Winning Wildcats: Fruita has offensive breakout in finale
Fruita has offensive breakout in finale
After six consecutive losses, it would have been easy for the Fruita Monument High School football team to mail in the result of Friday’s game.
The Wildcats, paired against Westminster in a game between two teams that didn’t qualify for the Class 5A state playoffs, were playing merely for pride in their season finale at Stocker Stadium.
The pride radiated from the Wildcats’ postgame huddle after they took a 41-12 victory.
“It was our last game,” Wildcats senior running back and linebacker AJ Meil said. “We might as well give it our all.”
Fruita Monument coach Bill Moore said the pride was evident during the week.
“Our seniors were good this week. They really kept their focus in practice,” Moore said.
Getting sophomore quarterback Zach Thorpe back in the lineup helped.
After missing all but one play during a five-week stretch with a high sprain of his right ankle, Thorpe immediately made his presence felt, directing a 10-play, 66-yard scoring drive on the opening series, capped when Thorpe called his own number for a 5-yard score.
A minute and a half later, after the Wildcats recovered the first of three Wolves fumbles, they decided to have a little fun, something that was in short supply for much of the season.
Thorpe passed behind the line of scrimmage to slotback Casey Rogers, who had filled in at quarterback during Thorpe’s absence. Rogers showed his passing skills by throwing to a wide-open Tyler Church, completing a 30-yard touchdown play. The rout was on.
Church had a busy night with 11 carries for 54 yards and three receptions for 69 more.
Spending much of the season running its version of the A-11 offense, Fruita Monument spent most of Friday in a double tight end formation. Consequently, the offense showed more balance than it had all season, rushing for 196 yards and passing for 160.
On the other side of the ball, the defense gave up 190 yards.
Fruita Monument (3-7) scored more points Friday than it had all season — by 14. In all, five different Wildcats got in the end zone.
“I think the return of Zach really made us versatile,” Moore said, citing Thorpe’s ability to run the option, pass and even call audibles at the line of scrimmage.
But as sharp as Thorpe was (7 of 9 passing for 95 yards), it was the seniors’ night.
“It wouldn’t have been as good as it was if it wasn’t (at) home,” Meil said.
“They played one of their best games to end the season,” Moore said.
“The seniors were fired up,” offensive and defensive lineman Twon Martin said. “Eight years of playing from grade school to now, this could be the last time I walk off a field.”
“With all the struggles we’ve had, it’s nice,” Martin said of walking off the field after a victory. “It’s extra special.”
He was the last player to leave the field.
Another senior lineman, Matt Remy, was also reflective.
“It’s the last time I’m ever going to get to go out on that field and hit people,” he said.
“In 20 years I can look back and say I finished my career with a win.”