MONTROSE – Post-season football games are “do or die.” Each contest could be the last, the end of season. One team earns the victory and moves on; this year that team was not Montrose High School. Losing 38-7 to Greeley West at home, the Indians’ post-season run ended as it began, in the first round.
Greeley dominated on offense in the first two quarters, scoring 19 points. The sixth-seeded Indians were not able to get anything on the scoreboard during the first half, going into the third quarter with a 19-0 deficit to the visiting eleventh-seeded Spartans.
Greeley West scored its first touchdown four minutes into the first quarter, putting the Spartans up 7-0. Then, a fumble on the ensuing kickoff gave the Spartans an easy opportunity to score yet again. Montrose’s Austin Willis blocked the extra-point, but the visitors built their lead to 13-0 in short order.
With a third Spartan touchdown on a 30-yard run from scrimmage, the gap only grew wider in the second quarter. Montrose was able to thwart the two-point conversion attempt, holding Greeley West to (only) 19 points first half points.
According to Montrose head coach Todd Casebier, his team’s inability to score in the first half was a product of them coming out “flat” and not playing up to their normal ability.
“We did not play as mentally tough on Saturday as we did the rest of the season,” Casebier said.
A supportive home crowd of over 1,000 fans waited through the halftime anticipating the return of the team’s usual game intensity, knowing Montrose’s historical ability to take control of a game in the second half.
The opening plays of the second half seemed to answer those wishes. The Montrose offense started a drive for a touchdown, fighting for every first down. Cameron Jones and Angelo Youngren made successful runs and catches from quarterback Drew Casebier. Casebier completed a long pass to Brennan Woodruff, moving the Indians into scoring range. Youngren finally finished the drive that took nearly half the quarter by running the ball into the end zone for the Indians’ first touchdown. With the extra point Montrose was now only two scores from taking the lead.
The Indians tried and recovered a risky onside kick following that touchdown, and the team seemed to be poised for yet another scoring drive. Unfortunately, the offense stalled, and they were forced to punt.
“We had a chance to come back in the second half but we did not gather the momentum we had. It was disappointing,” Coach Casebier said.
With Montrose still feeling that a comeback was in the cards, Greeley West quarterback Brandon Gallatin launched a scoring pass from his own territory for a fourth Spartan touchdown. Again they failed on the PAT attempt, bringing the third quarter to a close with a 25-7 lead.
The long pass play apparently deflated Montrose’s comeback. With Greeley West in possession of the ball at the start of the forth quarter, the Spartans were able to score again. This time they converted the extra point to bring their lead to 32-7.
The Indians defense would not give up, however, with Austin Willis recovering a fumble. But, again, the offense failed to muster an attack. On the ensuing punt, the Montrose defense pushed Greeley West back to their own four-yard line. Undaunted, a Spartan running back broke loose looking like he was going to go the length of the field. Montrose junior linebacker Marcus Velasquez refused to let it happen. Velasquez chased him down and tackled him a few yards shy of the goal line. The Montrose defense could not hold the Spartans there, however, and Greeley was able to add another touchdown just before the game ended, making the final score 38-7.
“We picked a bad day to have a bad day,” Casebier said.
Montrose fans left the stadium pondering how their playoff hopes could have been dashed so early. Maybe Greeley West was more physical than Montrose anticipated, or their ranking was misleading. But according to Casebier, every team is bigger than Montrose, and the loss was their own burden.
“I thought they were ready in the first ten games. The guys did a great job in practice. I just do not know what happened, but it is my responsibility,” he said.
Although the Indians suffered a difficult loss, Casebier believes the team is back to where the football program had been since he started coaching, because they made it to the playoffs.
“I am proud of the guys for winning nine games,” he said. “We could be really good next year if we keep working in the off-season.”