GLENWOOD SPRINGS (11/13/10) — Three 9-and-1 teams entered the 3A state football playoffs, and only one survived the first round. Capitalizing on two early turnovers and scoring on the first three possessions, the Glenwood Demons made sure they were not among the upset victims, sinking the Englewood Pirates, 42-0, Saturday at Stubler Memorial Field.
Coach Rocky Whitworth, whose team is now 6-2 in its four-year playoff run, expressed concern before the game about Englewood’s 1,700-yard running back, Kevin Matthews, but the 5-7 senior fumbled on the first play after the opening kickoff with Glenwood recovering on the Pirate 26. Drew Halsch put the Demons up 7-0, five plays later. “It was my first playoff game, and I didn’t know what to expect, but with the short field, we just slammed it in,” Halsch said of his one-yard TD run less than two minutes after the turnover.
Englewood (8-3) was in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, but most of Halsh’s senior teammates have made the post-season four straight years, and the experience showed. The Pirates fumbled seven times, losing four, and just four minutes after halftime, JD Weeden’s interception and 15 yard return to the Pirate 15 led to a 9-yard TD run by Halsch and the 40-point mercy rule. Weeden booted his sixth straight extra point as Jacob and Halsch left the game, and the clock began to run out for Englewood.
Glenwood certainly had its way on offense, scoring on its first three possessions, including a 4-yard run by Chad Montover after Englewood’s punter lost the ball at his own 21, and a 70-yard drive keyed by a 40-yard breakaway run by Halsch and capped by Luke Jacob’s 19-yard scoring strike to Willy Pelland, who just did get both feet in the back of the end zone, to lead 21-0 just a minute into the second quarter.
It was Jacob’s turn to find the end zone on the last two possessions of the first half. Michael Mills’ 19-yard punt return to the Pirate 37 gave Glenwood another short field with Montover’s 12-yard run setting up a one-yard score by Jacob to extend the lead to 28-0. Then after the defense forced Englewood to punt for the fifth straight time, Jacob went to the air, finding Cam Avery twice for 21 yards, then Henry Hill for 31, down to the four-yard line, preceding Jacob’s fourteenth rushing touchdown of the season, two behind Halsch.
Prior to the game, Whitworth said of his team’s frequent need to overcome mistakes despite winning its third WSL crown in four years, “We play two teams each week — ourselves and the opponents, but to go to the playoffs four straight years is a great accomplishment for the seniors.” And Whitworth was especially proud of the defense, which held Matthews to just 13 yards on 17 carries going into the fourth quarter. “We have four outstanding linebackers, (Chris) Ayala, Pelland, Nick (Ciani), and Montover — we’ve hung our hat on them all year long and they delivered.”
Pelland added, “The defense basically centered on him (Matthews), and wherever he’d go, we’d go — we just stopped him.” Matthews did add 72 fourth-quarter yards while several Demon freshmen gained the kind of experience that may prime future playoff runs, managing to keep the shutout intact when quarterback Joel Pleiman’s fumble was recovered at the Glenwood two yard line by Travis Lundin with 5:32 to go in the game.
Halsch led the Demons with 97 yards rushing in 11 attempts, while Jacob balanced the attack through the air, connecting on 7-of-10 passes for 94 yards, giving him back-to-back seasons of 1,000 yards both running and passing. Avery was the leading receiver with 4 catches for 37 yards. Pleiman was just 1-of-8 passing for 15 yards. Matthews finished with 85 yards in 27 carries, almost 100 yards lower than his per-game average.
Because tenth-seeded Lewis Palmer (9-2 and 2nd in the South Central League) rallied for the game’s final 11 points in an 18-15 upset win at Centaurus (8-3, seeded 7th), Glenwood will have to travel to Colorado Springs for its second round game next Saturday.
Other first-round upsets included third-seeded Mountain View (9-2) losing at home, 14-0 to Windsor (8-3, seeded 14th) and number-four Palisade (9-2) getting edged, 14-12 by Silver Creek (8-3, seeded 13th) at Stocker Stadium on Friday. The third 9-1 team to go out in the first round was 9th-seeded Roosevelt, which lost 12-0 to number-eight Frederick (7-4).
Top-seeded Elizabeth (11-0), which defeated Englewood 49-7 in its last league game, advanced on Friday by beating Palmer Ridge, 35-7. Should the Demons win at Lewis Palmer next weekend, they would play the winner of Windsor and number-six Canon City (8-3), which beat Erie, 35-21.