Familiarity adds to rivalry game
Glenwood Springs versus Rifle is a rivalry regardless of the sport.And football may be the biggest of them all.But for the players of both teams the annual game, which takes place Friday at Rifle High’s Bears Stadium, is also a chance to catch up with friends.”The reason why the game is special is our kids know their kids and their kids know our kids,” said Rifle High football coach Darrel Gorham. “They see each other on the weekends or they’ve played peewee or middle school football together. “Palisade and Moffat County are teams we compete with. But our kids don’t personally know those kids. There’s a reality check there and there’s no getting away from it.”Demons running back Pat Reardon, who will try to break a 14-year losing streak to the Bears, understands where Gorham’s coming from.
“I know some of those kids,” the Glenwood senior said. “I think it’s cool and it’s more fun to play when you know guys you’re playing against.”Kyle Sanderson, Rifle’s quarterback agreed.”It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “We see guys we know and we talk to them and ask them how things are going.”But, when it comes time to snap on the chin straps, both teams will be trying to knock each other’s blocks off.”We’ve been in a battle with Glenwood since we were peewees,” Sanderson said. “So, there’s a little bit more to this game.”In Rifle’s case, there’s also a little bit more riding on the line.Beyond the Bears’ No. 2 ranking in all three prep Class 3A state football polls, Rifle (4-0, 3-0 Western Slope Conference) likely needs a win to maintain its position in a three-way tie for the WSC lead with Palisade and Moffat County. Palisade is the No. 1-ranked 3A team in the state, and Moffat County is fourth.
Palisade played a nonconference game with Montrose Thursday. On Friday, Moffat County hosts Delta, which is winless in the WSC and in the midst of a four-game losing streak. “I don’t think the kids will have a problem getting up for the game,” Gorham said. “Glenwood has always been a tough game for us. It’s never been easy, no matter what the records are.”The Demons are 2-2 (1-1 WSC), and enter Friday’s game energized after a 14-13 loss to Palisade last week in Grand Junction. “I believe that we can beat Rifle,” Reardon said. “We have total confidence after the Palisade game. We were really scared before the game and It was a good test for us. This week we’re not that nervous.”Friday also marks the first time new Demons coach Rocky Whitworth gets to witness a Glenwood-Rifle game up close.”The team is playing hard and I’m proud of the steps we’ve made,” the coach said.”Rifle is very physical. They play good technically, their very well coached and they make few mistakes,” Whitworth added. “For us to be competitive, we have to continue to play as hard as we can.”
Glenwood is a little dinged up entering Friday’s game.Whitworth said Matt Miller and Chris Toler are on “injured reserve” and will probably will not play. Tackle Jeff Seaver is possibly out for the year with a shoulder injury.A plus on Glenwood’s side, Gorham added, is the large amount of seniors the Demons have on their roster – 19.The Rifle coach credits Glenwood’s improvement to the work of former head coach Craig Denney (currently an assistant coach for Whitworth) along with past Demons football coaches.”Those seniors had to learn football some place when the they freshmen, sophomores and juniors,” he said. “Those coaches behind the scenes are the guys that are getting it done. Rocky is a good coach and has a good resume. But those coaches who have worked their tail off (previously) are the one’s who should be enjoying the season their having.”Sanderson said, the difference between a win or a loss comes down to how well the Bears execute their game plan – no matter who is the opponent.”All 11 guys have to go out and do their job. It’s not a one-man thing. You have go out and play the game and not overlook anybody.”
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