Glenwood Springs trounces Northfield to open 3A football playoffs, Rifle up next
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Glenwood Springs High School’s stingy defense and some big gains by the Demons’ running backs on Saturday spelled big-time victory for the home team in the opening round of the eight-team Class 3A football playoffs.
No. 1 Glenwood defeated No. 8 Northfield 56-13 at Stubler Memorial Field to advance to the semifinals against a familiar opponent next week in Rifle. The Bears, seeded fourth, were 28-20 winners over No. 5 The Academy earlier in the day Saturday, setting up a rematch between the cross-county rivals.
The Demons and Nighthawks both opened strong on the defensive side of the ball. But once Glenwood got it rolling, it was all Demons.
A Northfield fumble on the snap forced a punt with inside six minutes to play in the first quarter, setting the Demons up at mid-field. A pair of long runs by juniors Blake Nieslanik and Ray Rosenmerkel put the ball inside the 1-yard line, and senior Garrett Dollahan carried it in untouched for the first Glenwood touchdown.
On the next Demons’ possession, after freshman quarterback Joaquin Sandoval set things up with a pair of nice pass completions, it was Rosenmerkel who scrambled in from 10 yards out with 1:21 showing on the first-quarter clock to put Glenwood up 14-0 after the extra point.
The Demons were perfect on point-after attempts on the afternoon.
Following the Rosenmerkel score, Northfield got on the board on a long pass play to senior Jonathan Guillen, who reeled it in on the sideline and broke loose for an 80-yard touchdown run. The PAT made it 14-7.
But the Demons were quick to answer, when Nieslanik broke loose on the next series for a 66-yard touchdown run to open the second quarter and make it 21-7.
After backing the Nighthawks up against their end zone on the kickoff, junior Ian Cecil-Hoerl scooped up a fumbled snap and scored another touchdown for the Demons and made it a comfortable 28-7 lead. After another Dollahan touchdown on the ground, the Demons held a 35-7 halftime lead.
“We responded well when that young man ran that ball down the sideline,” third-year Glenwood head coach Patrick Engle said. “There’s no one on our team who can catch him, but we’re pretty physical and got right back in it, and I liked the fact that we ran the ball as well as we did today.”
Engle said it was the first time the Demons have won a home football playoff game since 2015.
“To win a playoff game is extremely difficult, so hats off to the coaches for the way they prepared, and hats off to the kids for the way that they prepared,” he said.
The Demons continued the rout in the second half. Senior Stephen Morris intercepted a Northfield pass with four minutes gone in the third quarter that set up another Nieslanik run to just short of the goal line, and another Dollahan touchdown.
Not even three minutes later, Rosenmerkel busted loose off a nice block from Nieslanik for a 75-yard touchdown scamper, putting Glenwood up 49-7 and starting the mercy clock for the remainder of the game.
“We’ve been working so hard for this,” Rosenmerkel said, noting the Demons entered the spring season ranked No. 6 and moved up to the No. 1-ranking to open the playoffs. “We’ve been putting in the work to get here, so the hay’s in the barn, as we say; the work’s done. Now’s the time to close those final doors and finish the season.”
Glenwood’s final score came on a run by junior Evan Heyl, and Northfield’s second touchdown came on a 30-yard run from sophomore Amarion Richardson.
Engle said the Rifle rematch is as it should be. The Demons defeated the Bears 22-15 on April 16 to win the 3A West and earn the No. 1 ranking.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “I’ve been saying the state championship would either go through Basalt or the other place, and I guess it’s going through the other place.”
A day and time for the Glenwood-Rifle semifinal game is still to be determined. It could be either Friday night or Saturday afternoon again.
The Aspen High School football team closed out non-league play on Friday night with a 34-21 loss at Steamboat Springs. All of the Skiers’ points came late with the game well out of reach.
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