There's been a trend for the past two seasons. If you beat Palisade in football, you end up going to state.
That's what has happened the past two years for the Delta High School football program. But, with the wins over Palisade, there has also been a second factor in the playoff equation. That factor is losing to Rifle during the regular season. Delta has lost to the Bears the past two seasons.
Last year, Delta eased past the Bulldogs 26-21 to help them finish at 7-3. The Panthers went on to play, and defeat, The Classical Academy 21-0 and make it into the second round of 3A playoffs.
Delta's season ended a year ago with the loss to Pueblo East, 35-24, in the second round.
Delta head coach Ben Johnson began his football coaching career in Delta in 2009. He has guided the Panthers to three post-season appearances, beginning in 2009 when Delta beat both Rifle and Palisade to enter the playoffs. The Panthers defeated D'Evelyn 14-6 in the first round and lost to Pueblo Central 34-7 in the second round.
In 2012, Delta had losses to both Rifle and Glenwood Springs but knocked off Palisade. The Panthers beat The Classical Academy 21-0 in the first round but stumbled to Pueblo East, 35-24, in the second round.
This year's run at a state title shows plenty of similarities with last year's season. Delta finished 7-3 and earned a playoff berth as a number 13 seed. The Panthers did beat Palisade 31-21, but lost big to Rifle 52-27 and lost a heartbreaker to Glenwood Springs 15-7.
Delta matched last year's play in the opening round by earning a win against number four Holy Family who came into the playoffs with an 8-1 record. Delta got superb play from both its offense and defense as the Panthers won their opener with a 42-41 decision in overtime.
Now the Panthers want to change the similarities from last season to a second-round win and go deeper into the 3A playoffs in search of a state title.
In their way is Glenwood Springs. "Of all the teams we've played this year, the one team we would like to have a do-over with is Glenwood Springs," noted Johnson.
The Panthers will travel (lost a coin toss) to Glenwood Springs this Saturday for a 1 p.m. return match with the Demons on what is hoped to be a better day weatherwise.
Delta 42, HF 41
Against Holy Family, Delta's offense showed why they were a playoff team by scoring on its first possession of the game. Tyler Sandoval put the Panthers on the board first with a 1-yard plunge. Abraham Ontiveros kicked the extra point to give Delta a 7-0 lead.
Holy Family's David Sommers gave the Tigers a chance to tie the game with a 60-yard run to paydirt. A missed extra-point kick left Delta ahead 7-6.
Delta came right back with a drive that ended when Ryan Whiteside scored on a catch-and-run play for 30 yards. The Ontiveros PAT put Delta up 14-6.
The Tigers scored their second touchdown on a Sommers-to-Weston Dinsmore pass play that covered 53 yards. Holy Family elected to go for two points to tie the game. A pass from Sommers to Ryan Younggreen accomplished that two-point attempt, tying the game at 14-14.
Jonney Ponce got into the scoring party next for Delta. The 3A's number-two rusher found his way into the end zone on a 47-yard run to give Delta a 21-14 lead after Ontiveros' kick.
Scoring in the second quarter was initiated by Sommers' 16-yard run. Joey Golter booted the extra point for a 21-21 tie.
Sandoval scored his second touchdown for the next Delta score from 3 yards out. Ontiveros kicked the extra point for a 28-21 Delta lead.
A 54-yard pass play from Sommers to Dins-more made the halftime score 28-27 after a failed Tigers' extra point attempt.
Holy Family got some momentum in the third quarter and scored the period's only touchdown on a 43-yard run by Sommers. A two-point conversion pass from Sommers to Matthew Erb put the Tigers up by the score of 35-28.
After a series of three-and-outs, Delta's defense forced the Tigers to punt the ball late in the game. A deliberate drive ended with Sandoval's third touchdown of the game, and, with little time remaining, Ontiveros' PAT tied the game at 35-35 to force overtime.
Delta got the ball first in the overtime period. A holding penalty on the first play of the series sent the Panthers back 10 yards where they began their drive with a first and 20.
Two straight incomplete passes had Panthers' fans a bit nervous. Delta used its top passing combination to connect for the go-ahead score as Whiteside hauled in a 20-yard fade pass from Gafford. Ontiveros' kick was good for a 42-35 Delta lead.
Holy Family's overtime possession consisted of three straight runs by Sommers who scored from 2 yards out. The try for the extra point was wide right and Delta claimed a 42-41 win.
Gafford was 11 of 24 in the game for 191 yards and two touchdowns. The two touchdowns were to Whiteside, who caught seven passes for 131 yards. Sandoval was on the receiving end of two passes for 37 yards and Devin Williams snagged two Gafford aerials for another 23 yards.
In the rushing department, Ponce's 24 carries for 215 yards paced the Panthers' ground game. He also scored a touchdown.
Derek Horn entered Delta's offense late in the game and provided some clutch runs on eight carries and 50 yards. Sandoval was lethal from close range with six carries, 26 yards, and three touchdowns.
Ontiveros' contribution to Delta's win was a perfect six-for-six on extra point kicks. Ontiveros began playing football following Delta's soccer team being eliminated from state playoffs.
Delta's next round opponent, Glenwood Springs, is no stranger to the Panthers. That 15-7 loss during a driving snow and rainstorm in Glenwood Springs is a smoldering memory on the minds of players and coaches alike.
On the game in Glenwood Springs this Saturday, Johnson was optimistic. "It'll be a really good football game with Glenwood who has an eight-game win streak going. We are looking to take that next step but must get over a few injuries. We used a lot of kids early in the season before placing them in regular positions. We shuffled around eight players into last week's game due to injuries and we'll use them again this weekend."
The Demons (12th seed) will enter Saturday's game with the longest winning streak of all the remaining teams. Their win (14-13) over Elizabeth (fifth seed) gave the Demons an eight-game winning streak.
Roosevelt (third seed) has a seven-game winning streak following its 47-13 win over Frederick. The next highest win streak left (six) is that of The Classical Academy (seventh seed) after a 14-12 win over number 10 Conifer.
Glenwood's Henry Hill is third in Class 3A rushing with his 199 carries for 1271 yards and 11 touchdowns. The senior is averaging 141 yards per game.
Defensively, the Demons' Garrett Lowe is 13th in Class 3A in tackles with 44 solo and 51 assists for an average of nearly 11 tackles a game.
Delta's offense is led by Ponce's 1288 yards on 170 carries that have produced 13 touchdowns. He is averaging nearly 129 yards per game and 7 yards a carry.
Gafford's passing stats have him ranked sixth in 3A with 171.6 yards a game average.
Whiteside is fourth in receiving with an average of 15 yards per catch and 87.5 yards a game.
Cordell Stroud leads the Panthers' defense with an average of 7.4 tackles a game. Sandoval is next at six tackles per contest.blog comments powered by Disqus