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Haber earns second player of year honor

Eleven Durango football players, coach recognized by league
Zach Haber of Durango High School finds room to run while playing George Washington High School during the Class 3A state playoffs. Haber had a good season offensively, but was recognized by the league for his defense. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Last season, Zach Haber of Durango High School was named the offensive player of the year in the 3A Southern 1 League after running for 1,358 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns.

Haber ran for another 979 yards and scored 21 touchdowns this season as a senior, but his defense stood out to coaches around the 3A League 3. When the league selected its all-conference football teams and players of the year recently, Haber was named the league’s defensive player of the year.

“To have a kid named offensive player of the year one year and defensive player of the year the next is unprecedented,” said DHS head coach Todd Casebier. “That’s never happened in my time coaching and is a huge credit to him.”

On defense, the strong safety made 48 tackles, intercepted two passes, recovered a fumble and had huge hits for DHS this season.

Haber was one of 11 Demons honored by the league. Two teammates also earned player of the year awards.

Josh Bates of Durango High School listens to head coach Todd Casebier during the Class 3A state playoffs. Bates was recently named the 3A League 3’s lineman of the year while Casebier earned coach of the year honors. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Senior Josh Bates was named the league’s lineman of the year. “He was very deserving of that,” Casebier said. “All the coaches thought he was the by far the best lineman and the most dominate player.”

Bates started out at center, but switched to guard, where he could pull more. He also played on the defensive line.

Senior Tagert Bardin was named the league’s special teams player of the year. Bardin averaged 25 yards per kick return and 16.1 yards on punt returns.

Tagert Bardin of Durango High School runs the ball against Harrison High School during the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs. Bardin was recently named the 3A League 3’s special teams player of the year. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“The coaches thought he was the most explosive kick returner,” Casebier said.

Joining Haber, Bates and Bardin on the all-conference first team were Jeric Baruch, AJ Folk, Miguel Garcia Rodriguez, Luke Wesley, Dre Garcia and junior quarterback Tyler Harms.

Juniors Julian Rodriguez and Jaxon Fancher both received all-league honorable mentions.

Baruch was Durango’s leading rusher, running for 1,201 yards and 15 touchdowns on 165 carries, averaging 7.1 yards per run in 12 games this season. Baruch also made 56 tackles and intercepted a pass on defense.

Harms completed 78 passes for 1,617 yards and 22 touchdowns. He ran for another 196 yards and seven touchdowns.

Folk hauled in 12 catches for 441 yards and six touchdowns at tight end. Folk also made a team-high six sacks on defense.

Garcia Rodriguez led DHS with 14 tackles for a loss and finished with 72 total tackles.

Wesley made some big catches for DHS and averaged 28.9 yards per reception.

Garcia joined Bates on the line, opening holes for the team’s running backs and giving Harms time to throw.

Rodriguez made a team-high 77 tackles for DHS, including six for losses.

Fancher ran for 422 yards and four touchdowns and caught four touchdown passes. He also made 41 tackles on defense.

“Overall, I’m really happy for that group and thought they represented Durango well as league champs,” Casebier said.

Casebier was named the league’s coach of the year.

“Anytime you’re voted on by your peers, it’s a nice award,” Casebier said, but called it “a staff of the year” award. “You don’t get to the final four with average players and average coaches.”

DHS finished its season 11-2 overall and first in the 3A League 3 with a 5-0 league record. Summit finished second with a 4-1 league mark, followed by Palisade (3-2), Glenwood Springs and Eagle Valley (1-4) while Battle Mountain went 0-5 after forfeiting its varsity season after one league game, a 54-6 loss to Eagle Valley. Durango then beat Harrison and George Washington in the Class 3A state playoffs before losing to Lutheran in the semifinals.

Summit senior quarterback Jack Schierholz was named the league’s offensive player of the year after throwing for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushing for another 793 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“Winning that league was quite an accomplishment for our team,” Casebier said. “Postseason awards are a reflection of the season we had and I think our guys deserved the recognition they got.”