Wooten prepared to be Indians’ next man up
Irah Wooten is all about next man up.
It’s as ingrained in his character as any other player to come through the Montrose High School football program. So, when the senior tight end, outside linebacker and captain was moved to second string running back behind Mike Rocha because of an injury to starting tailback Angelo Youngren, he was ready.
He had less than a week to pick up the new blocking schemes and routes for running backs, and in Thursday’s 36-33 loss to Grand Junction, Wooten showed he was the next man up.
During the first seven games of Montrose’s season, Wooten had three carries. Thursday, he carried the ball 14 times for 83 yards and a touchdown, and he had the highest yards per carry average of any Indians’ runner with more than 10 carries.
He was also Montrose’s leading receiver with four receptions for 71 yards and touchdown, despite lining up exclusively in the backfield.
“Well, my mentality has been to pound the rock like we have been, and that’s really always been the philosophy at Montrose,” Wooten said. “The running backs before me have been doing that, and I just have to step up into that position.
“(Coach Todd Casebier) has put me in formations as the running back, and that’s been a big shift from tight end. My role in the passing game has grown, if anything, with that. The blocking assignments are different, too.”
Add in an interception that briefly swung momentum to Montrose in the first quarter, and it was an all-around good game for Wooten.
“He’s knows the expectation,” Casebier said of Wooten. “Back to back we lost Angelo (Youngren) and Pete (Shearer), and you know, next man up. That’s what every good football team has done.”
At linebacker, Wooten’s senior leadership has come into play. He consistently is in on tackles, and he put pressure on Grand Junction quarterback Tyler Heinsma.
“Defensively this season I’ve just tried to lead my guys the best I can,” Wooten said. “You have to be great to lead, and I’ve just tried to be great and try my hardest.”
Durango is the only unbeaten team left in the Southwestern Conference, and if the Demons beat Fruita Monument tonight at Stocker Stadium, Montrose would need to beat Durango at home on Oct. 25 to possibly claim a piece of the league title.
“We didn’t play very well tonight,” Casebier said. “We turned the ball over too much, we couldn’t tackle, and our special teams were not very good. We have got to get better because these are mistakes we should not be making heading into week nine. But we have a great group of guys.
“Our kids are determined, and our goal is to win the Southwestern (Conference), and now we have to beat Durango to even get a piece of that. I still think we can be the top seed in 4A if we win next week, and our kids will come ready to battle.”