GHS Football — The Gunnison High School (GHS) football team is picking up steam.
After dropping their first two games of the season to top 5 teams, the Cowboys (2-2) easily defeated the Paonia Eagles (0-4) 51-8 in Mountaineer Bowl to earn their second straight victory of the season.
“The second win felt great. The team came together and played better than I have ever seen,” said senior quarterback Nico Marchitelli. “The blocking was amazing, which allowed us to use our running backs, which we haven’t been able to do so far. The touchdowns also felt rewarding. All the hours and days spent getting ready for the season are paying off, but it wasn’t just me. The receivers got open and the line made the holes, I just had to do the easy stuff!’
The strong offensive line play — from Sam Buckhanan, Ty Taramarcaz, Jose Sanchez, Bogdan Maples and Kaden Kula — could be noticed from the very first drive.
The holes the line opened up allowed running back Gabe Perez to break off two huge runs and Matthew Solanik to get to the edge on a fly sweep. They set up Marchitelli to score his first of four touchdowns on the day.
Marchitelli found a hole on the left side of the defense, breaking two Eagle tackles on the way to a 20-yard rushing touchdown.
Kaleb Vincent converted the two point conversion, extending the lead to 8-0.
Paonia tried to respond on their first drive, but the GHS defense was dominant for the majority of the day. They forced a fumble on fourth down that was recovered by junior Vincent, giving the Cowboys a short field.
Braydon Duncan would make his presence felt on the offensive side of the ball on the very next drive, ripping off a powerful run that put GHS on the one yard line. On the next play Duncan was able to find the endzone, giving the Cowboys a 14-0 lead.
Fumbling would continue to be an issue for the Eagles.
On their next possession, Vincent recovered another fumble, giving the Cowboys great field position and setting them up to score once again.
Sophomore Peyton Frias continued the trend of hard running from GHS running backs, running over an Eagle defender on the way to a 17-yard touchdown, giving the Cowboys a 20-0 lead.
Vincent — who was a force on defense, recording six tackles, three being for loss, two sacks and two fumble recoveries in the game — made his presence felt on offense as well. He scored on a 13-yard touch-down pass from Marchitelli, extending the lead to 27-0.
With 6:05 minutes left in the first half, Duncan picked up his second rushing touchdown of the game on a 29-yard run, pushing the lead to 34-0.
“Scoring always feels good and I felt as though I was able to prove how I can play,” said Duncan. “Getting a win at home with my team feels a lot better though. We were able to come out strong and play consistent throughout the entire game. We played hard and especially our offensive line, who did a great job opening up holes and blocking. Overall, we were able to capitalize on their defense by playing for each other and executing our assignments.”
Junior Jose Sanchez would join the scoring party, drilling a career long 35-yard field goal late in the second quarter.
“It felt good to make the 35-yard field goal,” said Sanchez. “At first I said to myself, `Dang this is far,’ but I just kicked it and it felt good and then I heard the crowd go crazy and that’s how I knew it went in.”
As the first half was coming to a close, Paonia finally got on the scoreboard on a long TD pass and converted the two point conversion, cutting the lead to 37-8.
On the Cowboys’ first drive of the second half, GHS marched all the way down the field with the help of big plays by Spencer Dickey and Michael Riser. Marchitelli then scored his third touchdown of the game, hurdling a defender for a five-yard rushing touchdown.
Later, Marchitelli scored his fourth and final touchdown of the game on a two-yard run, thanks to a strong run by Duncan that put the ball on the two-yard line.
That would be the final time points were recorded on the scoreboard, as the Cowboys junior varsity team came in and did a good job keeping the Eagles off the board in the fourth quarter.
Duncan led the way rushing for 100 yards, while also recording three tackles on defense. Perez was next on the rushing list recording 60 yards on the day, followed by Frias and Marchitelli who recorded 30 yards rushing a piece. In the receiving category, Riser led the way with four catches for 51 yards.
Cowboys on the road
GHS will be back on the road tomorrow, traveling to Hotchkiss to take on the Bulldogs at 5 p.m. Hotchkiss is 4-0 on the season, 3-0 in Western Slope League play and is coming off a 42-0 victory over Olathe.
(Brandon Warr can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or email@example.com.)
JUNIOR VARSITY COWBOYS VS. EAGLES RESULTS (NOV.2)
> On Monday, the junior varsity football team was on the road, traveling to Paonia to take on the Eagles.
> While it was a tightly contested first half — neither team was able to find the endzone — that all changed in the second half.
> The Eagles scored 22 points unanswered on the way to a 22-0 victory.
> GHS’ junior varsity team will wrap their season up on Monday, hosting Hotchkiss at 4 p.m.