New coach brings new excitement for Glenwood Springs football team
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — After a fast start to the 2017 season, disaster struck mid-season for the 2017 version of the Glenwood Springs High School football team.
An administrative error allowed an ineligible player to play for the first seven weeks. Glenwood had to forfeit four wins after the Demons self-reported the error to the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Then, after the season, 14-year Hall of Fame head coach Rocky Whitworth resigned, causing a major shift in Glenwood’s football future.
Assistant principal Pat Engle — a veteran football head coach himself on the Western Slope — stepped into the void, bringing a renewed vigor to the scuffling program, causing expectations to rise quickly one year after a 2-8 finish.
“Coach Pat has come in and raised the excitement level,” Glenwood senior Luke Gair said. “He’s brought a ton of intensity and accountability so far. As long as the rest of the kids meet that intensity level, we’re going to be really solid this year. We’ve gotten off to a good start so far.”
Following the graduation of 18 seniors from the 2017 team, one would expect a high school program to struggle to replace that leadership. That won’t be the case for the 2018 Demons, as 16 seniors and 14 juniors return.
“I feel like the upperclassmen have really bought in so far this year,” Gair said. “We know that we have a shot to be really good. With a new coach, new strategies, everyone’s excited. I’m seeing a lot of leadership, too. I’ve played with these guys since I was 10, and people are stepping up left and right to push this team to new heights.”
The Demons have a number of key starters sprinkled throughout the lineup, highlighted by a standout safety tandem of seniors Wyatt Ewer and senior Miguel Herrera. Together, the duo should be one of the most athletic safety tandems in 3A.
“I love playing next to Miguel,” Ewer said. “We just want to hit people back there at safety, and I just think it’s a perfect combination. We both take a ton of pride in playing defense, and we work well off of each other.”
Aside from Ewer and Herrera, senior linebacker Luke Gair returns for his senior season. Also returning for the defense is senior defensive end Jack Richards, and junior Kelton McPherson.
“When you think of Glenwood, you think of defense,” Engle said. “We expect that to be a strength of our team once again. That’s what we pride ourselves on around here. We don’t want to take a step back in that regard with this group of players.”
With the defense expecting to be the backbone, the Glenwood offense continues to try and find itself. During the 2018 season, Glenwood had a three-man quarterback rotation, and struggled to get into a groove.
This year, the Demons are again in a quarterback battle as senior Max Lemkau and junior Dylan Albright are vying to be the starting quarterback for the Demons.
“It’s been a good battle, and really competitive,” Lemkau said. “Whoever is the best at the end of camp will start. Us being close friends is good for this competition, because we’re really pushing each other.”
Gair and Herrera return as the workhorse running backs, while Ewer returns as a receiver. Senior offensive lineman Alex Rodriguez is the lone returning starter up front for the Demons.
Once the season officially starts on Aug. 31, the Demons start with a six-game stretch that sees them facing off with five league champions from the 2017 season, and six projected league winners. The Demons play Holy Family, Harrison, Conifer, Roosevelt, Rifle, Eagle Valley, and Palisade.
“If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, and we’re excited to get a chance to play really good teams to start the year,” Engle said. “It looks tough on paper, but for us to reach our hopes and dreams, we have to go through good teams. Someone once told me, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough.’ This team’s dreams scare you, and we’re excited to get that tough task to go through those teams to start the season right off the bat.”
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