The Durango Demons have had two weeks to get healthy and focused for the start of league play. It begins now.
Confident after blowout wins of 53-13 at New Mexico Class 5A Farmington and a 55-0 drumming of Class 2A Bayfield – both on the road – Durango will stay on the road for a fourth consecutive game for a 6 p.m. kickoff today against Pueblo Centennial inside the Neta and Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl Stadium at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
DHS head coach David Vogt and his players welcomed a bye last week with an effort to rest some nagging injuries and reset for the start of Class 3A South Central League play in the Demons’ final season in the Pueblo-based league.
Pueblo Centennial (2-3) and Pueblo County (2-3) are the only teams in the South Central League to not receive votes in the latest Colorado High School Activities Association Class 3A poll, as Pueblo South (4-1) ranks third and Pueblo Central (4-1) and Pueblo East (1-4) both received votes.
But the Bulldogs will welcome a challenge from the ninth-ranked Demons (3-2) Friday night fresh off a pair of shutout victories with a 21-0 win against Kent Denver followed by a 43-0 beatdown of Sierra last week.
Pueblo Centennial has not reported all of its statistics so far this season, but senior running back Devin Blue has led the backfield along with Damerico Gonzales.
Quarterback Tony Cardona is a proven runner but hasn’t found his stride in the passing game. It was the run game of Montrose and Palisade that gave the Demons fits in their only two losses this season, and the Bulldogs will likely follow that lead. When Cardona does pass, senior Justin Cruz has been his preferred target.
Durango’s offense has been led by senior running back Everett Howland and junior quarterback Jordan Woolverton. Howland has rushed for 642 yards and seven TDs on only 43 carries this season. That gives him an average of 14.9 yards per carry. Woolverton has rushed for another 284 yards and five TDs on 26 attempts.
In the air, Woolverton has completed 70% of his passes for 775 yards and 11 TDs. He has yet to be intercepted this season.
When Howland needs a break in the run game, it’s been sophomore Nate Messier in relief. He has racked up 137 yards and two TDs on only 19 carries.
With injuries to Breyton Jackson and Gage Mestas throughout the year, Ben Finneseth has been Woolverton’s top target in the passing game. He has five TDs on 14 receptions for 331 yards. Mestas returned two weeks ago against Bayfield and found the end zone. He has three TDs on 10 receptions for 268 yards.
Howland also has led the DHS defense with 31 tackles and three sacks from his linebacker spot, while Finneseth has 24 tackles and Kyler Reimers has 23. Alex Finneseth has 21 tackles and a nose for the ball with a pair of fumbles forced and recovered.
Woolverton leads the DHS secondary with two interceptions, and four other players have an interception.
Durango will look to get its high-powered offense going early against a Bulldogs team that hasn’t allowed a point since Sept. 20 and has allowed only 17 points per game this season.