Fierce defense up to the challenge
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
AURORA, Colorado ” We’ve heard it so often that it’s like an irritating gnat buzzing around your ear.
But year after year, when it comes to football, it rings as true as a Salvation Army bell ringer ” Defense wins championships.
In Glenwood Springs’ 23-14 win over Fort Morgan, it was the defense that led the way on several occasions in the game.
The defense held the potent Fort Morgan offense in check in the first half with a bend but don’t break effort. Although Fort Morgan broke free for a few big plays, the Demons’ defense was stout and fierce.
And right in the middle of the action was one mighty mite of a Demon, who came up huge in the first half when Fort Morgan was threatening.
When junior Taylor Parsons is surrounded by the hefty members of the Demons defense he looks more like a water boy than the nose guard, but this 5-foot-6-inch, 140-pound Demon dynamo packs a wallop.
After two key third down conversions, the Mustangs were driving and appeared to be ready to pounce onto the scoreboard.
Fort Morgan QB Garrett Pape had made two nifty passes when the Demons’ turned up the heat and blasted into the signal caller’s kitchen. With heavy pressure, Pape threw a desperation pass that Glenwood senior Jordan Ciani tipped and the ball floated right into the hands of Parsons for the interception.
He was the right guy, who was actually in the wrong place but for this play he was in the perfect place for the Demons.
“Actually, I kind of blew my assignment and Jordan tipped it and it came right to me. I caught it and tried to do something with it but they tackled me,” he said.
Parsons found himself a few yards off the line of scrimmage but snatched the wobbly pass when he spotted it.
The big interception gave the Demons’ offense a needed spark and they caught fire on the drive.
A few minutes later quarterback Dakota Stonehouse drilled Kevin Screen for a 5-yard TD pass to put the Demons on the board first, 7-0.
Stonehouse even made it into the game as defensive back and made two wicked tackles in the first half.
“I’ve been telling the coaches all year that they should put me in,” he said with a laugh.
In the second half, it was the defense that kept the Fort Morgan offense in check.
They held the highly productive Mustang running game to a mere 91 yards for the game. The pass rush also harassed Pape throughout the second half.
Working with a patchwork secondary because of injuries, the Demons held Fort Morgan to just 135 yards passing and Pape to just 8 completions in 27 attempts. He did have one TD toss.
Keenan Hartert, Aaron Zancanella, Nick and Jordan Ciani and Parsons all made big plays. A key to the Demons’ defense was keeping the Mustangs pinned deep in their own territory in the fourth quarter.
After cutting the Demons’ lead to 17-14 to start the fourth, Glenwood kept the pressure on.
As the game clock ticked away in the fourth, Hartert said it was the prize when the clock struck zero that kept them playing hard.
“I think it really dawned on us the implications of what we were facing. We really knew that this is it,” he said.
After a 31-yard pass play, Parsons knifed through for a sack on a big third down with a little more than five minutes to play. The Demons looked to be ready to put the game on ice and send the chilly crowd home happy.
But a fumble gave the ball back to the Mustangs and the Demons’ defense had to step up again.
No problem. This defense was determined.
For Zancanella, a badly bruised right hip wasn’t going to keep him on the bench.
“I wasn’t about to quit on my teammates. I’ve been playing with these guys since the second grade,” he said.
Hartert had a big stop, then the Mustangs punted and this time the Glenwood offense put points on the board to secure the Class 3A title.
In the final 30 seconds with the game in hand, Parsons tripped up Pape for another sack.
“I can’t even describe how this feels,” Parsons said after the game. “It’s just so great.”
Hartert agreed: ” It’s such a euphoric feeling right now, everything we’ve all worked for came together as a team today.”
Defense wins championships. Even with the Demons’ high-powered offense doing its job, the old adage was true. The Demons’ defense was up to the challenge.
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