Warriors not saying ‘what if’ as playoffs open
Sometimes it’s easy to play the “what if” game, especially if you’re the Central High School football team.
The Warriors were a mere seven points from being in a much different situation at this point in the season.
The Warriors lost by three points to Grand Junction and Montrose and by one point to Gateway.
The Warriors finished 4-5 because of those close losses, and were given the No. 31 seed in the 32-team Class 5A state playoff bracket.
“We could easily be 7-2,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “But in all three of those games we did things that cost you close games, so we can’t blame anyone but ourselves.”
When it counted, though, Central got it done. The Warriors won a tight game last week against previously undefeated Durango that helped Central secure a spot in the 5A playoffs.
Now, Central faces another undefeated team, second-seeded Fairview (9-0) tonight in Boulder.
“They’re good, and they are very deserving of the seed,” McGee said. “They are big up front and they come out and get three yards and are happy with it.”
The Knights are one of two undefeated Class 5A teams this season. However, Fairview has beaten only two 5A teams with a winning record this season.
“We are using the approach that we’ve beaten one team that was unbeaten and now we have to go do it again,” McGee said. “I told the kids there is no complaining about our seed, let’s just go try and win one.”
One thing the Warriors have that most low seeds don’t is comparable speed. Defensively, linebackers Mike Martinez and Devon Wolff can make up ground quickly. Up front, defensive end Victor Guerrero and outside linebacker Josh Wells will be called upon to get into Fairview’s backfield to stop the double-wing offense.
Offensively, Central has gotten a spark from senior running back Josh Buniger, who returned last week after missing two games with an ankle injury. Buniger rushed for 118 yards on only 13 carries against Durango.
“It felt better than I thought it would,” Buniger said. “I was able to recover really fast.”
Buniger, Vandon Sanchez and Joe Smith can help the Warriors control the clock.
“I think we can play with them,” Buniger said. “We have to keep fired up on the sidelines and have emotion early.”