Glenwood Beats Rifle Bears in Historic Streak

Taken+by+Kyley+Fishman

Taken by Kyley Fishman

Jaymin Kanzer, Sports Editor

    The Glenwood Springs Demons keep their impressive season going, as they beat the Rifle Bears for the first time in over a decade on senior night to stay undefeated. 

    The Demons have a knack for keeping their games close, and pushing their fans closer to heart attacks every game. 

Late in the third quarter, a big pass attempt and a phantom pass interference flag put the Bears 15-yards away from tying the game, which they capitalized on plays later. A handoff to the Bears running back gave Rifle their first lead of the game and a big stop away from another Glenwood defeat. 

    The scoring started late in the first quarter, the Demons the first to enter the promise land. After receiving the opening kick-off, they couldn’t get anything started with their first drive. A first down was all the Bears could manage before kicking it back to the Demons, who received it on their 44-yard line. A handoff to junior runningback Blake Nieslanik was all it took, as he took the ball and broke through trenches, and got to the outside. He then put the afterburners on and dusted everyone for the 56-yard touchdown run. The point after was successful and the Demons were up 7 – 0 with not much left remaining in the first quarter. 

    “It felt really good, I think it gave our team a lot of confidence to build off for the rest of the game,” Nieslanik said. 

    The Bear’s next drive was very methodical and long. They received the ball with less than  60 seconds left in the first quarter and spent the next six minutes trying to figure out how to get past the Demons brick wall defense. They faced two third downs before a deep pass set them up in the red zone, which is within the 20 yard line of the end zone. Another two minutes went by and only 5-yards to show for it for the Bears. That is until the Bears running back scampered into the Demon’s endzone for the Bear’s first touchdown of the night. The bonus was successful and the game was tied at seven apiece. 

    That is until the Demons actually got the ball back. They drove down the field with ease, like a hot knife through butter. Their drive was guided by big first down passes, including a big third and thirteen completion to senior tight end Wheatly Nieslanik right in front of Glenwood Springs High Schools student section, prompting cheers louder than a crying baby on a plane.

    With less than two minutes on the clock in the half, the Demons lined up 12-yards out of the end zone, young quarterback Joaquin Sandoval took the snap, rolled out of pocket, and found Blake Nieslanik in the end zone. He delivered a perfect pass to a covered receiver. Stubler Memorial Field went silent waiting for the ref’s decision. The zebra’s arms shot straight up signaling the touchdown, as did the entirety of the Glenwood stands. 

    The Demons took the lead by a touchdown going into the break, while the seniors took the field to take part in the tradition to throw flour into the air during halftime. 

    The Demons kicked to the Bears to start the third. The Bears put together the best drive they had the entire game, marching down the field with seemingly minimal effort. They reached the red zone and turned to their senior running back Kaden Wolf, who coughed the ball up and the Demons. 

    The Demon’s next drive saw no points, and they punted the ball back to the Bears, which set up their touchdown to go ahead by a point. 

    No trouble for the Demons. They had been in this position a week earlier against the then-league-leading Basalt Longhorns. Tied with five minutes on the clock. The pressure on and they did not fold, scoring with 11 seconds left to win the game and take the league title. 

    A questionable decision by the Rifle head coach, to onside-kick, did not pay off and gave the Demons great starting field position, on their own 46-yard line. A heavy dose of the Blake Nieslanik and Garret Dollahan running back duo was too much for the Bears defense to handle and the Demons marched down to the 12-yard line in three minutes. The Bears defense finally managed to get their claws underneath them and they held strong until fourth and ten. Most teams would take the field goal and trust their defense to be big. But head coach Pat Engle trusted his offense and kept them out on the field. He called one of the rarely seen pass plays of the game, one of only eight of the game. Sandoval took the snap and found Blake Nieslanik in the end zone once again. The unexpected hero of the season struck once again as the Demons took the lead. The two-point try was successful on a pass to Wheatly Nieslanik and that was the last point on the scoreboard. The final score was 22-15.

    The Bears got the ball but weren’t able to do anything with it. The Demons were able to do the fight song, and for the seniors the last time they could do it. 

    The Demons face the Salida Spartans on Friday, April 23 in Salida. You can catch the live broadcast on 99.1 or KMTS.com.