Top-ranked Montrose happy to get Youngren back on field
A fantastic regular season made Montrose the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A football playoffs, an accomplishment achieved with star running back and defensive back Angelo Youngren sidelined much of his senior season with injuries.
Youngren is back, cleared Thursday to play, giving Montrose its most explosive weapon for the postseason.
Things are looking good in Montrose as they prepare to host No. 16 Montbello in a first-round playoff game at 1 p.m. Saturday.
But recent history is reminding Indians coach Todd Casebier to take nothing for granted. The Indians hosted first-round playoff games the past two seasons and lost each time.
So this game, he said, “has all of our attention.”
How much Youngren will be used Saturday remains to be seen. He’s been out with a broken collarbone since having a great game — 266 yards and three touchdowns rushing — in a 39-34 win over then-top-ranked Monarch on Sept. 27. A hand injury limited him before that, and he essentially has played only two full games this season, which was primed to be a big one for the 2012 offensive player of the year in the Southwestern Conference.
Casebier said start with that player-of-the-year honor to understand the impact Youngren makes. Then, the coach added, consider he starts on defense and special teams, and throw in how hard he worked in the offseason, driven to make his senior season something special.
While Youngren was out, though, Montrose forged ahead with its run-heavy attack, led by Mike Rocha, a big and fast running back who has bulled and blazed his way to 1,266 yards and 21 touchdowns on 207 carries. Senior Pete Shearer moved from wide receiver to running back in Youngren’s absence and rushed for 565 yards.
For the season, the Indians have run the ball 509 times in 10 games, averaging 356 yards rushing per game.
Junior quarterback Kameron DeVincentis has been effective on those rare passing occasions, throwing for 672 yards and nine touchdowns. He also has run for 270 yards.
Montbello, said Casebier, will be the most balanced team the Indians have faced this season. The Warriors have run for 1,540 yards and passed for 1,647.
Senior quarterback A.J. Thompson is the catalyst of the offense, Casebier said, adding, “He’s explosive, makes plays with his legs and his arm. ... He has a strong arm. We’ve seen on film where he’s thrown it 40-50 yards in the air.”
Thompson has completed 64 percent of his 160 passes, including 16 touchdown tosses. He also has rushed for 274 yards and eight touchdowns.
The challenge for the Montrose defense will be make the Warriors earn everything they get, Casebier said.
Meanwhile, the Indians’ offense wants to control the ball and finish drives.
“Ideally,” Casebier said, “you want to make them play from behind.”
Casebier said his team will be as healthy as it has been all season with the return of Youngren.
“We haven’t had everybody (healthy) except for Monarch this year,” Casebier said.
■ Youngren is one of four Montrose seniors who have been starters since they were sophomores. Shearer, who also starts at linebacker, offensive lineman/linebacker Conner Lawson and tight end/defensive lineman Irah Wooten also are three-year starters.
“Those guys rarely leave the field,” Casebier said.
■ Montrose last won a playoff game in 2009. The Indians also won 4A first-round playoff games in 2005, 2006 and 2008. They lost in the second round each year.
The Indians lost 35-14 to Mesa Ridge in the first round last year.