Not all losses are created equal.
Durango High School football dropped its first game of the season 28-21 last Saturday at Palisade, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A by chsaanow.com. The loss wasn’t big on the scoreboard, as losses typically aren’t when two good teams get together. But the collateral damage accounted for the Demons’ biggest losses.
DHS lost quarterback Jeremy Szura to a shoulder injury and running back Tyler Worley to a knee injury against the Bulldogs, and the Demons will be without both heading into their Southwestern League opener against 5-1 Grand Junction on Friday at DHS Stadium.
Durango head coach David Vogt said Szura, while out this week, likely will be a week-to-week case. Worley, on the other hand, could miss significant time depending on the results of his magnetic resonance imaging examination he took Thursday.
Aside from the obvious negative of missing perhaps the two most important pieces of the offense, Vogt said the loss of the duo will be felt in the loss of the senior leadership both provide.
“I think the leadership aspect of it is a big thing that really affects us,” Vogt said. “We’ve got a pretty good system in place, so we can plug guys in, but just losing that leadership is what’s really going to hurt.”
Sophomore Terrence Trujillo will get the call at quarterback for the Demons and will pilot Durango’s run-heavy attack.
Lawrence Mayberry figures to absorb most of Worley’s workload, and he carried 25 times for 82 yards as the primary back for most of the game against Palisade. He presents a contrast to Worley, as Mayberry is a smaller, quicker back than Worley, an All-SWL first team selection a year ago.
“I have to step up just by listening to my fellow teammates. ... Just guys who have been through this since this is my first time,” said Mayberry, son of George and Tonya Mayberry. “Just got to look forward to it, man. Just got to get excited. And I’ve just got to do it for Tyler, got to give him what he deserved.”
Then there’s the loss of the perfect season to get past. DHS had won every game by 19 or more points before stumbling against the Bulldogs, and the Demons will look to get back on track in their first home game since a Sept. 13 victory over Piedra Vista.
“We were frustrated, definitely, from that loss,” Mayberry said. “We had a few mishaps in that, but we look at it as a lesson and just to learn from it.”
Durango (4-1) will need to get over the loss of its first game and the loss of two key players quickly because the Tigers don’t figure to have much sympathy for their conference rival. Grand Junction has been an offensive powerhouse so far this season, averaging 45.7 points per game, including a season-high 63 points scored last week against Fruita Monument.
The Tigers’ high-powered offense will run into a stingy Durango defense. The Demons have allowed just 54 points total this season, an average of 10.8 per game.
Durango would like to get off to a strong start in a league that figures to be competitive at the top. Besides the Demons and Tigers, Montrose is unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by chsaanow.com. So with just four conference games on the schedule, there aren’t too many chances to recover from a setback.
“We feel like this is a statement game for us as a team,” Vogt said. “All the teams in the conference are going to get this film, so we really want to make a statement and let everyone know that we don’t care if they’re Grand Junction, if they’re 5A, we’re coming out and playing our style of football.”