Demons come up short against Palisade, as Bulldogs claim 3A league football title |

Demons come up short against Palisade, as Bulldogs claim 3A league football title

Mike Vidakovich
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs High School’s Ray Rosenmerkel scrambles through the Palisade defense in the team’s game on Oct. 29.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

The Glenwood Springs High School Demons threw a pre-Halloween scare into the visiting Palisade Bulldogs in the first half of Friday night’s game at Stubler Memorial Field, only to watch the state-ranked Bulldogs shift gears and pull away to earn a 28-14 3A Western Slope League football win.

With the game knotted at 0-0 at the end of the first quarter, and 7-7 at halftime, Palisade came out of the intermission locker room into the chilly October night determined to play keep away from the opportunistic Demons.

Keeping the ball on the ground almost exclusively in the game’s final 24 minutes, the Bulldogs churned out three long drives that culminated in a 3-yard touchdown run by junior Phallen Salvati, and scores of 15 yards and 12 yards by senior Franklin Barks.

Palisade football’s Malakhi Espinosa runs the ball at Glenwood Springs on Oct. 29.
Rich Allen/ Post Independent

Palisade’s final drive of the game featured 14 running plays, covering 73 yards for the Bulldogs’ final touchdown of the night to ease the tension. Glenwood had pulled to within 21-14 on a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Joaquin Sandoval to senior Blake Nieslanik, who was welcomed back to the Demon lineup after a knee injury had kept him off the field since late August.

Following a touchdown-saving tackle by Glenwood senior linebacker Sam Spence on a fourth-and-goal run by Palisade at the end of the first quarter, it was the Demons who dented the scoreboard first when Sandoval hit pay-dirt on a quarterback draw to cap an impressive 13-play, 97-yard scoring drive.

The march to the Palisade end zone included a key 34-yard pass from Sandoval to senior wide receiver Ray Rosenmerkel.

Shifty Bulldog signal caller Malakhi Espinosa wasted little time in tying the game up with a 24-yard touchdown run to draw Palisade even with the Demons just prior to the half.

Glenwood had possession of the ball to start the second half but was unable to sustain a drive. Palisade then took control of the ball, and the game, also as the Bulldogs rambled down the field to take a lead they would never relinquish.

Glenwood Springs High School’s Joaquin Sandoval throws a pass in the team’s game against Palisade on Oct. 29.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

For the Demons, Sandoval put up some noteworthy numbers, completing 23 of 32 passes for a total of 236 yards and a touchdown. Nieslanik was the beneficiary of 133 of those yards on the receiving end, with Rosenmerkel accounting for 73 yards in receptions.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the outcome, but I thought the kids played lights out tonight,” said Glenwood coach Pat Engle. “We’re missing three of our top four linebackers against a run team, but the defense played hard and did a great job. Our offensive line came to play also and gave Joaquin (Sandoval) the time he needed.”

Glenwood Springs High School’s Joaquin Sandoval rushes the ball in the team’s game against Palisade on Oct. 29.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

The Demons (4-5, 1-3 WSL) will close out the regular season Nov. 5 when they will host the Battle Mountain Huskies. With 16 teams making the class 3A football playoffs, Glenwood is still clinging to postseason hopes with an RPI ranking that currently has them slotted 17th in the classification.

“I told the kids that next Friday night we are probably playing for a playoff spot,” Engle said.

Palisade (7-2, 3-0 WSL) clinched the league title with the win.

Elsewhere Friday night, Grand Valley won at Olathe, 42-6; Rifle lost to the visiting Delta Panthers, 35-7; Coal Ridge lost at Moffat County, 51-0; Roaring Fork lost at Cedaredge, 34-0; and Basalt won at home versus Aspen, 49-21.

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