Tigers first year coach uses freshmen with ease
It is no secret that first-year Grand Junction coach Robbie Owens isn’t afraid to play freshman.
There is the obvious one, starting quarterback Sean Rubalcaba who has thrown 10 touchdowns this season and gotten better every game. But Owens set a new standard last Friday against Durango.
Freshman Jerreon Dennis and Colton Deters both started with Dennis taking an outside linebacker position and Deters starting on the offensive line.
“We played a lot of freshman (Friday),” Owens said. “I keep telling people the future is really bright here at Grand Junction.”
One of the more unique experiences happened later in the game when freshmen running backs Colby Brown and Kimani Robinson lined up behind Rubalcaba.
Brown received the ball three times and gained 26 yards including a 18-yard scamper on his second carry. Robinson scored the Tigers final touchdown on a three yard plunge.
There are a total of 12 freshmen on the roster.
The Tigers (2-5, 1-1 Southwestern Conference) had a solid victory over the Demons winning 37-0.
Grand Junction is still in the hunt of the SWC race and have an important game Saturday against Central.
“We knew going in against Durango we have these last three left and we have a lot to play for,” Owens said. “We still have time to do some things and the guys are focused on Central.”
The game will be at 7 p.m. at Stocker Stadium
Turnovers can be a death sentence for a football team.
Fruita Monument (4-3, 2-1 SWC) saw that first hand in its game against Douglas County, as the Wildcats had two fumbles inside the Huskies 5-yard line.
Down 14-0 and driving, Fruita fumbled with the Huskies recovering. On Douglas County’s first play after the mistake the Huskies scored on a long touchdown pass.
“When you fumble twice inside of the five that is something that is hard to come back from,” Fruita Monument coach Bill Moore said. “Especially them having a big play on the next play after the turnover, that is a 14-point swing.”
And while the final score wasn’t pretty, 38-6, the Wildcats had a lot of good things on the field gaining over 300 yards of offense but it was the critical mistakes that handed Fruita its third loss of the season.
“Offensively we did some good things not only running ball but throwing the ball having a more balance attack,” Moore said. “We had some good defensive play but just gave up too many big plays.”
This week, the Wildcats will be taking on a very potent Montrose team. The Indians had a statement win over Central last week, winning 45-13. Montrose lost its first game to Glenwood Springs, but haven’t been challenged since outscoring its opponents 254-35 in its last six games.
“Montrose is definitely legit,” Moore said. “They really come after you and have beaten a lot of good teams by a lot of points.”
The game will be at 7 p.m. on Friday at Stocker Stadium.
Despite the loss two weeks ago to Eaglecrest, Central (3-4, 1-1 SWC) took a few steps forward against the Raptors, producing a strong second half effort. In last Friday night’s game against Montrose, the Warriors digressed with a 45-13 loss.
“Montrose is a very good team but at the same time we didn’t tackle very well,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “We did some things wrong that we hadn’t done wrong in a month.”
The Indians used an aggressive offense accumulating 531 yards against a traditionally stout Warrior defense. The 45 points were the most the Warriors had allowed all season.
“We thought we were taking the right steps forward in the second half of the Eaglecrest game,” McGee said. “We took a step back against Montrose.”
On the positive side of things, the Warriors did have strong performances by Blaine Jackson and Clay Kame. Jackson had five catches for 50 yards and Kame went 4 for 48. Along with Vandon Sanchez who returned a kickoff late in the fourth quarter.
Either way, the Warriors are going to attempt to bounce back Saturday night against rival Grand Junction. McGee said he recognizes the Tigers will be a dangerous team.
“They are on a roll right now winning two out of their last three games,” McGee said. “And we arn’t, having lost two in a row.”
It should be a competitive game as both teams are attempting to stay in the SWC race.
Palisade has its offensive options.
The Bulldogs (8-0, 6-0 Western Slope Conference) have five established players running the ball, and it has translated into a 8-0 record and an average of 35 points per game.
Behind running backs Travis Fehlman, Jesse Brannon, Aaron Wagler, Zach Adair and quarterback Jake Appling, the Bulldogs have rushed for more than 2,300 yards this season.
“Every kid brings something to the table,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “Jesse is more of a slash and dash back, Zach has great explosiveness to score, Fehlman is a tough runner and Wagler is just kinda a beast. They are all different so if I have to get a half of a yard I go with Aaron, if we go misdirection probably Jesse, catch a pass out in the flat probably Zach and if I have to run trap I’d go with Travis. They are all good so we try to mix and match them in different situations.”
One reason for the Bulldogs’ offensive strength is new offensive coordinator Matt Borgmann.
Borgmann, who played defensive back for Mesa State through 2003, has brought a few tweaks to the Palisade running system. The Bulldogs have switched from an I-formation to more split back formations along with more of an emphasize on the passing game.
“Going into this season we adapted our offense with Matt becoming our offensive coordinator,” Arledge said. “So that dynamic has changed and I think Matt has done a great job along with Chuck Nissen, and Pat Steele.”
Arledge said the offensive line has played well all season meshing younger kids who have played well with experience.
“Our offensive line has done a great job,” Arledge said. “Some of the holes Wagler has had, I think I could have run though.”
Palisade’s running game will have its biggest test this week when it takes on Glenwood Springs this Saturday.