Survive and advance
Montrose got stronger as season progressed
The injuries hardly slowed them. Losses? Seemed to make them better. And now Montrose High School, despite “one of those years,” is hosting a first-round Class 4A playoff football game.
In the final week, the No. 7 seed Indians (7-3), who host No. 10 Mesa Ridge (7-3) at 7 p.m. Friday, jumped from ninth to seventh in the wild-card point standings, despite a 48-0 win over 0-10 Central that did not garner Montrose many points.
But the Indians did not play a butter-soft schedule. They opened with a 45-6 loss to Vista Ridge, now the No. 4 seed, and later lost 20-19 to Pueblo West, now No. 1, and then took a 28-12 setback to No. 5 Monarch. All this despite injuries to key players.
Yet Montrose survived.
Like a bone broken and healed stronger than before, Montrose swept its Southwestern Conference opponents.
Running back Angelo Youngren, who rushed for 1,498 yards and 18 touchdowns, is questionable to play against Mesa Ridge, Indians coach Todd Casebier said. Youngren is recovering from a high ankle sprain. Youngren, who did not play in the final week against Central, also is a starting safety.
“And he’s a phenomenal blocker,” Casebier said. “He’s a complete player.”
If Youngren were to miss snaps, Pete Shearer and Nick Foster will help fill in. And as always, expect the Indians to slam fullback Mike Rocha (113 carries, 537 yards) up the middle while keeping Mesa Ridge off balance with misdirection and screen plays.
Also, Montrose poses a threat to pass as quarterback Drew Casebier, son of Todd, is having an efficient season, completing 51 of 88 passes — a .580 completion percentage — for 861 yards, including nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
Coach Casebier said toughness helped the Indians’ run through SWC opponents.
“I think our kids understand that you don’t get any points by how you look,” Todd Casebier said.
Mesa Ridge is yet another Front Range team with an explosive offense, led by quarterback Cody Grof, who has completed 82 of 154 passes for 1,354 yards, including 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
But for Montrose, the “Front Range” factor does not apply, Todd Casebier said, because even Fruita Monument and Grand Junction had size and speed advantages.
“For us it’s a little different,” he said. “Our motto the whole season is we have to work harder than everybody else to have a chance to win.”
Bruins draw familiar foe
The last time No. 3 Cedaredge (9-1) played No. 6 Monte Vista (9-1) was this summer at an Adams State College football camp.
They meet again 1 p.m. Saturday at Cedaredge High School in a Class 1A state quarterfinal.
“We didn’t keep score or anything,” Cedaredge coach Brandon Milholland said, “but I think it was a pretty good match between us and them.”
But little did Monte Vista know what would come.
Pirates Athletic Director Greg Jones said head coach Jim McAulliffe resigned before the first week of the regular season because he “had some issues with the law.”
Steve DeAngelis, an assistant coach, was next in line to replace McAulliffe, but he broke his wrists falling off a scaffold.
So, Jones took over and has led the Pirates to the playoffs.
But their scheme, he said, is nothing special.
“We run the ball,” Jones said. “That’s what it comes down to. We try to run the ball, and we’re not real big, so we have to try to get after people. We have tough kids. We do have that.”
Milholland said Monte Vista might attempt to box in Bruins quarterback Dante Markley, keeping him from utilizing his speed.
“That’s what I’d do,” Milholland said. “That’s what I expect to happen.”
Bulldogs face No. 2 seed
No. 10 Hotchkiss is coming off a 48-7 drubbing of No. 7 Wiggins, proving that seeding can have little meaning.
Hopefully for Hotchkiss (8-2), that continues against No. 2 Limon (10-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hotchkiss High School.
The Bulldogs will have some momentum. Against Wiggins, senior quarterback Josh Hardin completed five of eight passes for 62 yards, including a pair of touchdown passes to Conner Beard.
Running back Jacobe Galley rushed for 164 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns, and on defense he notched a sack.
Senior Trenton Tamayo had 14 carries for 74 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Hotchkiss lost to Wiggins last season in the state semifinals.
The Bulldogs also lost to Limon three seasons ago in the state quarterfinals, and Hotchkiss coach Zac Lemon said Hotchkiss will use that as motivation once again.
Seniors Beard, Galley and lineman Zack Taylor, who is out for the season with a broken foot, all started as freshman on the 209 team.
But Limon, which dumped Rye 41-0 in the first round, has not allowed more than 20 points in a game (a 30-20 win over Colorado Springs Christian School).
“I know Limon is well-coached, they’re aggressive, they’re quarterback and tailback are great and all, but other than that they’re a bunch of guys who are well-coached and play hard,” Lemon said.
Limon coach Mike O’Dwyer, a football coach for the Badgers for 28 years and their head coach for 11, said about the same of Hotchkiss.
“Hotchkiss is a very, very good football team,” O’Dwyer said. “It starts at the top — they’re extremely well-coached. Coach (Zac) Lemon is as good a coach as there is out there. Their kids are very talented in skill positions. And they honestly don’t have a weakness.”