” Central coach Vern McGee said.
“But the nice thing is we made a few adjustment and defense played well the rest of the game.”
Eaglecrest also scored on a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. The Warriors gave the Raptors 11 points on crucial mistakes, so the defense technically only allowed 13 points.
Senior linebacker Trent Harris is one of the leaders of a stout Warriors defense and had a monster game against Eaglecrest. Harris finished with 12 tackles, 10 of which were unassisted, two sacks and a blocked extra point.
Harris and the rest of the Warriors defense will have another challenge this weekend when they travel to Montrose. The Indians are 5-1 and coming off five straight wins before their first Conference game.
Grand Junction has a hungry defense.
While the Tigers (1-5, 0-1 SWC) defense has had a few setbacks this season like allowing more than 40 points to all 5A Front Range teams they have played, it hasn’t hurt the team’s aggressiveness.
“I think our defense has carried us as the season has progressed,” Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens said. “Our defense is capable of keeping us in games and allowing us to be a lot more competitive.”
Grand Junction’s defense varies between a forty front and a thirty front because of personnel, but meshes a solid group of underclassmen with a few seniors that are a calming presence.
Sophomores like defensive linemen Casey Walker, linebacker Andrew Duff and defensive back Tyler Winder have been just as important to the Tiger’s defensive success as upperclassmen such as safety Tyler Palmer and linebackers Ty Nielson and Jace Casey.
This week, the Tigers defense faces a Durango team searching for its first win.
Fruita Monument has an opportune defense.
Besides allowing 20 points or more twice this season (41 to Bear Creek, 21 to Central), in the Wildcats past two wins against Durango and Grand Junction, it has been turnovers the defense has created that has propelled Fruita to the win.
Against Grand Junction, a Mitch Howard interception in the end zone kept the Tigers from scoring what could have been a game-changing touchdown. In the Durango game the Wildcats (4-2, 2-1 SWC) trailed by two points at halftime, but came out in the third quarter and linebacker AJ Meil intercepted a ball that gave it back to the Wildcats who used the turnover to go ahead 20-9. The Wildcats recovered a fumble on Durango’s next Durango and capitalized to put the game away.
“Our defense shut them down, got a couple turnovers and we turned them into scores,” Fruita Monument coach Bill Moore said. “That turned the game around.”
The Wildcats defense is coached by Clarence Ross, who has won state championships at Grand Junction (1988) and Palisade (1994-1997) and has brought his defensive attitude to Fruita.
On the field, the Wildcats have good experience on defense with senior Huntyr MacLaskey at linebacker and senior Devin James at defensive end.
Those two players performance will be important as they will try to shut down arguably Fruita’s toughest
game left against Douglas County.
Palisade has a dominate defense.
The Bulldogs (7-0, 5-0 Western Slope Conference) have allowed an average of 10 points per game this season.
Led by Aaron Wagler at defensive end, Palisade has bullied opponents all season, giving up only 14 points in the first half all season.
“Our defense is leading the way,“ Palisade coach John Arledge said. “I am not a real big gambler as a coach and teach a lot of structure. We just try to keep the ball in front of us and be sound on the defensive line and allow the linebackers to make plays.”
While Wagler is the most physically imposing presence on the defense, it is Jacob Edminston at linebacker who is the team’s defensive chief.
“Jake is probably the true leader of the defense,” Arledge said. “He is physical kid, tall, runs well and is a very smart kid. He works very hard at the game and is the quarterback of our defense.”
This week, Palisade will have one of its toughest road trips as it makes the drive to Montezuma-Cortez.
Cortez has good size and is on a two-game winning streak.
After the Cortez game, will be the irresistible Glenwood Springs (6-0, 4-0 WSC) meeting the immovable Palisade at Stocker Stadium at noon on Oct. 18.