Demons get early start |

Demons get early start

Joelle Milholm
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Glenwood Springs football team got a good taste of winning last year by posting a 9-1 record, an undefeated Western Slope League record giving the Demons the WSL Championship and the team’s first playoff appearance since 2004.

But the Demons are not satisfied. Instead, they are taking this offseason very seriously in order to top last-year’s performance.

They just wrapped a two-week camp preparing for the fall season. They were hitting, running plays and even training out in the cold and rainy conditions on Thursday. They did it all with one objective: to do what the Demons haven’t done since 1990 ” win a postseason game.

“We have aspirations to improve ourselves. We as a team have to make sure we are committed to reach those extra things,” said Glenwood head coach Rocky Whitworth, who is beginning his fifth year with the Demons. “For a team to step up and get past a playoff is important. This team has not won a playoff game in 20 years. It’s time.”

The two-week camp kicked off Glenwood’s summer program. Thanks to new Colorado High School Association rules, which allow teams more time to train together in the spring, the Demons had the option of going to a camp as a team or running their own. Whitworth chose the latter, knowing the more his players are learning his game plan and practice it together, the better they can be.

“This works best for us,” Whitworth said on the last day of camp on Thursday. “We had a good camp. Some of the younger guys were able to step out and some of the older guys are further ahead than we have been before.”

While the Demons graduated 12 seniors from its 2007 squad, 20 juniors from last season are ready to fill in as the new veteran class. Highlighting the list of soon-to-be seniors is returning Class 3A RockyPreps All-State Quarterback Dakota Stonehouse.

Stonehouse threw for 2,341 yards and 31 touchdowns last year in addition to rushing for another 17 touchdowns in 2007.

Stonehouse will have a handful of senior targets to throw to with wide receivers like Kevin Screen and Conner Riley as well as 6-foot-8 tight end Donnie Jennert to name a few. Fellow veterans Michael Hudson and Jordan Ciani return to the backfield for the Demons and the line will be anchored by experienced trenchers Keenan Hartert, Aaron Zancanella and Greg Orosz.

Most in the Demons’ class of 2009 have played together for a long time and can’t wait to take the field for their final hurrah.

“We have been playing since fifth or fourth grade,” Stonehouse said. “We have really good team chemistry and we are really excited for our last year.”

The Demons are an athletic squad and where they lack in size, they make up in speed. With a quarterback who can run by or throw past defenses, Whitworth is planning on making his offense move even faster to throw opposing D units off by huddling less. The Demons got their first taste of the new system at their camp.

“The spring is a chance for two things: One, to challenge some of the guys that have not had any experience. So we set things up to allow them to show us their stuff,” Whitworth said. “The other thing is to advance a little more offensively and defensively and we may do a little more no-huddle offense this year, so we worked on that.”

The plan involves coaches delivering signals to Stonehouse, or “Doc,” as he is nicknamed, who will make like Peyton Manning and get his offense going.

“It feels good to get back out there and start learning all the new plays. We are not huddling this year, so it is going to be hard to learn all the signals,” he said. “I am excited.”

A big key to finding success with no-huddle offenses is having everyone on the team on the same page. Ciani, who stepped up as a big contributor on offense and defense for Glenwood last year, thinks the relationships between the Demon players is an advantage for the team.

“We had a good season last year, but we are looking to go further this year because we are an extremely close, well-bonded team and we are going to see if we can match and do better than last year,” he said.

Whitworth isn’t ready to label the team quite yet as to how much chemistry he sees. He is optimistic however that it can develop during the offseason.

“Chemistry is a big thing and I don’t know what the chemistry is on this team,” he said. “It will be up to the seniors and a lot of it comes in the summer program.”

With the Demons’ camp already in the books, the summer training program will now take over starting Monday morning. The Demons will begin their weight-training program, which takes place three days a week, at 7 a.m. While Whitworth will have them working on their strength, there is also speed improvement and core work blended into the workouts.

After two summers of being unable to train at the high school, the Demons are finally allowed to use their own equipment. Glenwood was forced to train at the Hotel Colorado in 2006 when asbestos closed down the school and then the squad moved to Glenwood Springs Middle School last summer when the high school was under construction.

“It is nice to be back at home,” Whitworth said.

Glenwood is also allowed to play on their home field, which was also closed for construction last summer. Instead of having to play at GSMS, the Demons will be able to hold their weekly 7-on-7 scrimmages Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. at Stubler Memorial Field.

Sometime the 7-on-7 matches are intrasquad, but the Demons have also gone against Roaring Fork and are trying to schedule scrimmages with Rifle and Basalt. On June 21, the Demons will head to Boulder to for the University of Colorado’s High School Passing Jamboree. It will give the Demons a chance to practice their plays against different teams from around the state.

“Hopefully we can win down there against Denver schools and actually some of the teams from our league will be there, too,” Ciani said. “So it will be fun to see what they are like.”

Outside of team functions, Whitworth said a number of the players will also being going to individual camps. Stonehouse’s summer is full of camps and combines across the country. Today, he will be in action in the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Oregon.

When the second week of August rolls around, Whitworth and his staff will hold a preseason camp before the 2008 season officially gets underway. While the Demons won’t have their first chance to win a game until the Aug. 22 season-opener at Montrose, they are laying the foundation for success now.

“Everyone is working really hard,” said Ciani. “We are all trying to work for spots, so it is going good.”

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