Season wrapup: Bears look at bright side after title-game loss |

Season wrapup: Bears look at bright side after title-game loss

Jon Mitchell
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Rifle High School senior running back Brock Clark breaks away for a 39-yard touchdown run against Pueblo East during the Class 3A state championship game at Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo on Nov. 29. Clark finished the season as the Bears' leading rusher.
Darcy Copeland |


The following is the complete roster for the 2014 Rifle High football team that reached the Class 3A state title game. This roster is also posted on the team’s Web page.

No. 3: Drake Montgomery, Soph., QB/SS; No. 4: Austin Knight, Sr., RB/FS; No. 5: Ethan Strouse, Jr., QB/FS; No. 6: Brooks Pressler, Sr., RB/FS; No. 7: Layton Stutsman, Sr., QB/FS; No. 8: Brock Clark, Sr., RB/LB; No. 9: Tyler Bosshardt, Jr., WR/CB; No. 10: Chris Johnson, Sr., WR/CB; No. 11: Enrique Villegrana, Soph., TE/C; No. 12: Jacob Webb, Soph., RB/DB;

No. 14: Cameron Shepherd, Fr., RB/LB; No. 15: Gabe Rocha, Soph., RB/C; No. 17: Eduardo Sandoval, Sr., PK; No. 19 Alex Rivas, Sr., PK; No. 19(2): Ramon Salvidrez, Fr., PK; No. 20: Ty Leyba, Jr., RB/DB; No. 22: Alex Cordova, Soph., RB/DB; No. 23: Bailey Webb, Soph., WR/DB; No. 24: Nikki Holloway, Soph., RB/ILB; No. 27: Blaine Vance, Soph., RB/LB;

No. 28: David Fugita, Sr., RB/CB; No. 31: James Straw, Jr., TE/OLB; No. 32: Cody Rice, Sr., TE/OLB; No. 33: Colton Bumgarner, Jr., FB/ILB; No. 44: Logan Stephens, Jr., RB/DB; No. 50: Zach Wisniewski, Sr., OL/DE; No. 51: Gage Johnston, Jr., OL/DE; No. 52: Takoda Chaney, Soph., OL/LB; No. 53: Cody Pina, Soph., OL/DL; No. 55: Austin Boone, Sr., OL/DE;

No. 56: Griffin Ebeler, Soph., OL/DL; No. 58: Alex Gould, Sr., OL/LB; No. 59: Dillon Loving, Sr., OG/OLB; No 60: Bryer Rew, Soph., OL/DL; No. 63: Austin Shepherd, Sr., OG/MLB; No. 64; Hunter Jorgenson, Soph., OG/MLB; No. 64: Tucker Hutton, Jr., OL/DL; No. 66: Max Demann, Soph., OG/ILB; No. 70: Nathan Qualls, Jr., OL/NG; No. 72: Connor Gould, Fr., OL/DL; No. 74: Victor Diaz, Soph., DE;

No. 75: Kyle Scholla, Jr., OL/DL; No. 77: Joe Kosht, Jr., C/DL; No. 79: Jose Prado, Sr., OL/DL; No. 80: Wyatt Bornholdt, Jr., TE/DE.

Even within a few minutes of its 30-14 loss to Puebo East in he Class 3A state title game in front of more than 10,000 fans on Nov. 29, members of the Rifle High School football team still found positives about the season even through the emotions of its disappointing finish.

“I think it’s an embodiment of everything that happens in Rifle,” Bears coach Damon Wells said. “We have great boys who work like crazy, and they should be recognized for that.”

The Bears, even though they finished the season holding the state runner-up trophy instead of the state championship trophy at Dutch Clark Stadium in Pueblo, did plenty to be recognized during the 2014 season. They reached the state championship game for the second time in three years — their previous appearance was in 2012 — and had some of the best individual performances in the classification.

And even though Rifle’s players were visibly upset after the game — a game where they were up 14-7 at the beginning of the third quarter and tied with the Eagles 14-all at the beginning of the fourth — they still recognized what they’d accomplished.

“I got everything I could have wanted except for the W today,” Rifle High senior quarterback Layton Stutsman said. “There’s a lot more to this experience than winning a state title.”

Granted, that’s what Rifle was shooting for, and they managed to give plenty of optimism based on the regular season they had.

The Bears’ only loss during the regular season came against Palisade, when a touchdown by the Bulldogs in the closing minutes of the second half snapped a 10-all tie and resulted in an 18-10 victory for Palisade. Rifle won out the rest of its schedule, however, and wound up winning its fourth consecutive league championship — third outright — when the Bulldogs lost to Delta on the final day of the season.

Still, Rifle looked like it had a gauntlet of a playoff schedule when the Bears were given the No. 6 seed in the 3A state playoffs. Rifle practically made it look easy, though, earning a 61-13 first-round victory over Northridge of Greeley before slipping and sliding their way to a 15-0 win at Roosevelt in the second round.

Add in their 35-7 semifinal victory over Fort Morgan — a game where the Bears held at least a two-touchdown lead for much of the game — and Rifle was rolling into the state title game with confidence and momentum. Still, East’s quarterback, Daniel Martin, finished the game with 300 yards of total offense and a pair of rushing touchdowns. It proved the difference in the game.

“There wasn’t anything he did that surprised us,” junior running back and defensive back Ty Leyba said. “He’s just hard to stop.”

So was Rifle’s rushing game, which finished the season with 4,003 yards in 14 games. Five players — Brock Clark, Stutsman, Blaine Vance, Leyba and Brooks Pressler — each finished with more than 400 yards rushing. To top it off, Stutsman’s 1,132 passing yards for the season not only added balance to Rifle’s offense, but it was the highest passing-yardage total for the Bears in the past five years.

Plus, save the title game, Rifle’s defense allowed just an average of 8.7 point per game his season.

The Bears, however, will lose some key players to graduation. Among them is senior offensive lineman and linebacker Austin Shepherd — the team’s leading tackler — along with Clark, Stutsman and Austin Knight, all of whom were big parts of the Bears’ offense in the skill positions.

Rifle, however, will bring back much of its offensive and defensive line next season. Also returning will be Vance — who emerged this season with nearly 800 rushing yards in his first year as a starter — and Leyba, whose quickness made Rifle’s running game much more versatile.

“As long as we’re willing to put in the work as a unit and the younger guys are willing to do that just like we’ve done in the past, we should be good again,” Leyba said. “All of that has helped buildthe program to where we are now, and we have a close brotherhood here. There’s always something coming.”

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