KMTS FOOTBALL: DEMONS CLINCH WSL SECOND PLACE IN FRIGID FRISCO

FRISCO (11/4/19) – Old-fashioned, grind-it-out football triumphed over the forward pass as Glenwood Springs ran the ball 62 times for 422 yards in a 36-30 win at Summit County that insured a second place finish in the Western Slope League for the Demons (3-6, 3-1 WSL).

Instead of the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust that was featured in mid-20th century football, Garrett Dollahan and his Demon running mates averaged more like seven yards and a puff of frost on the Tigers’ artificial surface in conditions that drew near single digits.

Dollahan, who missed nearly five games with a shoulder injury, easily had his finest performance as the junior rushed for 175 yards and four touchdowns in 23 carries. He was ably supported by sophomore Blake Nieslanik’s 111 yards and one TD in 11 attempts, and an additional 92 yards from senior Eliott Walz in 14 carries and 52 first-quarter yards in four runs by senior Tucker Porter, who did not return after that period.

The Demons attempted only one pass in the game, by Evan Heyl before he left the contest at halftime when the game was tied at 16. Ray Rosenmerken, who managed the second half efficiently and engineered a fourth-quarter comeback from a 23-22 deficit, primarily handed the ball off to Dollahan and Walz. Meanwhile, Summit’s junior quarterback, Cameron Kalaf, completed 12-of-23 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns with almost no run support at all.

With Glenwood leading 16-0 after first-quarter TD runs by Dollahan of 8 and 20 yards, Kalaaf took advantage of the Tigers’ second fumble recovery in the second period, along with 20 yards in Demon penalties to cap a 54-yard drive with his own scoring run from the 24. In twelve other Summit running plays in the game, the Tigers gained a net of two yards.

But Kalaaf hooked up with Kobe Cortright for a 25 yard score with 29 seconds left in the first half, and with Daniel Gonzalez’ two-point run, the Tigers knotted the score at intermission. Summit drove 88 yards in eight plays, all passes, in 1:37, setting up a sizzling second half despite the freezing temperature.

After forcing a Summit punt on the Tigers’ opening third-quarter possession, the Demons showed their ground game to be a match for Kalaaf’s aerial show. With Rosenmerken taking over at quarterback, Glenwood ran the ball 16 times, covering 88 yards of their own, using nine and a half minutes. Nieslanik gave the Demons a 22-16 lead with a 26-yard touchdown run leaving 1:08 in the period, but Dollahan’s conversion run was stopped.

It took Kalaaf one play to respond. Following a 10-yard holding penalty, he hit Cortright on a ten-yard slant over the middle that the junior took the rest of the way for a 72-yard TD. Jaden Smith’s extra point kick put Summit (3-6, 2-2) ahead for the first time, 23-22, in the battle for second place behind Palisade (6-3, 4-0) with 27 seconds left in the quarter.

Glenwood answered with Dollahan carrying the ball five times in a 6-play, 70-yard ground assault that he finished with a spectacular 54 yard burst with 8:47 to play. A two-point run by Walz put the Demons up, 30-23, and then Glenwood received a tremendous break.

Rosenmerken’s squib kick bounced off a Summit player and was recovered by the Demons at midfield. Nieslanik bobbled the first hand-off, but recovered for a six-yard gain. Then Walz and Dollahan did the rest, with the junior running back tallying his fourth touchdown (and fifth of his shortened season) from 7 yards out. The extra-point run failed, but Glenwood now had a 36-23 advantage with 4:13 remaining.

Kalaaf wasn’t finished yet. After two incomplete passes, he struck for 16 to Aidan Collins, then 48 to Cortright down to the Demon 16. On the next play, much faster than one could say or spell Alexi Urtusuasteguinevarez, the senior receiver caught a flea-flicker from Kalaaf to Jackson Veeneman for the 16-yard score. The extra point made it a six-point game with 3:20 to go.

Evidently feeling their defense could do what they’d managed only once in nine Demon possessions, force a 3-and-out, the Tigers kicked the ball deep instead of gambling on an onside kick.

Dollahan, and primarily Walz, were up to the task, converting two first downs and running out the remaining three minutes of the contest.

Summit and Glenwood each came into the game with 2-1 records, so the Demons have clinched second place in the WSL. However, even a win in next week’s finale at Steamboat Springs (3-6, 1-3) will likely not be enough to get the number 21-ranked Demons into the 16-team 3A playoffs.

About Jack Jabbour

High school sports analyst
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