Time for a turnaround?
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
PARACHUTE, Colorado – Jake White says Grand Valley deserves a winning football season. They’ve suffered enough and have been toiling tirelessly to turn things around.
“After all the bad seasons we’ve had, we deserve it, especially with all the work we’ve put this summer,” the senior fullback/linebacker stated. “We’ve been working hard.”
That includes some hard labor in the weight room and a trip to a team camp at Colorado State University-Pueblo, where the Cardinals worked on bonding what’s already a rather cohesive group.
“It’s a brotherhood,” said Tanner Zimmerman, Grand Valley’s senior running back/safety. “We stick together through adversity.”
And they’ve faced plenty of it, struggling to a combined 7-13 record the past two seasons. The Cardinals haven’t made the playoffs since 2008. They haven’t had a winning season since 2009.
But Zimmerman believes 2012 will play out in a different fashion.
“This is definitely the hardest offseason Grand Valley’s put in in a long time, and I think we have the skill to match it and make it work,” he said. “It’s going to take us far this season.”
Grand Valley has a toolsy quarterback, Tyler Scott, who excelled as a sophomore in 2011. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound passer finished with 1,537 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air.
“I think Tyler has the capability to be the best quarterback he can be,” said Zimmerman, who was the Cardinals’ leading rusher with 894 yards in 2011. “He’s one of those guys who’s tall enough and has the skill.”
Scott has his favorite weapon coming back in senior Trent Reidle, last year’s team leader in receiving. The 6-3 receiver hauled in 29 passes for 459 yards and four TDs in 2011.
Also returning for Grand Valley are senior tight end/linebacker Stephan Padilla (6-2, 200) and junior running back/linebacker Bryan Hegwood (6-0, 180), who join Scott, Reidle, Zimmerman and White in comprising the team’s core.
“We’ve got a strong group of upperclassmen,” said Mike Johnson, the Cardinals’ 13th-year head coach. “Our juniors and seniors are pretty solid.”
Where Grand Valley lacks is in the depth department. Johnson said maybe 35 players turned out for football this fall.
“I would say we’re normally around 45-50,” he relayed.
An injury or two could spell disaster for the Cardinals, who could very well be a contender in the 2A Western Slope League if they remain healthy.
“This group of kids is very easy to coach,” Johnson said. “They’re fun to be around and you can tell when a group of kids wants to be good. They do the things necessary, and I really believe that out of this group. They do whatever we ask them to do.”
Said Zimmerman: “I feel like we have a lot to prove. We’re getting more attention than we have in the past, but we’re not going to let it go to our heads. We’re going to be working hard to exceed our expectations rather than just meet what the public thinks we’re going to do.”
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