The Demons are more prepared for a neutral-site opening game this time around. But the competition may be even tougher.
A season ago, the Durango High School football team traveled to Colorado State University-Pueblo to face Beckman, a small school from Irvine, California, in the opening game of the varsity season. The result was an 8-0 loss in a game that featured little offense in windy conditions.
The Class 4A Demons are set to return to a Division II college field, this time at Adams State University in Alamosa. The opponent is an in-state foe, Class 3A Lutheran, which enters the season ranked No. 10 in the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 3A poll and No. 9 in the Associated Press poll.
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.
“They were 10-0 last year in the regular season,” DHS third-year head coach David Vogt said of the Lions from Parker. “They are really big up front and have great skill guys on the outside. They’re a good, good team.”
Durango will have experience in its favor at the quarterback position with senior captain Terrence Trujillo. Lutheran graduated James Willis, who passed for nearly 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns a year ago. Only one returning player, sophomore Justin Kenny, attempted a pass last season, and he attempted only one.
However, Will Willis is listed as a junior quarterback and is an imposing figure at 6-foot-4.
Lutheran also graduated its two leading rushers, but returning senior Nathan Holdridge rushed for six touchdowns a year ago behind the big offensive line.
The Demons’ backfield will be led by senior Lawrence Mayberry. Though he is one of the shorter players on the field, Mayberry also is one of the toughest both as a running back and linebacker.
“I’m feeling great and ready to go,” said Mayberry, son of George and Tonya Mayberry. “I cannot wait for the game. I’m getting tired of hitting (my teammates). I just want to hit some other guys.”
Trujillo and Mayberry have an improved offensive line in front of them this season, anchored by left tackle Laitham Johnson. Johnson echoed Mayberry’s sentiment.
“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.”
With an experienced defensive secondary, gritty linebackers and an improved defensive line, Vogt believes this year’s defense has the ability to stop any opponent. His goal is for the offense to put up some points early so he can be as aggressive as possible defensively.
Though the Lions have lost many players from the 10-1 season that ended with a narrow playoff loss to Palisade a year ago, the Demons expect another close contest. Vogt hopes his team’s experience traveling a great distance for so many road games benefits his team with Durango traveling 150 miles and Lutheran 220 miles for the contest.
“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.”
Who: Durango vs. No. 10 Lutheran
What: high school football
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Adams State University, Alamosa
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