Demons hoping to shake off injury bug, bounce back in 2016 | PostIndependent.com

Demons hoping to shake off injury bug, bounce back in 2016

The 2015 season was very unkind to the Glenwood Springs Demons under veteran head coach Rocky Whitworth.

An absurd number of injuries to key players and limited experience across the board played a significant factor in a down year for the red and white, but now the Demons have appeared to get through the dark times much stronger than they were before.

Now, heading into the 2016 season, excitement is high around a program filled with a lot of young — but experienced — skill players and a veteran quarterback that should be one of the top players in the valley this season.

“For us, it’s all about staying healthy this season,” Whitworth said. “We’re going to be young, but we don’t want to have to move players around. We want to improve our competitive ability each and every week, but that starts with staying healthy.

Last season, Jake Townsley drew a tough assignment as a junior. Townsley had to fill the shoes of former signal caller Dante Sparaco — who transferred to Cherry Creek — while also trying to develop a large number of young skilled position players with limited high school experience.

Things would have been fine for the Demons if the injury bug didn’t bite early and often, forcing a high number of starters out of the lineup at one time or another, resulting in a very trying year for Glenwood.

Fortunately for the Demons, the injuries allowed younger players to step up and get valuable high school experience down the stretch. That fact alone, along with the added experience of Townsley, should play a significant role in the outcome of the 2016 season under Whitworth.

“Jake has had a fantastic year,” Whitworth said. “He’s been traveling around to all these camps and getting work in gearing up for the season. He’s a great leader for us.”

Along with Townsley under center, senior running back Easton Gaddis and sophomore receiver Luke Gair return with a year of high school experience under their belts. Gaddis will take over the bulk of the work in the backfield, replacing Matt Osier due to graduation, while Gair will team up with senior Luke Patch.

“They’re skilled guys for us and we need to get the ball in their hands,” Whitworth said. “For us that’s what it’s all about. We need to get the ball on the edge where they can make people miss and try to figure out a way to control the ball with that kind offense.”

Up front, the Demons will have some size along the offensive line as senior center Jesse DuPlesys and tackles Ethan McGill and Alonzo Hernandez will lead the way.

Defensively, Glenwood should improve in 2016 again due to the young players that gained experience last season.

Juniors Jack Reis and John Jensen will hold down the middle of the field at linebacker, while guys like McGill, Townsley, Gair and Gaddis should provide veteran leadership at key areas on a defense that is looking to get back to the respectable level at which they performed during the 2014 season, when Glenwood went 6-5.

Despite the tough season in 2015, things seem to be looking up for the Demons heading into this season.

Although still competing in a tough 3A Western Slope League with teams like Rifle, Palisade and Eagle Valley, a playoff berth isn’t out of reach for the young Demons under their Hall of Fame head coach.

“We’ve had a pretty good summer overall,” Whitworth said. “We’re still in a position to improve a lot, but at this time of year the attitude and effort is always good. I think the players have come back and focused in and are in better condition. We have a small number of seniors, but their leadership is good. But right now if we work hard and buy in we’ll be more competitive.”

With the injury bug hopefully behind them, the Demons could see a return to the upper echelon of the 3A WSL in 2016.