An old adage in sports says that defense wins championships.
Glenwood Springs High School’s football team is nowhere near playing for a championship, but the Demons’ defense is a big reason for their last two victories.
That defense will be put to the test tonight. Glenwood (2-3 overall, 2-2 Class 3A Western Slope League), with the prospect of a postseason berth on the line, will play at Eagle Valley (4-1, 2-1) at Hot Stuff Stadium in Gypsum. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on KMTS 99.1-FM.
Wild-card points — which help determine playoff seeding and playoff spots based on quality wins and losses — have not been released yet. But there are a lot of factors which would play into the Demons’ favor.
For one, the three losses the Demons opened the season with came against ranked teams in Conifer (then No. 5), Palisade (then No. 8) and Rifle (then No. 3). Steamboat Springs was unranked but improved when Glenwood earned its first victory of the season on Sept. 20, and Delta was ranked No. 9 during the Demons’ 15-7 victory over the Panthers.
That means that a win at Eagle Valley tonight would put the Demons in a good position to earn one of the 16 spots in the Class 3A state playoffs. Remaining on the Demons’ schedule following tonight’s game will be Moffat County at home Oct. 11, Evergreen at home Oct. 18, Montezuma-Cortez on the road Oct. 25, and Battle Mountain at home Nov. 1. Combined, the overall record of the Demons’ final four regular-season opponents is 5-15, with Evergreen (4-1) carrying the only winning record.
Glenwood’s defense has been the big catalyst of its success. The Demons allowed just 211 yards of total offense when they played Delta and, though they didn’t force a turnover, allowed only four plays of 10 yards or more in the 62 offensive snaps the Panthers took.
Against Steamboat on the road, Glenwood didn’t allow an offensive touchdown until the final half of the fourth quarter, building a 34-point lead en route to a 37-10 victory. And Glenwood’s defense was stellar against Rifle, as the Bears finished with a season-low 285 yards of total offense in their 13-7 victory over the Demons on Sept. 13.
That defense will be key against Eagle Valley, whose coach, John Ramunno, is in his 31st season at the helm. The Devils’ run-heavy offensive attack has helped them outscore their opponents 215-101, including a 62-14 romp at Arvada. Eagle Valley, however, was beaten by Delta 35-14 on Sept. 13.
Glenwood turned to the run against Delta in its 15-7 victory, even more so than it did in its win over Steamboat.
Tailback Henry Hill carried the ball 31 times for 178 yards against the Panthers, helping the Demons finish with 246 rushing yards as a team. Quarterback Travis Lundin attempted only three passes — completing all of them — for 38 yards.
No. 1 vs. No. 2
Rifle, by the way, is now ranked No. 1 in Class 3A. The Bears host No. 2 Palisade tonight.
Both teams have a vaunted running game, with Rifle averaging 345 yards on the ground and Palisade averaging 382. The winner — speaking of Wild Card points — will likely have a leg up not only on the 3A WSL title, but a very high seed in the state playoffs.
It’s also the second consecutive year the Bears and Bulldogs have played each other as the top two teams in Class 3A. Last season, Rifle defeated Palisade 31-3 at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Bears Stadium in Rifle. The game will be broadcast on KNAM 1490-AM.
Also playing tonight is Grand Valley (0-5, 0-3 2A WSL), which will host a much-improved Pagosa Springs team. Coal Ridge (0-5, 0-3) will host a Bayfield squad that beat Grand Valley last week but dropped out of the 2A poll following a loss to Aspen on Sept. 20.
Roaring Fork (2-3, 0-1 1A WSL) will try to rebound from last week’s 47-0 loss to Paonia when it plays at Cedaredge tonight.