Top two 3A teams get ready to rumble in Palisade
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” Although Glenwood Springs employs a week-by-week approach to its season, don’t think for a second the Demons haven’t had Saturday’s showdown with Palisade in the back of their minds for some time.
The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in Class 3A by RockyPreps. The Demons are No. 2.
Both are undefeated entering a game that could very well decide who will be crowned the 3A Western Slope League champion at season’s end.
“There’s a whole heck of a lot of hype,” Demon junior Taylor Parsons said of the budding rivalry with his team’s western neighbors. “Rocky Mountain News is calling it the game of the year. Now we’ve just got to show up and be at the top of our game.”
For much of 2008, Glenwood’s been on the top of its game.
The Demons are outscoring their opponents by an average of 43-14, with its spread offense yielding all sorts of big numbers.
Quarterback Dakota Stonehouse is putting together an impressive senior campaign. He’s tossed for 1,254 yards and 11 touchdowns while running for 339 yards and nine scores.
Running back Michael Hudson is rapidly approaching the 1,000-yard mark in rushing. So far, he’s scampered for 866 yards and 15 TDs with a ridiculous 12.2 yards-per-carry average.
Receiver Connor Riley is pacing a capable receiving corps with 421 yards and four scores. Kevin Screen has 380 yards and four scores.
The swarming Demon defense, too, has been as stingy as any defense in the state.
Defensive lineman Aaron Zancanella has recorded a team-high seven sacks, while linebacker Keenan Hartert leads the team with 66 tackles. Screen, a two-way player who lines up in the secondary on defense, has three picks.
That defense will be tested by a Palisade squad that relies heavily on the run, and throws a bevy of big-numbers backs ” three with more than 500 yards to their name ” at its opposition.
Parsons words will no doubt ring true: Glenwood will have to be on top of its game to beat the Bulldogs.
That said, Demons head coach Rocky Whitworth isn’t letting his team get washed away in the hype.
“You know, it’s just another game,” the veteran coach said. “We really try to stay in the present. It’s just a game against a top opponent. … At the same time, they’re the best opponent we’ve seen. We’ll have to play our best.”
Glenwood lineman Greg Orosz isn’t sure exactly what to expect from Saturday’s game.
“This will either be the highest scoring game in the state or the lowest scoring game,” the senior said, “because we’re so even. It’ll probably be one of those games that comes down to a touchdown.”
Last year’s meeting between the teams was indeed a close one. Both teams were ranked high and rolling toward playoff appearances when Glenwood knocked off visiting Palisade 34-21 in its homecoming game.
In a contest that was close to the end, the Demons rallied for a fourth-quarter TD that provided the insurance for an upset win. At the time, the Bulldogs were the second-ranked team in the state and a Glenwood squad on the rise held the No. 4 spot.
If the Demons are able to topple the Bulldogs on Saturday, it would be their third win over Palisade in as many years.
“This is probably the biggest game of most of our lives,” Orosz said.
Beyond the game’s magnitude, this is both teams’ biggest test in some time.
Palisade hasn’t faced a ranked team since it clashed with Steamboat Springs back on Sept. 25.
The Demons have been waiting considerably longer for a worthy adversary. It’s been since an Aug. 29 meeting with then-ranked Conifer since Glenwood squared off with a high-powered opponent.
That said, the Demons can’t wait to take the field and, for once, be tested.
“It’s going to be a fun game,” Parsons said. “It’s going to be a battle.”
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