Weiss, Rifle ready for playoff run | PostIndependent.com

Weiss, Rifle ready for playoff run

RIFLE – Last year, as a little-used substitute, Troy Weiss watched from the bench as heavily favored Rifle lost its first-round Class 3A football state playoff game to Valley.

In 2002, as the team’s featured running back, Weiss is in a position to turn the Bears’ recent playoff fortunes around.

This Saturday afternoon Rifle puts its Class 3A No. 1 state ranking and its 10-0 record on the line against 6-4 Fountain-Fort Carson, the No. 4 team out of the Southern Conference, at Bears Stadium.

Kickoff for the first-round playoff contest is scheduled for 1 p.m.

“Valley was really tough; we came in overconfident and didn’t take care of business,” said Weiss of the 44-28 defeat which ended Rifle’s 2001 season. “The players who were on that team last year really remember (the loss), and we won’t let it happen again.”

He said that loss gave this year’s team “a lot more motivation,” which translated into an undefeated record this season.

Weiss has played a key in Rifle’s success.

He finished the regular season as the state’s leading rusher in Class 3A with 1,627 yards in 229 carries and has 23 touchdowns.

Those totals keep him in step with the stable of strong running backs Rifle has featured throughout Darrel Gorham’s 12 years as head coach.

Former featured backs for Rifle in that span of time have included Alfonso Alfini and Ryan Whittington, both currently at Mesa State College, plus earlier all-staters Keith Lerma, Corky Stark and Ryan Enright.

Weiss said it was nice to be compared with the Bear stars of the past, but, like him, much of the individual success should be credited to the team.

“It’s kind of cool to be mentioned that way, and all those players were on great teams,” he said. “And I think that I’m a part of a great team this year.”

Weiss credits the offensive line for most his success.

“They are a great contribution to the offense,” he said. “The line opens up great big holes to run through.”

And after looking at films of Fountain’s games, Weiss said if the line can open up holes, there will be room to run.

“They have a lot of guys in the box defensively,” he said. “(Fountain) puts six guys on the line and have two inside linebackers right behind them. If you get past the linebackers, there’s going to be a lot of running room.”

Fountain takes a two-game losing streak into Saturday’s game, but, statistically, the Trojans match up well with Rifle.

They have a running back in their arsenal in Fletcher Sergent that’s Weiss’ equal.

Sergent finished the season No. 3 among 3A running backs with 1,475 yards and 7.9 per-carry average.

When needed, Fountain also has a strong air attack.

Quarterback Ryan Walker has a 63 percent pass completion ratio, hitting on 81-of-128 pass attempts with 12 touchdowns.

Jerod Ermel is the Trojans’ leading receiver. His 20 receptions are the fifth-highest total in 3A. He’s also among the state’s leaders in yards-per-catch with a 21.7 average.

Rifle doesn’t go to the air as much as their opponents, but, when called upon, the Bears are just as potent.

Bear quarterback Jason Enewold has connected on 57-of-110 passes to date for 923 yards and 11 touchdowns against two interceptions.

Senior Thad Porter leads all receivers with 15 catches and six touchdowns. The Bears’ three other receivers – Mike Birdsley, J.R. Childress and Aaron Jewell – are a shade behind their teammate with 14, 12 and 10 catches, respectively.

The winner of Saturday’s game faces the winner of the Elizabeth-Mountain View contest in next week’s quarterfinals.

In other playoff games featuring Western Slope Conference teams, Palisade, the No. 2 team out of the WSC, plays Alamosa at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction. Both teams have identical 8-2 records.

On Saturday, No. 3 Moffat County (6-4) travels to Pueblo County (9-1) for a 1 p.m. contest. In 2A action, unbeaten Eagle Valley (10-0) faces Pagosa Springs (8-2) in a quarterfinal match.

Correction: Previous Rifle football stories contained incorrect information. Rifle football went undefeated in the regular season in 1974.

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