Paving the way: Glenwood’s offensive line has improved much during Demons’ run to the 3A state playoffs
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — There’s a big difference between the running game of Glenwood Springs High School’s football team at the beginning of the season and the running game the Demons have now.
Glenwood’s first three opponents — Conifer, Palisade and Rifle — overpowered the Demons’ offensive line. In its first three games, Glenwood scratched together just 190 rushing yards, and the seven interceptions quarterback Travis Lundin had thrown were partially the result of throws made while under duress.
That, however, has changed dramatically since the Demons picked up their first win of the season at Steamboat Springs on Sept. 20. Senior running back Henry Hill has put up some of the best rushing numbers in Class 3A football this year, and Lundin has thrown just one interception since Glenwood’s 13-7 loss to Rifle on Sept. 13.
A lot of it is thanks to a much-improved offensive line, which made the changes necessary for Glenwood’s offense to be successful. It will have another chance to create some success when the No. 12-seeded Demons (7-3) play at No. 5-seeded Elizabeth (8-2) in the first round of the 3A state playoffs. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday.
“The O-line has just come around, and they’re playing so well right now,” Glenwood coach Rocky Whitworth said. “I’m so happy for them.
“We’ve had some guys step in and play who didn’t play at the beginning of the season,” the coach continued. “And we’ve had some guys who, to put it simply, have just gotten a lot better.”
And the numbers prove that.
In all, the Demons have compiled 1,719 rushing yards as a team in the past seven games. One of the biggest games from Hill — who has 1,374 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground — came in the Demons’ 35-7 victory over Evergreen on Oct. 18. Hill finished with 279 yards rushing and, by the time the third quarter ended, he had already surpassed the total number of rushing yards Glenwood had as a team during its 0-3 start.
“I think there was a lot of us finding out who we really were,” Glenwood offensive lineman Sam Carmer said. “We were still trying to find out what our strengths and weaknesses were. We weren’t communicating with each other, and we weren’t trusting each other as a team.”
Carmer (6-foot, 190 pounds) is part of a group that isn’t overwhelmingly big but has learned to work as a cohesive unit through the past seven games. It includes Cristian Gonzalez (5-9, 210), Colton Vail (6-2, 250), Robert Hiles (6-2, 170), Chase Nieslanik (6-3, 180) and Garrett Lowe (5-11, 215). Together they work in a zone blocking scheme, where linemen focus on protecting one particular area as opposed to one-on-one blocking, which focuses on one opposing player.
Not everything clicked right away for that unit at the beginning of the season, however.
“It’s really all about communication,” Lowe said. “Once everyone has their assignments down, everyone knows what the point of a particular play is and why everyone had their own individual job. It helps us keep tabs on each other.”
Thanks to that communication and improvement, the Demons have at least one more chance to look out for each other.
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In an eerily quiet Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium, the masked Glenwood Springs Demons hosted the Basalt Longhorns Tuesday to kick off the Covid-shortened 2021 high school basketball season.