Christ cross

Glenwood crushes inter-county rival Rifle, 34-27

Glenwood Springs Demon quarterback Joaquin Sandoval jumps for the end zone after intercepting the ball during Friday night’s rivalry game against the Rifle Bears.
Chelsea Independent/Post Independent

For being rivals, Glenwood Springs and Rifle love to do each other favors. Their gift of giving certainly entertained the home and visitor sections under the full moon at Bears Stadium on Friday night.

Junior rifle cornerback Sterling Cook intercepted Glenwood Springs junior quarterback Joaquin Sandoval at 3:37 into the first quarter. Feeling generous, he returned the interception for a 55-yard touchdown.

“Our coaches have come up with a great game plan,” Rifle head coach Ryan Whittington said. “We tried to put pressure on (Sandoval).”

Sandoval, defensively, also felt generous. Down 14-13 with less than 15 seconds left in the first half, Sandoval knocked out junior Rifle quarterback Logan Gross, powered Rifle’s offense through the left flank and, in highlight fashion, finally dived to hit the pylon for a good touchdown.

“It’s a great high school football game,” Whittington said. “There was back and forth, and I had so much respect for their program. This quarterback is a special athlete.

Rifle Bear Jesus Martinez celebrates after a big tackle in the first half of the rivalry game against the Glenwood Springs Demons on Friday night.
Chelsea Independent/Post Independent

No surprise, this match, which Glenwood finally won 34-17, went down to the wire. The Demons headed into Friday night’s game with a big win over Conifer last week. Meanwhile, Rifle was still hot (and it showed) from last week’s win over Montezuma-Cortez.

Rifle took a 14-0 lead after marching down in what ended up being nearly a 7-minute drive to start the second quarter. That led to Rifle senior running back Nicholas Sandoval scoring a 1-yard touchdown with 5:44 left in the half.

Two minutes later, Sandoval threw a nice bombshell at senior receiver Edwin Olave. That led to a rushing touchdown by Glenwood Springs rusher Mason Markovich at 2:05.

A shotgun fumble moments later put the Demons in good position on the field, with Sandoval throwing a touchdown pass to senior receiver Reece McMillan. After Sandoval’s interception for a few seconds before the end of the half, the Demons led 21-14.

“We were lucky and we took advantage of it,” Glenwood Springs head coach Thor Jensen said. “It’s high school football, man. Anything happens. It’s madness.”

Glenwood Springs Demon quarterback Joaquin Sandoval delivers the ball to Mason Markovich during Friday night’s rivalry game against the Rifle Bears.
Chelsea Independent/Post Independent

Glenwood then tacked on another touchdown via a 27-yard completion from Sandoval to Olave at 3:54 in the third quarter.

Deploying speed and good vision, Gross decided it was time to return the favor again. At 10:11 in the fourth quarter, he rushed for Rifle’s third touchdown of the game.

“It’s his second game since eighth grade,” Whittington said of Gross. “The amount of work he has put in is paying dividends. It’s by no means a finished product because it’s just pure athleticism.

“He’s good because our (offensive) line is good and our receivers are catching the ball. It’s a total team effort tonight and I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.

Moments later, Sandoval fumbled, this time leaving the Bears with a good position on the court. Gross, his legs still flailing, scored another rushing touchdown with 7:92 left in the game.

Two Glenwood Springs Demons and a Rifle Bear battle for possession of the ball during Friday night’s rivalry game at Rifle High School.
Chelsea Independent/Post Independent

Again – still feeling generous – Glenwood decided to reciprocate. Markovich would take a Sandoval throw and rush for a touchdown at 2:50. In response, Rifle would close in on the Demons’ 35-yard line to set Gross up for long touchdown pass attempts to try to tie the game.

Gross, however, made his final throw with 1.5 seconds remaining in vain. McMillan intercepted the pass attempt, which ultimately ended the game.

“We fought back and made a few mistakes here and there,” Whittington said. “But, hey, we had the ball with 10 seconds left to try and win it, and that’s all you can ask for.”

3A League 3’s Glenwood Springs Demons are now 2-1 overall and will face undefeated 2A League 6 powerhouse Basalt in Longhorns territory next week. The 2A League 6 Rifle Bears, now 1-1, travel to Delta to take on the undefeated 2A League 5 Panthers.