PARACHUTE - It all started in the weight room this summer, Grand Valley junior Collin Weeks said.
With a work ethic unparalleled by any recent football team to walk through the halls of the Parachute school, the Cardinals began work early on what would be a breakthrough 2012 campaign.
"We definitely knew we could do this," said Weeks, who's helped Grand Valley to an 8-1 season. "We knew because of the work we put in before the season started. We were in the weight room every day, going 100 percent in camp and really learning from what we did last season."
The Cardinals parlayed all that work into the school's first playoff appearance since 2008. They'll open up the 2A tournament at home this Saturday against Middle Park (7-2).
"We're really excited that we got a home state playoff game," said Grand Valley head coach Mike Johnson, whose team earned the fifth seed in the 16-team playoff bracket. "I'm excited for our kids. I think they've earned it. Every team in the playoffs is good. It's time to go to work."
No. 12 Middle Park will pose a challenge. The Granby school finished second to Faith Christian in the 2A Flatirons League and lost to only Faith and 9-0 Kent Denver, which earned the bracket's top seed.
One Middle Park player Johnson and company will focus on is senior offensive tackle Kane Hutchinson, who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds on his BeRecruited.com profile. The big man is garnering looks from a handful of colleges, Division I programs among them.
Hutchinson's impact is evident in the Panthers' rushing statistics. According to the Middle Park MaxPreps.com page, running back Henry Southway's 1,177 yards and 13 touchdowns lead a run game that has churned out 2,321 yards this season.
Grand Valley has its weapons, too.
Senior back Tanner Zimmerman leads the Cardinals in rushing with 1,486 yards and 11 TDs. Junior quarterback Tyler Scott has passed for 1,145 yards and 19 TDs against seven interceptions. Seniors Trent Reidle and Stephan Padilla both have more than 300 receiving yards. They have a combined 10 TDs between them.
Grand Valley can't wait to get a crack at playoff football. It's taken a long time - and a lot of work - to make this happen.
"We worked our tails off this summer," Reidle said. "We stayed pretty focused throughout the summer. We had a good session of camp. We worked hard, and this is what we've been working for the whole summer."
Saturday's Middle Park-Grand Valley winner will face either No. 4 Florence or No. 13 Basalt in the second round.
Friday, Nov. 2
Eagle Valley at Rifle, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 3
2A state playoffs, first round, Middle Park at Grand Valley, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 3
Class 3A Region 4 tournament, at University High School, Greeley: Grand Valley vs. University, 10 a.m.; Grand Valley vs. Peak to Peak, 11:30 a.m.; University vs. Peak to Peak, 1 p.m.
• Rifle High School senior Jake Statler competed in the state cross country meet at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs on Saturday. He placed 125th in the 4A boys race. He clocked in at 18 minutes, 51.82 seconds. In the 3A girls race, Grand Valley's Rocio Roman ran to 76th place in a time of 23:15.30.
• Rifle clinched its second straight 3A Western Slope League football title with a 21-0 win at Delta on Friday. The Bears were just stingy enough on defense to come away with their fifth shutout of the season.
"Delta moved the ball on us," Rifle coach Damon Wells said. "You hate to use the old cliche, but we were bend but don't break."
Friday's matchup between 3A WSL heavyweights was very much a possession game. Long drives ruled the night, Wells said.
A 1-yard rushing touchdown by Ryan Moeller and a 10-yard scoring pass from quarterback Adam Rice to tight end Tanner Quick delivered the Bears a 14-0 half-time lead. They added a third TD - a 1-yard keeper by Rice - in the second half to round out the final score.
The win pushed Rifle to 9-0 overall and to 7-0 in league play. With Eagle Valley's 35-7 loss to Palisade last week, that means no one can catch the Bears in the league race.
Austin Shepard had a fumble recovery for the Bears and Aaron Wagler came up with an interception.
• Tanner Zimmerman rushed for 223 yards on 24 carries and quarterback Tyler Scott threw for 99 yards and three touchdowns on 7-of-15 passing to help Grand Valley past rival Coal Ridge, 31-7, on a frigid night in Parachute last Friday.
• Rifle's volleyball team dropped three of its four matches at the 3A Western Slope League tournament in Grand Junction over the weekend. The Bears beat Moffat County (19-25, 25-15, 22-25, 25-17, 15-9) and lost to Roaring Fork (25-20, 25-13, 25-10), Olathe (25-20, 25-8, 25-9) and Grand Valley (25-17, 25-18, 25-10). Rifle ended its season at 6-17.