For a 35-3 blowout win Thursday night at Grand Junction, Montrose High School football coach Brett Mertens and Co. weren’t exactly thrilled with their performance.
A couple turnovers, offensive penalties and a few too many big runs by the Tigers were just a few problems Mertens had with the team’s performance. He said the Indians can’t have those mistakes going forward hope to beat some of the state’s best teams, Mertens said.
“I thought we weren’t all that great, to be honest,” he said. “We’ve got to eliminate mistakes on the offensive side. … We’ve got to work on that and take care of that because that will come back to bite us.”
Still, the Indians (2-0) got out to an early lead thanks to the defense when Ashden Oberg returned an interception for a touchdown. On top of that, MHS fullback Cole Simmons scored three times in a game the Indians led wire-to-wire.
Mertens had high praise for Simmons, who has scored five touchdowns in two games this season.
“He runs hard and takes care of the ball and hits the hole,” Mertens said. “He’s seeing (the field) really well so he’s doing a good job.”
The Montrose D ended up with three interceptions on the night. Safety Eli Evans accounted for the team’s latter two picks.
“They (the Tigers) were driving on us, but Eli made some plays and had a couple of turnovers,” Simmons said.
Montrose’s first INT came on Grand Junction’s first drive of the game. Oberg caught the ball around the Tigers’ 35-yard line before taking it to the house.
“We were hyped after that,” Evans said. “I didn’t expect that to happen to start off the game.”
Following that play, Junction scored for its first and only time all game as the home team marched down within the Montrose 10-yard line. But the Tigers’ offense faltered, forcing the team to settle for a field goal to make the score 7-3.
On Montrose’s next drive, the Indians were driving the ball down field, but it was abruptly ended on a fumble recovered by the Tigers.
Three plays later, Evans intercepted a pass around midfield and returned the ball into Grand Junction territory.
Evans said he was surprised with his first INT because he initially tipped the ball in midair before he discovered that it came down in his hands.
“After that, I started running,” he said with a laugh.
The Montrose offense made quick work of its next possession. On the team’s fourth play, Simmons barrelled into the endzone from 1 yard out.
The Tigers’ next drive fell short as Evans caught his second interception, this time at Montrose’s own 6-yard line.
The Indians were able to convert another Evans’ INT into a Simmons touchdown. In the second quarter, the senior fullback found the endzone again on a 2-yard run to give the visitors a 21-3 advantage.
That was the last score for either team in the first half.
Montrose fumbled the ball for a second time on its last possession before halftime, and Grand Junction almost put together a scoring drive before halftime. But the home team ran out of time after having to burn timeouts earlier in the contest.
Coming into the second half, the Indians were able to put together a long 89-yard drive. The highlight of the drive was a Simmons 68-yard run that came to a stop at the Grand Junction 10-yard line.
He was able to punch the football in three plays later with a 3-yard run.
Later in the third quarter, the Indians were able to put the game away for good as running back Riley Barnhill scored from 2 yards out.
In the fourth quarter, neither team scored as Montrose had its junior varsity unit play the last half of the period.
In spite of the road victory, Simmons said if the Indians hope to continue their winning ways, they’re going to need “effort” and to “stay focused.”
“If we (don’t) play like that (Montrose’s next two opponents) Durango and Palisade will definitely beat us. We have to remain sharp,” he said.
The aforementioned Demons will play at Montrose starting at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.