Cards at Wray in second round
PARACHUTE – As the Grand Valley football team formed a tunnel, clapping their hands and slapping their knees to pump up their teammates, the starters ran through as public announcer Paul Harvey read their names before Saturday’s playoff game against Burlington.One Cardinal’s name was a little different, as Harvey has dubbed running back/defensive back Jon “The Ragin’ Cajun” Lantz.So is he really ragin’? Well, the senior recorded one interception, a handful of tackles and a few carries including a six-yard run for a key first down in the second quarter that set up a Colton Cowan 52-yard touchdown run on No. 3 Grand Valley’s way to a 42-14 first round playoff win.Lantz is not only true to the ragin’ part of his nickname, he also deserves the second part.”I came from Louisiana, moved here last summer,” said Lantz in a southern accent.
Lantz played football growing up in Louisiana and played football and basketball for Grand Valley last year. Now, as a senior, Lantz has helped the Cards to a 10-0 season, which included a Class 1A Western Slope League Championship. As backup running back to 1,200-plus-yard runner Colton Cowan and fullback William Waugh, Lantz has rushed for 419 yards and three TDs on 49 carries. Lantz credits the offensive line for the Cards’ offensive success. “We have pretty much the best line in the state. For sure,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who carries the ball.”Lantz has reeled in seven receptions for 173 yards and two TDs, while picking off two passes on defense, including one he ran back for a touchdown. Lantz is just one of many Cardinals who are stepping up to contribute for the Cards, who are blessed with gifted backups.”We’ve got good depth. That is really one of the strengths of this team, we’ve got 16-17 kids that can really play,” said Grand Valley head coach Mike Johnson. “I have three quarterbacks I feel comfortable with, two or three running backs, but no one get hurt on the line, please.”Now, that line and the rest of the Grand Valley Cardinals will face Wray on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Wray. The game is very significant, not only because the winner advances to the quarterfinals, but because Grand Valley will be looking for payback. The Eagles knocked the Cards out of the playoffs last season, with a 18-7 rout in the first round.
“It’s the rematch from last year. I know a lot of our kids would like another chance at them,” Johnson said. “I know a lot of our kids that graduated last year want us to get a chance at them, and they are a good football team, and we’ll see what happens.”Sixth-seed Wray (7-3) eliminated Rye 49-26 in the first round to reach the second round and is led by returning starting quarterback Aaron Orr. Orr ran for a touchdown and threw for a TD against the Cardinals in last year’s contest and has over 1,000 yards passing and rushing this year. It wasn’t Orr who caused the most damage last year however – that was the Cardinals. Grand Valley turned the ball over four times, killing drives and momentum.Grand Valley has taken better care of the ball this year – proof being when Cowan carries the ball he doesn’t let it see daylight – and the Cards have cut down on turnovers. They hope to continue that trend against Wray, which lost to Burlington 35-23 in its first game of the season. “We felt like we would have one last year had we not made so many mistakes and we just said those mistakes aren’t going to happen,” Johnson said. “We are going to take care of the ball.”The Cardinal defense, which has held teams to an average of less than eight points a game and never given up more than 16 points, is ready to step up again against Wray. After all, the D has got a lot to play for because if Grand Valley wins, it will be the furthest Cardinal football team has gone in the history of the school.”It is going to be a tough game,” Lantz said. “We are really pumped up.”
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