When the Durango High School football team opens its home portion of its season at 7 p.m. Friday at Durango High School, head coach David Vogt will look for more discipline, particularly from the offensive unit.
Durango (1-1) committed plenty of penalties last week, including six on offense that went for 80 yards while the defense also committed one for five yards in the 20-3 loss to No. 4 Palisade. The Demons, ranked No. 8 in Class 3A, will look to get back to winning ways when they take on rival Montrose (2-0), ranked No. 8 in Class 4A.
“We’ve been getting back to basics,” said Vogt. “Just being disciplined, not making mistakes, holding penalties – all of the different penalties that hurt us last week. We’ve been really trying to overcome those and really clean them up in practice this week.”
It will be a tough ask against a Montrose team that has put up 52 points in its two games against Grand Junction Central and Grand Junction. The Indians were led both times by senior fullback Chris Eckerman, who rushed for 120 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns in last week’s 31-12 victory against Grand Junction. In addition, Eckerman had a blocked punt on special teams and also had his second consecutive game rushing for over 100 yards. Montrose relies on more than Eckerman in its potent and run-heavy offense, as the Indians racked up 320 total rushing yards last week in its win against Grand Junction. At only 5-foot-4, junior Emmert Kastendieck ran for 97 yards while fellow junior Riley Barnhill finished with 51.
Demons junior running back Dawson Marcum thought Palisade played with more aggression from the opening kickoff. Palisade started the game with an 85-yard kickoff return and, on Durango’s first offensive play, had an interception returned for a touchdown, and it set the tone for the remainder of the game.
“I thought we lost focus last week,” Marcum said. “We weren’t as focused as we usually are; we’re kind of getting this back going on track. This week has all been about getting us back focused. The (kickoff return and interception return) really hurt us, and it was pretty much the whole game. The quick start from us is going to help us out a lot better in the long run.”
In addition to getting off to a fast start, the Demons will have to key in on the Indian defense, known for its size and skill particularly at the linebacker position..
“They’re a well-coached team that can defend the pass and the run, so it should be a good matchup.” said Marcum.
The Indians forced three turnovers, including two interceptions in the red zone, in its Week 1 win against Grand Junction Central and an additional three turnovers last week against Grand Junction.
Durango’s offense will have to bounce back in a big way, starting with the duo of sophomore quarterback Jordan Woolverton and Marcum. Woolverton was 20-for-33 passing last week with an interception returned for the touchdown, and he was sacked four times. Meanwhile, Marcum had 14 rushes for 73 yards and fumbled the football once. Senior Alex Hise led the way in the receiving department with five receptions for 64 yards.
If there’s one thing going for the Demons, it will be the home crowd, as Durango started its season with trips to Pagosa Springs and Grand Junction to face Palisade at Stocker Stadium.
“I’m so excited,” said Woolverton. “Playing at home, our town is great. They come and support us, and I love it so much. I can’t wait to take the field (Friday) night.”
For coach Vogt, he hopes the week of fixing his team’s mistakes will mend itself and his players will feed off the energy of the crowd that will be needed in order to get back in the win column.
“It’s just about coming together as a team, hopefully, clicking on all cylinders,” Vogt said.
“Offense clicking, defense clicking; and if we do that, hopefully, it will be something special to watch at home.”
Durango hasn’t played Montrose since a 36-35 road win in 2015. The teams were excited to get the rivalry game back on the schedule for this year.
“We’re excited, especially for Montrose,” DHS lineman Sam Choate said before the season started.
“My freshman year, we heard all the war stories between Montrose and Durango. We’re excited to have that game back on the schedule and the opportunity to experience it ourselves”
Herald sports editor John Livingston contributed to this firstname.lastname@example.org