Demons focused on the future, not the past |

Demons focused on the future, not the past

Jon Mitchell
Glenwood Springs High School quarterback Dante Sparaco scores a touchdown in the second half of the Demons' game against Eagle Valley earlier this year. The Demons open the Class 3A state playoffs at Evergreen today.
Jon Mitchell / Post Independent |

Glenwood Springs High School’s football team knows quite a bit about the Evergreen Cougars.

The Demons know a lot about the offensive and defensive schemes of the Cougars. They’re familiar with many of the players on Evergreen’s roster, and they’re confident with the game plan they’ve formulated for their first-round matchup in the class 3A state playoffs.

No matter how much Glenwood knows about the Cougars, however, the blatantly obvious thing about Evergreen still remains.

“We’re still playing against a 10-0 team,” Glenwood coach Rocky Whitworth said. “They’re very solid in every facet of their game. Our work will be cut out for us.”

Glenwood has shown tendencies to be inconsistent this season, though there have been other times when the Demons have also proven to be solid. They’re hoping another one of those times will at Trailblazer Stadium today, where 15th-seeded Glenwood (6-4 overall) will play second-seeded Evergreen (10-0). Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. today, and the game will be broadcast on KMTS, 99.1 and 99.5-FM.

This is the third consecutive season that the Demons and Cougars have played each other. The first was in 2012, when Evergreen’s 38-32 victory in the eighth game of the season essentially knocked the Demons out of contention for a postseason spot. The Demons returned the favor last season, as their 35-7 victory over the Cougars in Week 8 was part of an eight-game winning streak that sent the Demons to the Class 3A quarterfinals.

“So yeah, there’s some history between us,” Whitworth admitted.

In more recent history, though, Evergreen has 13 seniors on this year’s team, with some of them having the opportunity to play against Glenwood in both previous matchups. Among them is senior running back Tanner Cassin (6-foot, 190 pounds), who was limited mightily against the Demons in Glenwood last season but leads the team with 563 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 96 carries.

Evergreen first-year starting quarterback Dylan Reifeis (6-1, 165) has been very effective, going 93-for-153 passing for 1,588 yards and 17 touchdowns with five interceptions. He also spreads the ball around, with 12 receivers having at least one catch and four having at least 10 catches between them.

Glenwood’s primary concern may be with the Cougars’ defense. Evergreen has forced 24 turnovers this year (12 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries), and the Cougars’ 31.5 quarterback sacks this year is third best in 3A. The leader is 6-2, 205-pound defensive end Greysen Lincoln, who has 11 sacks and 24 quarterback hurries this season.

“This will be the best defense we’ve faced all year,” Whitworth said.

There’s a good bet the Cougars’ primary focus may be on sophomore quarterback Dante Sparaco (6-4, 230), who comes into the game with close to 1,500 passing yards — hitting 106-of-173 attempts — to go with close to 900 rushing yards. Where Evergreen saw him last year, however, was when he was a starting defensive end for Glenwood’s defense as a freshman.

“They’ve got some big guys, and they’re going to be physical,” Sparaco said. “But we found some flaws in their defense that we should be able to exploit, and we know we’re going to be able to get penetration on defense. That’s one thing we’ve seen that really kills their offense is penetration, and I know that our defensive line has worked very hard this week to get that done.”

Among the players who could do that is senior linebacker Cristian Gonzalez (5-9, 230), whose 154 tackles this year leads Class 3A. Sam Carmer (85 tackles), Shane Cleveringa (83) and Evrett Marr (98) should also make plays on defense.

Marr (6-0, 180) should be a factor on offense, also, coming into the game with 562 rushing yards and 711 receiving yards on 46 catches. He’s one of five receivers — including Chase Nieslanik, Zane Lundin, Luke Prosence and Jake Gentry — who have each caught at least 10 passes this year.

The winner of today’s game advances to the state quarterfinals to play either Holy Family or Fort Morgan next week.

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