Panthers fall to Glenwood
Defense, Ralstin play well in 35-14 loss
Last season, the Glenwood Springs Demons defeated the Montezuma-Cortez High School Panthers football team 48-3. This season, the Panthers played better, losing 35-14 in a contest that was far more competitive than the final score indicated.
Playing at home on Friday, Oct. 25, the Panthers stood tall throughout the first half, demonstrating a level of confidence indicative of a team on the rise.
After multiple big plays by the Panthers defense, highlighted by a stellar play of senior Keegan Ralstin, who hustled to make a touchdown-saving tackle and later recovered a Demons’ fumble deep in Panther territory, the game remained scoreless after the first quarter.
“I needed self-discipline. I’ve been working really hard on it, and I think it paid off a little bit,” said Ralstin, discussing his outstanding first-half performance.
While the Panthers’ defense played well throughout the first half, the Demons finally broke through with 6:18 left in the second quarter, scoring on a 2-yard quarterback keeper by Travis Lundin.
A subsequent extra point by Robert Hiles extended the Demons’ lead to 7-0, a score that would stand until the conclusion of the first half.
“The defense played really well,” said Panthers’ head coach Casey Coulter. “Everything was clicking. They stepped up their physicality.”
Beginning the second half without starting quarterback Jonathan Walck, who sustained an injury late in the first half, the Panthers offense struggled.
Meanwhile, the defense held strong, as junior Randy Haley forced a fumble, which was recovered by sophomore Austin Bayles, and Ralstin came down with an interception.
Unable to garner support from the offense however, the Panthers defense finally yielded, surrendering a 20-yard touchdown run to Glenwood’s Henry Hill to fall behind 14-0 with 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
Opening the fourth quarter, the Demons’ offense struck again, this time on a 14-yard slant pass for a touchdown by Lundin to Chris Sarabia, which put the visitors ahead 21-0.
Refusing to give in however, the Panthers got on the board after a beautiful pass from sophomore quarterback Cordell Ridings to Ralstin, who raced 53 yards for a score to cut the Demons’ lead to 21-7.
“(Ralstin) was wide open,” said Ridings. “I just had to play catch with him. I got thrown in there, and I wasn’t used to it. (The team) stood behind me just like I was the starting quarterback.”
After yielding an 87-yard kickoff return to Hill immediately after Ralstin’s touchdown, the Panthers trailed 28-7. A 31-yard run by Demons’ backup quarterback Dante Sparaco extended the lead to 35-7 and effectively put the game out of reach.
The Panthers would add one last touchdown on a 62-yard touchdown run by Randy Haley.
“They are a good defense,” said Haley. “It seemed like there were more than eleven out there when I was running. That last one, it finally broke open. We got the end blocked, and I just went around the outside.”
Statistical leaders for the Panthers included Ridings with 51 yards passing, Haley with 82 yards rushing Ralstin with 53 yards receiving and Haley with 13 tackles.
With their season record now at 3-6, the Panthers will practice one more week before playing their final game of the season in Durango on Friday, Nov. 1.
“We’re just going to get better at what we can do,” said Coulter of his team’s upcoming match up. “If we play against Durango for four quarters like we did in the first (against Glenwood), we’ll be in the game.”
Sam Green/Cortez Journal