Kremmling " Mustang football season kicks off Friday night at home against South Park
Sky-Hi Daily News
The West Grand High School football team will kick off its 2008 season Friday night in Kremmling with a game against the South Park Burros.
The Mustangs defeated South Park last season in Fairplay, but the team will be replacing nine starters on offense and seven starters on defense.
Coach Chris Brown has 40 players on the squad this year, and he says he is enthusiastic about that number. The problem the veteran coach will face, however, is inexperience. Of the 40 players who have been practicing for a week, only 15 played for West Grand last year.
There are 14 freshman, several transfer students and a number of players who didn’t play football last season.
On offense, returning starters are lineman Cory Burr and tailback Jake Motz. Both earned all-league honors. The offense will be directed by sophomore quarterback Tim Ritschard and the starting fullback, Connor Widener, is also a sophomore.
Defensive lineman Curtis Frederikson and defensive back Drew Klotz join Motz and Burr as returning starters.
In addition, Sky Handyside started several games at the end of last season at both tight end and defensive end.
Coach Brown said the other teams in the league also lost linemen, but none lost as many starters to graduation.
The offensive line for West Grand may be a bit outsized but, as they gain experience, coach Brown anticipates good results from that group. The freshman class has a nice mix of lineman, Brown added, but they will earn their stripes in junior varsity action as they acclimate to high school football.
Due to the inexperience of the squad, several players will likely see two-way action, particularly early in the season. Those players include Burr, Motz, Frederikson, Klotz, Handyside and Widener.
One weapon West Grand may find valuable this season is place kicker Handyside. The senior works hard in the offseason and attended a kicking camp this past summer. Early reviews indicate the senior has a live leg, which is helping him hit from a range not always seen in small high school football.
In the Western Slope League, there are only six teams this year.
Grand Valley moved up a classification while Soroco has dropped to eight-man football. League schools North Park and Plateau Valley already play eight-man competition.
That leaves Paonia, Meeker, Rangely, Hayden, West Grand and newcomer Hotchkiss. In the next cycle, coach Brown said he anticipates that Cedaredge will drop down in classification and Vail Christian will move up from eight-man.
This season, Brown said that Meeker, Hayden and Paonia are the early favorites to win the league. All three lost linemen to graduation, but they all return more key skill-position players than the Mustangs.
Last season, the Western Slope had three teams qualify for the state playoffs, Grand Valley, Hayden and Meeker.
The Mustangs will play South Park at 7 p.m. this Friday night in a home game. West Grand will play nine games, with a bye in week three.
The junior varsity will also play a schedule of nine games.
The coaching staff for West Grand includes coach Brown, Maurice Noll, Jim Wilson and Josh Pedersen.
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