It’s homecoming at Durango High School, and the Demons’ football team has a chance to make it a memorable one when they host Pueblo Central on Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Durango High School.
The game will be the Demons’ first at home since Sept. 9, and the team can’t wait to get back in front of its home fans.
“We’re really excited,” DHS senior Gavin Mestas said. “We’ve been working really hard for this game, and we want to make a good impression on our crowd and represent Durango.”
The Demons (4-3, 1-1 South Central League) are unbeaten at home and have allowed a combined 14 points in their three home games.
“With homecoming and all the stuff going on throughout the week, there’s been a higher level of energy in practice,” DHS head coach David Vogt said. “That will translate to the game and the first couple of series, hopefully.”
Durango’s dominance at home, coupled with Pueblo Central’s road struggles – the Wildcats (1-6, 0-2 SCL) have been outscored 141-20 on the road – could make for a big night for the Demons.
A big win would go a long way in the Demons’ postseason hopes. Durango is currently ranked 19th in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s 3A RPI rankings and needs to climb into the top 16 to have a chance at the playoffs.
The strength of the Wildcats’ defense this season has come in the form of senior Darien Wisthoff, who has recorded seven sacks.
Pueblo Central’s defense has had trouble stopping the run this season – the Wildcats have allowed 1,633 rushing yards in seven games – and the revamped Durango backfield could have a field day against the Wildcats.
The past couple weeks have seen a few changes in Durango’s backfield. The Demons inserted freshman Jordan Woolverton at quarterback, which moved senior Max Hyson, the team’s second-leading rusher last year, to running back.
The Demons also have worked sophomore Everett Howland back into the running back committee after he missed time on offense with a broken finger, and they can always give the ball to fullback Manasseh Brockus in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Still there to help the ground game is junior Dawson Marcum, whose speed and ability to get outside gives the Demons even more balance to its running game.
“That’s our game plan, to get (Marcum) and our speedy receivers on the outside going,” Vogt said. “We definitely want to use Max and Everett and (Brockus) on the inside to open things up, and having the passing game also helps open up the run game. They all kind of compliment each other.”
Offensively, Pueblo Central has relied heavily on the run this season and has kept the ball on the ground for 87 percent of its offensive plays.
Leading the Wildcats’ running attack is Nico Martin. The 5-foot-9, 145-pound junior has averaged 102.9 yards per game and has scored eight touchdowns this season. He has been particularly great the past two weeks, when he has combined for 365 yards and three scores in games against Harrison and Pueblo County.
“He’s super explosive, and if you miss tackles, he can hurt you,” Vogt said of Martin. “I’ll tell you what, I’d love to have that kid in my backfield, he’s that good.”
Pueblo Central’s reliance on the run could work out favorably for the Demons, who have allowed more than 150 yards on the ground just once this season, which came two weeks ago when Pueblo East ran over the Demons for 279 yards. Bayfield ran for 149 yards against the Demons.
Durango’s defense got back to stuffing the run last week and held Sierra to 68 rushing yards on 30 carries. Mestas said if the defense follows the game plan Vogt and the coaching staff put together, there shouldn’t be a problem shutting down the Wildcats.
“Our coaches have made a good game plan for what we’ll do in different situations, so I think we’ll be prepared to stop anything they throw at us,” Mestas said.
“We have a very athletic defensive team, and if we all play our game, everything should come together with good results.”