Demons Start Covid Season with Winning Streak

Photo+Taken+by+Johnathan+Webster+

Photo Taken by Johnathan Webster

Jaymin Kanzer, Sports Editor

A season pushed six months back due to COVID has kicked off and the Glenwood Springs Demons football team used the break to their advantage with extra training. It has paid off as the Demons have gone 3-0 in the first three games of the season. 

    This season was bound to not happen, so CHSSA split the football season into fall and spring. Half of the teams in Colorado played their season in the fall, including most of the teams on the front range. Teams the Demons would normally face have already played the season, so they face opponents that they would normally not face. Including the team, they met in their season opener, the Aspen Skiers. 

    “We haven’t played Aspen since grade school, so we didn’t have a full scope on how they run things. But we were also confident because we worked hard in the weight room and we were confident with our play.” Senior Captain Wheatly Neislanik said. 

    The Demons’ success against Aspen came on the ground, with much of the workload being placed on the backs of senior Garrett Dollahans and junior Blake Nieslanik. The Demons got right to work in the first quarter on their first drive. The Demons drove down to the Skiers 17-yard line before handing the ball to Dollahan, who cashed the check and put the Demons up 6-0, then 7-0 after the PAT. The Skiers relied heavily on their air attack on offense, which was shortly foiled after a Glenwood defender came down with a pass attempt early in the second quarter. The Demons used the misfortune of Aspen to their advantage and a 10-yard rushing touchdown from Nieslanik put the Demons up 13, shortly 14-0. The first drive the Skiers managed to assemble got them to the edge of the red zone, where they saw their drive crumble as the ball popped out and the Demons fell on it. With the ball in Dollahans hands, there isn’t much to worry about. He got the Demons out of their own territory and shortly the Demons were knocking on the Skiers’ front door. The Demons didn’t seem to care if the Skiers were going to answer though, as Nieslanik broke through the trenches and put his second of the game away. The Demons defense held strong and forced a punt out of Aspen, to give their offense another shot before the whistle blew for halftime. The Demons cut through the Skiers defense like it was a hot knife through butter, as they marched down once again, but this time sophomore Brody Porter got the ball, and he bulldozered his way into the endzone to put the Demons up 27-0 going into intermission. 

    The Demons got right back to work after the half, but a pass play went haywire as it tipped off of junior quarterback Evan Heyl’s intended receiver and into the arms of an Aspen defender who took it the distance and got the visiting team on the board. The two-point conversion was snuffed out though as the Demons defense stood as strong as it had been all game. The Demons couldn’t have cared less about the interception, as they drove right back down and finished the drive on a short pass to tight end Wheatly Nieslanik. The two-point conversion was solid and the Demons went up 35-6. Definitely enough to win the game without scoring again. But the Demons felt like scoring again, so they did. Heyl’s second passing touchdown went to the backup tight end, Sawyer McKenny. 41-14 was the final score. Both Nieslanik and Dollahan rushed for over 100 yards and accounted for 21 points between the two of them. 

 

    A drawback to the sole spring high school football season is the team had to play through spring break. They practiced every day of the week and then trekked five hours in the bus to the southwest corner of the state to play the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers. At least the team got some traveling in during the break. 

    The Demons came out of the gate sort of sluggish, only scoring 6 points in the first half, on account of Dollahans 15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The Demons held the lead until Cortez scored one of their own, but missed the extra point just like the Demons. They went into the half knotted 6-6. 

Junior Ray Rosenmerkal came out of the break and untied the knot early in the second half, taking the hand-off on the Demons 25-yard line and took it the distance; 75 yards to the house. The Demons went up 13-6 but couldn’t cash in on the extra. A stop from the Demons defense returned the ball into the hands of the offense once again. It was Blake Nieslaniks turn to score again, which he did on a 16-yard touchdown run to put the away team up by 13, because of a snuffed-out two-point conversion attempt. Another stop from the Demon’s defense, putting on their best impression of a brick wall gave the Demons another opportunity to score. The Demon’s ability to cash in on good opportunities has been stellar thus far into the season, and it didn’t fail them here. As Porter managed to get through the mosh pile and into the endzone from two yards out. The two-point conversion was successful as Heyl connected with Wheatly Nieslanik to go up 27-6. The Panthers got a late touchdown, but all they managed and the Demons improved to 2-0 on the season. Dollahan got the ball 23 times and turned it into 139 yards and a touchdown in the win. Blake Nieslanik rushed 15 times for 98 yards and a touchdown. 

After another week of practice and preparation, the Demons were back on their home field hosting the Coal Ridge Titans. Glenwood Springs High School for the first time allowed 1300 fans for this game and the student section was getting rowdy after every big play. 

“It fueled us pretty good as you can see the points we put up in the first half. It was the first time we’ve had that many people at a sporting event this year and it was pretty cool. It got us going for sure.” Wheatley Nieslanik said. The Demons put up 35 points before the half, starting on the very first drive. Dollahan carried most of the drive, but it was handed to Porter to put it in from his distance, two yards out. The point after was good and the Demons were up 7-0 early. Blake Nieslanik stole the show after that. He broke the plane four separate times, twice on the receiving end, and twice on the ground. The first of which came late in the first quarter, on a 17-yard touchdown run. Freshman quarterback Joaquin Sandoval got in on the action, taking it himself on a QB draw up the middle for the third touchdown of the night. The Demons converted on the two-point try on a pass to Wheatley Nieslanik. A short pass attempt back to Blake Nieslanik for his second receiving touchdown of the game put the Demons up 35-0 right before the half. 

The start of the third showed the most hope for the Titans of the game, as a pass from Heyl tipped off of a Demon’s receivers hands and into the hands of a Titans defender, who took it down to the Demons 20-yard line and two plays later the Titans had their first points of the game. The score stayed that way until late in the third, when Nieslanik came back for his fourth of the game. He broke free for a 53-yard touchdown for the Demon’s sixth touchdown of the night. Coal Ridge scored once more in the fourth quarter for a final score of 42-12. The Demons took home the monster double-u and added onto their already impressive season. 

The Demons match up against the Basalt Longhorns in Basalt on Friday the ninth for their most important game of the season. The Demons and the Longhorns are both 3-0 on the season and are neck in neck on the RPI standings for the 3A division. The Demons are ranked third and the Longhorns are ranked fourth. This game could be a playoff matchup and will definitely have an impact on where these two teams end up at the end of the season.