PUEBLO WEST — This was the dawn of the Cameron Ross era for Fruita Monument High School's football program.
And Pueblo West didn't spoil the party, thanks to the Wildcats' defense.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 6 by CHSAAnow.com, held the No. 9-ranked Cyclones to a paltry 85 yards of total offense in a 10-6 Class 4A nonconference victory.
"It does feel great," said Ross, a 1999 graduate of Fruita Monument High School. "A win is a win and we're happy to get this win. We're going to have to clean some stuff up, but I'm proud of these guys. They played a great game tonight against a well-coached, hard-nose football team and we are very happy with the outcome."
Ross took over for Todd Casebier, who guided Fruita Monument to a 22-12 record in three seasons, including a 10-1 mark last year. Casebier resigned to take the head football coaching position at Castle View High School in Castle Rock.
Things didn't start out great for Ross in his coaching debut.
Pueblo West struck first when Fruita Monument's Zach Rush had his punt blocked and recovered by the Cyclones' Dillon Dertig at the Wildcats' 17-yard line. Moments later, Kolyn Kremer zipped in for a 10-yard score at the 8:15 mark of the first quarter. The extra point was blocked, leaving West up 6-0.
Fruita Monument cut the deficit to 6-3 with Jacob Burns' 32-yard field goal with 7:57 left in the half. The Wildcats grabbed the lead at 10-6 when Burns zipped in for a 2-yard touchdown with 4:09 showing on the second-quarter clock.
"We audibled, and it was a quick dive and I was able to get in the end zone," said the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Burns said. "I knew I had to score."
Treyton Queen, a 5-foot-9, 248-pounder was the focal point of the Wildcats' offense in the first half, gaining 97 yards rushing. He ended with a game-high 105 yards rushing.
After a Fruita Monument personal foul penalty with no time left in the first half, West kicker Preston Gasperetti came out to attempt a 36-yard field goal. The center exchanged was mishandled by holder Jayden Cordova. The senior tried to make something happen, but when he threw a pass to Gasperetti it resulted in an 18-yard loss and the half ended.
The second half was a defensive and field-possession chess match.
Pueblo West had a chance to take the lead as they took over at the Fruita Monument 35-yard line with 4:01 left in the game after an 11-yard punt.
The Wildcats defense once again rose to the occasion.
Fruita Monument sealed the game with back-to-back sacks of quarterback Chandler Mason for a total of minus-16 yards. The Wildcats took over with 2:01 left and ran out the clock.
"Our defense stepped up and played a big part in the game," said Burns, who also plays cornerback. "We had a bunch of stops and things turned out well for us. This is a huge win for us and we want to keep rolling."
The game had 13 punts — seven by Pueblo West and six by the Wildcats.
"Our defense did a lot of good things and really played great and kept us in the game," first-year Pueblo West coach Clint Buderus said. "We just didn't do enough offensively."
Buderus came to Pueblo West via La Junta, where he helped the Tigers to a 2016 Class 2A state title.
Buderus took over for Monte Pinkerton, who left the coaching role to become athletic director at Pueblo West. Like Buderus, Pinkerton was a state champion coach, coaching the Cyclones to the 2007 4A championship.
"We have a great staff and great players and these guys really came together," Ross said. "It just feels great to get out here and do this."