Tigers football loses first league game to bigger, quicker Palisade | SummitDaily.com

Tigers football loses first league game to bigger, quicker Palisade

Summit's Adolfo Vasquez III tries to haul in a loose ball during the second half of the Tiger's 6-49 loss to Palisade on Sept. 25. The Tigers struggled to find momentum on offense and defense after several key injuries.
Louie Traub / Special to the Dailty |

Summit vs. Palisade

1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q Final

Summit 0 6 0 0 6

Palisade 21 21 7 0 49

FRISCO — Summit was plagued by injuries and a lifeless offense Friday night, losing the first league football game of the season to a bigger, beefier Palisade team. The final score was 49-6.

The Tigers (1-3) struggled to get much of anything started against the Bulldogs (4-0) on a chilly autumn evening. Head coach Landon Greve and crew knew they were in for a tough match, even before stepping onto the field at Tigers Stadium. Palisade entered the game with 118 points in just three games, while Summit has recorded just a single touchdown since the 34-7 home opener against Skyview.

“Before this game even started, I knew the biggest battle that was going to take place was with the guy in the mirror,” Greve said. “Palisade has incredible players and an incredible coaching staff, but when our guys struggle, they need to be able to handle the emotions, the highs and lows, and we’re getting there.”

Palisade dominated both sides of the ball, starting early with a touchdown in the first minute of the game. They hardly slowed down from there. Quarterback PD Riddle had one pass and one sneak for touchdowns, while all-around monster Isaac Maestes found the end zone twice, once on a punt return and again on a fake punt, all between duties as kicker and occasional running back.

Not as though Maestes simply got lucky with open lanes. The home team was punting — a lot. From the first possession, Summit struggled to find momentum against a stingy and aggressive Palisade defense. Like his counterpart in maroon, starting quarterback Luck Notaro is a threat when running or throwing, but he left the game late in the first quarter after taking a nasty hit to the head. Greve confirmed he had a suspected minor concussion, which kept him sidelined through the end of the game.

“We’d rather err on the side of safety for the boys, as opposed to having him play,” Greve said. For the remainder of the game he went with backup QB Tony Finley, a senior wide receiver who seemed to inject life back into the offense with a beauty of a pass to sophomore receiver Vale Hildebrand for a 65-yard touchdown.

“We’d rather err on the side of safety for the boys, as opposed to having him play,” Greve said. “It was a good shock for us to always know that’s possibility, that the younger guys will have to step in. The flow was adjusted, but in the long term, it was a good wakeup call.”

But the brief burst of energy was short lived. When Finley struggled to find another firecracker play and ended the second quarter with an interception, Greve switched strategies in the third and went with senior running back Dekota Rhodes for a string of powerful runs up the middle.

It worked for a few downs, but again, the Bulldogs line was a brick wall. Summit managed just four first downs and one third-down conversion in the game.

“All night, we struggled with big plays and third down,” Greve said. “If we can handle those in the long range we will be good, but in a game, it’s tough for the guys to see that take place.”

Summit faces cross-country rival Eagle Valley (3-1) for homecoming on Oct. 2. EV suffered a 26-0 loss to Rifle on Friday — the Devils struggled jut as much as Summit on both sides of the ball — and Greve is familiar with their tricky offense. EV tends to run multiple formations, leaving open tight ends and swinging the backfield to the sidelines with a T formation. It’s a formation Palisade ran constantly for big gains, and coach wants his defense to recognize the swings. That means winning the mental match-up before takin the field.

“The boys are capable and worthy of being succesfful football players,” Greve said. “When they understand that — when they know they can match the other guys on the field — they will be a great opponent.”

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