Prep Football: Another chapter in a storied rivalry between Glenwood and Rifle
GAME SCORES in past 10 meetings
2004: Glenwood Springs 15, Rifle 14
2005: Rifle 7, Glenwood Springs 3
2006: Rifle 13, Glenwood Springs 10
2007: Glenwood Springs 42, Rifle 0
2008: Glenwood Springs 45, Rifle 0
2009: Glenwood Springs 20, Rifle 19
2010: Glenwood Springs 20, Rifle 19
2011: Rifle 32, Glenwood Springs 27
2012: Rifle 28, Glenwood Springs 0
2013: Rifle 13, Glenwood Springs 7
Source: Post Independent archives
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Craig Denney got his first taste of the Glenwood Springs-Rifle high school football rivalry when he would come up from Oklahoma in the early 1970s to visit his cousins in Rifle. It was a hard-fought contest that got nasty at times.
It’s more tame now, as demographics and points of view have changed over time. One thing remains, though.
“Rifle is still Rifle,” said Denney, now Glenwood Springs High’s athletic director. “That’s what makes it fun.”
The fun hits a peak tonight when the unranked Demons host the No. 5 Bears in a game likely to determine the Class 3A Western Slope League title. Glenwood High will have a band at the game for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Stubler Memorial Field in Glenwood Springs.
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The winner tonight is all but assured a spot in the 3A state playoffs — though Glenwood would be in danger of missing out on the postseason with a loss.
The match-up, though, is about more than wins and losses to people who are longtime residents.
“It was a great rivalry even before my time,” said Debbie Lundin, who attended Glenwood Springs High in the late 1970s and has had children who have played football for the Demons. “I think it’s a lot more fun now, and that’s simply because our communities are much closer together than they used to be.”
The communities have long been similar in size but different in image. Glenwood has always been labeled as a resort town simply because of the Hot Springs Lodge & Pool, while Rifle has a working-class image with agriculture and energy work dominant in the region.
For years, Rifle High drew kids from both Silt and New Castle, prompting some to cry “three towns against Glenwood.” That changed when Coal Ridge High School opened in 2006 in Peach Valley, leading Silt and New Castle residents to attend high school closer to home and dropping Rifle’s enrollment enough for them to play at the Class 3A level in almost all sports.
The Bears, however, never dropped low enough in enrollment to play at the 2A level for football, with Rifle’s low enrollment coming at 615 in 2010. So the schools continued playing each other.
“For us, every game is a big deal,” Rifle coach Damon Wells said. “There’s a school that’s closer to us than Glenwood is … so it’s different than it used to be. For us, the big deal is that we’re playing a good football team in a league game.”
And it’s a big deal to a lot of people in the area. Glenwood Springs High music instructor Chane Smith will bring a pep band out to the game, which Denney said will be the first time Glenwood has had a band at a football game since the mid-1990s.
After Rifle earned a five-set volleyball victory over Glenwood at Spencer-Chavez Gymnasium on Oct. 4, the Glenwood student section chanted, “Wait till football.”
Lundin said the good-natured talk extends to her workplace at Alpine Bank, noting that on the day Glenwood played Rifle last season, branch president Bill Sanderson wore a Rifle sweatshirt to work while she donned her red Glenwood sweatshirt.
“There’s so many people who live in Rifle who work in Glenwood,” Lundin said. “There’s so many of us who work together now that the rivalry isn’t as pronounced as it was. That makes us more like one valley, and a game like this just brings everyone together.”
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It may be by a technicality, but the Valley Valkyries 7s rugby club were the de facto champions of their hosted tournament this weekend.