After a 1-9 record in 1999, students at Glenwood Springs High School hope to see their Demons football team play possessed this year and lead the red and white to a state playoff berth.
Head coach Craig Denney has a lot of talent returning this season, with seven starters back on offense and defense.
Rob Cable, senior strong safety and halfback, is the nucleus of this team's 4-3 defense. Cable intercepted eight passes last year, and will seek to carry his team on offense at halfback.
Cable may be the team's most valuable player, but all eyes are likely to be on Mark Schenk, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound senior offensive and defensive tackle. Schenk's height, weight and game experience makes him an excellent college recruit and a major threat for teams in the 3A Western Slope Conference.
"With so many kids coming back, we're pretty positive about the offense this year," Denney said.
Glenwood Springs runs an I-formation, but Denney promises that his team will go more to its wideouts. Receivers to watch for include Mike Bloitho and Seth Nickel, who stand at 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-2, respectively.
"We've got some height at receivers, and they've got great hands," Denney said. "We can basically hit five different receivers."
The key to this year's success, besides the passing game, is how the Demons respond to losing nine games last season. The team has had its ups and downs the past several years, especially in 1996 when the school dropped its varsity football program.
Steve Cable, athletics director, says the program is still rebuilding.
"Our numbers are up, which is encouraging," Cable said. "We're still bouncing back, and we're bouncing back pretty strong."
"We'd love to make the playoffs and go as far as we can go, for sure," Denney added.
Glenwood Springs opens its season against Pueblo East High School Friday, but the Demons' main challenges are Montezuma-Cortez and Palisade, each of which dropped out of 4A last year to enter the 3A Western Slope Conference. Steamboat Springs will be a tough contest on the road Sept. 22, Denney said.
"I know Mark (Drake) is returning a lot of kids," Denney said. "They have a lot of seniors this year, and they're a good ball club."
Despite the addition of Palisade and Cortez into the conference, Denney feels that the title is up for grabs. "Anybody in the league can take it," he said.
The Demons should wreak havoc on defense this year, despite losing key starters. Team speed and experience are sure to help the Demons on defense.
Denney feels his team is prepared for the 2000 season.
"They're just good solid athletes," Denney said. "They worked hard over the off season. It's been awhile since a lot of our kids came in and worked this hard during the off season."