GLENWOOD SPRINGS (11/27/10) — “The turf's not real great, but it's our dirt,” Glenwood lineman Blaze Barham said in describing the muddy, slippery field on which his team had just qualified for a return to the 3A state football championship by defeating Canon City, 25-6, Saturday.
Recent snow, followed by sub-zero temperatures played havoc with Stubler Memorial Field, and it affected all phases of the semi-final game in the early going, but the Demons (12-1) adjusted more readily, dealing the South Central champion Tigers (9-4) a steady dose of that lacrosse player, turned touchdown maker, Drew Halsch on an 80-yard drive that chewed up the final 6:34 of the first quarter and culminated with the senior running back's twentieth touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. Halsch was tripped and slipped, but “kept driving my feet,” he explained of his 7 yard run that gave Glenwood a 6-0 lead it would maintain through halftime.
“Extra effort gets you down the field,” said Halsch, who gained 124 yards and would score his 7th playoff touchdown early in the third quarter for a 12-0 Demon lead before having to leave the game with a hip injury the first-year varsity player said wouldn't keep him out of next Saturday's championship against undefeated Elizabeth.
The Demons had to expend that extra effort, not only to overcome the field conditions, but three turnovers that kept the Tigers hanging around despite producing just 77 yards of combined offense and two first downs in the first half.
“The defense picks us up so much,” quarterback Luke Jacob said, after he threw an interception, then lost a fumble on back-to-back possessions. First, came a fourth-and-one stop by Chad Montover that halted Canon City at the Demon 18-yard line, and then Michael Mills' interception at Glenwood's 26 turned the Tigers away.
Another interception by Willy Pelland gave JD Weeden a chance to attempt a 35-yard field goal just before halftime, but the kick was low and wide. However, the Demons opened the second half with a ten-play, 81-yard drive — featuring a diving catch by Cam Avery for a 39-yard completion to the Canon City 41. “We had some trouble with ball security,” Jacob said, but (Avery's catch) got us going on that drive.” A 13-yard scramble by Jacob helped move the ball to the three, and Halsch went in standing up for a 12-0 lead with 8:06 to play in the third.
Canon City quarterback Max Javernick, who was intercepted three times in the game, finally solved the Glenwood defense following another fumble by the Demons (at their own 29) when he found Matt Schwindt in the left corner of the end zone for a 4th-down, 20-yard touchdown pass. The poor field conditions contributed to missed extra points for both teams, and a fumbled snap by the Tiger holder left the score at 12-6 with 3:17 remaining in the quarter.
The Demon offense then took over the game, gaining seven first downs, despite three penalties, consuming the rest of the third quarter and continuing the 18-play, 79-yard scoring drive at the outset of the fourth, with all but an 8-yard pass to Chad Montover coming on runs by Halsch and Jacob, who scored from the 7 after Halsch set him up with an 18 yard run behind blocking by Barham, Montover, and center Michael Brunk.
The conversion pass failed, but the 18-6 lead with 7:28 to go in the game had Demon fans looking forward to next week's 2:30 title game at Cherokee Trail High School's Legacy Stadium in Aurora until Javernick hooked up with Schwindt again, this time for 32 yards to the Glenwood 34. Another first down moved Canon City to the 22, but a pair of pass defending gems by Auston Tribble helped stop the Tigers on downs at the 21, and Jacob took it from there — literally.
Jacob, who would finish with a career-high 214 yards on 29 carries for the day, gobbled up 35 on the first two plays of what would be a game-clinching, 9-play, 79-yard scoring drive. Halsch had to leave the game after the next play, so Jacob covered the final 44 yards on 5 straight attempts. “He (Halsch) was running great, but unfortunately got hurt, so they put the ball in my hands,” Jacob (119 yards in 14 fourth-quarter carries) said.
The drive concluded when Brian Ochoa's block opened a lane for Jacob and “I managed to slip through some guys,” the senior QB said, as he regained his footing to finish off the Tigers with a 30-yard touchdown run, his fifth of the playoffs and 19th of the season. JD Weeden, who had booted 12 straight playoff extra points before a bad snap ended his string in the second quarter, kicked the game's only PAT for the 25-6 score with 1:32 left in the game.
Halsch and Jacob, who rushed for all but three of the team's season-high 341 yards, were full of praise for the offensive line — Barham, Ochoa, Brunk, Mike Moreno, Nick Ciani, and tight end Pelland. But Ciani returned the compliment, saying, “They (Luke and Drew) are tremendous. We love fighting for them.”