GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Conifer High School’s football team waltzed right through the proverbial door of opportunity on Friday. And when the Glenwood Springs Demons had their opportunities, the Lobos slammed that door shut.
A long drive, quickly followed by an interception of Glenwood quarterback Travis Lundin, resulted in fifth-ranked Conifer’s point total, and the Lobos’ defense pitched a shutout during their 14-0 season-opening victory over the Demons at Stubler Memorial Field.
“Probably the most frustrating thing was how Travis had to throw off his back foot the whole game,” said Glenwood receiver Justin Barnham, who finished with a team-high three receptions for 52 yards. “But it’s adversity. We have to overcome it. Hopefully we’ll get back to the drawing boards and see if we can write something up.”
Conifer (1-0), which lost to eventual 3A state title winner Silver Creek in the semifinals of the state playoffs last year, limited the Demons (0-1) to 181 yards of total offense. Lundin finished 11-of-21 passing for 108 yards with three interceptions, with Conifer’s linebackers pressuring enough that almost none of Lundin’s passes coming from a set position.
Glenwood’s defense held its own, allowing just 178 rushing yards and 227 yards of total offense. The Demons’ defense also created plenty of opportunities for their offense, forcing three second-half turnovers with the Lobos up by two scores.
Conifer kept the Demons out of the end zone, though, and jumped on its best chance to score in the first half to take the lead for good.
After Vaughn Brasseaux picked off a pass from Lundin to give the ball to Conifer on its own 31, the Lobos spliced together a 16-play, 69-yard scoring drive that ate more than 7 minutes off the clock, capping it with a 1-yard touchdown plunge from Matt McClintock for a 6-0 lead after the extra-point try from Brandon Payer failed.
Lundin was intercepted again on the second play of the Demons’ next drive to give the Lobos a first-and-goal at the Glenwood 7, and Conifer went up two plays later on a 3-yard jaunt from A.J. Eleniewski and a 2-point conversion run from quarterback Logan Weber with 2 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first half.
“It was kind of an ugly game,” Conifer coach Larry Fitzmaurice said. “Our defense played well. That’s kind of the strength of our team. Our offense struggled.”
But it did enough at just the right time.
“I kind of feel like we killed ourselves,” said Glenwood senior running back Henry Hill, who finished with a game-high 75 rushing yards on 14 carries. “We had too many turnovers, and we didn’t take advantage of the turnovers we caused.”
Sam Carmer’s interception of Weber on the Lobos’ opening drive of the third quarter gave Glenwood the ball on Conifer’s 35, but the Lobos forced the Demons to turn the ball over on downs. Freshman Dante Sparaco recovered a fumble from Payer on Conifer’s ensuing drive, but the Lobos forced a three-and-out.
Glenwood didn’t roll over, though. Payer, also playing quarterback, tried to seal the game with a sneak from the Demons’ 1 with 3:26 remaining. But Payer fumbled the snap into the end zone, and Colton Vail recovered for Glenwood to give the Demons new life.
But after Glenwood drove down to Conifer’s 12-yard line with 57 seconds remaining, Lobos cornerback Kailib Geer picked off a scrambling Lundin on Conifer’s 5 to seal it.
“All of this stuff is avoidable,” Hill said. “I think we learned that we can do it, because we hung in there pretty well.”