Ciani’s hits are hard to miss |

Ciani’s hits are hard to miss

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Whenever opposing coaches size up Glenwood Springs in film sessions, they always notice Nick Ciani.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound inside linebacker has a knack for mercilessly swallowing up running backs with his long arms and nose for the football.

And, no matter what those opposing coaches scheme up, nothing seems to stop him.

“No. 56, we tried trapping him early,” Lewis-Palmer coach Tony Ramunno lamented after his Rangers suffered a 42-21 loss to the Demons in the 3A state quarterfinals. “We got him once. That was it. We couldn’t get by him.”

The big linebacker was equally disruptive in Glenwood’s most recent win – a 25-6 handling of Canon City in Saturday’s state semifinals. Behind Ciani and fellow linebackers Chad Montover, Chris Ayala and Willy Pelland, the Demons bottled up the Tigers on a muddy Stubler Memorial Field.

Canon City managed just 103 yards on the ground. While the footing wasn’t ideal, there were yards to be had on the mushy turf. The 323 rushing yards generated by Glenwood’s offense proved as much.

Just like in the Demons’ two previous playoff triumphs, Ciani was a force. Atop his run-stifling shenanigans, the senior tipped a pass that teammate Mike Mills intercepted.

In defeating Canon City, Ciani and his 12 fellow senior teammates led the Demons to their next challenge: this Saturday’s 3A state title game against Elizabeth.

It’ll be Ciani’s second state title game. He played with the 2008 team that won it all, and now he’s a leader on a 2010 squad that’s chasing the same feat.

While, as a sophomore, he contributed in big ways during that 2008 run, Ciani says he was just along for the ride.

“My sophomore year, it was them,” he said. “It was, you know, the golden class. I just played defense there.”

Now it’s the Class of 2011’s turn.

“It’s a lot different for us this year,” Ciani explained. “It’s our team. It’s us. This class of seniors are the leaders now. We all want it.

“Now it’s my turn. It’s our turn. It’s 2010’s turn.”

What’s transpired in Ciani’s very own family parallels what’s happened with the Demons on the football field.

Each of the three Ciani siblings have carved out quite the athletic legacy in Glenwood Springs.

The oldest, Samantha, started it all with a famed basketball career. The 2007 graduate helped the Demons to Class 4A’s Final Four back in 2006-07.

Jordan, the middle sibling, was a senior linebacker for the 2008 title-winning football team and a leader in his own right.

Just like it’s the 2010 Demons’ turn, it’s Nick’s turn to shine. But he doesn’t think of it like that.

“I just want to make my family proud and go hard,” he said. “That’s most important.”

And the family Nick’s battling to make proud is a family that helped shape who he is today.

“I take a lot from Sam and Jordan,” Nick said. “I took a lot from Sam’s intensity, Sam’s craziness. And then there’s Jordan’s ability to just, you know, be a team player and be a leader. When adversity strikes, you overcome it.”

Carl Ciani, the proud father of the three, has enjoyed his front-row seat to Nick’s maturation.

“He gets to learn the successes and also learned the failures,” Carl Ciani said. “You know, he’s seen everything, either himself or through his sister and brother. I think Samantha blazed the trail. Jordan helped Nick, playing together that championship year. …

“It’s been a complete joy. All the kids have done so well. To see all the kids mature and grow and have success at a high level, it’s just real neat to experience that.”

On Saturday, Carl just might get to see his youngest son take home a second state championship, something few in the world of high school football get a crack at.

“I’m very grateful,” Nick said. “This doesn’t happen once in a lifetime, let alone twice. I’m very grateful, very fortunate. I’m thankful to make it back.”

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