Coronado outguns Rifle, will confront Roosevelt in state grid quarterfinals

       Boosted by a come-from-behind 34-31 win over Rifle Nov. 9 in Garry Berry Stadium, the Coronado High football team will face Roosevelt in the quarterfinals of the Division 3A state football playoffs Saturday, Nov. 16.

Coronado running back Austin Micci (red jersey, surging forward), who also had TD runs of 64 and 40 yards, picks up tough short yardage on fourth down to keep a late fourth-quarter drive going in the Cougars' 34-31 victory over Rifle Nov. 9.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The game will be at Roosevelt's Peterson Field, in the northern Colorado town of Johnstown, in the vicinity of Greeley. The game time is 2 p.m. The victor will move into the semifinals along with those winning the other three quarterfinal games.
       Tri-Valley League champions, Roosevelt's third-seeded Rough Riders (8-2) smashed 15th-seeded Frederick, 47-13, in their first-round match-up.
       Against 11th-seeded Rifle (who came into the game 8-2), Coronado's sixth-seeded Cougars (now 10-1), fell behind 17-0 before recovering with two touchdowns in the second quarter and eventually pulling away in the final stanza. The individual spotlight fell on running back Austin Micci, who carried 25 times for 225 yards and two touchdowns. The defense also came up big, forcing two fourth quarter turnovers. One resulted in a clinching touchdown, when Zeb Foster ran an interception back 40 yards.
       “Overcoming that deficit was pretty cool,” Coronado Coach Bobby Lizarraga summarized afterward. “The overall character they showed was pretty amazing.”
       Bolstering the team was a large crowd on the Coronado side of the field, filling most of the bleacher space there. By contrast, the Rifle fans, who had traveled more than 200 miles (the school is near Glenwood Springs), filled no more than a tenth of the bleachers on their side.
       Looking ahead to Roosevelt, Lizarraga said the big challenge will be to stop the Rough Riders' triple option, featuring quarterback Kane Kratz and running backs Randolph Molinar and Lincoln Schultz, which has led them to more than 40 points in each of their last three games. The Coronado offense, averaging more than 30 points a contest, will have to look out for the “beasts” on Roosevelt's interior line, Lizarraga said.

Members of the Coronado High band perform in the bleachers at Garry Berry Stadium at halftime Nov. 9 of the school's first state playoff football game since 1991.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Coronado will be getting back one of its players, Isaah Duvall, who was out the last game for disciplinary reasons, but the team will be missing two-way lineman Aaron Medellin, who hurt his knee early in the Rifle game.
       Coronado is already guaranteed to have the best football winning percentage in the school's 43-year history. Also, this is only the third time the Cougar gridders have ever made the state playoffs (the last time was 1991).
       But the newly found success hasn't gone to his players heads, Lizarraga said. On the contrary, he thinks it's true that they might actually have a “chip on their shoulders” that makes them work even harder, in response to “all the years that we were handled [by teams that beat Coronado] and the way we were handled. Now we're putting it together nicely and we're being recognized. I think that deep down inside they feel like they're battling for the history of their school.”

Westside Pioneer article