Montrose High School’s Emmert Kastendieck

Montrose High School’s Emmert Kastendieck, No. 2, and Cole Simmons, No. 22, celebrate after Kastendieck scores from over 50 yards out during Friday’s season-opener. 

Outside of some missed tackles, Montrose High School football coach Brett Mertens was impressed in how his defense played in the Aug. 30 season-opener against Grand Junction Central.

Mertens will need to rely on that unit at 7 tonight on the road to stop the ground game of Grand Junction as the Tigers enter the contest coming off of a 64-20 shellacking of Palmer on Aug. 31.

In a game filled with eye-popping statistics, the Tigers scored nine offensive touchdowns (seven on the ground) and finished with 584 total yards.

“They have their work cut out for them,” Mertens said of his team’s defense.

But Montrose’s starting D is entering the contest allowing just one offensive touchdown in the team’s 44-20 win over Central. The two other scores came from a fumble recovery returned for a score, and a late TD from Central against Montrose’s JV team.

“Our D played really well,” Mertens said. “I think that’s the area where we’ve improved the most. … That was encouraging to see so hopefully we can continue to keep doing that.”

Grand Junction and Montrose’s offensives are nearly identical as they both like to run the ball and “control the line of scrimmage,” Mertens said.

“Whoever wins that battle is going to win the game,” he said.

Although the defense had a strong game, the Indians aren’t ones to sing their own praises. Senior defensive lineman Ian Rehfeldt agreed with his coach about missed tackles, adding the players need to also “fly to the ball a little bit faster.”

“We’ve got things to work on but we’ve got a great group of guys who know what they’re doing,” he said.

That kind of thinking comes from the coaching staff. Mertens said his goal for his players is only to work on their abilities.

“Every game is a big game. Our focus is just improving as a team,” he said. “We had a good start to the year, but it’s really about continuing to improve so we can reach our full potential at the end of the year.”

Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.

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