The Montrose High School football team made a statement Friday night in a matchup between two Top 10 Class 4A units.
The No. 3-ranked Indians’ offense ran through the seventh-ranked Heritage Eagles defense to help Montrose win its first Metro League game, 49-27, during a cold October night at home.
“I’m super proud of my kids,” MHS coach Brett Mertens said. “I thought we put together the best game that we played all year on all sides of the ball.”
Montrose fullback Tayne Ila scored three times while fellow fullback Cole Simmons and running back Trent Blundell both found the end zone twice.
“Our offensive line was on fire and we can’t do anything without them,” quarterback Keagan Goodwin said. “... Everybody was doing awesome and doing their job.”
Montrose played mistake-free most of the night. The starting-varsity offense, which has been plagued with penalties since the beginning of the season, only committed two on the contest — both coming off of false starts.
The Indians defense was able to stop a potent Heritage offense which has two players listed at 6-foot-5 in receivers Terrance Ferguson and Erik Olsen.
The pair made their presence known, both scoring on 60-plus yard completions. But outside of that, the Montrose defense held Heritage in check for most of the night.
“They got a couple of big pass plays but the defense played great,” Mertens said. “The score doesn’t really reflect how well the defense played, to be honest.”
That same defense sparked Montrose’s first touchdown of the contest.
On Heritage’s first drive of the game, the Eagles looked like they were going to strike first as they moved the ball into the red zone. But cornerback Aaron Dietrich intercepted a pass before returning it to the Heritage 40-yard line.
The Indians then went on a characteristic methodical offensive drive, running eight plays before Simmons punched the ball in from two yards out.
But the Eagles answered on their next drive. Quarterback Connor Cummiskey threw a 63-yard pass to Olsen to tie the contest at 7.
The Indians didn’t seem perturbed by the score as they went on an offensive drive which helped them take the lead for good.
Early in the second quarter, Goodwin faked the ball to Simmons, before giving it to Blundell who then broke into the secondary before taking it to the house.
The Montrose D then forced another turnover on the Eagles’ next drive, forcing a Heritage fumble which was recovered by Montrose linebacker Bode Greiner.
This gave the Indians great field position as the offense set up shop at the Eagles 33-yard line.
Simmons helped set up the score as, on the first play of the drive, he carried the ball to the 2-yard line. Then, two plays later, Ila scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give Montrose a 21-7 edge.
The Eagles got their last long TD of the game as Commiskey threw an 85-yard bomb to Ferguson to cut the deficit to seven.
Montrose, however, built the lead back up to double-digits thanks to Blundell. He took the handoff, burst through a wide-open hole created by the O-line and then made a Heritage defensive back miss en route to a 67-yard score.
“The offense blocked perfectly and Trent did was he was supposed to,” Goodwin said. “He made one move and he was off to the races.”
That was the final touchdown for either team as the Indians led 28-14 at halftime.
Montrose added to its lead as it received the ball to start the third period. The Indians marched downfield before Simmons scored from two yards out.
The MHS defense forced the only punt for either team as Heritage went 3-and-out on its first drive of the second half.
The hosts, once again, had good field position as they got the ball back around midfield. Running back Eli Evans assisted in setting up Montrose’s next touchdown as he ran the ball for about a 45-yard gain, taking it all the way down to the Heritage 5-yard line.
A couple plays later, Ila scored his second TD, with one coming two yards out.
Heritage found the end zone on its next possession, scoring on a 12-yard touchdown pass, but Montrose still led 42-21.
A 45-yard kick return by Blundell helped the Indians offense to a short field as the hosts started with the ball at the 50-yard line.
The MHS run game helped move the ball downfield with Ila scoring an 8-yard TD early in the fourth quarter.
Kicker Jake Green capped off his perfect 7-for-7 extra point night by driving the ball down the middle of the uprights.
Ila, who saw more playing time against Heritage, had his night end early as on his final touchdown run, he landed awkwardly on his leg before getting helped off the field.
The Eagles scored one final time but by then the Indians’ junior varsity defense was subbed in.
Montrose will be away from home for the next few weeks. The Indians (6-0; 1-0 in Metro) play three of their next four games on the road with the first one coming at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 19, against Denver South (2-3).
Mertens said even though there’s still some work ahead, his players are focused on “their big goals.”
“Hopefully, they’ll continue to not be satisfied with where we’re at and keep getting better,” the Montrose coach said. “Hopefully, we can manage our road trips.”