Glenwood, Rifle set to resume longstanding football rivalry |

Glenwood, Rifle set to resume longstanding football rivalry

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado – Josh Galvan isn’t entirely sure what all is behind Rifle’s status as Glenwood Springs’ biggest rival. All he knows is that the Bears are the team to beat when it comes to football.

“I don’t know. It’s just like something that, as soon as you get to Glenwood, as soon as you enroll, you hate Rifle,” the senior receiver/defensive back said. “I’m sure it’s the same over there. As soon as you get to Rifle High School, you hate Glenwood. There’s just a tradition you have to carry out because everyone else started it.”

This year’s chapter of the longstanding rivalry will play out tonight at Bears Stadium, where Rifle hopes to snap a two-game skid against their closest neighbor in the 3A Western Slope League. The Bears haven’t beaten the Demons since 2006, when Ryan McIntosh booted a 33-yard field goal in the game’s waning moments to deliver Rifle a 13-10 win.

Since then, it’s been all Glenwood. The Demons have outscored the Bears by a total of 87-0 in the teams’ last two meetings, both in Glenwood Springs.

A cursory glance at the standings – Rifle’s 2-4 and Glenwood’s 4-2 – would suggest a similar outcome awaits in 2009, but it’s no safe bet. The rebuilding Bears, who missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons in 2008, are striding toward respectability.

“The good thing is, within our program, within the walls of our fieldhouse, we know that we’re right there, that we can turn the corner at any time,” said Rifle’s first-year head coach, Ryan Sulkowski. “It’s my job, and the coaching staff’s job, to put them in a position to turn the corner. That’s what we’re working on.

“There’s not a sense of a 2-4 football team around our school or around our program.”

And part of growing a winning program is to approach every game with a sense of urgency. That said, Sulkowski and his staff are employing a one-in-10-on-the-schedule approach to tonight’s clash.

“Not to downplay it all, because it really is important, but the message I sent is that this is the most important game this week,” the coach relayed. “It’s the only game you play this week. Not to downplay it, because it’s a great rivalry with all the history that goes into it, but it’s another football game, another opportunity to get better.”

Like Rifle, Glenwood has improved by leaps and bounds since the fall began with back-to-back losses to Montrose and Conifer. The defending 3A state champs, winners of four straight, have had plenty of new faces to work into the fray following a huge graduation hit. And they’re obviously starting to click.

“The team morale is really high,” Demon offensive lineman Jake McPherson said. “We’re all fighting to win. We all really want to win.”

Expect that desire to remain present, and to burn in full force, against Rifle tonight.

“Growing up, Rifle’s always been the team to beat,” Glenwood quarterback Luke Jacob said. “Even if they’re not like the top team in the league, just to beat them is always a big thing.”

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