Durango High School wants to leave an impression on Class 4A football in the state of Colorado.
Entering the Demons’ second and likely last season in the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 4A Pikes Peak League, DHS is motivated for competition against its Colorado Springs-based league, including two-time defending state champion Pine Creek.
The Demons are likely to drop back into Class 3A for football when CHSAA redistricts the state for next season. That decision will be based on the Oct. 1 student count.
So the team knows this might be its last shot at its rivals from more than 300 miles Northeast.
“Every team we play, we want them to know they played Durango High School and know we are force to be reckoned with down here and not just a bunch of guys at the bottom of the state,” DHS third-year head coach David Vogt said. “We want everyone to know and feel that they played us.”
The Demons are coming off a 4-6 regular season and 2-3 league performance in 2014. But the team lacked experience after a large senior class that went 8-3 in 2013 exited.
Now, DHS has experience once more with the majority of last year’s starters back on both sides of the ball.
“We went from having an offensive and defensive line of mostly juniors last year, and they got to see what our competition was like. It definitely helped, and now they are all back and know what it’s like,” DHS senior running back and linebacker Lawrence Mayberry said. “Those guys have gotten a lot better, and that’s going to help me a lot being a running back.”
After winning a quarterback competition as a junior in 2014, Terrence Trujillo is back under center this season. He showed flashes of brilliance last season, creating plays with his feet and displaying a strong arm on deep balls to his favorite receiver, fellow senior Lucas Baken.
“Terrence controls us. He knows what’s going on out there and is a smart player,” Mayberry said of his quarterback. “He’s a general and a bad dude.”
Trujillo, son of Geno and Nicole Trujillo, will also play defensive back for the Demons, but he isn’t worried about fatigue from playing two of the game’s three phases.
“I’m a football player, not just a quarterback,” Trujillo said after a scrimmage against Montezuma-Cortez on July 31. “I can’t take any plays off.”
Trujillo will benefit from the experienced offensive line in front of him. But, with so many options to run and pass in this offense, the big boys up front know they have to be just as versatile as the play-making quarterback.
“We have to be really dynamic and make sure we explode off the line very play,” said senior left tackle and defensive end Laitham Johnson. “We have to open up big holes for our running backs, but we also have to maintain our blocks on pass plays so Terrence has time to make those plays, too.”
Johnson, son of Brad and Nancy Johnson, is an imposing figure at 6-foot-5. He will be a force on the defensive line on a defensive side that is as dynamic as the offense of the Demons with quick athletes in the secondary, gritty linebackers and strong linemen.
“With all the weapons we have offensively, hopefully we jump on teams early and can be really aggressive on the defensive calls,” Vogt said. “This team is really hungry, and the defense is really flying around. They are going to be physical, but our pursuit of the ball is going to cause a lot of great things with turnovers and interceptions.”
The Demons once again will be road warriors in 2015, with only four true home games and three league games in Colorado Springs, including back-to-back trips Oct. 24 to face Pine Creek and Oct. 30 to see Air Academy.
But having Pine Creek on the schedule once more began motivating the Demons for this year’s matchup immediately after the 56-0 home loss a season ago.
“We know Pine Creek will look at us and say, ‘We’re going to kick their (butt) right off the bat,’ but that’s not going to happen,” said Mayberry, son of George and Tonya Mayberry.
“It’s a huge motivational factor for us,” Vogt added. “We know how good they are and how well they play. It’s a great challenge for our boys, and our gold standard right now is to beat them.”
First, DHS has to focus on the non-league schedule, beginning with a neutral-field game at 7 p.m. Friday against Lutheran at Adams State University in Alamosa.
Lutheran, a Class 3A school, went 10-1 last season with the only loss a narrow defeat to Palisade in the state playoffs.
“We’ve put in the work all offseason for this game, and we’re really prepared,” said Johnson, son of Brad and Nancy Johnson. “We have to make sure we start good and go out and win this game to set the tone for the season.”
Then, DHS will get back-to-back home games against Class 5A foes from New Mexico with Aztec visiting Sept. 4 and Piedra Vista one week later Sept. 11.
But, after that homestand, DHS will only play two more home games Oct. 16 against Palmer Ridge and Nov. 6 versus Rampart.
Luckily for the Demons, they enjoy playing on the road.
“It almost benefits us because we travel so much. The boys are used to it, and it’s a great team-bonding thing,” Vogt said. “With the neutral field game against Lutheran, I think we have the advantage because we both have to travel, and our guys do it all the time.”
Demons’ 2015 football schedule
x-denotes homecoming game
Aug. 28 – Lutheran at Durango, Adams State College, Alamosa, 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 – Aztec, N.M., at Durango, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 – Piedra Vista, N.M., at Durango, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 – Durango at Farmington, N.M., 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 – Durango at Montrose, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 – Durango at Liberty, 7 p.m.
x-Oct. 16 – Palmer Ridge at Durango, 6 p.m.
Oct. 23 – Durango at Pine Creek, 6 p.m.
Oct. 30 – Durango at Air Academy, 6 p.m.
Nov. 6 – Rampart at Durango, 6 p.m.