Area teams gear up for playoff games
Now that the three area prep football playoff teams know who their opponents will be, the next obstacle is figuring out how to beat them.To which end Glenwood Springs head coach Rocky Whitworth and his counterparts, Darrel Gorham at Rifle and Tory Jensen of Roaring Fork, will be spending some extra time boning up on their respective foes.All three teams play on the road at 1 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Colorado High School Activities Association Web site.Before taking the Glenwood job last spring, Whitworth guided Class 5A Grandview to playoff appearances. Gorham extended Rifle’s playoff streak to 10 straight years, and Jensen has directed the Rams to postseason berths for six consecutive seasons.CLASS 3A FIRST ROUNDGlenwood Springs (6-4) at Sterling (7-3)A playoff game is virgin territory for the current Demons players, who haven’t been in the postseason since 1990. That doesn’t take anything away from the Demons’ preparation for Saturday’s game at Sterling. But it will probably take a few moments for the team to get down to work at practice after experiencing the euphoria of the moment.The 7-3 Sterling Tigers, the No. 2 team from the Tri-Valley Conference, appear to be a formidable foe. They wrapped up their playoff berth with conference blowout wins over Windsor, 38-14, and Valley, 41-8, and have outscored their opponents 254-134.Offensively, the Tigers like to go to the air. Sterling quarterback Jeff Squier has completed 70 of 159 pass attempts for 22 touchdowns and has only five interceptions. Heading the list of pass-catchers are senior Derek Pilkington (35 receptions, 10 touchdowns) and Shane Gertner (20 catches, nine TDs).Running back Brandon Steele is Sterling’s leading rusher, with 411 yards and four touchdowns. Rifle (7-3) at Florence (8-2)Rifle, which squeezed into the Western Slope Conference’s No. 4 playoff slot, travels to Northern Conference champ Florence.Both teams have momentum. The Bears are on a two-game winning streak after back-to-back 33-0 shutout victories over Montezuma-Cortez and Battle Mountain.Florence raised its current winning string to six straight with a 53-35 mauling of Woodland Park. Florence is a grind-it-out type of team. Offensively, the Huskies run the ball, then run the ball and then run some more.Jeremy Young averages 6.4 yards per carry and has 1,009 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. He’s complemented in the backfield by Brandon Ridgeway (703 yards, 7 TDs) and Levi McDowell (659 yards, 10 TDs).• Other 3A Western Slope League football teams to advance to the playoffs include defending state champion Palisade and league runner-up Moffat County.Palisade (10-0) hosts Metro League fourth-seed Elizabeth (7-3). Moffat County (9-1) hosts Southern League No. 3 Pueblo County (4-6). Both games are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday.CLASS 2A QUARTERFINALSRoaring Fork (8-2) at Brush (8-2)Roaring Fork, which earned a dramatic 36-31 win over Monte Vista in Carbondale in the first round, lost an earlier coin flip for home field, and must travel to Brush for the Class 2A quarterfinals.The Beetdiggers advanced to Saturday’s contest by edging St. Mary’s 21-14. They feature a 1,000-yard-plus rusher in senior Gregg Genho, one of the state’s scoring leaders with 20 touchdowns, along with a steady quarterback in Matt Ely, who has connected on 50 percent of his passes this season (46-of-93) with six touchdowns.The winner faces the winner of the Faith Christian-Kent Denver contest the following week in the semifinals.The winner faces the winner of the Faith Christian-Kent Denver contest the following week in the semifinals.
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Thanksgiving seems to be ever-present here in the Roaring Fork Valley. I’m not talking turkey and gravy, I’m speaking to the gifts we receive constantly, throughout the seasons.