Cardinals get brushed aside by Beetdiggers |

Cardinals get brushed aside by Beetdiggers

Katie Collins
Brush News-Tribune
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Iva Kay Horner Brush News-Tribune

BRUSH, Colorado ” Well, it wasn’t the end Grand Valley was hoping for when it came into the first round of playoff action against Brush, but the Cardinals did put up a good first 2A playoff appearance during their 34-6 end-of-season loss to the Beetdiggers.

Grand Valley head coach Mike Johnson even made the journey to take the reins for his boys, despite suffering from the aftermath of post-appendectomy surgeries that had kept Johnson off the field since his first trip to the hospital back in mid-September.

Johnson even looked a bit spry on the sidelines as he reclaimed his offensive coordinator duties, and when asked if it was worth the pain despite the heart-breaking loss to the Beetdiggers he wasted no time replying.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “you know any time you go to the playoffs there are all kinds of teams that are staying at home and I’m proud of our kids. They had a great year and this is good for us just movin’ up. We expected to make it to the playoffs again, but we had a nice year.

“You know I thought we came out hard. The first half was what I kind of thought it might be and the second half Brush just wore us down physically and took some things away from us that we normally get, and frustrated us.”

And physical it was, especially for the Cardinals coming off a hard-knock game with Olathe, who coach Johnson said “beat the crap out of us last game, so it’s been two rough weeks in a row.”

In the first half of play, it was Grand Valley that had the opening threat, finding themselves at the Brush 4-yard line on a drive that began at their own 13.

But the Diggers held the Cardinals there and managed to re-establish field position late in the first half with a 43-yard punt that made its way to the Grand Valley 1-yard line.

A Beetdigger interception on that same drive set up the only first-half touchdown by either team, leaving Grand Valley down by seven going into the break.

Three sacks, two interceptions and two quarters of play later, the Cards found themselves in deep and facing a 34-0 shutout situation as they allowed Brush four more trips into the end zone in the second half.

But Grand Valley just couldn’t go out like that.

With just over seven minutes left in the fourth, junior quarterback Ryan Gallegos, a resilient offensive line and Cardinal leaders Colton Cowan and William Waugh paced Grand Valley to an eight-play, 87-yard drive that began on the team’s own 19-yard line. It was advanced by a pass caught by Michael Shepard for a gain of 20 yards and finished with a handoff to Cowan off left tackle for Grand Valley’s only TD from 2 yards out.

Shepard’s extra point on a low snap went too far left, but the Cardinals (8-3) did manage to end their season by lighting up the board one last time.

Even Brush head coach Randy Dreitz, whose team improved to 8-3, gave much props to this year’s 2A Western Slope League runners-up.

“They were a good football team and not a pushover team by any means,” he said. “It took us a while to pick up on that little counter and the sweep that they had.”

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