GLENWOOD SPRINGS (11/1/13) — And now, the playoffs actually begin. Before Glenwood Springs methodically sent winless Battle Mountain into the offseason 48-7 with the Demons’ seventh straight victory, Rocky Whitworth reiterated the gospel, according to the GSHS coaching staff: “We’re the longest running playoff team in history,” he said. “It’s do-or-die again; we’ve been in a playoff game for seven weeks.”
After starting the season with an 0-3 gauntlet through pre-season top five teams, and a scoreless first quarter last week before pulling away from Cortez, Whitworth and his team didn’t need much of a reminder of what was at stake versus the Huskies for the Demons, who cracked the Colorado Preps 3A top ten for the first time all season. Glenwood, seeded 12th in the CHSAA rankings, will travel to #5 Elizabeth (8-2) for the first round next Saturday.
“We’ve been playing on borrowed time since game three,” Whitworth pointed out. “If we don’t get that first punch in, we’re in trouble.” The only trouble posed by Battle Mountain (0-10) in the last regular season game at Stubler Field for nine Glenwood Springs seniors and their teammates was a recovered opening onside kick. The Huskies went 3-and-out as Derrick Chase celebrated his return after a two-week injury hiatus with a couple of tackles for loss. The Demons scored on their first five possessions before halftime, while forcing the Huskies to punt on their first three tries, stopping a fake punt short of a first down, and then Cole Adams picked off sophomore QB Demetruis Parrish on the third play of the second quarter.
By that time, Glenwood led 27-0, and coach Whitworth inserted freshman Dante Sparaco at quarterback. Starting senior Travis Lundin, who ran 17 yards for his touchdown of the season and threw a 37 TD pass to Evrett Marr in the first quarter, would not re-enter the game. Henry Hill, who opened the contest with back-to-back 36 and 37-yard bursts, then capped an 84-yard drive with a one-yard TD, zig-zagged 24-yards for his ninth score in the last four weeks, and exited the quarter with 101 yards in 6 carries.
But inserting Sparaco and reserves Shane Cleverenga and Zane Lundin into the backfield didn’t turn out to be all that merciful for Battle Mountain. Sparaco, who has started all season on defense and had one of six Demon sacks this game, engineered two scoring drives in three possessions before halftime.
The first followed Adams 18-yard runback of an interception to the Husky 47. Sparaco completed his first pass (in 4 attempts) of the season, 12 yards to Adams, then took the ball himself, 30 yards around right end for a 34-0 lead with 10:10 left in the second quarter.
A missed shotgun snap that resulted in an 11-yard loss finally forced a Glenwood punt on the next series, but following the Huskies fifth punt of the half, Cleverenga chewed up 13 yards in 3 carries to the BMHS 27, where the junior Lundin went in motion from his slot position and scampered 27 yards down the right sideline for his first varsity touchdown. Robert Hiles, who had booted 13 straight conversion kicks until a miss following Hill’s second TD, started up a new streak, making it 41-0 as the running clock began 1:48 before halftime.
The second half opened with another 3-and-out, featuring a sack by Sam Carmer, before Sparaco connected with Justin Barham for 34 yards to the 7, and Cleverenga took it in from there. Hiles made it 6-of-7 (and 16 of his last 17) and 48-0 on the Demons’ only third-quarter possession.
Battle Mountain got into the scoring column on the first play of the final frame when Parrish got loose down the left sideline for 74 yards. Senior Colton Vail punctuated the game with his second sack.
Lundin, who threw a touchdown pass for the fifth straight game after just one in the season’s first five, was 2-of-3 for 53 yards in his one quarter of play. Sparaco finished 2-of-5 for 46 yards after his first two passes were dropped by open receivers, perhaps not prepared for the velocity of the talented freshman’s arm. The Huskies were held to one first down and a net 67 yards for the game.
The Western Slope will send four teams into the 16-team playoffs, though league-winner Palisade (9-1), 7-1 WSL) is the only school to host in the first round. The Bulldogs, ranked 2nd, play #15 Lutheran. Second place Rifle (8-2, 7-1),ranked 11th, travels to #6 Coronado. Glenwood (7-3, 6-2)finished third in a tie-breaker over #13 Delta (7-3, 6-2), which will play #4 Holy Family, and the winner of that game will play the GSHS-Elizabeth winner. The Cardinals, who were the only team to defeat #1 Discovery Canyon, are coached by former Rifle High School All-State linebacker Chris Cline. The Demons have played 5 of the 16 playoff teams, defeating Delta and Evergreen, and losing to Palisade, Rifle, and Conifer. Here is the complete 3A first-round bracket:
#1 Discovery Canyon vs #16 Pueblo East
#8 Evergreen vs #9 Silver Creek
#4 Holy Family vs #13 Delta
#5 Elizabeth vs #12 Glenwood Springs
#3 Roosevelt vs #14 Frederick
#6 Coronado vs #11 Rifle
#7 Classical Academy vs #10 Conifer
#2 Palisade vs #15 Lutheran.