KMTS FOOTBALL: Demons Use Inside-Outside Power to Dominate Central

GRAND JUNCTION(9/19/14) — At the end of World War II, in college football, the Army football team went undefeated for three seasons and their two running backs, known as “Mr. Inside” (“Doc” Blanchard) and “Mr. Outside” (Glenn Davis) won the Heisman Trophy in back-to-back years.

Glenwood Springs (2-2) greeted 3A Western Slope League newcomer, Central High School (1-3) of Grand Junction, with a heavy dose of their own inside-outside running game, rolling up 353 yards rushing in a 44-26 victory in both teams’ WSL opener. Central, which went 0-20 the past two seasons in the 4A/5A Southwest League, was permitted to drop down a classification because the Warriors weren’t competitive against teams closer to their enrollment size.

Central quarterback Wyatt McElwain hit his first three passes for 20-plus yards to help the Warriors overtake an early Glenwood lead on Robert Hiles’ 29 yard field goal. A 33-yard pass from McElwain to Rusty James gave Central 1st-and-goal at the Demon three yard line. It took four tries, but McElwain finally got the touchdown from the one for a 7-3 Warrior lead with 4:50 to play in the first quarter.

The Demons’ opening scoring drive was fueled when “Mr. Outside,” Evrett Marr, broke three down the left sideline for 44 yards to the five. With three minutes left in the quarter, he did it again with Central’s Triston Dorrington again chasing him down, this time after a 38-yard dash to the Warrior 19. A face-mask penalty on the play moved the ball to the four, but just as on the Demons’ earlier penetration, quarterback Dante Sparaco lost yardage to the 7. But coach Rocky Whitworth called his number again and the sophomore justified the confidence by breaking through several defenders and high-stepping into the end zone with 1:49 to go in the quarter. Hiles’ extra point gave Glenwood a 10-7 lead they would continue to extend until Whitworth pulled his starters at the outset of the 4th quarter following 41 unanswered points.

Glenwood tallied four touchdowns in the second period, this time featuring the running of Sparaco and “Mr. Inside,” senior Luke Prosence, who scored the last three after Marr’s bone-crunching pancake block freed Sparaco for a 38-yard TD romp on the quarter’s first play. That run put the Demons up 17-3. Then Prosence concluded a 6-play, 72 yard drive with a 3-yard plunge, though the key play was a 44-yard connection from Sparaco to Chase Nieslanik.

McElwain’s quick kick on 4th-and-30 from the Central 10 was partially blocked and caught by linebacker Sam Carmer, who returned it to the Warrior 12. Marr and Sparaco worked the ball to the three, where on 4th down, Prosence scored the 2nd TD of his high school career.

Central inexplicably tried to convert a 4th-and-6 at their own 28 on the next possession, and the Demon defense clamped down on McElwain’s keeper and turned the ball over to the offense. Sparaco ran for 9 yards, followed by runs of 8 and 7 by Prosence to the 4, from where he pounded it in to up the lead to 38-7 with 1:51 left before halftime.

At the half, Glenwood had accumulated 219 yards on 22 rushing plays, while the defense, with Cristian Gonzalez seemingly in on every tackle, held Central to just 33 yards on 15 carries. The Demon secondary, after yielding 82 yards on McElwain’s first three passes, held him to just 2-of-8 and 5 yards from there to halftime.

Sparaco, who was 3-of-6 for 43 yards passing in the first half, showed off his combination of power and speed on the second play of the third quarter, bursting around right end, then outrunning the pursuit for a 71-yard touchdown to conclude the scoring for Glenwood just 58 seconds after halftime.

A substantial Central drive died with a 4th-down incompletion at Glenwood’s 32, but Sparaco’s fumble on the next play handed McElwain another chance at the 21. Marr thwarted that attempt with an interception in the end zone. Nieslanik registered the Demons’ only sack in the game on Central’s next possession to stall another drive at the GSHS 39. With Prosence running hard inside, Marr flashing outside, and Sparaco mixing in both, Glenwood powered three first downs to Central’s 18 by quarter’s end, which found the Demons up by 37.

Whitworth replaced Sparaco and Prosence along with several other starters to begin the 4th quarter, and the drive ended at the 13 on downs. Facing mostly backups on defense, McElwain passed for two touchdowns to Darrion Alton following a 67-yard scoring run by Dorrington to reduce the final margin to 18.

Sparaco carried 12 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns in three quarters of work, with Marr adding 127 yards on 11 attempts, and Prosence picking up 64 yards and 3 TD’s in 12 carries. Dorrington, who had just 10 yards through the first three quarters, had 108 on five 4th quarter attempts. McElwain had 84 yards on 17 carries and completed 8-of-24 passes for 105 yards (4-of-16, for 21 after the 1st quarter).

Palisade (2-1), ranked 9th in the AP 3A poll, plays Summit (1-2) on Saturday before traveling to Glenwood next Friday. Third-ranked Rifle (4-0) goes to 2nd-ranked Delta (3-1) next weekend.