Commitment and camaraderie drive Cards |

Commitment and camaraderie drive Cards

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Erika Fratzke Fratzke PhotographyGrand Valley junior defensive lineman Tristen Olson (58) and senior linebacker Jake White (33) converge on a Bayfield ball carrier earlier this season.

PARACHUTE – Early on in the summer, football coach Mike Johnson sensed conditions were ripe for a breakout season at Grand Valley.

“We had the best summer in the weight room and at camp that we’ve ever seen,” the program’s veteran head coach said. “You know, the commitment and camaraderie in the weight room with these guys is amazing. They really get after it.”

Johnson had a feeling good things would follow, and his preseason assessment couldn’t have been any more accurate.

The 2A Western Slope League’s Cardinals went on to piece together a dominant regular season, crafting an 8-1 record that featured only a loss to 9-0 Bayfield. And, for the first time since 2008, Grand Valley is in the state playoffs.

Drawing the fifth seed in the 16-team Class 2A bracket, the Cardinals will host No. 12 Middle Park (7-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday in the first round.

“We worked our tails off this summer,” said Grand Valley senior Trent Reidle, who plays both wide receiver and safety. “We stayed pretty focused through the summer. We had a good session of camp. We worked hard and this is what we’ve been working for the whole summer and the past four years.”

Reidle and the Cardinals boast a high-powered offensive attack that features multiple dimensions and averaged nearly 39 points a game during the regular season.

They have a capable quarterback in junior Tyler Scott, who has passed for 1,145 yards and 19 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Reidle and fellow senior Stephan Padilla each have more than 300 receiving yards. They have a hauled in 10 TD passes between them.

Senior back Tanner Zimmerman leads the Cardinals in rushing with 1,486 yards and 11 TDs.

Couple talent with work ethic and you have Grand Valley’s recipe for 2012 success, Reidle said.

“I think a lot of it has to do with our work ethic,” the 6-foot-3 receiver said. “We have a lot of talented individuals on our team also. We do have some weapons that will come through for us.”

They’ll need those weapons against Middle Park. The Granby school finished second to Faith Christian in the 2A Flatirons League and lost to only Faith and 9-0 Kent Denver, which earned the 2A bracket’s top seed.

The Panthers boast a high-caliber offensive tackle in Kane Hutchinson, who is listed at 6-6 and 270 pounds on his profile. The big man is garnering looks from a handful of colleges, Division I programs among them.

Hutchinson’s impact is evident in the Panthers’ rushing statistics. According to the Middle Park page, running back Henry Southway’s 1,177 yards and 13 TDs lead a run game that’s churned out 2,321 yards this season.

“We have to put four quarters together and play hard as we can for four quarters,” Cardinals junior offensive and defensive lineman Collin Weeks said. “That’s something we’ve been struggling on all season. We’re going to figure it out this week.”

Saturday’s Middle Park-Grand Valley winner will face either No. 4 Florence or No. 13 Basalt in the second round.

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