GLENWOOD SPRINGS (11/4/16) – Long after eleven senior Glenwood Springs football players had knelt in front of the home stands, surrounded by teammates, coaches and cheerleaders and sung the school fight song for the last time along with classmates, friends, and family, Burley Quoetone, remained on one knee, head bowed, where the red, black, and white “G” is painted in the center of the 50-yard line at Nick Stubler Field.
After a while, two other players came and knelt at the same spot, facing the south goal posts, reflecting not only on their team’s 33-6 win over Eagle Valley, which secured a third place finish in the Western Slope League, and kept very slim playoff hopes alive, but on whatever goes through a young man’s mind when a chapter in his life is closing: the time spent with teammates, exacting practices by demanding coaches, summer workouts, the weight room, the support of family and classmates, the highs and lows, victories and losses, but probably most of all, the feeling that he most likely will never put on these pads again and will transition from player to spectator, and this moment, with this group of teammates, will never come again.
The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) will have the final say on whether the Demons (5-5, 3-2 WSL) will suit up again as a team when it reveals the 16-team 3A state football playoff bracket on Sunday afternoon. However, looking at Colorado Preps team rankings, Glenwood, at number 29 before the Demon-Devil clash, would have to climb over thirteen teams (six of whom also won last night), including number 18 Harrison (6-4), which defeated Glenwood 22-7 in week three.
One team the Demons definitely overhauled in the standings was number 28 Eagle Valley, serving notice on the game’s first play, which team would break the teams’ tie for third place. Taking a short kickoff at his own 34 yard line, sophomore Miguel Herrera emerged from a midfield pack to break into the clear, then outran all pursuers down the left sideline for a 66-yard touchdown. Herrera had just two receptions all season until having to replace injured sophomore Luke Gair, the league’s leading receiver, but his return of the game’s opening kickoff put Glenwood up 7-0 with Tyler Deitrich’s extra point just 15 seconds into the game.
Eagle Valley (3-7, 2-3), playing without leading ground gainer Kyle Williams, looked to answer the Demon score immediately when Matthew Sanchez took the ensuing kickoff at his 20 and burst through the pack before Daniel Jenkins and Wyatt Ewer dragged him down 47 yards later at the Glenwood 33.
Facing a 4th-and-16, quarterback Garett Martin heaved a high pass into the end zone, and Sanchez outleaped two Demon defenders for a 35 yard touchdown, just 2:29 after Glenwood’s score. However David Witt’s point-after attempt was wide left, leaving the Devils down by one, 7-6.
Glenwood responded with an 11-play, 65-yard drive capped by Jake Townsley’s two-yard run at 4:39, giving indication that the 14-6 lead was a prelude to a high-scoring shootout. However another good kick return by Sanchez to the Devil 46 died on downs on a failed option run by Martin, and the Demons quickly went three-and-out themselves.
Townsley boomed a high, but short punt with Miguel Castillo signaling for a fair catch at his own 20 yard line, but the Devil sophomore dropped the ball and it was recovered by John Jenson at the 21. Two runs by Easton Gaddis and one by Townsley set up the Demons with a second-and-goal at the four yard line as the first quarter ended. On the initial play of the second period, Juan Felan, who had 18 carries in the loss to Palisade when Gaddis was out, but only one other this season, slashed the final four yards to put Glenwood up 20-6 after Deitrich’s kick.
The Glenwood defense had limited the Devils to minus-one yard rushing in the first quarter, and things didn’t improve much in the next twelve minutes , despite interceptions by Sanchez and Corben Funk, with Eagle gaining just 10 yards on seven attempts. So Martin went to the air, but was sacked by Jack Ries and Preston Goode forcing a punt after the first pick, and Stephen Romero dropped him for a 5-yard loss after the second. In between, Martin was 0-for-4 passing, but Glenwood’s offensive struggles prevented an increase in its 14-point lead by the quarter’s end.
After the third-quarter kickoff, Funk nearly doubled his team’s halftime rushing total, gaining the Devils initial first-down of the game, excluding two by penalty, but a nifty breakup by Erwin Rodriguez of a third-down pass forced Martin to punt.
Ewer’s fair catch backed Glenwood up at its own 8-yard line, but Townsley, completing all four of his passes and alternating QB keepers with a 17-yard burst by Gaddis, drove the Demons 92 yards in 11 plays, consuming 4:45 and sealing the outcome.
Gaddis caught two of the passes good for 25 yards, and Romero, a senior playing his first year of varsity football, ran two exquisite routes with Townsley laying the ball in perfectly, first for 11 yards to the 22, then on 4th-and-three, for the final 15-yard touchdown. Deitrich’s extra point kick gave Glenwood an insurmountable 27-6 advantage with 5:09 to go in the third.
Eagle Valley used the final five minutes of the quarter in mounting its longest drive of the game, but for the third time in the game, an ineligible man downfield cost Martin a completion on the first play of the fourth quarter. After a 14-yard reception by Sanchez to the 36, Rodriguez and Felan broke up consecutive passes to turn the ball over on downs.
The defense picked up its third sack of Martin when Jack Ries dropped the Devil QB on 4th down at his own 23 with 4:38 left in the game. Gaddis and Townsley quickly moved the ball to the one, where after a couple of tries, Gaddis took it in for his league leading fifteenth rushing touchdown.
The seniors for Glenwood include Ben Liotta, Alex Trejo, Luke Patch, William Carlson, Ethan McGill, Jesse Duplesys, Townsely, Gaddis, Quoetone, Jenkins, and Romero. Several of those, including two-way linemen McGill and Duplesys, stand a good chance at earning All-league honors. Quoetone and Romero finished the season in the top five in the WSL for tackles with 77 and 75 respectively, and Quoetone led all defenders with six sacks.
Townsley, who completed 10-of-14 for 86 yards against Eagle, led the league in passing yards with 1,071. Against the Devils, he rushed for 60 yards in 14 attempts, giving him a season total of 768 yards with 7 touchdowns. Gaddis, with 103 yards in 23 carries, topped the century mark for the sixth time in nine games and finished third in league rushing with 911 yards. He led the WSL in scoring with 108 points.
The Demons do have a strong returning group of players, including Felan, who led the league with six interceptions, along with Jensen, receiver Gavin Olson, Gair, and backup QB Brady Steen will have some large offensive shoes to fill next season.
Other starters who return include juniors Luis Mariano, Jake Brown, Zach Quint, Antonio Ordonez, Deitrich, Ries, and Goode. The promising sophomore class, along with Olson, Gair, Herrera, Ewer, and Alex and Erwin Rodriguez, includes 22 others who suited up for the varsity.