Gage Touchdown.jpg PRINT

Montrose High School quarterback Gage Wareham runs out of the pocket during a second round 4A playoff game against Denver South at MHS on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Taryn Hill/Special to the Montrose Daily Press)

The last time Montrose High School and Fountain-Fort Carson met in the 4A state football playoffs was in 2007, when they played at MHS. The latter eked out a victory, winning 28-26 in the first round.

Montrose (11-0) has its sights set on a different outcome this Friday, when they rematch with Fountain-Fort Carson (10-1) at MHS in a 4A quarterfinals matchup. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

The No. 1 Indians earned a quarterfinals berth after toppling Denver South last Friday in a 56-19 victory. Montrose running back Ethan Hartman totaled 267 yards of offense, 139 of which came on the ground. Offensively, Montrose scored eight touchdowns — Blake Griffin, Torrie Eckerman, Luke Barney, Gage Wareham and Hartman were key contributors.

No. 8 Fountain-Fort Carson earned a trip to the Western Slope following a 41-0 win over Golden. The Trojans compiled 475 yards of offense, helping them extend their winning streak to eight games.

What to watch forFountain-Fort Carson defense has helped them compile a 10-1 record and an eight-game winning streak, which began on Sept. 17 in a win over Doherty. Two of the wins during the streak were against teams above .500 — Fruita Monument and Pueblo West, both of which were eliminated last week.

The Trojans’ lone loss came against Chatfield, the No. 7 seed in the 4A field.

Fountain-Fort Carson’s Myles McClarity (No. 6), a 6’2, 160-pound defensive back, is second on the team with 67 tackles. Junior Tai Faavae (No. 33) leads in tackles with 116, and at 6’0 and 205 pounds, can burst through the line of scrimmage — he’s carried the ball 33 times for 337 rushing yards.

Faavae two-way play has helped the Trojans’ extend their season, but running back Dezmen Oliver (No. 21) deserves credit, too. He’s been their top playmaker, rushing for 1,559 yards and 24 touchdowns while averaging 9.1 yards per carry. In the win over Golden, he rushed for 220 yards, extending his streak of 100-yard rushing games to seven.

Tavian Tuli (No. 1) is Fountain-Fort Carson’s quarterback. He’s thrown 12 touchdowns to three interceptions, averaging 12.7 yards per completion.

Keys to the gameExtended travel tests teams during the regular season, but even more so in the postseason.

The Trojans’ five and a half hour drive to Montrose is by far their largest road trip of the season.

It’s why the benefit of playing at home this time of year isn’t lost on the Montrose coaching staff.

“Being able to have home playoff games for our fans and make the other team travel — it’s a big deal,” Montrose coach Brett Mertens said prior to the win over South. “We play well here at home. It’s fun to have that, and we can also sleep in our own bed.”

In the win over South, Montrose extended its streak of allowing 20 points or less to opponents at home to five games. They’ll look to make it six, tasked with stopping Oliver and FFC’s offensive schemes.

The Indians’ offense has scored 40 or more points in four of their past five games. Wareham’s ability to place the ball in tight pockets and find the open man as a passer has helped open up Montrose’s playbook, which in turn allows Hartman, Griffin and Gabe Miller to find massive gains downfield.

Where to watchFor that are unable to attend the game, a free livestream of No. 1 Montrose versus No. 8 Fountain-Fort Carson will be available by searching MHS Media on Facebook or Youtube.

MHS Media is a student-produced broadcast that provides livestreams of Montrose High School sporting events.

Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press

Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press

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