The last time the Central High School football team beat Fruita Monument was ...
"Gosh, I don't know," an ecstatic Shawn Marsh said Friday night after his team knocked off the Wildcats, the fourth-ranked team in Class 4A,13-9 at Stocker Stadium.
"I know it hasn't been for the past six years since I've been here. That much I know for sure," Marsh said. "But really, tonight is pretty emotional. And it was great tonight because our kids' effort was so tremendous. I'm so proud of them. Wins have been elusive, and it's been hard for us to get wins and have stuff go our way like it did tonight."
Things went the Warriors' way at crucial times, and Central's defense played a big role in that. Each of the three turnovers the Warriors forced came at critical times, and the defense also took away the big-play capabilities that helped the Wildcats (1-1) win 14 consecutive regular-season games entering Friday.
It was the Warriors' first win over the Wildcats since a 36-0 triumph at Stocker Stadium on Oct. 2, 2009, and this year's team said Friday's win speaks volumes to what it can accomplish.
"I think people will need to stop sleeping on us," said Central senior Shaun Stepisnik, whose interception of Fruita quarterback Zach Rush with 2 minutes remaining sealed the win. "I think a win like this will get some people to start showing some respect to Central."
Max Marsh completed 14 of 24 passes for 187 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Anthony Zubiate added 61 yards rushing for Central (1-1), which had three turnovers in the red zone during a 21-13 season-opening loss to Montrose. The Warriors flipped the script this week.
"I think the beauty in this is last week we did have a lot of things go wrong," Stepisnik said. "So we went in and said we had to flip the page. In years past, we haven't really been able to look past the mistakes we made. This year, it's different."
Treyton Queen had 24 carries for 92 yards to pace the Wildcats, who blocked an extra-point kick, a field goal and two punts. Their first blocked punt resulted in a safety and pulled Fruita within four points with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter, but the Wildcats couldn't make the most of their opportunities the rest of the way.
"We made too many mistakes today, and we're going to get better as a result of that," first-year Fruita coach Cameron Ross said. "We faced some adversity and we didn't focus the way we needed to. But I'm very proud of these guys because they battled their tails off. This is a very good Central team."
Central's defense was very good down the stretch.
The Wildcats drove 43 yards at the beginning of the third quarter to Central's 1 with 6 minutes remaining in the third quarter. But after Rush was stopped for no gain, Central forced a fumble recovered by the Warriors' Josh Barela to end the threat.
In the fourth, Max Belshe had the Wildcats' second blocked punt, and it set Fruita up on the Warriors' 26 with 11:44 remaining before Central's defense forced the Wildcats to turn the ball over on downs four plays later. Fruita got the ball back for the final time on its 12 with 9:05 remaining but could only make it to its own 38, where Stepisnik's interception sealed the game.
Central struck first when Max Marsh hit Elijah Romero in stride for a 43-yard touchdown pass, with Romero shaking a Fruita tackler inside the 10 before reaching the end zone with 5:56 remaining before halftime. The Wildcats responded on the ensuing possession, capping a seven-play, 48-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by Queen with 31 seconds left before halftime.
The Warriors went ahead to stay on a gutsy call in the third when Max Marsh, on a fourth-and-27 play, hit Kole Taylor in stride down the west sideline for a 31-yard TD pass with 9:35 remaining in the third quarter.
"Our football team could be so good. We do so many good things," Shawn Marsh said. "We don't score as many points as we should but, man, when your defense plays like that? We scored 13 points and got a win. That's pretty amazing."