Tigers’ telling time: Grand Junction to see if its work has paid off vs. Regis Jesuit

Grand Junction’s Tyler Winder carries the ball down the sideline in September during the Tigers’ only loss this season, to Highlands Ranch in Week 1. Grand Junction got revenge in the playoffs against Highlands, and faces undefeated Regis Jesuit tonight at Stocker Stadium in the third round of the Class 5A playoffs.



Grand Junction vs. Regis Jesuit

Class 5A State Quarterfinals

Friday, 6 p.m. Stocker Stadium

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

RECORDS: Grand Junction 10-1, Regis Jesuit 11-0.

LAST WEEK: Grand Junction defeated Highlands Ranch 35-28; Regis defeated Arapahoe 49-14

Robbie Owens and Mark Nolan have spent the past week breaking down each other’s football teams.

The head coaches at Grand Junction and Regis Jesuit will see just how well they’ve done at 6 tonight at Stocker Stadium in the Class 5A state quarterfinals.

Two other coaches, Fruita Monument’s Shawn Marsh and Highlands Ranch’s Darrel Gorham, have studied game film of both playoff teams and offered their insight to tonight’s game.

“Regis has a lot of experience,” Marsh said. “They have 54 juniors and seniors on their roster. They didn’t have any underclassmen.”

Fruita Monument lost to Regis 48-14 and fell to Grand Junction 28-10.

Fruita trailed the Raiders 14-7 before Regis put up 28 points in the second quarter. The Raiders’ two quarterbacks, Luke Longfield and Eystin Salum, combined for 301 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Highlands Ranch lost to Regis 28-25 on Oct. 28 and split with Grand Junction, defeating the Tigers 17-10 in the first game of the season and losing 35-28 last week in the second round of the playoffs.

Marsh found out first-hand how solid Regis is at every position.

“I don’t know if they have a superstar, but they don’t have any weak positions,” Marsh said. “The offensive line gets off the ball, and gets a hat on a hat.”

Owens agreed, saying it’s hard to find a weakness in the Regis scheme.

“They don’t do anything really out of the ordinary, but they line up and play good football,” Owens said. “We’ve been telling our guys that they have 11 good football players on both sides of the ball at every position.”

Gorham said the Tigers had hit their stride in last Friday’s game.

“Their execution was better,” Gorham said. “But they have the talent to play (with Regis) and (Grand Junction) are confident, physical kids.”

Marsh knows Grand Junction as well as any team in the state, since he used to coach the Tigers. Fruita gave Grand Junction its toughest game during the Southwestern Conference season.

The Wildcats held the Tigers’ offense to 28 points, but allowed quarterback Sean Rubalcaba to throw for 139 yards and rush for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

“Sean is such a threat with his ability to throw and run the ball,” Marsh said. “Sean makes things happen.”

The Tigers have had their fair share of big plays this season, and that’s something that stood out to Nolan.

“They have a lot of big-play ability with No. 15 (Rubalcaba), No. 1 (Jerreon Dennis) and No. 8 (Chandon Rose),” Nolan said. “They make plays on defense and special teams, and like any team in the quarterfinals, they are solid.”

Travel could be a factor. The Raiders’ longest road trip of the season was 31 miles to Douglas County. For tonight’s game, the Raiders have to travel 260 miles from Denver across the mountains.

Nolan said his team is excited about the road trip.

“The Grand Junction schools are familiar with these trips,” Nolan said. “But for us, this is a great opportunity for us to bond with one another, and the kids are really looking forward to it.”

Gorham and Marsh said the two teams are evenly matched, and the game will come down to turnovers.

“Whoever can come out and not make any mistakes or turn the ball over is going to win,” Marsh said.


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